Little known among the New World megaliths, the “Canda Mopes Stones” of Blackburn Hamlet, nestled among the ravines and tablelands of Green’s Creek, present a very singular mystery. What culture erected these large, composite stone pillars? What did they represent? Are they a warning to neighboring peoples, a ritual pathway, a message to the spirits, or a gathering place? These questions haunt the visitor to this strange, desolate space.
Located a ten minute walk down Trail 63 from the soccer pitch in Blackburn Hamlet, the stones march in two parallel lines across a ravine. The two large “Sentinels” stand at either end, elevated above the “Procession Stones” on steep clay slopes.
(Above: The visitor’s first view of the easternmost Sentinel, from Trail 63. The large embankment behind the stone suggests that the path may have been built up intentionally, to lead to the crest of this stone overlooking the Procession Stones.)
From the Sentinel, the visitor commands a sweeping view of the ravine. The fourteen Procession Stones cross the space between the two Sentinels, hopping a small river as they do, between the fifth and sixth pairs. It is speculated that the passage of the river at that point may be significant: important in a form of calculation, perhaps. Bodies of water are known to be spiritually significant in many cultures. Note the hummocks in the ground that suggest other, buried structures on the near side of the Procession Stones: more thorough investigation may be needed to uncover them.
The Eastern Sentinel, with its two “attendant” stones, basks in the sunset light. Like its Western companion, it is elevated on a steep clay slope above the other stones: unusual for many megalithic standing stone arrangements.
The Procession Stones run east to west across the ravine, linking the Sentinels both physically and, in a sense, cosmically. It is thought that the path between the two Sentinels - placed, as they are, on an artificial horizon, so that they are both framed against the sky from within the pathway marked by the Procession Stones - may describe the journey of the sun through the course of a day. The passing of the river between the stones may in fact denote a form of calendar calculation.
The Sentinels present an imposing outline from the floor of the ravine:
Equally mysterious are the inscriptions found on the sides of the stones. While the majority of the stone have their eastern faces taken up by large letters (believed to spell the words “CANDA MOPES”, giving this set of standing stones its name) there are many additional inscriptions on the other faces. An example, seen below, suggests a mixture of alphabetic characters and glyphs of some kind.
We may never fully understand the intentions of the builders of the Blackburn Hamlet Stones, who set these silent columns here in their perfectly straight lines. But the visitor to this strange, eerie ravine can’t help but feel their presence, in the evening when the sun sinks in the gap formed around the Western Sentinel and only the white-tailed deer trouble the stillness.
(It is also unknown whether the Canda Mopes Stones have any relationship to the nearby LeFarge Columns, tall cylindrical pillars which can be glimpsed on the eastern side of Path 63, on the other side of Bearbrook Road, on the way to the stones. They may be cult images, fertility/phallic symbols, or omphalos representations, and their connection with the Canda Mopes Stones is as yet very little understood. Further investigation is required.)