where the heck is gungywamp?

gungywamp circle

Gungywamp Circle.

Monday’s plan was to accomplish some important banking issues on behalf of my mother, who is no longer up to dealing with complicated tasks like important banking issues.

Because I don’t have the credentials to access the Newport Naval Base and its credit union, I drove to Groton, Connecticut to the off-base credit union there.  A google search led to me to the address:  Gungywamp Road.

Hurray!  Mini road trip!  Banjo Man was too busy with work to go with me and my daughter was sick with a cold, so off I went by myself.   With coffee.  And the GPS.

Groton is known for its submarine-building.  And also for a restaurant called Paul’s Pasta.  But what on earth is a Gungywamp?

It had been raining.  Since I was alone, I had planned to visit a nearby quilt shop, one I hadn’t known about until another google search found it for me.  But when I left the credit union the rain had turned to sleet and I turned into a woman who wanted to head home.  There were two more bank visits in my future that day and no time to waste while the weather was so awful.

It turns out that Gungywamp is the name of an archaelogical site in Groton.  According to wikipedia:

The 100-acre (40 ha) site consists of multiple elements covering a broad range of time. There are remains of houses and potential cloth and iron processing sites. There are multiple stone chambers currently believed to be root cellars, two of which are completely intact. Says Connecticut State Archaeologist Nicholas Bellantoni, “The thing that’s unique at Gungywamp is that there are so many of them.”[2]

One of these “root cellars”, also known as the “calendar chamber”, has an astronomical feature where an inner alcove is illuminated during the equinoxes by the alignment of a hole in the west wall, through which the sun shines upon a lighter stone on the opposite side, radiating illumination within the smaller, beehive shaped chamber.[1]

Somewhat removed from the structures, there is a stone circle, actually consisting of two circles of stones, one within the other, over ten feet in diameter. The outermost ring is made up of twelve stones worked to be curved. Archaeologists who have studied it consider it to have been a mill.[2][3] The archaeologist Ken Feder notes that unlike European stone circles the stones are recumbent and not upright and identifies it as a bark mill used to extract tannin for leather making. Walking in a circle animals would pull the mill wheel between the double circle of stones.”[4] Other researchers have hypothesized it is a Native American built structure.[5]

Even farther away there is a row of low standing stones, lined up in a north-south facing, one of which features an etched image of a bird with outstretched wings.”

There’s an interesting “virtual tour” over at:


If you have a little time on your hands, a fresh cup of coffee and a bit of curiosity about the coastal woods of New England, it’s worth a stop.  I had no idea it was there!



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2 Responses to where the heck is gungywamp?

  1. Marge Fidrich says:

    Sounds like a great sunny day trip. Interesting. Can we use that word in scrabble?

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