Council of Independent Colleges Historic Campus Architecture Project


King Philip's Cave

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Institution Name: Stonehill College
Original/Historic Place Name: Stone House Hill
Location on Campus: southeastern sector, near Rt. 123 (Our Lady of Holy Cross Property)
Date(s) of Construction:
ca. 1.6 million years agothought to have been created during the Pleistocene epoch, or "Great Ice Age"
Designer: not applicable
Type of Place: Landscape site
Style: (Glossary)
Significance: culture, history, landscape
Narrative: see below
References: see below
ca. n.d.-present (2006)outdoor space

Officially named "Stone House Hill" this site is most often referred to as "The Caves" or "King Philip's Cave," because of the cave-like rock formations. Archeological excavations have indicated that Stone House Hill served as at least a Wampanoag battle camp. The hill is located on the border between the Wampanoag and Massachusetts Tribes, and Mount Hope, the Wampanoag capital, is visible from the Summit.

During the 1700's, Stone House Hill became part of the "Hill Farm," owned first by Ensign John and Lewis Dailey, and later by Easton's controversial homeopathic medic, Dr. Caleb Swan.

Activity at the site rose during the Civil War when soldiers began to appear regularly in Easton. Apparently, soldiers on temporary leave from their assignments would ascend the hill to a 19th-century flea market where they could purchase alcohol, play games of chance, and mingle with local prostitutes. In the early 1900's, the site was part of the land purchased by Frederick Lothrop Ames for his estate. In tribute to the great rock formation, Ames named his mansion, "Stone House Hill House," from which Stonehill College later derived its name.

Stone House Hill was respected through the mid-1900s for its archeological possibilities and has been the site of multiple professional and amateur excavations. The most notable and well documented excavation was completed during the 1956-1957 academic year. Led by William Nowick, Class of 1957, the findings of the excavation are included in his senior history project (housed in the Stonehill College Archives.) Today the site is a common party area for Stonehill and local students, but Stonehill makes efforts to curtail these parties and preserve this important site.

Source: Stonehill College Publication, The King Philip History Trail.


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Last update: November 2006