Located within a residential neighborhood and along the slope of Green Hill, it’s very easy to miss. It looks like an ordinary rock and to the casual observer it’s probably indistinguishable from any other large rock or boulder found across the area. However, this stone carries a significant history and represents an important cultural artifact as one of the few communal Native American grinding stones left in New England.
Rocks and stones were among the very first tools utilized by humanity and grinding stones like the one in Sudbury were used to grind food like corn, grains, nuts, and beans into fine meal or flour. The Nipmuc people settled the area around the Sudbury and Concord rivers over 10,000 years ago and experts estimate this particular grinding stone might date from the late Woodland period, which began around 800. Large communal grinding stones were uncommon for many tribes and food preparation was usually done with smaller stones owned by individual households and families. There are a handful of other grinding stones across Sudbury, but this one is the largest. All the Sudbury stones are unique as they appear to have a secondary surface that may have been utilized as a seat for someone to rest against.
Communal grinding stones were an important part of life for the Nipmuc people and some other tribes but unfortunately, very few have survived today. King Philip’s War of 1676 along with diseases and other conflicts decimated the local tribes and much of the surrounding woodlands were converted into farmland by English settlers. Other communal stones that might’ve existed were moved, destroyed, or lost to time as only a very small number of documented examples have been found outside of the Sudbury area across the state and New England.
If you have an interest in Native American history and would like to see an important preserved historical artifact, the grinding stone in Sudbury is certainly worth a quick visit.