Looming silently over the landscape for thousands of years, the standing stones had puzzled scholars and archaeologists, both amateur and professional, for as long as anyone in Plainstone could remember. It was clear the town had been named for the stones, but how they got there, who put them there, and what they meant was a puzzle. The circle stood about five miles outside of town and was a popular spot among local teenagers to get away from their parents. As was common among teenagers, it never occurred to them that their parents had done the same thing.
The usual creepy-scary-weird stories about the stones circulated among the residents, but nobody really believed them. Or if they did, they didn’t say anything out loud. The everyday purposes of megalithic structures were finally revealed to the modern world when yet another team of archeologists from Cambridge University arrived in Plainstone. This team had been even more methodical, if that was possible, than previous teams, and more unique in their approach to the stones.
Genevieve – Ginny – Smithson was surprised with the team showed up at the door of her small house. She was even more surprised when they’d asked if she had knowledge of any of the local stories.
“Of course I do. Everyone in town does. Why do you ask?” she inquired politely.
“Well, ma’am, we’re trying to put the stories in chronological order of origin and match them to the structure and placement of the stones at that time. As you’re aware, time and soil erosion have caused the stones to sink and tilt out of their original configuration. We’re hoping to figure out which stories match with a general time frame,” Joe Martinez, the team lead, told her. He and two others on the team had come out to visit her.
Ginny tilted her head. “That’s an interesting way to go about it,” she commented.
“Yes, ma’am, but we have a theory we’re testing and I understand that your grandmother knew a number of the stories about the standing stones stretching back to over one hundred years ago,” Joe responded.
“Well, yes, she did. I did record her telling me some of those stories, and she wrote down others…” Ginny started.
Joe’s face lit up. “Oh, ma’am. If we could listen to those recordings and read those stories, you would be helping us out tremendously.”
“Well, alright.” Ginny held the door open and gestured for Joe and the man and woman with him to come into the house. “Can I get you something to drink? Iced tea?”
“No, ma’am. Thanks for asking,” Joe said.
“Just give me a minute to dig things out,” Ginny told them, shuffling down her small hallway to the linen closet at the end. Digging behind a stack of old towels, she pulled out a box of old reel-to-reel tapes and three somewhat tattered diaries.
“I hope you can find something to listen to these on. My grandson said he’d transfer them to something more compatible with modern equipment, but he hasn’t had a chance to do that yet, so please be careful with them,” she said, handing over the boxes of tapes and the diaries.
Joe stared at the tapes. He hadn’t expected this, but someone on his team could probably find an old tape machine. He handed off the boxes to one of his team members and pulled a small notebook from his breast pocket. Quickly scribbling a receipt for the tapes and diaries, he handed it to Ginny.
“Just to make sure that everything gets back to you in one piece,” he said, smiling.
“Thank you. I would be very upset if anything happened to these.” Ginny waved a hand at the things she’d handed over and gave Joe a hard stare.
Seeing something in that stare he hadn’t noticed before, Joe swallowed. “Yes, ma’am. I’ll make sure they get back to you intact at the end of next week. I promise.” He stood up and held out his hand.
Ginny gave him a warm smile and shook his hand. “That sounds wonderful. I hope you all enjoy your research.” She opened the front door and waved as they headed down her front walk.
Two weeks later Joe pushed back from his desk with a sharp exclamation.
“What’s up, boss?” Wendy asked, hurrying over to him.
“That,” Joe said, pointing at one of the diaries Ginny had given them. “That’s what’s up, Wen.”
Wendy bent over the diary, squinting at the spidery handwriting.
“The druid told me we could use the stone ring for our sheep?” she read aloud. She turned her head to stare at Joe.
“The standing stones were used as a sheep pen?” Her voice rose in incredulity.
“Yep,” Joe sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Except on festival days, this particular circle was an everyday sheep pen.”
“So, do we write this up and publish it, or do we pretend we never saw these diaries,” Wendy asked.
Joe gave her a thoughtful stare.
For this week’s Odd Prompt, Fiona Grey challenged me with: The everyday purposes of megalithic structures were finally revealed to the modern world when… My prompt challenge The tiny garden was a miraculous patch of green amidst the piles of snow went to Padre. If you’re finding you need a bit of a jump start to begin writing, or keep writing, come over to More Odds Than Ends and join the weekly prompting feast!