Lovecraft, Sutherland, & America’s Stonehenge
This is an update to the May 8 blog “Lovecraft, Shatner, & America’s Stonehenge.”
During one of Jamie Poole’s many visits to America’s Stonehenge, he friend Lenore states while reading a book: “Did you know H.P. Lovecraft wrote about America’s Stonehenge? The Dunwich Horror. I’m thinking Granny D needs her own Necroniomicon.” (Destiny of the Departed. Publication date 2018)
In my previous blog, I stated: “Sadly for Lovecraft, he likely never saw America’s Stonehenge—or Mystery Hill as it was still known in his day. The site didn’t open to the public until 1937. By then he was sick with cancer.”
This is correct. However, in reviewing another author, David Goudsward (H.P. Lovecraft in the Merrimack Valley, 2013), he offers another theory where Lovecraft might indeed have seen America’s Stonehenge.
At times it proves challenging to piece together some details on Lovecraft’s life. Correspondence between him and friends has been lost or is spotty in periods of his life. This is one of those places where documentation is unfortunately lacking.
Lovecraft traveled regularly about the Merrimack Valley, primarily in Massachusetts, researching cities, streets, and houses which would appear in his book. Many of the stories took place in towns with fictitious names, but the sites were only too real.
America’s Stonehenge is one of these places. It is likely the gaunt circle of stones in “The Dunwich Horror” is America’s Stonehenge.
Lovecraft travelled with friends and fellow writers. When visiting America’s Stonehenge, he likely travelled with a friend named H. Warner Munn who also wrote fantasy, horror, and poetry, and published, like Lovecraft, in Weird Tales.
David Goudsward cites Philip Shreffler’s “The H.P. Lovecraft Companion”:
It is with Munn that Lovecraft traveled to the archaeological site at Mystery Hill, New Hampshire, where, according to Munn himself, Lovecraft wandered among the stone ruins discoursing about his pantheon of timeless gods and how the monolithic setting would have suited them.
Goudsward concludes that this could have happened before 1937 after the area has been purchased by a new owner but before it became open to the public. A fence has been erected around the area to keep people out. Lovecraft could not have seen the site without special access, which is likely what happened. He and Munn were allowed in by a caretaker who had a key. The caretaker could have led Munn and Lovecraft through the area.
I can only imagine, having been there myself, the thrill Lovecraft could have had and the ideas that formed in his head. For me as a writer, I’m happy to think Lovecraft got to see a site around which one of his most famous stories is constructed. I've done the same thing.
It may be possible his readers don’t realize it’s a real place. And while it is not a “gaunt circle of stones”—this he would have said for imaginative reasons—it is well worth the visit to experience this interesting site.