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Photograph of the Haystack Rockshelter.

Haystack Rockshelter

Site ID: 15Po47

Kentucky Archaeological Survey
Unless specified, we cannot provide site location information.


​​​​​​​​Haystack Rockshelter overlooks an unnamed tributary of the North Fork of the Red River.  Archaeologists from the University of Kentucky investigated the site in 1974. 

This southwest-facing rockshelter, which is situated at the base of a cliff line, measures approximately 230 feet long and 30 feet deep.  Diagnostic artifacts from the site included Late Woodland ceramic vessels and spear points.  Also recovered were rare, otherwise perishable materials including cordage, feathers, cane, bark, and leather.

Distinctive angular shoulder fragment from a Late Woodland jar.


​The ceramics from Haystack Rockshelter are mainly large, thin-walled, cordmarked jars with distinctive angular shoulders.  Native peoples cooked the seeds of native cultigens, such as goosefoot, maygrass, and sunflower. in these jars.  

A small group of people, perhaps a nuclear or extended family, likely used the site. While there, they collected and processed plants and made chipped stone tools. Based on the types of plants recovered, archaeologists think Native people occupied the rockshelter from the middle of the summer through the end of the fall.  

Diverse, n​​ormally perishable remains were recovered from Haystack. They ​​included​ leaves, split cane basket fragments, paleofeces (ancient human feces), feathers, cordage, leather, and egg shells. These types of artifacts are only preserved within very dry rockshelters or in cool caves, such as Mammoth Cave in south-central Kentucky.​​​

Late Woodland cordmarked jar fragments.

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Investigators found fragments of cordage at Haystack.​​ Native Americans would have used it to make clothing and sandals.   

​Some examples were wrapped with feathers. ​Native weavers had inserted the butt end of a split feather quill between three interlocking strands that made up the cord.  Undoubtedly, this specimen and specimens with similar features were fragments of the same textile. They may have been part of a feathered fringe or perhaps a feathered blanket or garment.​

Cordage fragments: Z-twist, two ply (left); feather wrapped (right).

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