King Philip's Rock

King Philip’s Rock aka South Sugarloaf, from River Road in Whately, MA. This is only one of many rocks purportedly belonging to King Philip between here and the Atlantic. Not unlike inns proclaiming “Washington slept here”–except of course that all those rocks actually did belong to King Philip, aka Metacomet, a sachem of the Wampanoag.

I’m thinking of doing a little climatological observation. I took this the last week in October. Every three months I’ll take a photo from the same spot. I wonder what will happen.


  1. Mike –
    I think this is a fascinating idea and look forward to reading more of it. But, wasn’t King Philip initally from closer to the coast in present day Rhode Island, then driven inland. The Rock’s name might be more in reference to the War than to the man. Granted, maybe hostilities started in Rhode Island and spread inland to reach Metacomet, so the rock was indeed his, but I think there’s also an element of history and folklore merging with geography here.

    Anyways, can’t wait ’til three months from now when you have to stand out in the middle of the snow and take another picture.

    Bundle up!

    1. Yeah, I agree there is probably a lot more folklore than history in the naming of this rock. Clearly I must needs do a bit more research. The place I saw the name originally was in a handwritten caption to a black and white photo of the peak taken around the turn of the 20th century, but I no longer have that book ready to hand.

      As I understand it, the political interactions that led to King Philip’s War all took place much closer to Boston, but the battles that made up the bulk of the bloodshed happened mostly in Western Mass. Deerfield, the site of one of the most notorious massacres of the war, is visible from the top of South Sugarloaf.

      But I tell you what. I will figure out the real story and come back to it in three months.

  2. Although somewhat of a late reply, let me add the following: King Philip’s War originally broke out in Swansea, just to the west of Fall River. Certainly battles were far reaching.

    As to Metacom’s geographic sites, his caves, rocks, etc. (there’s even a used car lot in Rhode Island with his name) are primarily located in Norfolk and Bristol Counties, although Worcester and Plymouth counties – as well as Rhode Island – do have their entries.

    The fenced off rocky projection on South Sugarloaf summit has been called both King Philip’s Outlook and Seat. There is a rocky formation to the north locally called King Philip’s Cave.

    Buried in the writings (and woods) of Williamsburg is also a King Philip’s Rock with a story of a cave once being there.

  3. Jim,

    Thanks very much for this info!

    I would love to find this King Philip’s Cave that’s north of Mt. Sugarloaf. I’ve wandered all through the woods around the area, and the closest things I’ve found to caves are a few overhanging ledges, not more than 6 or 8 feet deep, on the west slope of Mt. Toby, and a narrow tunnel where two big slabs of conglomerate have caved against each other near Roaring Brook Falls.

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