Peak is a unique site, as similar sites are found nowhere else in the
Hawaiian Islands. The site is unusual in three main aspects.
- 1. It is located at an elevation of 3,000 feet above sea level,
- 2. it has a leveled area of approximately 12 by 27 feet, and
- 3., it contains large wooden posts estimated to number a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 7.
wooden posts ranged from 6-8 inches to 11 inches in diameter and stood
from 0.75 foot to 13 feet, 2 inches in height. The site was described by J. J. Jarvis in 1841 and revisited by John F. G. Stokes and Charles Dole in 1915 (BPBM 1931:32,54).
The Bishop Museum publication by Bennett on the Archaeology of Kaua'i
reported on Stokes's and Dole's description (Bennett 1931:54).
Mr. Dole reported that
. . an area 12 feet by 27 feet had been leveled off the top of the peak
at least to decomposed rock, but much cutting in solid rock is
improbable . . . Instead of several long posts, 1 foot in diameter,
reported by Jarves, Stokes and Dole found one post 13 feet 2 inches
high and 11 inches in diameter, and smaller ones 3.5, 1.75, 1.25, and
0.75 feet high, and 6-8 inches in diameter. The posts are of kauila
wood which is said to have come from the mountains back of Waimea. If
so, great labor must have been expended in dragging them up the steep
ascent. The only artificial work mentioned are notches on the large
post. Reports of carvings were not substantiated. An adz and several
water worn stones (not sling stones) were found on this platform."
The function of the site is not very clear from these descriptions.
Jarves and Stokes's suggestion that the site was the home of a robber
chief or a lookout is improbable because of the harsh climate of the
area. The site is often covered with clouds, drenched with rain, and in
a very windy, cold place. Could the site be the "funeral pyre" of a
chief? Hawaiian custom prohibit cremation except for violators of
certain taboos. A large fire at this location would have been a most
difficult labor and if it did occur, the evidence of scorching of the
posts would have been noted. The use of the site as a funeral platform
is a possibility, but nothing in the descriptions would point to this
as a function. Such a use of the site would have been recorded in local
legends. One thing is sure: that the site was of importance and must
have been "financed" by a person of high status. The labor required to
cut the kauila logs, to transport them up the steep slope to
the site, and finally to place them into holes cut into the bedrock was
most demanding. Previously, the surface of the peak had been leveled
and the holes cut to fit the logs. The digging of the holes must have
been done at the same time that the logs were transported to the site,
as the diameters of the posts differed.
I would suggest that this was a shrine of unknown function. Its
position and elevation command a clear view of the southern shore of
Kaua'i as well as the lands to the east. Its size would limit the
number of people on the site and the posts may be an alignment for
"astronomical" and ceremonial determination. Unfortunately the diagram
drawn by Dole (Bennett 1931:32, Fig.3) does not indicate any compass
bearings or anything but gross details. Following are copies of the
Dole drawing as they appear in Bennett's book and a schematic view of
what it would have looked like. The site needs to be revisited,
surveyed and described again.