Devil's Den

Useful Information

Location: 65 E Union St, Ashland, Massachusetts, 01721.
Park at the back of Ashland High School, take Harry Henchy Path, can be seen from the grandstands.
(42.260200, -71.447800)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyTalus Cave SpeleologyTectonic Cave
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Devil's Den, Tel: +1-
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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2002 noted by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative survey for the new Ashland High School as possible historic site.


Devil's Den is, as the name suggests, the hiding place of the devil. At least that's what Puritan settlers thought, when they first arrived in New England. So the small cave got its name. But it seems they feared the devil lurking within many dark corners of nature of this new and unfamiliar land. There is an abundance of natural features named after Satan, like the Devil's Chair, the Devil's Hopyard, Purgatory Chasm, the Devil's Beanpot, and the Devil's Oven. As far as we know this is the only cave among them. The Old Mendon Road, which connected the towns of Framingham and Mendon, was right in front of the cave. So the cave was a very prominent feature for travellers.

Archaeologists did not find any evidence of the devil occupying the cave. But they found remains of Native Americans, indicating that the Algonquians visited the cave. The Puritans were convinced that they were Satan's minions.

We listed the cave because it is the only natural cave we found in Massachusetts. The state is small and the rocks are crystalline basement, so there are no karst caves at all. So this is actually a talus cave which was created by rock movements, so it belongs to the group of tectonic caves. Irregularly shaped rocks were piled atop one another, the cave is just a crack between those rocks.

When the Ashland High School was expanding its athletic fields in 2012, the cave was scheduled to be demolished. Obviously a soccer field is of higher importance than a historic site. Fortunately, the local historical society was able to have the cave preserved, although the surroundings were massively altered. And it seems the cave was damaged, and all former trails to the cave were removed.