Bedford Explained: The Two Brothers Rocks

April 12, 2021

Two big boulders stand a few feet apart on the shore of the Concord River in Bedford, MA. A glacier dropped them eons ago.

By 11,000 years ago, when Indigenous People had come to inhabit the area, the impressive pair surely was used as a landmark. As centuries went by, three Native American trails came to intersect there. Perhaps they marked a shallow place where one could ford the river and continue their journey.

The Concord has been dammed now, and it is no longer a ford, and the trails have become roads – Dudley Road, Old Causeway, Davis, Pine Hill, Page…

Two Brothers’ rock, along the Concord River


In the seventeenth century, as more and more English landed in Massachusetts Bay, they began to found towns inland from the coast. The Great and General Court, wanting to expand the English settlement, recognized some important people with land grants. How were these parcels of Native American land obtained? Often there was not a transaction between Native Americans and the Court. When the land appeared empty to the English – when it was unimproved and had no houses on it – they commandeered it.

The land grants that particularly interest us are the two that comprise about 2500 acres bordering the Musketaquid (the Concord River). They were awarded to the Massachusetts Governor, John Winthrop, and the Deputy Governor, Thomas Dudley, in 1638. The men did not plan to move their families there, but they did go to mark out their land. One January day they borrowed a boat and put in at Concord and rowed downriver to the two boulders. There they stood and divided the land: to Dudley, the parcel to the north, and to Winthrop, the parcel to the south. A little brook helped mark the boundary. The two men were often at odds in government, but their children had married, and because of this, and that they “did brotherly agree,” they called the boulders the Two Brothers Rocks. They are still called that today. 

The Two Brothers Rocks are in the Dudley Road Historic District. If you would like to hike out to them, there are maps available on the web.

Click to download map




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