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 "Rediscovering Vinland, Evidence of Ancient Viking Presence in America"   

 

A Collection of Vinland Artifacts over the Centuries.

 

Serious Vinland Scholars may recall that perhaps, historically, New England has always been the favored locale of Vinland . Many are not aware that when the earliest colonists entered the Massachusetts/Rhode Island area after 1620 they recorded mysterious artifacts which seemed to result from even earlier arrivals and that a common belief that perhaps these were the Viking explorers led by Leif Eiricksson. In the early 1830’s, several New England historians attempted to resolve this puzzle and sought out scholars in Scandinavia who might research this issue in Viking literature. They found a Danish scholar, Charles – or Carl – Christian Rafn, who undertook the study and eventually published his "Antiquitates Americanae", now rare but references frequently encountered. So far as I know, Mr. (Dr.?) Rafn never visited New England but worked from both the original Sagas then stored in Copenhagen, co-relating research of American historians who were aware of both the legends of Vinland and the mysterious artifacts extant. It was a major collaborative effort for its day and its result an elegant and influential scholarly endeavor. It was re-published in Germany with commentary by Otto Zeller in 1963.

This page will identify eight artifacts that "Antiquitates Americanae" had listed (the American historians had contributed) and others that had been overlooked and those discovered since 1837. I will identify the artifact and comment on it. All, however, must be understood to have no scientific provenance because they were not discovered under controlled conditions – they were discovered by accident. This lack of provenance does not mean they must be forgeries or are of no interest, it simply means that they are not "proven" to scientific standards. I make no claim over and above my commentary that all must be valid and simply display the result.

 “Tack” each one as you investigate and at end zoom out and observe the pattern of occurrences. The resultant pattern is easily as indicative as validity of any particular one.

Listed are not only the material artifacts, but also what I call as "iconographic", that is, viewing a strong relationship of descriptions from either direct reference from the Sagas (icon) to a comparable geographic factor or locale.

In attempting to clarify the discussions on this page “iconographic”, means something of the same order as “artifact” but not man-made: something resulting from natural processes; something representative of the object itself. Modern usage infers “—graphic” as being a visual clue, but some dictionaries state a preference towards verbal or written words.  

As an artifact is something made by man, an iconographic is something from a process that results in a description as: we note a relatively fair description of an island Straumney in the Vinland Sagas. A description drawn from a reliable source is less tangible than an object, yet it is very nearly as valid in reasoned intercourse. As an artifact tells us of the presence of man, a description tells us of a particular fixation even as it does not tell us the whole story. We might think of this as a “literary factor” and this, then, can develop into other concepts as in medicine, genetics, geography and other disciplines. A “literary artifact” would be the description of the island Straumney within the Vinland Sagas, not the island itself. Thus, we have as an icon the description of an island and we might accept that there was such an island but do not yet know which island it had been. We can match the description – the graphic - to some island that seems to coincide but yet not proven, so more work needs to be done by the detective of history. We have complications which differ from algebraic equations, in which two factors are accepted as true to define an unknown third. With us the only definite factor might be the description, and that mostly by agreement and debate. In various talks that I have given I refer to this process as “boot-strapping” where investigation, exploration, and experimentation become crucial.  

In the previous page on Landfalls of Vinland, both C.C. Rafn and myself identify Straumney as Marthas Vineyard and it should be borne in mind that there are two concepts here: the description of the island; and my opinion as to where the island is. I believe myself, and may be, correct - but the subject is still open for discussion and comparisons. Indeed, the discovery that my readings had coincided with the meticulous research of that industrious and knowledgeable Dane, gave me that impetuous to continue what at that time had been simply a pleasurable avocation.

A list of symptoms in medicine might be a “medical iconographic” as it tells of a disease or condition that might be named or yet unknown and simply informs us of circumstantial evidence for further investigation, exactly as an artifact is a key to further investigation.  

A description of a place or geographic entity, written or oral (but not a map) I aver is a “geographic iconographic” of a particular place, but not the place itself and we still must debate its location and validity.  

A genetic trait is an iconographic as it describes a condition and yet deserves further investigation. It happens, however, that genetic iconographics might be the most definitive of all scientific statements because of great advances in DNA analysis over the past few decades. In fact, genetics has the ability to be more decisive in the history of mankind than artifacts because the study of genetics has advanced to yield mathematical certainties, whereas artifacts and other iconographics might always be open to question to some degree until scholars agree on a result. I consider myself most fortunate in discovery of published papers on RI1000( number 30, below), whose exhumations convey genetic information – iconographics - for proof of the discovery of Leif Erickson’s Vinland .  

If there is a better word for my intent, I would appreciate hearing of it.

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Follow the directions to Google Earth® as shown on "Landfalls of Vinland" use ruler liberally and zoom in and out for perspective. "Tack" all as you find them as their placements and relationships are as insightful as their existence. An overview at the end of the exercise will yield great insights pertaining to Vinland

 

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Rafn #1, Dighton Rock , MA , [artifact] Nautical access through Narragansett Bay . Photo taken 1830 and some scholars theorize that some of the chalked in markings are Norse runes. At this date the artifact had been known and recorded some160 years.

  [    41 48'46.09"N, 71 06'37.46"W    ]. The most famous, researched and preserved of the runestones of Southern New England. Moved a short distance from "in situ" and a museum constructed around it. May be visited and observed. It is pretty well eroded, has been recorded since very earliest colonial days. Portions of it seem to have been carved by steel or iron tools. Claims are made for it (displayed in the museum) as both ancient Viking or 15th century Portuguese as well as Indian and others. It might add to significance that within this area was the home village of famed Massasoit, Indian Wampanoag Chieftain who had welcomed the Plymouth colonists in 1620. It is at the head of navigation of Taunton River for ships of deep draft. A note of interest is that rain/river water flowing past tidal location of the museum actually has at its source rather distant Plymouth, on Massachusetts Bay, perhaps only two miles from Plymouth Rock. 

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Rafn #2, NoMans Land Runestone

 [    41 14'59.50"N, 70 48'46.96"W    ]. Artifact lost and recovered several times. Rafn seemed uncertain as he placed it at [     41 14'54.79N, 70 58'31.00W    ] way out at sea, but later rediscovered and presently in long, slow process of recovery. This endeavor is on hold because of bureaucratic processes of US Army Corp of Engineers, who have oversight of navigable waters. It is now at tidewater but scholars have claimed that in the past it was located upon the plain above the beach and about 50 yards inland. Years after the original workmen left it the land below it eroded away, dropping both it and the larger stone upon which it had rested to the beach. The beach, in turn has subsided to where the stone now exists. It has been at that spot since hewing but the land has retreated from it. This is nature's way of demonstrating the old trick of yanking a tablecloth away while leaving the plate and silverware in place.

The eroded lower line seems to have been positioned where it was periodically covered with snow, water or ice during a time it was at earth level even near or beneath packed earth. Carved with steel or iron tools. (Indian petroglyphs before 1492 were created with hard stone and lack the clear definition that iron tools yield.) Most significant factors in favor of these carvings validity are, first: the stone’s placement which makes no sense whatsoever for a land marker - it is adjacent to, and faces the sea. It is now on the most extreme seaward edge of the territory and is seldom or never visited. The argument for this is apparent in the barrenness of the island, its geographic placement near the waterside. The island has never been populated but has been farmed with small sheep herds. However, from a seaman’s perspective, especially one exploring or marking a discovery, the placement is ideal. As can be seen in the landfalls page, this island had been seen, probably from close aboard( near at hand), by Leif Erickson in his passage West towards his initial island landing. The island lies at a place passed closely by coastwise shipping, the strait so narrow as to discourage entry on that side of the island, and the beach relatively easy to approach at calm surf by an afterboat. While the runes are translated with the date 1001(AD, presumably), it need not have been carved in precisely that year, but at any year within the next thirty or so when it appeared that Vikings intended permanent settlement of this coastline. The marker, therefore, seems to be a notice of interest to ships "coasting" off shore.

Secondly, the inscriptions of the upper two lines of three are deeply incised into hard stone while the lowest nearest the bottom and apparently originally as deep and clear has eroded to where it is illegible. This comparison of clear letters with erosion of the lower line indicate – proves in my estimation, great antiquity, certainly of many centuries. The artifact was researched, photographed and presented as part of the program of one Edward F. Gray ( England ) in "Leif Erickson, Discoverer of America". It has some material available on the web. It is thought by some that the name of the island had been "Norman's Land" (Vikings Land) because of the presence of the rock. The island has never been densely inhabited, and then only for a few families.

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Rafn #3

[    41 39'51.91"N, 71 15'00.47"W      ] [artifact] Runestone now apparently lost near Mount Hope adjacent to Bristol , RI . Drawing of it exists and runes translated as, "Haldor strays himself and is lost here". The fact that runes exist or existed on this rock (I have searched for it but did not locate it) seems plain but, personally, I suspect the translation. A waterside location, especially this one, does not seem to me to be a likely place to be lost, nor a seaman taking the time and trouble to advertise his embarrassment.

Rafn #8, Newport Stone Tower . [     41 29'08.88"N, 71 18'35.30"W    ]. This artifact, so long controversial, cannot be omitted from Vinland study. It seems firmly accepted in Norway as a cultural artifact and is the single most constant attraction for Vinland scholars. Zooming in, you can actually make out some detail as it stands in small Tauro Park in Newport. (Tauro Park is in commemoration of a nearby synagogue, the very first established in the future United States.) So strong are the legends that this famous tower has evoked that a nearby hotel is named "Viking" and has murals within to add to the tale. While controversial, it most certainly is not the windmill that many claim because of the presence of a fireplace inside which would never be done where grinding of grain was performed. Millers from ancient times have been aware of the explosive properties of organic dust. It seems to compare well with Scandinavian architecture and also to have been built to an ancient Norwegian measurement system, according to Frederick J. Pohl. It has been, and remains, the single most notable attraction to Vinland scholars. Dr. Helge Ingstad, ultimate discoverer of the site at [    L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada    ] was drawn to it all the way from Norway and commenced his search at this place. Zoom in close on this one.

A much later visiting Norwegian scholar felt that certain markings he observed some 12 feet high on the West side seemed to be runes and translates as: "Church of the Bishop’s seat", the bishop being thought one Henricus who departed Greenland at some time in in the eleventh century in search of a lost Vinland. Records on Henricus state that his purpose was inspired by reports of the (Viking) people "---leaving the Church and going over to the natives" which 

we now know was the case. It is not known if he ever arrived or ever returned from this voyage as this is the end of his saga. Perhaps this tower represents his presence and ultimate failure of re-conversions of the new genetic specific people called Narragansetts. We now know that this loss of Christianity did, indeed, occur.

Another argument of my own and some others is that it is unlikely to have been a windmill because of technical weaknesses of building a windmill from masonry or stone. I am aware that this has been done and there are examples of it, especially with masonry which, by its geometric regularity of bricks is more stable. But built with stone is problematical because of the dynamic vibrations set up by the turning arms of the windmill. The weight of each arm is considerable and at speed quite so unbalanced as to cause severe vibrations which ultimately will destroy the structure, especially one built on pillars as the Newport one is. For windmills overall, wood is the better material, not because it is stronger, but because it has enough flexibility to withstand vibration. I have been inside a windmill with the sails turning at moderate speed and I can affirm that this is somewhat more than the word vibration implies. It is more like a shuddering and must be much worse at high speeds or in storm. As I understand it, the canvas sails are removed when storms threaten, but even without them the web-like supports for them can not be put out of operation so that the rotor still turns (the brake cannot hold it), still at considerable speed, but at a more manageable power level. The caretaker of the one I visited on Nantucket and from whom this information comes, stated that he had weathered several severe storms within and one hurricane. (1938, a most famous storm along that coastline. I weathered it as well, but from an inland locale where falling trees were the worst hazard.) He told me that it was a most frightening experience with the floors heaving and the whole structure swaying. The windmill was of respected durability because at the time I was there it had stood some 200 years. It is shown in place on Captain Southack's chart dated 1717 and I hope in place yet.

I cannot refrain from offering an opinion of my own concerning the Newport Stone Tower. I consider it possible and probable that the tower is of Portuguese impulse of 1470’s. The ship considered - one of three - happened to have either Portuguese "agents" or commanders but, interestingly, a Scandinavian crew. This crew, of course, would be the actual artisians of the structure and would use their own measurement system. There are possible recorded correlations to both [ Dighton Rock , MA ] and the chronicle of Giovanni Verrazano who first contacted and recorded Narragansett ( Rhode Island ) Indians in 1524. Specifically: one of the three Danish ships of Joao vas Corte Real, Portuguese agent of King Alphonso VI. The tower I leave to your judgement and this last idea my own speculation.

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Rafn #4, [artifact] West side of the Island of Aquidneck ( Rhode Island ).  [     41 33'21.51"N, 71 18'11.38"W    ] Area now disturbed by US Navy installations. Apparently not runes but curiously carved and some theorize it a device for colonial black powder salutes. Indefinite to negative in my opinion.

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Rafn #5, [artifact] West side of Sakonnet " River " entry at a place called "Sachuest" (Narragansett Indian word). 41 28'50.38"N, 71 14'45.81"W      ] This rock also has been lost to erosion. My exploring for it (just from curiosity in 1950) did locate a brass plaque that identified it but the rock itself is lost by this most peculiar form of erosion. The brass plaque was observed by this writer in 1950 but when investigated in 1985, it also had been lost to erosion. The county had attempted to preserve the shoreline by laying out huge blocks of concrete slabs weighing many tons and these blocks, at one time lying upon the steep bank adjoining and in contact, have been washed directly out to sea in a regular, evenly spaced and systematic fashion. The persistent wave action caused them, apparently, to follow the course of the ancient hewn stone. A Portuguese scholar, Dr. De La Barre, also sought this stonel before me and discovered yet another at the opposite end of the small beach. This second stone was definitely not hewn with intent to form letters.

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Rafn #6, East side of Sakonnet River . [    41 32'01.09"N, 71 12'23.72"W    ]. [artifact] Runestone, Scholars might note with this zooming with Google Earth® that this water way does not appear as a true river, which it is not. In fact, it is so named because of this study by C.C.Rafn, who felt that it may have been the river leading to Leifsbudir and Hop. (Which he theorized to be "Hop" at [     Mount Hope , RI     ] and Leifsbudir at [    Tiverton , RI     ]) The little used waterway is entirely salt, shallow, tidal and has no fresh water flow. Rhode Islanders erroneously refer to the passage along the West side of the large island near Newport as Narragansett Bay's "East Passage" and is the most heavily traveled. Investigations northward from Newport might discover two large aircraft carriers docked, thus indicating a quite deep channel. However, as can be clearly seen here the so-called Sakonnet River is the true East Passage. Nautical traffic is light because of shallows and the narrow strait to the North.

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Rafn #7,  In a district named [    Somerset , MA      ]. [artifact] A runestone formerly well known but removed for rip-rap at nearby locale. Lost and no translation seems apparent. This area also is known as a dwelling site of famed Massasoit, that same famed Wampanoag Chieftain who greeted the Plymouth settlers in 1620 or '21. We have good reason to believe that he also might have been descended from Vikings and was closely connected to the Narragansett neighbors just across the bay.

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From Antiquitates Americanae but not listed as artifact. Whale Rock [    41 25'36.98"N, 71 25'24.95"W    ]. A natural feature not claimed as runestone and, in fact, a bit of a mystery. Rafn shows this on his detailed map apparently to compare with the stranded whale on Straumney. It does not seem to bear at all with his theme of approach up Sakonnet River. An interesting feature nevertheless. It looks like a spouting whale from a little distance

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#9, [    41 38'47.85"N, 71 24'27.20"W    ] [artifact] Runestone. Newest discovery of about 40 years ago. Exact location is confidential. It is in tidewater and seems to be a border or property marker. The markings appear as runes but have not been fully translated. In its favor is its location, for the little known subsidence of the land must be accounted for and its original placement must have been much before where the present shoreline is now located. As with the NoMans Land runestone, the variance in conditions indicates that its original location makes it a reasonable artifact where its present clocation at tidewater does not make sense.

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#10, [    43 45'39.67"N, 69 19'08.67"W     ] [artifact] Monanis Island near Monhegan , Maine . Considerable distance from Rhode Island but not far off a track of navigation from Greenland . From Professor De La Barre. Markings appear to be runes but carved by someone "illiterate".

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#11, [ ] (I seem to have misplaced my references to this artifact.  Will seek it out and add when discovered.) Also from De La Barre. Refers to "Ober Broadside" (paper/pamphlet? of 1889) at West Newberry, MA. Described as possible runes with Indian superscriptions.

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#12, [     41 43'51.00"N, 70 37'14.35"W    ] [     Aptuxet , MA       ]. Artifact runestone well known at one time in local circles as it was used as a step in a local church. It was revered by local Indians and was translated to say; "Jesus amply provides for us here and in Heaven". Again, remember that all but one of the Vinland voyagers were Christian, Catholic and at the time Vikings were generally somewhat literate.

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#13, [    Bourne, MA     ] [     41 44'04.47"N, 70 36'00.75"W    ] [artifact] Not far from Plymouth , a runestone used for many years as a tourist attraction at general store. Uncertain fate. Note close proximity of 12 and 13.

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#14, Plymouth MA . [     41 57'31.09"N, 70 39'44.24"W     ] [artifact] Exact placement unknown.  Since I can not specify the exact location, this one is Plymouth Rock itself.  Interested historians might call up their ruler and determined distance from the rock to Dighton Rock from where famed Massasoit traveled to join his visitors for the first ever of Thanksgiving dinners. His home was identified as "Pockonocick Sagamore) quite near Dighton Rock.  Ref. William F. Goodwin, "The Truth about Leif Erickson". Runestone. Translation: "Jua provides us light abundantly."

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#15, Again from Goodwin. [    42 54'58.24"N, 70 36'33.78"W    ] [       Hampton Beach NH.     ] [ artifacts] Two runestones. Translations, "---owns me", "Bui reis stein" (Bui raises stone).

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#16, [    Sebac , ME     ] [    45 19'26.92"N, 69 09'58.52"W    ] [artifact] Appears as grave marker translates as," Aud owns" (Aud a common woman’s name in Viking culture.) Goodwin. Appears quite far inland but marginally possible.

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#17, [    Popham Beach , ME     ] [    43 45'27.40"N, 69 44'32.09"W    ] [artifact] Translation: "----in the year 19" (?) Source: Goodwin. Actually three small stones and noted as "preserved".

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#18, Yarmouth , Tor Bay , Nova Scotia .

 [    45 11'39.42"N, 61 19'51.69W    ] [artifacts] Two, one an ax but with inscribed runes. Only four of fourteen seem valid but a tentative translation is: " Inscribed for Divine Protection" Source Frederick J. Pohl.

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#19, Oak Bluffs on [    Marthas Vinyard, MA    ] [     41 27'30.31"N, 70 33'38.94"W    ]. [artifact] Runestone known from early colonial 1600’s. At one time had been translated by a local clergyman from supposed runes but the translation is lost. It was known for many years as a "lover’s rock" but eventually was overcome by erosion, at which it fell from its high bluff with the inscription facing upward. When I say "fell" I realize that this is not the correct definition of what happens. The rock did not fall, neither did it slide, it ended upon the beach in approximately the same place as it had occupied earlier. The sandbank eroded away from under it, so that its descent was gradual - perhaps 50 years from when the ground eroded under it. This is the same process that occurred with the NoMans Land Runestone. Eventually "Lover's Rock" was removed and used for shoring for pier in the harbor. Nature's way of demonstrating our familiar trick of yanking a table cloth away while leaving dishes and silverware in place. 

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#20, 

[    41 59'21.05"N, 70 42'04.77"W    ] [artifact] An ax recorded from the estate of original 1620 settler family named Howland. At property inventory it was described as "Viking ax, over 200 years old." Seems also to have runes upon it translating to: "Father gave". This artifact, if valid, is one of the most intriguing as it is possible to correlate it to Thorvald Eiricksson himself who was buried on the headland just across the harbor. William Goodwin collection.

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 #21  [   41 41'49.73"N, 71 53'08.80"W    ] [artifact] Mysterious cairns built in shape of Viking burials. These also are modern discoveries (~40 years) and in such an obscure place that they have been overlooked for centuries. Precise location is kept in confidence but are within property designated as ( Connecticut ) State  Park. They were written up in an article in Norwegian cultural periodical in the 1980’s and brought to my attention. Photographs. The three of them surely are structured in configuration comparable to size and shape of Viking longships. A Norwegian scholar even identified blocks placed as in position for ship’s mast. The artifacts seem valid enough for me and would seem to invite archeological interest. The only thing I can see against them is that the entire outline is filled with stone to a height of perhaps three feet, whereas in Scandinavia almost exclusively they are simply outlined in stone.

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#22  [geographic iconographic] [possible other artifacts] Bass River ( Massachusetts ) site [     41 42'11.45"N, 70 10'59.72"W     ] discovered and researched by Frederick J. Pohl in the early 1950’s. This site was widely publicized and accepted with some enthusiasm until proposal of L’Anse aux Meadows in 1963. Mr. Pohl traced the sagas precisely as we have here and felt that the river of Leifsbudir was this Bass River near Nauset at the elbow of Cape Cod. At that time he was able to investigate the area of the lake and discovered a rock with an apparent mooring hole as well as traces of ancient piles arranged as a possible ship shed. The property has since been developed for residential use but the town has accepted the theory to the extent of naming nearby streets for Vinland personages.

One of my early acts of investigations was to visit this place and counter it with my own theories. I felt that perhaps Mr. Pohl looked for his landing too soon after turning into Nantucket sound. He seems to have felt that the crew was at the end of their tether, starving and exhausted. This does not seem to me to fit with the tale of their stay on an offshore island. I also felt that the terrain was not rugged enough – very few elevations nearby could be called hills.

It then occurred to me that the lake was quite distant from the sea. A resident informed me that it was about seven miles which I think too far. (Actually a bit less than five miles, but perhaps some distance added for convoluted courses. Even fine miles is a long way to work a small ship in undeveloped waterways.) As I have mentioned elsewhere, seamen do not have the attitude that the sea is to be avoided. What they look for is sheltered anchorages as close to the sea as possible. Time of traverse to where their voyage to fish or faraway begins is a large consideration for seafarers. At Bass River, it would take a full day for a ship to be worked from the lake to the sea whereas at Narrow River, a ship can be moored only fifty yards from the surf-line and out in less than an hour when high slack-tide occurs.

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[     41 29'11.24"N, 71 26'10.27"W      ] [possible artifact] In research I discovered legends of another ancient tower located on the west side of the bay. Memories of this remain in the alternative name of McSparran's Hill as "Tower Hill" and also that section of the Boston/New York post Road - US rt. 1 - called Tower Hill Road. In examining satellite photos I was astonished to discover an area that appears to have at one time contained a tower of similar proportions to the Newport Tower. Several times I have examined the field where it seems to have stood and could not determine any thing at ground level.

I was guided to this area by speculation that if there had been a tower that matched the Newport one, it would probably be related to a line of light/sight sourced from the Newport Tower fireplace and the oddly placed Western window which has long been speculated to have been a possible lighthouse configuration. I discovered that this line of sight was directed precisely towards Pettaquamscutt Rock on the other side of the bay. It was in tracing this line of sight that I discovered the apparent traces of the second tower. There is nothing peculiar in the idea that perhaps this second tower had existed. 

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#23, [     41 26'31.46"N, 71 26'38.30"W    ] [literary iconographic]. Offered as indicative is the area of the Narrow River mouth which coincides with descriptions extracted from the Vinland Sagas.

#24,

 [     41 28'15.67"N, 71 27'09.48"W    ] [geography iconographic] Pettaquamscutt Rock. Invisible under the forest canopy. What might be noted is the smaller extent of the tree tops here as can be seen in the stunted trees in right hand photo. This is the result of thin topsoil upon its top. Not precisely an "artifact" it coincides with descriptions extracted from Vinland Sagas.

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#25, [    41 27'22.53"N, 71 27'25.78"W    ] [geographic iconographic]. An area detected by this writer in an early satellite photo and analyzed at University of Texas as a "ghost field". It does not seem to coincide with modern or colonial property lines and seems to have signs of structures at its highest (inland) end that compares with medieval farm patterns. In my own analysis of this "ghost farm" and its relationship to other factors of the settlement, it is my guess that this is the most likely spot for the farm of Thorfinn Karlsefni, his wife Gudrid, and birthplace of Snorri. It is now overgrown with small trees and brush but at the time of the satellite photo (1973) was more or less clear pasturage, which enabled the indistinct outlines to appear.

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#26, [     41 27'31.00"N, 71 27'29.00"W    ] [iconographic]  (Precise location deliberately obscured.) Jireh Bull homestead. Caution to independent investigators! This property is owned by the RI Historical Preservation Society and has no legal approach across local property lines whose owners are alert to trespassers. The area also possesses strong defenses to those wandering about. Property owners are possessive, the area is infested with wood-ticks which are suspected to carry Lyme Disease, and extensive overgrowth of a plant called Greenbriar, easily as effective as barbed wire. Persons attempting to force these tangles are sure to be well bloodied. (As I discovered to my regret.)

This area was of interest to me as it is the most likely place for an approaching seaman to view as a dwelling site. This location is defined not by the terrain (hilly and steep) as it is by the channels in the waterway below. The seaman is interested in bringing his ship as close to the shore as possible (for small ship "beachings", at least) and his dwelling so close as to overlook his anchorage. For this reason, I felt that both Leif Erickson and Jireh Bull would match each other’s interest for dwelling sites. Bull, as it happens, was the first of the English colonials to build within this estuary at a time when the whole of the land west of Narragansett Bay was still Indian territory .

In 1917, because of interest in the decayed ruins of the 1663 Bull homestead, Archeologists excavated the homestead which eventually extended to four structures dating from 1663 to 1678. Two very intriguing discoveries were made, the first being absence of a well or water supply, which struck the archeologists as peculiar, but there is a small spring there now which at one time had a "spring-house" built over it. The spring must have been there when Jireh Bull dwelt there and also when Leif Erickson did much before. It would be Bull, of course who built the spring-house. (Colonial spring-houses were used for milk and butter storage as they are commonly cooled by the flowing water.

The second item is even more significant and may be viewed as a valid artifact, perhaps of great significance. The archeologists discovered underneath the Bull structure, recorded to have been built in 1663, clear evidence – traces - of an even more ancient structure. It is this unexamined building that I claim might well be the true residence of Leif Erickson c.AD1000. The Archeologists recorded this older structure in their report to the RI Legislature, but no further attention has been drawn to this amazing information. This cessation of attention no doubt was the result of American entry to WWI. It is worth repeating that this 1663 Bull dwelling was one of, and perhaps the very first, endeavor at building anywhere on the West side of Narragansett Bay. In 1663, the colony of  Rhode Island existed only in four quite limited areas near the Bay waters; Newport, Portsmouth  (on North end of same island) Warwick (on West side but further North) and Providence at the tip of Narragansett Bay. At this period of history, the colonists were still essentially tied to the sea whereas the Indians held all the inland territories. (With the exception of the district between Plymouth and [    Rehoboth , MA     ] which had been depopulated by the epidemic of 1615.)

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#27  [     41 30'29.64"N, 71 25'04.98"W    ] [artifact] Saunderstown , RI . Alleged Viking weapon discovered by accident in 1889 and researched by one James Earl Clausen who was a high school teacher in the area. He persisted in describing it as a "halberd", which usually is seen as a combination spear and ax. However, "halberds" seem to be very rarely encountered in Viking weaponry. Mr. Clausen’s interest and research was never taken seriously among his neighbors and even among his own family. He wrote a book on it which, unfortunately, was never published and its manuscript lost. His surviving description of it states that it weighed ten pounds and was eleven inches along the blade and eleven inches from cutting edge to haft hole, which seems too large for a personal weapon. I do believe that some medieval weaponry was designed for battering and chopping attack upon walls, roofs and doors rather than individual enemies. The concept is somewhat comparable to the distinct axes used by modern firemen, which have both hook or spike and chopping edge. Those ornate halberds carried by English "Yeomen of the Guard" and Papal "Swiss Guards" do not appear practical for man to man combat and look like they would be formidable defense weapons against cavalry and also for forcing windows or doors.

Mr. Clausen is remarked in the research of Frederick J Pohl and was interviewed for a radio program in 1936 in his later years in which he stated that he would believe till his dying day that the artifact was a Viking Halberd; that Pettaquamscutt River was the Leifsbudir and Hop of the Icelandic Sagas; and that the battle of Hop occurred a bit north of Saunder's farm [    Saunderstown, RI    ] on the East side of Pettaquamscutt River. The ax, however, was discovered quite close to salt water edge near the bay at a place long noted as a landing site for ferrying to and from [    Jamestown , RI     ] (Ind. "Conanicut") Island across the water.

Note the small spurs that are structured upon the two axes (#18, #20) viewed above. Those spurs seem too weak and impractable to serve any useful purpose for hewing or managing logs and it is my belief that the purpose might be, indeed, a European and Viking innovation for the purpose of grappling an opponent’s shield when in close combat. The warrior, in this supposition, would hold the shield upon his forearm with the left hand holding both shield and ax, his right hand grasping a long-sword. The opponents would attempt to immobilize each other's shield arm where strength and aggression would come into play until a forced opening for a sword stroke would end the argument. It may have been the appearance of such a spur on the Saunderstown ax that made Mr. Clausen to refer to it as a "halberd".

Some of those who ridiculed Mr. Clausen’s work claimed that the ax must have been a "broad-ax", which compares roughly with the size and weight of that found. My counter to this is that in 1889 broad-axes were still a common tool with both woodmen and carpenters and have a distinct configuration of an off-set from the haft hole to where they can be mounted upon the handle for left and right strokes along sides of a beam being shaped. An adze hews along the face of a beam, while a "broad ax" hews along one side or the other. The ax is mounted on the handle one way or the other for a right or left stroke along the log. In hewing masts for ships, for instance, broad axes were commonly used. Surely this would have been pointed out or discovered by Mr. Clausen in his lifetime of research, but there must have been something about the artifact that was distinctive and distinctively Norse to make him devote his career and reputation to it.

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Fort Ninegret .  [    41 31'06.48"N, 71 42'45.08"W    ] A significant site not directly connected to Vinland. Narragansett (sub-group Niantic). Chieftain Ninnegret was a well known and well documented individual upon whose territory Dutch businessmen of New Amsterdam had built a trading post. The waterside location of this fort is preserved as a small park and the outlines of the fort still evident. Its design had been of European style, square with four battlements. A number of colonial artifacts have been excavated from this site, one a small cannon and another a sword of late medieval Flemish design. Its significance here is an introduction to this famous Ninnegret. A painting of him is displayed on another page of this website at "The People" found on the Index page. He, of course, was a member of the "nobility" and one expected to be - and now proven to have been - descended from European Viking stock. A visit to this place removes all sense of time from the historian

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#28. [     41 23'31.75"N, 71 38'37.13"W    ] [genetic iconographic]   Narragansett cemetery, Charlestown , RI . Burial site of Ninnegret’s daughter, "Princess" Weunkwesh. This site (c.1660) was excavated in 1853 by MD Usher Parsons who was intensely interested lifelong in Narragansett history as well as genetic anomalies in the population. It was his adventure to have been treating a wounded Narragansett Indian crewman during the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 when the unfortunate native was struck a second time and carried away by a British cannonball. Dr. Parsons had known this man well and there seems to have been something about him that engaged the intense interest that became the Doctor's lifelong intimacy with the tribe. He excavated 53 burials at this place of which one was a grave of Ninnegret’s daughter. The excavation was both deep (12 feet !! The silk clad body in a split log sarcophagus !!) and opulent, astoundingly atypical for what we might think of primitive woodland Indians of the day. Some decades after the excavations another Rhode Island historian, Sidney Smith Ryder, in re-examining the skull of this woman, discovered with his microscope the first sign of that genetic anomaly that becomes the proof of this argument – tubercular hair. Since she possessed the trait, it follows that either her mother or father Ninnegret had possessed it as well. Dr. Parsons, the excavator, and Mr. Ryder, discoverer of the trait, were not archeologists, but were, in fact, educated and responsible scholars.

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#29.  [    41 29'38.45"N, 71 22'59.19"W    ] Narragansett cemetery researched at the same time as that following. I have been unable to discover any papers on this site.

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#30   RI-1000    [     41 34'47.35"N, 71 30'19.62"W     ] [genetic iconographic]  The Champion !!  Discovered by accident and excavated and researched by archeologists from University of Rhode Island , published and peer reviewed. This site is fully documented and has academic provenance. It has our proof in the discovery of a genetic trait which must be of pre-Columbian European origin. The amazing thing about this discovery is the reminder that "artifacts" are man-made, whereas this genetic trait is nature-made – or an act of God, if you will. The argument, then is not the validity of an object, but review of factors contributing.

A summary for insight seems in order at this point. We have theorized that Narrow River sand bar is the iconographic described in the Vinland Sagas. This has led us up the short river into a lake and from there up a hill to a building site. The descriptions of Hop permit us to see development of a settlement,"—there were houses down near the water, and more farms further back on the other side of the hill." We can account for documented residence at this place by over two hundred people, whose Norse records cease at departure of Freydis Eiricksdottir. It has been thought that the end of the settlement was the departure of Karlsefni’s family earlier, but in the twenty or so years of residence, some of the male Vikings must have made their way into the local Indian culture or seized as chattels Indian women. Thus commenced the unique genetic family that became the Narragansett Tribe later described in 1524. It can be reasonably speculated that the first intermarriage settlement occurred upon the East side of Pettaquamscutt River at a place they named "Mettatuxet". There exists also the possibility that is opened to speculation by the numbers and placements of the listed artifacts above, that Vinland was never entirely abandoned  by Norsemen for quite some time and that periodic visitation had occurred. This has been considered by a number of scholars, among whom was the late, celebrated Dr. Thor Heyerdahl.

In the intervening years from 1000AD, the genetic grouping expanded to the approximate borders of present State of Rhode Island, when these were set in defiance of their two aggressive neighboring English colonies of Massachusetts and Connecticut near 1640. The tribe was so powerful and dominant that they were the sole Native American group whose presence established Rhode Island's borders, rather than have them determined in far off England as were all the other 12 original colonies. The setting of those borders occurred with the colonial charter of 1663 but Narragansett influence ceased in 1677 at their defeat in King Phillip’s war. Narragansett Tribal base of origin was Pettaquamscutt River Valley and the revered origin of their name might have been the small island now named "Gooseberry" in Lake Pettaquamscutt now misnamed "Cove".

RI1000 is located nearly central to Narragansett Territory and is about 8.5 miles from where the Viking settlement had existed.

"Rediscovering Vinland, Evidence of Ancient Viking Presence in America"   

 

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Frederick N. Brown

Yarnell AZ USA Autumn 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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