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Narragansett RunestoneMany know of the Dighton Rock. Another popular rock with a rune inscription is called the Narragansett Rock or Pojac Point Rock. It is the second most commonly spoken of landmark in Rhode Island concerning the possible pre-colonial visit by Vikings. The most popular Viking landmark in Rhode Island is the Newport tower. What many do not know is that there are many other rocks in Rhode Island that are believed to also have runes inscriptions. Though most are believed to be hoaxes, Indian markings, or just natural features, they are interesting curios of Rhode Island culture and history.

Just yesterday we learned that the Pojac Point stone appears to have been stolen in August of 2012. With this in mind, we decided to finally begin work on a the long overdue project of locating all the runestones in Rhode Island. 

In 1778 Ezra Stiles, minister of Newport and later president of Yale, found inscription rocks in five different place in the Narragansett bay region. His drawings and observations were never published, but in 1838 Dr. Thomas H. Webb and John R. Bartlett sought out these rocks and published their works through the Rhode Island historical society. There were over 20 rocks with inscriptions that were suspected to have been left by per-colonial visitors and they were the heart of many different theories as to who.

The first on our list to relocate was one forgotten by most that lies on the shores of Bristol Rhode Island. It was known long ago as the Northernmen’s Rock.  Leif Erikson Runestone

In 1919 the RI historical Society held a ceremony at the rock and christened it with corn, wine and oil. During the ceremony they renamed it “Lief’s Rock”. This upset Edmund Delabarre, a Brown University psychology professor who believed the evidence suggested the inscription was no older that the 1700s or 1800s. Though a skeptic of the Lief Erickson theory, Edmund would later claim that other petroglyphs in the bay were left by the Portuguese explorer Miguel Corte-Real.

For a long while we knew the general location or the Northern Runestone, but it wasn’t until this Sunday we went out to find it. Locating the rock was not difficult, but it appeared that the natural forces have erased the inscription. all we could find on its surface was graffiti left in the 1920s and vague signs of the inscription in Professor Stile drawings . When the weather is a little warmer, we’ll return to get a closer look at the surface and see if we can coax any sign of the inscription out of it with clever camera techniques. Until then, we’re already putting together the clues and laying out the path to the next forgotten Runestone hidden in Rhode Island.

~Michael

The Leif Erikson Runestone Gallery

For More Information on the Northernmen or Narragansett Runstones:

Bay State Monthly

Narragansett Runstone – Wikipedia

 


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