There has been a debate in New England as to who were the first visitors to our shores. Centered in this debate are several inscriptions in stone that were found in the Narragansett Basin. The first was the well-known Dighton Rock which was initially recorded in 1680. After that, over 20 other inscriptions were discovered along the shores of southeastern New England. These inscriptions have inspired many theories concerning possible pre-colonial visitors. Such theories suggest Vikings, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Phoenicians and even Irish monks were possibly the first people to set foot in the northeast.
In 2012 we began hunting down many of the lesser known rock inscriptions in the Narragansett Basin. So far we have located the Tiverton Petroglyphs, Mark Rock, the Portsmouth Cupstone, King’s Rock, and Leif’s Rock. We were able to find the inscriptions on all the stones but King’s and Leif’s Rocks. King’s Rock is currently covered by so much dirt and forest debris it will be difficult to locate the inscription if it does still exist.
Though we knew exactly where the inscriptions were located on Leif’s Rock, we could not see any remaining. Leif’s rock is in the tidal zone and has been weathered extensively. In addition, more modern inscriptions have been made on its surface.
Having recently had a great deal of success in using photogrammetry to bring forward details that normal photography will miss, we decided to make a return to Leif’s Rock and see if we might be able to reveal the original inscription. On Feb 19, we hiked out to the rock, and took a series of high resolution photographs, and built a 3D model from them.
At first, we could not see much more detail than we had seen in our original images. So we used a Matcap view of the model, which removes the images, revealing only the detailed shape of the object. As we rotated the model to encourage shadows in the shallower marking, we then saw the inscription of a boat and the markings that were thought to be Viking runes. After over 200 years of weathering and twentieth century graffiti, the inscription still barely holds a grip on its corner of the stone.
This spring we plan to return to the other rocks to create high resolution 3D models for them as well. Hopefully it will also be able to reveal many details thought to have been lost. We also will try to do high resolution images of the famous Dighton Rock to make its many inscriptions easier to view. Who knows? It might just reveal details that others might have missed in the past!
Leif’s Rock was also known as the Northmen’s Runestone. You can find the article of our first visit here: http://www.strange-new-england.com/2015/10/27/northernmen-runestone/
~Strange New England
3D Models and Images Below
Once you click them to view, you can change to Matcap view by clicking on the Model Inspector icon in the lower right. It looks like a stack of papers. You will then see a menu on the left where you will find Matcap. Remember that you can view these in full screen by clicking on the double arrow in the lower right corner. >>> Some computers or browsers may have issue with viewing these models. <<
Leif’s Rock Bristol RI (Low-Res Full Model)
Leif’s Rock Bristol RI (Hi-Res Inscription only)
Posted in Ancient New England, Archaeological, Historical and tagged bristol, folklore, inscription, Legend, Leif Erikson, norse, northman, runestone, vikingwith no comments yet.