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DID THE NORSEMEN ERECT 
THE NEWPORT ROUND TOWER 



BARTHINIUS L. WICK 



./- -. / 



1 , 







THE ROLM) TOWER AT NEWPORT 



DID THE NORSEMEN ERECT THE NEWPORT ROUND 

TOWER 

By Barthinius L. Wick 
On the summit of the island of Rhode Island, in the quaint 
old town of Newport, stands an old relic of a former age, named, 
variously, the stone mill, the round tower, and the Norsemen's 
tower. What it was primarily intended for is not known, al- 
though it has been used at various times, it is said, for a powder 
house, a hay loft, and a storage place, all of which fail to disclose 
the purposes the original builder had in mind. The Governor 
Bull House, erected in 1639, as well as many other buildings 
and ruins of the seventeenth century are pointed out to the 
sightseeing tourist, but none so far has furnished any trust- 
worthy evidence that the stone mill was built by any of the early 
English settlers. The Indians have made no claim to it; the 
mound builders, if they were a distinct race, would not have 
left behind just one building of such style when for generations 
they inhabited a greater part of the western continent. 

Certain writers allege that the old tower must have been 
erected by Irish, Welsh, or Norse explorers, long prior to the 
entry of the Pilgrims on New England soil. The old stone rum 
does not speak, and the builders and designers left no documen- 
tary evidence, so far as has been ascertained, to explain the 
mystery. Hence the correct account of the old ruin may always 
be the subject of endless discussions. 

The Round Tower, as it has been known for more than a 
century, is a roofless, circular stone ruin about twenty-five feet 
high and about eighteen feet nine inches in diameter inside, and 
about twenty-three feet in diameter on the outside. It is sup- 
ported on eight round, stone pillars, or arches, each three feet 
in diameter, constructed of the same kind of material as the 

1 



remainder of the building. The arched openings are each twelve 
and one-half feet high from the ground. The tower is con- 
structed of rubble stone and granite, of a material found along 
the seashore and its immediate vicinity. The mortar used in its 
construction has been carefully examined and found to contain 
a mixture of sea shells and small particles of slate, sand, and 
gravel, forming a kind of cement.^ 

The building is provided with two fire places, located about 
thirteen feet from the ground, just above the arches; the north 
fire place seems to run up nearly straight, while the south fire 
place curves slightly for some distance and then turns up with a 
slight inclination. Both flues open out on the face of the wall 
about nine or ten inches below the top, and each one is covered 
with a large stone, evidently to protect the under part of the roof. 
The flue of the north side does not appear to have been plastered, 
but the flue on the south side, it is claimed, shows evidences of 
some kind of plaster. There are openings in the wall in a few 
places. They may have been used as windows for admission of 
light or for purposes of observation. There are beam holes in 
the wall inside just above the columns, or arches, which must 
have been used for floors or stairways. - 

A few writers have imagined that the structure was plastered 
on the outside ; however, this is difficult to ascertain, as for many 
years the walls were covered with ivy, causing the sides to be 
damp, and thus the particles of plastering, if any had been put on, 
must have fallen off. This ivy was removed by order of the 
city authorities about the year 1879. In 1835 Dr. Webb made 
an examination of the pillars and found that these were set into 
the ground about four feet, which would make the foundation 
walls safe for a structure of this kind. Others believe that the 
building may have been much higher, but this contention is not 
borne out by the facts. It was, no doubt, covered with a wooden 
roof, and there may have been several wooden floors, making the 
tower to correspond to the old round towers still found in Water- 
ford, Ireland, and other places. 

Some writers on this subject have suggested that the fire 
places may have been enstalled at a later date. These fire places 
are built into the wall and are of the same kind of material, so 

1 Mason, G. C, Sketches of Newport, 1884, p. 392. 

2 Am. Architect, vol. vi, p. Ill; Potter's Am. Monthly, vol. v, p. 753. 



^ that they must have been erected at the same time the building 

t_;was constructed.^ 

^•- This tower, no doubt, was surrounded by a wooden stockade 
in order to keep the attacking natives at a safe distance. It may 
have been used at the same time also as a watch tower and look- 
out. It has been suggested that the builder must have had some 
knowledge of architecture in order to construct a circular build- 
ing. However it is not a difficult task to erect such a building, 
yet it would indicate it had been constructed in accordance with 
some formulated plan although of rude construction throughout. 

IS IT Arnold's mill 

No one in particular laid any claim to this unroofed building, 
until the historical evidences were brought to light through the 
Sagas that the Norsemen had explored the New England region 
during the ninth and tenth centuries.* In the beginning of the 
nineteenth century the local historians, and others, began to set 
forth that this old ruin was a mill erected by Benedict Arnold, 
one of the governors of Rhode Island. This contention, after all, 
rested exclusively on a reference made to a stone mill in his will, 
dated December 20, 1677, part of it which reads as follows: 
"I give to my daughter, Hermia, wife of John Banister, eight 
acres with an old stone mill thereon standing and being now." 
There is also a reference in another part of that instrument "to 
his stone built mill. ' ' In another deed for the Jewish cemetery, 
dated 1677, it is stated: "A piece of land thirty feet long 
resting southwest upon the highway that leads from ye stone mill 
toward Benj. Griffins house." But a mere description in a 
deed or will does not by any means solve the question as to who 
was the original designer of buildings located upon such land. 

Benedict Arnold was the son of William Arnold, born in War- 
wickshire, England, December 21, 1615. He emigrated with his 
father to the Providence Plantation in 1636. He did not re- 
move to Newport till 1653, when he entered into the political 
turmoil of those times. He was one of the leaders of Gorton's 
settlement at Pawtuxet and assisted in uniting the Rhode Island 
and Providence Plantations. He was governor of the colony at 

^Magazine of Am. History, vol. iii, p. 541; Science, vol. iv, p. 512; 
Soribner's, vol. xvii, p. 632. 

* Kafn, C. C, Antiquitates Americanue, 1837. 



the time of his death on June 20,1678. His son was a member 
of the Assembly in 1695. His descendants were well known 
politically in New England up to the time of the Revolution, 
Benedict Arnold, the general and traitor, being a lineal descen- 
dant. 

The site of the house where Arnold lived is known. The 
records show that he had constructed a woolen mill, but it was 
different from the stone mill. It is reasonable to expect that his 
numerous descendants would not have kept such a fact from pub- 
lic notice if such had been the case, that he had erected a stone 
windmill on pillars. 

Peter Easton was a son of Nicholas Easton, who came from 
Southhampton to Massachusetts in 1634. The family came to 
Rhode Island four years later. Nicholas Easton was governor 
from 1650-1652, and his son John held the same office from 
1690-1695. The Eastons and Arnolds were friendly. Both 
families were Quakers. Nicholas Easton had been a miller in 
England, and it was natural that one of the sons, Peter Easton, 
should erect one of the first wind mills on the island. As a re- 
ward for his services, Peter Easton was granted a tract of land 
along the southeastern coast of the island one mile long, still 
known as Easton' s Beach. 

Peter Easton kept a diary in which he jotted down everything 
of note which occurred in the locality. In it for 1663 he states : 
"This year was erected the first windmill." A severe storm 
blew down the Easton windmill on August 28, 1675, and this oc- 
currence is also noted in his diary. 

Lossing, writing prior to 1850, describes this mill as being a 
wooden structure. He also describes the stone mill as follows: 
"This structure is of unhewn stone laid in mortar made of 
gravel and oyster shell lime. It is a cylinder, resting upon 
eight round columns, twenty-three feet in diameter and twenty- 
four feet high. It was originally covered with stucco. It stood 
there when the white people first visited Rhode Island, and 
the Naragansett Indians had no tradition of its origin. There 
can be little doubt of its having been constructed by these 
northern navigators who made attempts at settlement in that 
vicinity. ' ' ^ 

5 Lossing, B. J., Field Book of the American Bevolution, 1850-1852. 

4 



If Arnold erected this mill it must have been after the storm 
and before his death. The Easton windmill seemed to belong to 
the town of Newport, for he received a grant of land in payment 
for it. Is it probable then that Arnold would erect a windmill 
on pillars at his own expense at this time in order to serve the 
public? Is it likely that he built chimneys in the wall, as are 
found in the tower, when in all buildings in New England at 
this time they were built on the outside? In the old buildings 
in Newport, hair was mixed with the lime and mortar; in the 
tower no such hair has been found. Is it likely that Arnold dis- 
carded all these old building methods and rules in his haste to 
supply the public with a stone built mill within a year or two 
of his death? 

Dr. J. G. Palfrey in his History of New England, says regard- 
ing the Arnold mill : ' ' Without doubt it is extraordinary that no 
record hints of the erection of so singular an edifice by early 
English inhabitants of Rhode Island. But it would be much more 
strange that the first English settlers should not have mentioned 
the fact." 

It is highly improbable that Governor Arnold, of a practical 
turn of mind, would erect a stone mill on pillars in a timber 
country at a time when he was so deeply engrossed with colonial 
charters and local politics, as he was up to the very time of his 
death. If Arnold had constructed such a building then there 
would have remained some incidents other than a will simply de- 
scribing the land which he owned and which he sought to con- 
vey in accordance with legal methods of procedure. 

In a thriving settlement like Newport, far removed from run- 
ning streams and before the age of steam, the settlers soon dis- 
covered that it was a difficult and arduous task to grind their 
grain by hand. It is therefore not surprising to find that Easton 
was amply rewarded by his townsmen on account of his practical 
turn of mind in the erection of his windmill. It was looked upon 
by the inhabitants as an enterprising feat, and the circumstances 
have been duly recorded. Why should the erection of Arnold's 
windmill be left in doubt if he had served his fellow citizens in 
such a practical manner ? Would not such incident have become 
a matter of general knowledge ? 

That Nicholas Easton erected a dwelling house in Newport in 
1638 is well known. Henry Bull, born in Wales in 1609, came 



to Rhode Island in 1638. He was governor for 1685-89, passing 
away in 1693, and was a fellow-worker and friend of Arnold. 
The Bull dwelling house, still standing, is pointed out, as well as 
the old churches, halls, and public buildings. In fact all the 
circumstances relating to Arnold and his contemporaries are well 
known in the community where they lived. 

When, from the contemporaries of Arnold, not a word is 
found to substantiate the theory that he should have built it, there 
remains no proof for such contention. He may have used this 
ruin for a mill and storage room, belonging to him by right of 
purchase of the ground, and it may have been called Arnold's 
mill, but all this by itself is not sufficient to support the theory 
that Arnold erected this tower as a windmill. There is no 
positive evidence to this effect. 

Samuel Freebody, a resident of Newport, was one of a com- 
mittee appointed to erect a watch tower in this old ruin as late 
as 1762. Even as late as fifty years ago, an architect, a son of 
Delancy Kane, an old resident of the town, suggested that the 
tower be removed from the present location in order to beautify 
the Touro Park. This too plainly indicates that the old residents 
of the town manifested no interest in it, and no doubt believed 
that it was some old Indian fortress or storehouse. 

The local historians assert that Joseph ]\Iumford, who died in 
the first part of nineteenth century, nearly eighty years of age, 
had played in the tower as a boy ; that he had found powder in 
it, and furthermore, his father, born about 1699, had used the 
tower as a hay loft for a time.*^ This incident does not prove 
for what purpose the ruin was built. That it was strongly con- 
structed is evident from the fact that when Newport was be- 
sieged by the British during the Revolution more than five hun- 
dred dwelling houses were destroyed, but the tower withstood 
all these terrific explosions which nearly wrecked the town. 

George G. Chaney, a local historian, from a careful research, 
in his Early Recollections of Newport, dwells upon the probable 
history of the tower, and speaks of it as being a very old ruin, 
and that the building must have been erected many centuries be- 
fore the Pilgrims arrived upon New England soil. He says; 
"The very style and class of the structure precludes the idea 

6 Hammett, C. E., Jr., Controversy Touching the Stone Mill, 1851. 

6 



that it could have erected ou a barren waste, merely to grind 
Indian corn." 

A number of writers have sought to bring out information in 
regard to what is known as the "Chesterton Mill," erected in 
the County of Warwick, England, about the year 1682. The 
Chesterton Mill is described as being thirty-five feet high and 
twenty-three feet wide at the base; the columns being about 
four and one-half feet each way. It is built on six square 
columns. 

The two towers differ as follows : ' ' The Newport Tower has 
eight pillars, while the Chesterton Mill has six; the Newport 
Tower has the outer face or columns vertical, projecting over 
the pillars, while in the English structure there is no such pro- 
jection and the pillars are square. In the Newport ruin the 
stone is a rough, cobble or rubble stone, while the material used 
in the English structure is that of dressed stone. ' ' '^ 

The English structure is known to have been built by Edward 
Payton, and designed, it is said, by that well known architect, 
Inigo Jones, a friend of Pembroke, who had studied architecture 
in Denmark and Italy. Jones had designed several buildings in 
Denmark, such as the palaces of Rosenberg, Fredricksborg, and 
other structures. In 1605 he returned to his native country, 
England, when he became a person of much favor in court circles. 
Jones designed the great banquet hall at Whitehall and several of 
the buildings erected at Oxford, all of which testify to "a love 
of classical architecture with a blending of the Gothic elements 
with the Italian style. ' ' 

It is doubtful, then, if the practical Arnold, coming to New 
England in the pioneer days of these struggling colonies, and 
from an early age engaging in political contests, would have 
centered his mind on the works of one of the greatest architects 
in England. It is improbable that the plans of a mere partisan 
royalist would have been adopted in this most Protestant colony 
in all America. The real truth of the matter is that Arnold and 
the men of his time heard little of and eared less for the style 
of architecture of Inigo Jones, and certainly would not care to 
perpetuate his name in New England. Any one who will make 
a personal investigation of the two round towers will find that 

7 See Penny Magazine, 1836, p. 480; History of WarwicJcshire, vol. i, 
p. 92. 



the English structure is built in accordance with types then in 
vogue, while the Newport tower was never intended for a wind- 
mill, but for a stronghold, or possibly for a church. Those who 
contend that Arnold was the designer and builder of this tower 
have no positive evidence to offer. If he had erected such a 
structure that fact would have been a matter of common knowl- 
edge for the reason that he was a well known person, and his con- 
temporaries would have left some record to prove this fact. As 
it is, there is no direct testimony to show that Arnold or any one 
else ever erected the tower since the time that the English set 
foot on New England soil. 

INDIAN RUINS 

If the tower was not erected by the English settlers could 
it be a discarded relic of the aborigines? William Coddington, 
for a time governor of Rhode Island, a prominent politician and 
friend of the Indians, and a companion of Arnold, inquired from 
the Indians as to the history of the ruin, and the Red Men denied 
having any knowledge of how, or by whom, the tower was erected. 
Other answers obtained from the natives were to the effect that 
"giants had built the tower in the long ago.'' 

There is a legend concerning this tower which might serve as 
a link in the evidence sought to be introduced : "A seer among 
the Naragansetts had a vision in which he foresaw that when the 
last remnant of the Newport tower had fallen, and not one stone 
left on one another, the Indian race would vanish from the con- 
tinent. "« 

While we do not want to be understood as basing the conten- 
tion merely upon legendary stories of what the natives "heard 
tell," still this may be said, that such a legend would not grow 
up about such a building, after the English settlement was 
founded and after the Indians had been removed from the very 
region about which the legend is concerned. 

We have no proof that Eskimos ever resided in this region. 
It is the general opinion of archaeologists, that the mound 
builders were Indians, such as the Norsemen met and such as 
Columbus and others later found. It may be the tribes the 
Norsemen saw face to face were not the same that the English 
speaking explorers later encountered, but it is now generally 

8 Skinner, C. M., Myths and Legends of Our Own Land. 

8 



believed that they were kindred in race and culture to the old 
races. In the light then of the most recent and authoritative re- 
search, the Newport tower was never erected by the native races. 
While mounds and ruins in Mexico have of late disclosed 
much valuable information in the study of the North American 
Indians, still in all the discoveries so far made none has any 
circular stone tower. The dome-shaped bark wigwam of the Al* 
gonkians, the earth lodges of the Mandans, and the adobe cliff- 
dwellings of the Pueblos represent the variety as well as the ex- 
tent of the architecture of the aborigines of North America.'' 

IRISH AND OTHER TOWERS 

It has been intimated that the Newport tower is similar to 
one found on the island of St. Thomas, which is supposed to be 
very old. As to this I am not familiar, although it might have 
been built by shipwrecked sailors in an early day as a fortifica- 
tion against hostile natives of the island. 

An old windmill found at Vandreuil, in the Province of 
Quebec, Canada, has also been referred to, as a similar structure 
to the one found at Newport. I have made an examination of 
this structure but can discover no resemblance to the Newport 
ruin. The history of the Canadian windmill is well known. It 
was erected by the French about 1688. In an early day there 
were many of these mills built by the lords of the respective 
manors, for the use of the settlers in grinding their wheat. 
Nearly all of these have long since disappeared. The style of 
architecture is not that of the Newport stone mill, but that in 
use in Europe at the time of the settlement of Canada by the 
French. 

A suggestion has also been made, in order to account for this 
ruin by pretext of authority, that it could have been erected by 
the early Irish explorers who might have settled here some time 
long prior to the coming of the Pilgrims. This intimation has 
found much support for the reason that Ireland is the home of 
the round towers, where to this day there can be found nearly 
one hundred of these ruins, many of which are in a fair state of 
preservation. 

The Irish round tower or bell tower rises from 30 to 130 
feet in height, having a diameter of from twelve to twenty- 

9 See Eeports of J. W. Powell, Bureau of Am. Ethnology. 

9 



five feet. The Irish towers are slender and taper from the base 
upward, and are round with a conical top. On the early towers 
no mortar is used, but a sort of whitewash was used on the 
outer walls. A kind of stucco is also used on towers erected at 
a later date. 

There is found a winding stairway on the inside of the 
tower, with small openings at various places, which were no doubt 
used to watch the invaders and as places from which to hurl 
missiles at the attacking bands who might gather below seeking 
admission. The openings were placed about ten to fifteen feet 
from the ground, and entrance gained by some sort of a drop 
ladder, or trap door. 

A variety of theories have been advanced in regard to the 
period of these towers, and the purposes they were designed to 
serve. The opinion of antiquarians has been greatly divided. 
It is thought that the towers were constructed during the ninth 
and tenth centuries. They are supposed to have served as strong- 
holds, to which places in time of danger the inhabitants fled. 
Dr. George Petrie, an authority on the Irish round towers, is 
of the opinion that these towers were erected solely for religious 
purposes, as they are generally found in close proximity to the 
churches. 

It must be borne in mind that the Norsemen and Danes 
founded the first cities and towns in Ireland, and that the ruins 
of the Irish bell towers are most numerous in the counties settled 
by the Vikings. It has been found on investigation that while the 
churches which were located near the bell towers are in ruins, 
the towers are in a fair state of preservation. For this reason 
it is supposed that the bell towers were erected at a much later 
time than the churches. As to the truth of this assertion this 
may be said, that the British soldiers who were sent to Ireland to 
crush the Catholic church may have demolished the church 
edifices and left the towers untouched.^" 

Wilson is of the opinion that the towers are of a much later 
date than the churches. He also is of the opinion that the towers 
were erected at different dates, as can be seen from the style of 
architecture and mode of building. 

10 See Stokes, Margaret, Early Christian AH in Ireland; Wilson, Daniel, 
The Archceology and Pre-historic Annals of Scotland, 1851; Petrie, George, 
Eccl. Architecture of Ireland. 

10 



"- ^,^ 



s*^*^ 




THE ROUND TOWER AT MOUSA 



It is immaterial whether or not the Norse and Danish settlers 
erected any of the Irish liell towers. This is true, that the Norse 
invaders had seen such towers long before they settled in Iceland 
and Greenland. They were familiar with this style of archi- 
tecture for a long time prior to the Vinland discoveries, and it 
would not have been difficult to have erected a similar tower in 
Vinland whether intended as a religious monument or for the 
purposes of defense. 

Ruins are still found of round towers on the coast of the 
Isle of Man, the Orkneys, Hebrides, and Shetland Islands, as 
well as along the eastern coast of Scotland, where the Norsemen 
and Danes resided during the Viking age. In many of these 
places these ruins or forts have been variously designated as 
Norse and Dane borgs, or bruchs and were no doul^t used by these 
sojourners in the country for defensive purposes in case of 
sudden attacks. Whether these round towers, variously located, 
were erected by Picts or Celts, or by later Scandinavian in- 
vaders cannot be ascertained for a certainty.'^ 

On the small island of Mousa, one of the Shetland Islands, 
can still be seen a round tower which has much in common with 
the Newport ruin. It is known as the Mousa round tower, and 
described as follows: "The borg is circular, and fifty feet in 
diameter and built of uncut, average size cobble stone, without 
cement or lime. This plain round building is about forty-two 
feet high and at some distance from the ground, the circular 
walls bulge out, and again at the top the diameter of the struc- 
ture becomes less. This form of construction must have been 
designed for the sole purpose of making it more difficult to 
scale the outside walls. The opening is close to the ground and 
can easily be defended. The tower is erected of two walls, an 
inner and outer wall, each about five feet thick, enclosing a space 
of about ten feet, thus making the diameter of the open space on 
the inside some twenty-one feet. There is a stone stairway on 
the inside which leads to the top, and it seems that the tower was 
divided into seven stories in such manner as to make the ceiling 
of one room the floor of the next above. There are openings in 
the inner wall at various places for the admission of light and 

11 Worsaae, J. J., Minder om DansJce og Normosnd, p. 294; Overland, 
Norges Hist., vol. i, p. 88. 

11 



air. There is no indication that the entire tower had any roof, 
except the apartment which was covered by large stone slabs." ^^ 

It is true that the construction of the two towers are not 
identical, still from the standj^oint of architecture they have 
much in common. They are both built of cobble stone, circular 
in shape, and must have been erected as places of defense, and the 
Mousa tower was so used by the Norsemen, as recorded in the 
Sagas. Both towers are erected not only as fortresses but also 
for the purpose of housing for a longer or shorter period of time 
a number of people. The erection of the Newport tower on 
pillars saved considerable material, and would answer the same 
purpose, and the doing away with an inside wall, as found in the 
Mousa tower, also saved considerable stone and labor. A thick 
outside wall, as found in the Newport tower, would be sufficiently 
strong against attacks by the Indians, who possessed such crude 
implements of warfare as arrows and slings. It is probable that 
the Newport tower was provided with wooden floors and wooden 
stairways and the entire structure covered by a conical wooden 
roof, the structure then being surrounded by a wooden stockade, 
thus keeping the natives at a safe distance from the fortress 
proper. Such a style of building would be easily built in a 
timber country like New England, but it would be costly on 
treeless islands in the North Sea where stone was plentiful and 
timber scarce. 

Borgs are of Scandinavian origin, and many were constructed 
similar to the round tower of Mousa. This tower may have been 
erected by an invading army of Norsemen on an island where it 
would be surrounded by ships, and would be a means of defense 
as well as of refuge in time of attack by the natives. These 
structures were of varied form or plan. They were square, 
round and octagonal, and were built of timber as well as of 
unhewn stone, and were generally erected in some secluded spot 
on some cliff or headland, which on account of natural conditions 
would be safe and easy to defend in case of attack. 

That the Norsemen were familiar with the style and type of 
architecture known as borgs or burgs we cite from the Sagas : 

"King Burislaf sent an invitation to the Jarl of Fjon, that 
he would give him a riki in his land if he should settle there and 

12 Hibbard, George, The Shetland Islands; Laurensen, A. D., Personal 
Letters, 1909. 

12 



defend his land. He quickly had a large strong sea borg made, 
since called Jorasborg. He also had a harbor made within the 
borg in which 300 long ships could lie at the same time. The 
entrance to the harbor was constructed with great skill. It was 
like a gate with a large stone arch above and shut with iron 
doors locked from inside the harbor. Upon the arch was built 
a strong tower in which were catapults. Part of the borg stood 
out in the water and the borgs built thus are called sea borgs. ' ' ^^ 

It is further stated : ' ' The Danish Kings had a large earl- 
dom. They first built Jomsborg and it became a very strong 
borg. When ]\Iagnus came to Wendland he attacked Jomsborg 
and took the fort, killed many people and set fire to the borg. ' ' ^* 

The Mousa tower is still standing in a fair state of preserva- 
tion and while no positive evidence remains that it was built by 
the Norsemen, it is frequently referred to in the Sagas. It is 
stated that a well known Viking, Bjorn Brynjolfson, came to 
the Mousa tower during the reign of Harold Fairhair, with his 
sweetheart, Thora Roaldsdatter, and sought shelter in the tower. 
He had been declared an outlaw in Norway and a prize had been 
set upon his head, hence it became necessary to be in close 
proximity to a strong fortress in case of attack. Here he de- 
fended himself for a time and fled to Iceland the following 
spring. Nearly two centuries later another noted Viking, Erlend 
Junge, fled with Jarl Harold, Maddason's mother, "a woman 
known as much in her day for her frivolity as for her beauty. 
This couple took up temporary quarters in the round tower as a 
place which could provide the doughty wooer and his company a 
place of security in case of attack. Harold was not slow in pur- 
suing Erlend with his ships to attack the borg, if possible, and 
attempt to starve the elopers if he failed, for the Sagas relate that 
the borg was impregnable. ^'^ 

These bits of Saga literature show that the Mousa tower, 
whatever it may have originally been erected for, was used by 
the Norsemen prior to, and during the time of the Vinland 
voyages, as a place of refuge and as a fortress, and its location 
and its style of architecture must have been known to Vinland 
voyagers. It would have required no special skill and no great 

13 Jomsvikinga Saga, chapter 24. 

14 Magnus, den Godes Saga. 

15 Cited by Worsaae, p. 298. 

13 



dexterity to have erected in this western world without any tools 
a structure similar to the Mousa tower and for the same purpose 
for which that was used by the Norsemen. The Sagas also refer 
to another round tower built by Ragnvald [Reginald] in Water- 
ford, Ireland, about the year 1003, and still known as Reginald's 
Tower. It was erected as a stronghold, was used as a mint, was 
occupied for a time by the last Danish King as a residence, and 
was later used as a jail and for various other purposes till 1819 
when it was repaired and fixed up for a museum. This round 
tower was originally intended for a place of defense and was 
thus used by the Norsemen and others after them. It was built at 
the very time that the Vinland voyages were begun and it is 
well known that both Leif and Thorfin and their crews were 
familiar with the Norse settlement in Waterford and perhaps 
personally acquainted with the King himself. It takes no stretch 
of imagination to connect Ragnvald 's occupancy of that part of 
Ireland with the Vinland colony and the opposition of the natives 
to the white settlers. 

THE VINLAND VOYAGES 

No one doubts that Bjarne Herjulfson first saw the coast of 
North America about the year 986, and that Leif, the son of Eric 
the Red, in the early autumn of 1000 with a crew of thirty-five 
men set sail for the unknown region discovered by Bjarne some 
fourteen years previously. During the following spring Leif and 
his crew^ returned to Greenland with a cargo of timber. In the 
following year Leif 's brother, Thorwald, set sail for the identical 
region in Leif's ship. Here he spent two winters fighting, but 
was killed by the natives, the crew returning to Greenland in 
1004. The following spring a third brother, Thorstein, set sail 
in the same ship with Gurid, his wife, and a crew of thirty-five 
men. This journey seems to have been a dangerous one, for the 
ship was driven about by the angry waves of the Atlantic all 
summer, and never reached Leif's booths. Thorstein died on this 
journey and Gurid assumed command of the ships, returning to 
Leif's home in Ericsfjord in the autumn. 

The most interesting and romantic of the Vinland voyages is 
that related about Thorfin Karlsefne and Snorre, both Icelanders 
of fortune and well born, who came to Greenland with large 
crews in two ships in the summer of 1006. They were well re- 

14 



ceived by the family of Eric the Red at Brattalid. Thorfin soon 
fell in love and married the beautiful widow Gurid, the following 
winter. Either persuaded by his adventurous bride, or from a 
pure love of conquest, Thorfin set sail for Vinland in the spring 
of 1007 with a crew of one hundred and sixty, including women, 
and having at least three or four ships. One Saga states that 
the number was sixty, while the other says the number who were 
on this trip was one hundred and sixty. This voyage was made 
for the sole purpose of making a permanent settlement. Among 
the persons mentioned who came on this trip were Eric's son, 
Thorwald, and his sister Freydis, as well as a number of noted 
Vikings who may have had command of the various ships. The 
ships landed safely at Leif's booths; and other booths were erec- 
ted in order to give the respective crews plenty of room. The 
Saga mentions that the settlers came in contact with the natives, 
whom they called Skraelings, all of whom were hostile, so that 
the place or borg had to be carefully fortified. A number of 
Norsemen were killed by the natives, while a great many natives 
were killed while attacking the fortified camp of the whites. The 
settlers after waging a long drawn out contest against the natives 
were compelled on account of these persistent hostilities to return 
to Greenland in 1010, bringing back a cargo of timber and furs. 

Another futile attempt was made to settle Vinland the fol- 
lowing year when Freydis, a daughter of Eric the Red, with 
Thorwald, her husband, and a crew of thirty on one ship, and a 
crew of thirty-five on another, including women, set out for Vin- 
land. Here a quarrel arose as to which party should have the 
booths which Leif always freely loaned to any of the voyagers, 
but of which property he refused to dispose. This unfortunate 
enterprise ended in the murder of most of the crews and of the 
return to Greenland the following year of the wicked Freydis and 
of her weak and vacillating husband. 

Two of the Sagas refer to the Vinland discoveries, the Eric 
Saga and the Thorfin Saga, and while they do not agree in detail, 
it is permissible to say that one corroborates the other. These 
stories were related by different individuals and at different 
times, and while one thing may have impressed itself upon one 
person, some other incident may have been uppermost in the 
mind of another narrator. The Sagas which refer to the struggle 
in Great Britain and Ireland, in Iceland and Greenland, have 

15 



been verified by other historical sources, and if we can assume 
that they are true when they refer to other events, and other 
countries, and are corroborated by other testimony, these Sagas 
then should be of equal weight when they refer to the voyages 
made to Vinland. It is Humboldt who says of the Sagas that 
"here we stand on historical ground." 

The book containing the Eric the Red Saga was copied by two 
priests, and it is agreed by historians that it must have been 
copied about the year 1387. These copies were compiled from 
older manuscripts which have been lost, or have diappeared. 

The Thorfin Saga is no doubt copied from a number of Sagas 
written by several dififerent persons. The Hauksbok was written 
by Hauk Erlendson between 1305 and 1334, the year of his death. 
It was translated by Rafn in Gronlands Historiske Mindesmarker. 
The contention among historians has been which one was the 
most authentic, and upon this point scholars have been divided. 

Besides these Sagas, we have other evidence referring to the 
Vinland voyages, such as Adam of Bremen, the German historian, 
who received his information from Swend Estridson, the king 
of Denmark, as well as other persons with whom he conversed in 
obtaining information, in reference to the work of the church in 
the far north. 

Thormod Torfaeus, the Icelandic scholar, was one of the first 
writers to apply Icelandic literature to the study of Scandinavian 
antiquities and history. His writings concerning Vinland are of 
interest and should be authentic.^^ Thus the story of the Vin- 
land voyages has been confirmed and verified by many subse- 
quent writers. 

In the Icelandic Archives it is mentioned for the year 1125, 
that Eric Upsi, also known as Eric Gnupsson, a native of Iceland, 
was appointed bishop of Greenland and Vinland. The last papal 
document which refers to Vinland is of the year 1448, where it 
states that "the Greenland colonies were destroyed by the 
heathens about thirty years before." 

As late as the year 1347 in the Skaholt Annals, the following 
notice is found with reference to Vinland : "A ship came at this 
time from Greenland which had sailed to IMarkland which had on 
board a crew of eighteen men." In regard to this reference to 
the Vinland colony Reeves suggests that "this ship had no doubt 

16 Hist. Vinlandiae Antiquae, Copenhagen, 1705. 

16 



drifted to Iceland and undoubtedly was engaged in trade on Vin- 
land and hence the mention in the annals of Iceland was only 
incidental showing that up to that time at least trade was carried 
on between Greenland and Vinland."" 

Calamities came thick and fast upon these island republics. 
About the middle of the fourteenth century the Black Death 
raged all over Europe to such an extent that one-third of the 
entire population of Norway and Iceland was swept away in a 
comparatively short time. The historians of the time relate that 
ships whose crews had perished to the last man were often seen 
drifting on the shores. While there is some dispute as to what 
extent the plague visited Greenland, it at least stopped all com- 
munications with the mother country for years afterwards. 

At this time sprang into prominence the greatest shipping 
trust ever known in Europe, to-wit : the Hanseatic League, which 
controlled all trade and to a certain extent influenced the policies 
of ministries and kings as well. Following this exclusive colonial 
trade came the short-sighted Queen Margaret favoring a royal 
monopoly to such an extent that no colony, or private companies, 
could carry on trade without a royal charter. Fiske well says 
that "Margaret made her precious contribution to the innumer- 
able swarm of instances that show with what little wisdom the 
world is ruled." ^^* 

It is not surprising then that after the abandonment of the 
Greenland colonies, and after Norway lost its merchant fleet, 
and Iceland was left to fight out its internal strifes, Vinland 
should be lost sight of, and that the new world had again to be 
re-discovered. 

It has been frequently asserted that the Vinland voyagers 
could not have taken possession of the countiy in such large 
numbers and left no records behind, and that if they had im- 
ported cattle as related in the Sagas, then Columbus and his fol- 
lowers would have found wild cattle in the country when they 
came some five centuries later. In reply to these questions I 
would say, that the Sagas refer frequently to the fact that the 
settlers were in want and undoubtedly the cattle imported were 
not many, and if the settlers abandoned the colony they certainly 

iTEeeves, W. M., Finding of Winland the Good, 1890, p. 80; see Runis 
Krinlcla, by Laing, vol. i, p. 147. 

17a Fiske, John, Dis. of North America, vol. i, p. 225. 

17 



would have butchered the cattle for food before departing. There 
is no contention that Vinland was thickly settled, nor that the 
settlements continued for any great length of time. Further- 
more, it is not probable that many runic inscriptions would be 
found some five hundred years later. It is true that many monu- 
ments and runic inscriptions have been discovered in Great 
Britain, Ireland, and Greenland, but here Norsemen came in large 
numbers and in many localities founded permanent settlements, 
and among civilized races of people who would not likely destroy 
such inscriptions. The aborigines, on the other hand, while to a 
certain extent familiar with picture writing feared the armor 
clad white settlers, and most likely would in every way possible 
destroy every vestige which these men had left behind. 

It has been frequently pointed out that the only real evidence 
so far found of the Norsemen's occupancy of the American con- 
tinent was the runic inscription found on a stone in 1824 in 
Baffin's Bay, at seventy-three degrees north latitude, in a region 
supposed up to that time to have been unexplored by European 
races. This inscription supposed to be from about the year 1135 
reads as follows: "Brling Sighvaten and Bjarne Thordhardson 
and Endrid Oddson raised these marks and cleared ground on 
Saturday before Ascension Week. ' ' 

If the Norsemen had the audacity to sail north along the 
western coast of Greenland to such a distance, there is no reason 
why in their fast sailing keel ships, they could not with ease and 
safety reach the coast of New England after this region liad 
once been discovered.^^ 

Greenland, as is well known, was settled for fully three hun- 
dred years, and had in the east settlement one hundred and 
ninety farms and in the west settlement ninety farms and a popu- 
lation variously estimated from six to eight thousand. Further- 
more, at least for several centuries there were no hostile natives 
to fight as in Vinland. Hence in Greenland ruins of churches, 
old implements, graves, etc., have been found. 

Just where Vinland was located it is difficult to say. The 
historians of a half century ago were of the opinion that Leif 's 
booths must have been located somewhere from New York 
to Maine. Later investigators, especially Gustav Storm, are of 
the opinion that Vinland must be looked for in Newfoundland 

18 Slafter, E. F., Voyages of the Norsemen to America, Boston, 1877. 

18 



or Nova Scotia. No evidence of any kind has been produced to 
substantiate sueli a theory. Those who uphold the Storm theory 
must disregard altogether the Eric Saga. Fiske, the historian, 
states that Vinland must be located between Nova Scotia and 
Point Judith. One of tlie strongest points as to the location of 
the Vinland colony is the fact that on the shortest day of the 
year the sun came up at about 7 :30 in the morning and set about 
4:30 in the afternoon. This would point to a locality of about 
forty-one degrees north latitude. The meaning of certain words 
over which there is more or less contention has been fully dis- 
cussed by several writers.^'-* 

If Vinland was located in Newfoundland, instead of in New 
England, there would be no manifest surprise to the sojourners 
from Greenland or Iceland as to the length of the days, or as to 
any mention made of a mild winter climate. For this very reason 
mention is made, that this was a phenomenon with which these 
Norsemen were not familiar. Thousands of Norsemen who have 
since that time come to the middle west have frequently written 
home to their kindred telling of these uncommon and peculiar 
things, such as the absence of twilight, the use of lamps during 
the summer, and the length of the day during the winter holidays, 
all such natural phenomena being absent in the Fatherland. 
Such occurrences would not appear strange to a foreigner coming 
from the same latitude in Europe, but it does seem strange to one 
coming from a country located forty degrees further north. 

The discovery of wild grapes is mentioned in both Sagas as 
well as by Adam of Bremen. This would prove that Vinland 
was located much farther south than the place Storm indicates. 
Storm has attempted to prove that wild grapes grow in Nova 
Scotia, and to prove his contention that the Vinland colony was 
located there has cited certain facts of the growth of wild grapes 
in that country. 

The writer has visited not only New England but traveled 
extensively in Nova Scotia and has made inquiries and searched 
the historical records for such information, but has found no 
such evidence. 

Along the south shore of the Bay of Fundy the French 
planted orchards and erected dykes and may have planted 

isHosford, E. N., Dis. of America by the Norsemen; Anderson, R. B., 
Hvor laa Vinland. 

19 



grapes, but if any wild grapes have been found in Nova Scotia it 
must be a wild variety from such as the French settlers planted 
many centuries after the Vinland voyages were abandoned. 
Another item of importance is the fact referred to, of the wheat 
which grew wild in the country, and which no doubt was the 
Indian corn and not wheat. Com does not grow along the sea 
coast further north than the state of Massachusetts, while it does 
mature at a much higher latitude in the Mississippi valley. 

A number of writers on this subject have attempted to de- 
scribe the exact location of Vinland by comparing the coasts, 
bays, rivers, and head-lands described in the Sagas. While the 
writer has made extended journeys along the New England coast, 
Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, and surrounding 
islands, having in mind the main physical features of the coun- 
tries mentioned in the Sagas, he does not wish, however, to be 
understood that he has located any one point which fits the de- 
scription of the places mentioned.^^ Any one locality described 
in a general way would apply to a dozen other similar localities. 
One can find extraordinary tides, dangerous coast lines, excellent 
fishing places, timbered islands, and many rivers along this 
stretch of country, but no one could exactly describe one locality 
from the meager descriptions given in the Sagas. However, this 
is certainly true, that the descriptions of the Sagas in noting the 
general contour of the land apply much more to places within the 
United States, than they do to other regions. 

The inscription on the boulder found in Tautuon river near 
the village of Dighton, have not been fully deciphered as runic 
characters. Neither have the marks been accepted as Indian pic- 
ture writing. The Indians have a legend of the arrival of the 
white men in a bird, which no doubt was intended to be a ship. 
From this issued thunder and lightning. A battle took place, the 
visitors writing the story on the Dighton rock. The Norsemen 
were not familiar with firearms at the time of the discovery of 
America, and hence the Indians must have used the old myth 
about the ship, adding to it just what occurred when the whites 
came five centuries later. 

Inscriptions have also been found on rocks at Tiverton, Ports- 
mouth, and Bristol Ferry, Rhode Island, but so far no one has 
undertaken to decipher these inscriptions. In the light of recent 



20 Fiske, John, Dis. of America, vol. i, p. 185. 

20 



discovery these marks are unexplained for the reason that the 
characters have been worn off so that it is impossible correctly 
to decipher the runic characters, if such they are. 

Historians also claim that the Vinland colony was the myth- 
ical lost city of Norumbega."^ We have no authentic evidence of 
any such a city. The name is rather given by the early ex- 
plorers to different rivers, or localities, along the eastern coasts 
of North America from Florida to Cape Breton. 

The Newport Round Tower, then, stands as a relic of some 
builder and designer of whom we know nothing. Was it built 
by the Norsemen ? If so, for what purpose was it built? Was it 
the dream of Bishop Upsi to erect here on the high hill, over- 
looking the beautiful bay, a place of worship, and are these ruins 
the vestiges of what he erected with his own hands and by his 
own efforts? If so, did the Indians come to attend services, or 
did they merely stand on the outside and gaze with awe at the 
pictures and crucifixes which must have adorned this first Chris- 
tian church planted on the western continent. If it was erected 
at all for a church, it must have been constructed through the 
efforts of the enthusiastic Bishop Eric, who from the records for 
the year 1121 appears to have set sail in search of Vinland. He 
may have perished on this hazardous trip, for no record is left 
of what he accomplished, or of his death. Another bishop was 
appointed in his place some three years later. In 1059 an Irish 
priest was appointed who also went in search for Vinland, but 
who was murdered by the natives. Was Eric Upsi killed by the 
natives, or did he and his devout followers, perish amid the waves 
of the mighty Atlantic ? No one has written the life story of one 
of the early prelates of the church in the far north.^- 

A writer in Scribner's Magazine ^^ has attempted to prove 
that the Newport Tower was erected as a church by the Norse- 
men. It is scarcely probable that these voyagers would erect a 
church in this new country along any substantial plans unless 
it was due to the enthusiasm of the bishop above referred to. 
While the Norsemen were adherents of the church, it was not a 
deep seated faith that possessed them at this time, and it is not 
likely that they would erect a stone church instead of a stone 

21 Hosford, E. N., Dis. of Ancient City of Norumhega. 
22Eafn, Antiquitates Americanae, pp. 330-332; Storm, G., Islandske An- 
naler, 1888; Landndma-bok. 

23 Hatfield, K. G., Scribner 's Magazine, March, 1879. 

21 



fortress, as long as there were savages to fight and a vast country 
to conquer. We know from other sources that they erected forti- 
fications, borgs, and other places for protection and shelter while 
they subdued various parts of Europe. It would be strange in- 
deed that when forced to defend themselves against the natives 
of America, they would leave anything undone from a point of 
safety to themselves. 

V^AS THE TOWER BUILT BY NORSEMEN 

We are led to believe that this tower was erected by the 
Norsemen, and that along in this very locality the Vinland colony 
was located. The tower was not erected for the purposes of a 
windmill to grind corn, neither was it erected for a place to say 
mass. It was simply a stronghold or fortress, similar to the 
borgs or brochs found on the Island of Mousa, the Ragnval Jarl 
tower in Waterford, Ireland, and the famous Jomsborg or castle 
of the Jomsvikings on the northeastern coast of Germany, and 
many others scattered over the countries occupied by the Scan- 
dinavian races from time to time. The Saga relates how Thorfin 
had to surround his borg by enclosures in order to defend his 
settlers against the natives. This shows that the stronghold must 
have been erected of more substantial material than timber, be- 
cause the natives would have set fire to it.-* It must have been 
erected of stone or some other substantial material. Leif and his 
thirty-five men erected first some small buildings, and later they 
constructed a substantial building on some familiar location 
which was readily found by subsequent explorers. Furthermore, 
Leif refused to sell his booths although he was asked to do so by 
several persons. It may have been that at this time he had in 
mind to return to the country and form a permanent settlement, 
or, it must have been of some real value for the reason that he 
would not part with title to it. This stronghold, then, erected by 
Leif must have been built of stone, or the natives would have de- 
stroyed it in the absence of the white settlers. Eric's buildings 
in Greenland were of stone. The Saga further refers to the in- 
cident that the natives fled to Thorfin 's house and sought to 
break in, but he caused the doors to be barricaded and kept them 
out. This, of itself, would indicate that this building was not 

2* The art of fire making was known to all the aborigines north of Mex- 
ico, Bui. 30, Bur. Am. Ethnology. 

22 



simply a wooden shack, but a well fortified and strongly con- 
structed borg which could be easily defended against a race who 
possessed no other weapons than flint pointed arrows, tomahawks, 
and slings. The Sagas relate how the effort of the Norsemen to 
make a permanent settlement failed, for the very reason that 
later settlements failed that were backed by governments at home 
and by more numerous settlers keeping in close touch with the 
mother country. Thorwald states, as he pulled the arrow from 
his body after a battle with the natives, "I am fat about the 
paunch, we have come to a rich country, but we shall scarcely ob- 
tain any profit from it." This indicates what the chieftain 
thought of the country, and such a dark foreboding expressed 
by the leader must have paralyzed his followers from attempting 
any further settlement at that time. 

Thorfin after one of many battles fought called his followers 
together to talk over the situation as to further resistance against 
the natives. Without any hopes of assistance from kindred at 
home, far removed from the base of supplies, the company agreed 
to return home and abandon the settlement which had been 
maintained with so much difficulty in spite of the fact that they 
found the natives deficient in bodily strength and manly courage. 

Other evidence may be cited to prove that Europeans at some 
time or another must have visited this locality long prior to the 
coming of the Pilgrims. In the '60 's a road was constructed 
from the city of Newport easterly across Lily Pond to the south- 
east part of the island, where fashionable Americans were erect- 
ing their summer homes. This pond from all appearances had 
been at one time a part of the ocean and had been gradually 
filled up with sand which had been washed up by the ocean 
waves. Since the coming of the English the pond had been 
known and looked upon simply as a marsh. In this pond, buried 
in the sand and blue clay, workmen dug up a boat, while they 
were constructing this road, which now goes by the name of 
Ocean Drive. Near where the boat was dug up, on some rocks 
which were blasted the workmen came across certain picture 
writing of ships carved thereon with some sharp instrument. 
Nothing was especially thought of this find till the Viking ship 
came to Newport in 1893, bound for the World's Fair at Chicago, 
when J. P. Hammond, an old resident of Newport, recalled what 
he, Edward Kearny, J. A. Hammond, and others had seen as 

23 



young men, of the boat which had been dug up in Lily Pond. 
The following is part of Mr. Hammond's letter in reference to 
the boat that he with others had seen as a young boy : 

"I remember our talk concerning the finding of a boat near 
the so-called Lily Pond about forty-five years ago. I, in company 
with four or five boys, all of them older than myself, two of whom 
were my brothers, saw this boat in question. As near as I can 
remember she was about twenty-five feet long, with considerable 
shear. The stem was quite prominent, and deeply, though roughly 
carved. The stern piece was narrow and wedged-shape, with 
peculiar rough carving thereon. She was deep or high sided and 
had quite a narrow flat bottom. The boat was evidently built 
for speed and rough service, as her timbers were good and strong. 
She had been dug out of a sand bar by workmen, who were build- 
ing the new road, or 'Ocean Drive,' as it is now called. The sand 
bar separates Lily Pond from the sea, the pond being at some 
time, years ago, nothing more than an inlet or bay of the ocean. 
There are three large ponds on the south end of the island of 
Rhode Island which have been formed by the sea casting up a 
sand bar and being added to little by little by later storms and 
drifting sands so that the present generations, and probably 
several generations preceding this, have looked upon these ponds 
and thought they have existed since the Creation, but they 
have not been always as they are today, or as they were forty- 
five years ago. And when the boat in question was buried, 
the bar was forded just sufficient to let it stick after it had 
been abandoned or drifted ashore from seaward. After a time 
the drifting sand — there was plenty in the neighborhood, cov- 
ered the boat and she lay there securely for years and it 
must have been a good many years, for her timber was as black 
as bog oak and it takes time to color wood like that, so I con- 
clude that the boat must have lain there undisturbed for several 
centuries at least. The boat was only slightly damaged and de- 
cayed considering the length of time it had been covered in with 
sand and clay. The sun and air probably did make a wreck of 
her indeed. 

' ' The story told by the local wise men, was that according to 
her construction and general appearance and evident age it 
must have been built by the Norsemen in the long ago. On a 
rock near the sea which was blasted away, the workmen declared 

24 



that they saw rude carved pictures of a vessel, with one mast 
and sail, with other objects about it. Whether this was carved 
by Indians or by someone who wished to notify comrades, or 
friends, can only be conjectured. There is one thing certain, 
that if the carving was done by an Indian, he certainly must 
have seen the object he pictured. 

' ' Of the picture on the rocks I have personally no knowledge 
but I have it from what you can term reliable sources. The pic* 
tured rocks were within a quarter of a mile of the sand bar 
where the boat was found. I saw the Viking ship in Newport 
harbor, which was the first port on this side of the Atlantic 
which it touched, and her rig tallies with the rig of the rock 
artist's ship mystery." 

We are assured that the ships used on the Vinland trips were 
larger than the ordinary merchant ships. Such ships were from 
one hundred to one hundred and fifty feet long, and drew from 
eight to ten feet of water. Small boats were always used on the 
larger ships in making landings, and in obtaining provisions and 
water for the vessels. The Gogstad ship, discovered in 1880, was 
built about the year 900, and was about one hundred feet long 
and in it were found in the bow of the ship three small boats, the 
keels of which were respectively twelve, sixteen, and twenty-three 
feet long. The largest of the small boats also carried a mast. 
These boats had ore-locks fastened to the gunwale, instead of 
holes for the oars, such as the larger vessels were provided with. 

The Sagas relate that the Vinland ships carried several small 
boats. It is stated that "when Leif discovered the sailors on a 
rock, he set out a small boat to make the rescue." At another 
time Leif used another style and make "of small boat in gather- 
ing grapes, with which to fill his ship on his return voyage." 
In the Thorfin Saga it is recorded that, "when Thorwald was 
getting his ship ready he sent the long boat along the coast west- 
ward and explored the land during the summer." The same 
Saga also refers to the fact that "the merchants ship was sent 
eastward into the mouths of the firths. ' ' Here they brought the 
ship into harbor. These details in the Sagas substantiate the 
claims that the Vikings, engaged in the Vinland trade, sailed 
large ships, which were provided with various styles and makes 
of small boats. 

The discovery of a Viking boat mired in the clay and sand of 

25 



Lily Pond, which from all indications at one time had been part 
of the sea, would tend to prove that the early Norsemen may 
have used this arm of the sea as a landing place and that on top 
of the hill about eighty-five feet above the level of the sea they 
erected their stronghold which was duly fortified according to 
the usages of the times. The location of the tower could serve 
two purposes at least; a place of lookout, and a safe retreat in 
case of attack from the native tribes who were continually hover- 
ing around these strange giant looking persons clad in full 
armor. The inscription on the rocks in this vicinity, while per- 
haps not fully read or understood, may add some testimony to 
substantiate the contention that here was located the Vinland 
colony, and that the Norsemen erected the tower as a stronghold 
and place of lookout. 

It is probable that Gurid, the wife of Thorfin, and the mother 
of Snorre, on the last morning before her departure may from an 
upper room in the tower have gazed out upon the turbulent sea 
which beckoned her homeward, and although the most anxious to 
depart for Vinland she may have been the most anxious to return 
without fear and with but few regrets. 



26 



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