Viking Petroglyph in Rhode Island

Viking Petroglyph in Rhode Island

Dighton Rock

Important, too, is the story of supposed Norse sea-rovers hither,derived from certain Icelandic manuscripts of the fourteenth century. It is a pleasing narrative, that of Lief Ericson's sail in 1000-1001 to Helluland, Markland, and at last to Vineland, and of the subsequent tours by Thorwald Ericson in 1002, Thorfinn Karlsefne, 1007-1009, and of Helge and Finnborge in 1011, to points still farther away. Such voyages probably occurred. As is well known, Helluland has been interpreted to be Newfoundland; Markland, Nova Scotia; and Vineland, the country bordering Mount Hope Bay in Bristol, R. I. These identifications are possibly correct, and even if they are mistaken, Vineland may still have been somewhere upon the coast of what is now the United States.
     Scholars believe that the writing on Dighton Rock is Norse, and the celebrated Skeleton in Armor found at Fall River was a Northman's, the old Stone Mill at Newport was constructed by men from Iceland. Even if the manuscripts, composed between three and four hundred years after the events which they are alleged to narrate,are genuine, and if the statements contained in them are true, the latter are far too indefinite to let us be sure that they are applicable to United States localities.

     But were we to go so far as to admit that the Northmen came here and began the settlements ascribed to them, they certainly neither appreciated nor published their exploits. Their colony, wherever it was, endured but for a day, and it, with its locality, speedily passed from knowledge in Scandinavia itself. America had not yet, in effect, been discovered.