The Dighton Rock is a 40 ton boulder first discovered in 1690 and located in Berkley Massachusetts (once named Dighton). According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, it is an eleven foot high “glacial erratic” boulder “covered with petroglyphs, carved designs of ancient and uncertain origin” (mass.gov). The boulder was moved from the Taunton river and is currently located in the park adjacent to the river on Bay View Avenue.
A picture of the petroglyphs has been retrieved from Flikr and is noted as being from: page 564 of ‘Histoire des peuples du nord, et des Danois et des Normands. … Edition revue et augmentée par l’auteur, etc. traduit de l’anglais par P. Guillot’ by Author: WHEATON, Henry. Contributor: GUILLOT, Paul – Avocat près la Cour Royale de Paris. Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 9425.d.12. Published in Paris 1844. Additionally, I’m providing a sharpened image from the photos taken by Delabarre.
There are many speculations about the meaning of the petroglyphs. Accounts vary on the depth of the markings; however, many agree that the markings are not deep and there appears to be little sign of weathering.
Aside from Native American inscription, one possibility suggested by Ezra Stiles in “The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor” is that the petroglyphs are written in Ancient Phoenician (Stiles 17). The Phoenicians are a subgroup of Canaanites that are largely credited for influencing early Greeks. A reference for the Phoenician alphabet can be found at:http://www.omniglot.com/writing/phoenician.htm.
A second possible theory was that there was a Norse influence; however, in comparison to the Runic alphabet, I see very few similarities aside from the symbol “X”, meaning “gift” in Elder Futhark. It is worth noting that in the same time frame the Viking discovery of America was very popular in America and the chief evidence of Viking Exploration, the Kensington Stone, and according to the National Museum of Natural History it “has judged the Kensington Stone to be a nineteenth-century creation” (vikinganswerlady) . Very few other petroglyphs (to me) appear to resemble the Runic alphabet. A reference for the several Runic Alphabets can be found here: http://www.omniglot.com/writing/runic.htm
A third possibility is suggested by Edmund Delabarre that the Dighton Rock was carved by Miguel Cortereal in 1511 and contains a message of his ultimate fate. (Delabarre, 170). Cortereal was a Portuguese ship captain that explored the coast of Labrador and was believed to have been lost at sea in 1501. Delabarre provides photograph evidence in Figure 27 (with overlays) demonstrating areas where he believes he sees the name “Miguel Cortereal”. Interestingly, “Delabarre managed to photograph it in different degrees of light until he was able to make out the date of 1511 which had been obscured by Indian markings of a later time. His investigations led to the the discovery of two Portuguese brothers, Gaspar Cortereal, who explored the coast of Newfoundland in 1501 and did not return to Portugal, and his brother Miguel Cortereal, who set out the next year to search for him and also did not return. Further study of the photographs revealed a clear M followed by the less distinct letters IGU, and more letters from which he pieced together an inscription which read “Miguel Cortereal 1511 V Dei hic dux ind.” and translated this abbreviated Latin message, “by the will of God leader of the Indians. This supported an Indian tradition recorded by Reverend John Danforth in 1680 that men from a strange land had come up the river at an earlier time and had slain their sachem. A shield-like marking on the rock was interpreted as the insignia of Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal.” (Mitchell).
In the end, no one can say for certain who placed the petroglyphs of Dighton Rock or what they mean. The mystery of the rock has existed for hundreds of years and has inspired many different people to search out their own personal truth as to the meanings and origins of these mysterious markings.
Debunking the Kensington Stone. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2015, fromhttp://www.vikinganswerlady.com/Kensington.shtml
Delabarre, E. (1928). Dighton rock; a study of the written rocks of New England,. New York: W. Neale. Availablehttps://archive.org/details/dightonrockstudy00dela
Dighton Rock State Park. (n.d.). Retrieved June 9, 2015, fromhttp://www.mass.gov/…/region-s…/dighton-rock-state-park.html
Mitchell, M. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Brunoniana | Delabarre, Edmund B. Retrieved June 10, 2015, from http://www.brown.edu/…/N…/Databases/Encyclopedia/search.php…
Stiles, E. (1783). The United States Elevated to Glory and Honor (1783). Retrieved June 9, 2015, from http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/etas/41/