Dighton Rock in “Monumentum Vetustum in Massachusetts”

Your letter of June 15th 1829 with the accompanying Documents was duly received; and, at the earliest opportunity, laid before the Board of Trustees of our Society.

That the existence of the Continent of America was known to European Nations at a period anterior to the Voyages of Columbus, has long been the received opinion of many of our most learned Antiquaries.

[…] But, above all, many rocks, inscribed with unknown characters, apparently of very ancient origin, have been discovered, scattered through different parts of the Country[…]

A rock, similar to those alluded to above, lies in our vicinity; and the board of Trustees deemed it expedient to have this examined […] The Committee so appointed, visited the rock first referred to, in February last, and subsequently reported to the board —

"That it is situated about six and an half miles South of Taunton, on the East side of Taunton River, a few feet from the shore, and on the West side of Assonet neck, in the town of Berkley, county of Bristol and Commonwealth of Massachusetts; although probably from the fact of being generally visited from the opposite side of the river, which is in Dighton, it has always been known by the name of the Dighton Writing Rock. It faces North West toward the bed of the river, and is covered by the water two or three feet at the highest, and is left ten or twelve feet from it at the lowest tides: it is also completely immersed twice in twenty four hours. The rock docs not occur in situ, but shews indubitable evidence of having occupied the spot where it now rests, since the period of that great and extensive disruption, which was followed by the transportation of immense boulders to, and a deposit of them in, places at a vast distance from their original beds. It is a mass of well characterized, fine grained grey wacke. Its true colour, as exhibited by a fresh fracture, is a bluish gray. There is no rock in the immediate neighbourhood that would at all answer as a substitute for the purpose, for which the one bearing the Inscription was selected; as they are aggregates of the large conglomerate variety. Its face, measured at the base, is eleven feet and an half; and in height it is a little rising live feet. The upper surface forms with the horizon an inclined plane of about sixty degrees. The whole of the face is covered, to within a few inches of the ground, with unknown hieroglyphics. There appears little or no method in the arrangement of them. The lines are from half an inch to an inch in width; and in depth, sometimes one third of an inch, though generally very superficial. They were, inferring from the rounded elevations and intervening depressions, pecked in upon the rock, and not chiseled or smoothly cut out. The marks of human power and manual labor are indelibly stamped upon it. No one, who examines attentively the workmanship, will believe it to have been done by the Indians. Moreover, it is a well attested fact, that no where, throughout our wide spread domain, is a single instance of their recording or having recorded their deeds or history, on Stone"[…]

Source: C.C. Rafn, "[Dighton Rock in] Monumentum Vestutum in Massachusetts" in Antiqvitates AmericanŠ, (: HafniŠ, 1837), 356-358.

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