[Dighton Rock in] “Early Voyages and Explorations”

Other elements which have been brought into the discussion, but which may perhaps be said to be now dismissed from it, are the inscription on a rock in the town of Berkeley (opposite to Dighton), on Taunton River […] The Berkeley inscription, viewed through the spectacles of the imagination, has been variously regarded as composed of Phœnician, Scythian, or Roman characters, mingled with sketches of men and animals; and some of the ostensible facsimiles of it which have been made at different times, and which, to the number of nine, are published by the Copenhagen Society, exhibit a very imperfect resemblance to one another. Mr. Ram supposes that he finds here a record in Runic letters of an expedition of the Icelanders to the spot.

The inscription, made upon a hard greywacke rock, must no doubt have lost some time and labor; and the workman must have returned repeatedly to his task, as the tide leaves the sculptured face exposed only about three hours at a time. But it has been tortured altogether in vain for a confession that it is the work of civilized men. Mr. Schoolcraft has perhaps furnished the most probable clew to its origin and meaning. (Ethnological Researches, I. 112 et seq., IV. 119 et seq. Comp. S. F. Haven, Archaeology of the United States, p. 133, in the Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vill.) He placed two delineations of it in the hands of an Algonquin chief, without acquainting him with the state of the question. The chief professed to understand it, and explained it as a record of a battle between two parties of Indians. When I visited the spot in the summer of 1857, it was with the intention of causing an authentic representation of the lines to be made by the daguerreotype process; an intention which I relinquished on learning that I had been anticipated by Mr. Schoolcraft (Ibid., IV. 120).

If the depth of the incisions seems to require the supposition of iron instruments, there is no proof of their having been made before the time when iron had been largely furnished to the natives by the English. The earliest record of any notice of the inscription is in 1680, after Philip's war, when Mr. Danforth had a drawing made.

Source: John Gorham Palfrey, "[Dighton Rock in] Early Voyages and Explorations" in History of New England, vol. 1, (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1859), 56-57.

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