Who Really Engraved Dighton Rock?

The tide receded in the Taunton River exposing a sandstone rock that has been speculated about for centuries.
It was possibly a glacial remnant of the Ice Age that was deposited off the Berkley, Massachusetts coast over 10, 000 years ago. In 1680, the curiosity of Reverend John Danforth caused him to draw out markings found on the large rock for further study. This remarkable sketch, now at the British Museum, has helped verify the authenticity of petroglyphs incised on the rock. Ten years after Danforth, Reverend Cotton Mather wrote a book titled, "The Wonderful Works of God Commemorated." In it he describes a curious rock, partially submerged, in a New England river bed He also mentions the dimensions and strange, deeply engraved characters that look like ideas of others who were presently unknown. His details describe Dighton Rock.

When it was brought up to the surface and out of the water, the six sided rock measured approximately 5 feet high, 10 feet wide, and 11 feet long. Its weight is about 40 tons. His sketches were not quite accurate. The inscriptions were on the side facing the ocean and, apparently, only a few feet of the top was exposed for a few hours before the sea level would rise and hide the rock. He preserved on paper only what he could see. Once it was taken from the water, complete carvings could be seen, but this would not happen until 1963.

Scholars and historians throughout the years have given their own interpretations from Biblical to babblings, but the intense work the lines and drawings would require plus the location in the water, make the latter less applicable. In 1916, Professor Edmund B. Delabarre resided nearby. With much study, open interpretation from others including Native Americans, and finally frustration, he was about to call it a farce until 1918 when he spotted something he hadn't detected before. A date of 1511 with the name Miguel Corte Real, as leader of the Indians, and a Portuguese shield all came to light. He dove back into research and began to believe some of the Indians' stories combined with earlier researchers.

Vikings, Phoenicians, American Indians, Portuguese, and even Chinese have all arguably been given credit as the creators of the engravings. Some are quite preposterous as claims, but others hold some real merit. Dr. Manuel L. Da Silva, formerly of Portugal before becoming an American citizen, also a noted doctor and historian, has done many years of research along with his wife, and spoken about Dighton Rock with expertise. His observation that Portuguese people were in the area before Columbus came to the new world is due to past generations of eastern coast families in Canada and the United States having Portuguese names. This includes Native American tribal names. He has also done comparative research in writing characteristics.

Danforth's early copies have helped determine the original surface before vandals had defaced portions of Dighton Rock. To prevent anyone from further damaging it, a glass case and walled museum was erected around it. A large plot of land where it now rests was designated Dighton Rock State Park once it was moved and enclosed in 1963. In 1980 it garnered a position on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read More Other Unsolved Mysteries article!

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