There are many theories of people visiting the Americas before Christopher Columbus made the discovery in 1492. Several of these theories are supported by historical or archaeological evidence:
· Scandinavian visitation is evident in the 10th century colonizations of Greenland and L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland.
· Siberian-Alaska travel has been shown via the Bering Strait land bridge.
· DNA evidence shows (pre-Columbian) contact between Easter Island and South America.
A piece of ledge rock in Westford, MA, holds a carving that is the topic of much debate in this area. There are those who believe that this ledge rock holds the likeness of a Scottish knight. Allegedly Prince Henry Sinclair of Scotland led a group of Knights Templar on an expedition to the new world in 1400 AD, almost 100 years before Christopher Columbus set foot on the continent.
The first published account of the knight was in the Gazetteer of Massachusetts in 1873. The carving had been known to locals and it was thought to be a Native American pictograph called “Indian Smoking a pipe.” In 1954 the carving was identified as a 14th century Scottish knight in full armor by Frank Glynn, president of the Archaeological Society of Connecticut. Photographs and rubbings of the carving were sent to Dr. Thomas C. Lethbridge, an English archaeologist, who likened it to funerary monuments in western Scotland. It was suggested that the shield resembled the coat of arms for the Clann Gun of Scotland. The knights right hand rests on a pommelled sword that was broken which would indicate that the knight had died in the field according to orkneyjar.com.
The Zeno Narrative is a document that was published in 1558 and tells of a crew of Venetians headed by a famous navigator, Nicolo Zeno, on their travels throughout the North Atlantic. The narrative claims that Henry Sinclair led a voyage to find the Promised Land which some believe to be Nova Scotia (New Scotland). There may be mentioned within this a visit to New England. There is legend among the Algonquins that tell of bearded men in canoes that came to shore which could be the Sinclair party.
Just as there are things that may point to the Westford Knight’s origin being related to Sir Henry Sinclair, there are other items that weigh against this.
Many historians believe the Zeno Narrative to be a hoax (which would be an interesting coincidence that Sinclair was mentioned and in the same time frame).
There is also the fact that the stone which bears this image would have been buried under feet of soil in the 1400’s, making it inaccessible at the time the carving was supposedly done. The markings are dismissed as scratches and striations from glaciers. And some have estimated that the carving is more likely from the 19th century.
After a failed attempt at having the knight listed as a national historic place and interest from The Clan Sinclair Association, Inc., fell off, a plexiglass covering was placed over the rock in 2014 to prevent further damage and erosion due to weather. The following year a life size bronze sculpture of the knight done by Massachusetts artist David P. Christiana was also placed at the site.
While there is no conclusive evidence to say that this is or isn’t a marker left by the Knights Templar to a slain colleague, it does prove thoughtworthy. If this is actually from a group of Scottish explorers in pre Columbus, what does that say about the history of our country?