Dighton Rock

Dighton Rock is gray-brown crystalline sandstone of medium to coarse texture. It has the form of a slanted, six-sided block, 5 feet high, 9. 5 feet wide, and 11 feet long. Dighton Rock and its inscriptions have been the object of curiosity and controversy for over 300 years. For centuries, the boulder sat in the mud (and sewage), at this point in the Taunton River, its broad westward surface tempting passersby to carve their messages.

When Dighton Rock lay in the riverbed, (until 1963), it was covered by tidal water all but four hours each day. At high tide, the top of the rock was covered by three or four feet of water. In the winter, when the Taunton River was frozen, the rock remained hidden under an ice cap. These harsh conditions, ironically, protected the inscriptions from vandalism.
Inscription on Dighton Rock

The rock is noted for its petroglyphs ("primarily lines, geometric shapes, and schematic drawings of people, along with writing, both verified and not."), carved designs of ancient and uncertain origin, and the controversy about their creators.

Four of the most popular of these are presented in the museum panels. Through drawings, photographs, and direct quotations, theories are presented, chronologically of their suggestions, supporting: 
(1) American Indians; 
( 2) Phoenicians; 
(3) Norse; and 
(4) Portuguese.

In 1912 Edmund B. Delabarre wrote that markings on the Dighton Rock in Massachusetts suggest that Miguel Corte-Real reached New England. Delabarre stated that the markings were abbreviated Latin, and the message, translated into English, read as follows: "I, Miguel Cortereal, 1511. In this place, by the will of God, I became a chief of the Indians."




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