[Clan Sinclair]
[prev] [next]
[Roslin Castle]
Castle at
   the Cross
[The Westford Knight]
[Newport Tower]
[Rosslyn Chapel]
   of Mey
[Girnigoe Castle]

Newport Tower Newport Tower

`In Rhode Island the Newport Tower is constructed in a similar style to the Norse/Scottish buildings of the Western and Northern Isles. More important, every single measurement within Newport Tower is based on the Scottish ell, which equals three Norse feet.'

`When the Narragansett Indians were asked who built the Newport Tower, they replied, ``They were fire-haired men with green eyes who sailed up river in a ship like a gull with a broken wing.'''

picture of Newport Tower

In 1398 Prince Henry Sinclair sailed from Orkney to Nova Scotia, and from there to Massachusetts, leaving recognizable artifacts in each place. He may have also built Newport Tower in Rhode Island. Other theories of the origin of that structure, also known as the Old Stone Mill, suppose that the Norse built it as early as the twelfth century, or that it was built in colonial times, perhaps by colonial Governor Benedict Arnold (successor to Roger Williams and great-grandfather of General Benedict Arnold, the traitor), who owned the tower at one point. The tower appears on a map of Rhode Island in 1630.

In recent years the late Pete Cummings mentioned Newport Tower several times, and summarized presentations by several other people. Here are those mentions and summaries gathered in one place, plus some additional material.

[Prince Henry Sinclair]

``James P. Whittall, Jr., Archaeological director of the Early Sites Research Center in Massachusetts, spoke on the studies and beliefs surrounding the round stone building in Newport, RI. It was constructed in the style of Norman Romanisk architecture inspired from the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The unique style of the Newport Tower was further influenced by the Templars round churches of Scandinavia. Local building traditions from whence the builders came also influenced its style. Determination of the date of original construction is usually based upon the study of features, such as arches, windows, niches, beam holes, key stones, mortar, and the orientation of openings. Those found within the Newport Tower have been dated in the broad range of 1150 - 1400. However, some specific features narrow the range to the late 1300's.''
Pete Cummings

Newport Tower, by Suzanne O. Carlson

In New England there is a significant archaeological site, which gives indications that Prince Henry Sinclair set his feet on the North American continent in the 14th century. Suzanne is a noted lecturer and author on historical sites and she is listed in Who's Who in America. She will discuss the origins and architectural design of the Newport Tower. Her article "Tilting at Windmills: Newport Tower" was published in the NEARA Journal.

Here's a summary of a report on the Newport Tower, being A summary of the Journal of the Newport Historical Society, Vol 68, Part 2, 1997: ``The History and Mystery of the Old Stone Mill.'' Among other things, it mentions a carbon-14 dating to middle 17th century.

Here's commentary about the C-14 dating, in which J. Huston McCulloch argues that the C-14 date, although certainly consistent with a colonial origin, does not in fact rule out a medieval date.

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum has an extensive set of information, images, and links about the Tower, including supporting evidence for the Norse and Colonial theories of its origin.

Then there is the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, The Skeleton in Armor. The poet said about the poem:

"is connected with the old Round Tower at Newport. This skeleton in armor really exists. It was dug up near Fall River, where I saw it some two years ago. I suppose it to be the remains of one of the old Northern sea-rovers, who came to this country in the tenth century. Of course I make the tradition myself; and I think I have succeeded in giving the whole a Northern air."
This web page has a bit more information about the body found buried near the tower that occasioned Longfellow's poem.
Last changed: $Date: 2002/04/21 23:02:05 $ [Clan Sinclair]