Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mediæval Rhode Island

The mystery of the Newport Tower may have been solved — Ancient Lime Kiln found at Newport, RI. From the article:
    Extensive Internet research regarding lime kilns, masonry styles, and arches in Colonial America and Medieval Europe confirms the probable time of construction for the Old Stone Tower as being the late 14th century. The masons were most-likely Norman-Scottish – that is, they were trained in masonry traditions of Northern Scotland (which at the time was still regarded as a Nordic Province). Between 1365 and 1410, agents of Denmark and the Kalmar Union were involved in the resettlement of refugees from the Eastern Settlement of Greenland. The Settlement was a Western Province of Norway (and hence also of the Kalmar Union that consisted of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the Western Province of Landanu – that is, the “New Land”).

    Naturally, Queen-Regent Margaret Atterdag and her successor, Erik of Pomerania, were deeply concerned about the welfare of their distant Christian subjects; and their care and protection were under the direct responsibility of the current Earl of the Orkney Islands – Prince Henry Sinclair. About 4,000 farmers were desperate to escape from the Arctic onslaught of the Little Ice Age. As they had no suitable oceangoing vessels to carry their belongings to new homes in the southern territories along the Eastern Seaboard, they were entirely dependent upon Norman-Scottish merchants, or perhaps Hanseatic sea captains, for ferry service. As the owner of a merchant shipping company, Sinclair was in a position to provide ferry service – which was probably done with the condition that farmers pay for their transport by turning over a portion of future earnings from goods – such as stockfish and turkey corn – that were produced for transport to the markets of North European ports.

    Giovanni Verrazano’s Report in 1524, which mentions “a white Native Tribe” and residents of Narragansett Bay who were “inclined to whiteness” suggests that one of the destinations of refugee farmers included the shores of Narragansett Bay. Doubtless, Nordic refugees who were transplanted to this region soon lost their ethnic and racial distinctions by merging with the local Narragansett and Wampanoag People. Legends or reports concerning the presence of a hybrid Native-European Colony in this region were probably a factor in the decision by Gerhard Mercator to identify “Norombega City” as the Capital of a European Colony alongside the shores of Narragansett Bay on his World Map of 1569. Other new settlements included Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New York, and the Carolinas. Thus, Colonial settlers reported numerous contacts with “White Indians,” Welsh, Irish, and Nordic residents who were eager to trade furs and fish for coveted iron tools and fabrics from Europe. These early European settlers in the New World provided a “cultural bridgehead” that facilitated the survival of new immigrants from the Old World.

Makes me want to crack a Narragansett Beer, now brewed locally by the Genesee Brewing Company.

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