Leif Eriksson Monuments Pages

United States of America
Cambridge
Massachusetts

Memorial Drive / Gerry's Landing Road

Memorial Tablet Leif Eriksson's House



ca. 1887

Cambridge /  Memorial Tablet Leif Eriksson's House   Cambridge /  Memorial Tablet Leif Eriksson's House

Description

The tablet is located at the junction of Memorial Drive and Gerry's Landing Road in Cambridge, between the traffic light at the intersection and the Mt. Auburn Hospital.

Inscription(s)

ON THIS SPOT
IN THE YEAR 1000
LEIF ERIKSON
BUILT HIS HOUSE IN
VINELAND

Annotation

Prof. Eben Norton Horsford, an early food chemist who in 1847 was appointed to fill Harvard's Rumford Chair of the Application of Science to the Useful Arts. In 1854 he co-founded Rumford Chemical Works, which he named after his position. A few years later he struck it rich by inventing a new formulation of baking powder.

Later in life, and with too much time and too much money, Horsford turned amateur archeologist and convinced himself that in A.D. 1000, Leif Erikson sailed up the Charles and built his house in what is now Cambridge, Mass. Horsford did a little digging (literally) and found some buried artifacts that he claimed were Norse. On the spot he built the memorial. He didn't stop there. A few miles upstream, at the mouth of Stony Brook (which separates the towns of Waltham and Weston), he had a tower built marking the supposed location of a Viking fort and city. As if that weren't enough, he also commissioned a statue of Leif that still stands on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. The professor wrote a seemingly endless series of books, articles, and pamphlets about the Vikings' visits to Massachusetts. After his death, his daughter Cornelia took up the cause. Their work received little support from mainstream historians and archeologists at the time, and even less today.

More info on Horsford and his ideas:

Gloria Polizzotti Greis, Vikings on the Charles or, The Strange Saga of Dighton Rock, Norumbega, and Rumford Double-Acting Baking Powder (on-line here)

Sources & Information

Tags

Location N 42°22'23" W 71°8'2"

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Item Code: usma13; Added: 2 December 2003

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