Leif Eriksson Monuments Pages

United States of America
Waltham
Massachusetts

Norumbega Road

Norumbega tower



1889

Waltham /  Norumbega tower   Waltham /  Norumbega tower

Description

Tower at Norumbega road on the banks of Charles river. A huge tablet gives a summary of Horsford's theory.

Inscription(s)

A.D. 1000 A.D. 1889
NORUMBEGA
CITY·COUNTRY·FORT·RIVER

NORUMBEGA = NOR MBEGA
INDIAN UTTERANGE OF NORBEGA THE ANCIENT FORM
OF NORVEGA·NORWAY·TO WHICH THE
REGION OF VINLAND WAS SUBJECT
CITY
AT, AND NEAR WATERTOWN
WHERE REMAIN TO-DAY
DOCKS·WHARVES·WALLS·DAMS·BASINS·
COUNTRY
EXTENDING FROM RHODE ISLAND TO THE ST. LAWRENCE
FIRST SEEN BY BJARNI HERJULFSON 985 A.D.
LANDFALL OF LEIF ERIKSON ON CAPE COD 1000 A.D.
NORSE CANALS·DAMS·WALLS·PAVEMENTS·
FORTS·TERRACED PLACES OF ASSEMBLY REMAIN TO-DAY
FORT
AT BASE OF TOWER AND REGION ABOUT
WAS OCCUPIED BY THE BRETON FRENCH IN THE
15TH 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES
RIVER
THE CHARLES
DISCOVERED BY                    ··············
LEIF ERIKSON·1000 A.D.
EXPLORED BY                    ··············
THORWALD LEIF'S BROTHER·1003 A.D.
COLONIZED BY                    ··············
THORFINN KARLSEFNI·1007 A.D.
FIRST BISHOP                    ··············
ERIK GNUPSON·1121 A.D.
INDUSTRIES FOR 350 YEARS
MASUR·WOOD [BURRS]·FISH·FURS·AGRICULTURE·
LATEST NORSE SHIP RETURNED TO ICELAND IN 1347.

Annotation

Prof. Eben Norton Horsford, amateur archeologist, was convinced 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. A few miles upstream, at the mouth of Stony Brook (which separates the towns of Waltham and Weston), he had this tower built marking the supposed location of a Viking fort and city.

Horsford embellished the story further by combining the Viking explorations with the legendary city of Norumbega. The story is largely forgotten now, but Norumbega once figured with Ophir, El Dorado, and the seven cities of Cíbola in the ranks of legendary golden cities.

Horsford argued that Norumbega lay at the confluence of Stony Brook and the Charles (at the site of the tower), and that in the days of the explorers it was occupied by the descendants of the Vikings. He believed the name was a corruption of an old name for Norway, Norbega. I can find no independent confirmation that Norway was ever called "Norbega," which isn't too far off from Norway's real names in Old Norse, Norvegr and Nóregr. As bad an etymologist as he was an archeologist, Horsford argued mass, maze, mace, and maize were all from a common root, when in fact they are unrelated. He thought "America" was named after Erik the Red, despite the fact that Erik never set foot on the continent. He believed the Vikings would name the new land after Norway, when most of them were from Iceland and Greenland. At any rate, the accepted origin of Norumbega is an Algonquian Indian name meaning "quiet place between the rapids." A summary of Horsford's theory is on the plaque of this tower. His work received little support from mainstream historians and archeologists at the time, and even less today.

Further reading:
Eben Norton Horsford, The Landfall of Leif Erikson: A.D. 1000 and The Discovery of the Ancient City of Norumbega.

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°21'11" W 71°15'43"

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Item Code: usma14; Photograph: 24 June 2003

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