The Amazing Knight of Westford
The Knight of Westford is a 6-foot-tall carving pecked into a standing rock near Westford, Mass. It is clearly a depiction of a Scottish knight in full armor, wearing helmet, mail and surcoat, holding a broken sword and bearing the crest of the 14th century Sinclairs, rulers of the Orkney Islands — it was identified as such by the curator of the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Cambridge University in England about 50 years ago.
The “No Europeans Before Columbus” crowd who controls what is taught in our public schools insist the carving is something done by Indians or give some other balderdash so-called explanation. But as Charles Michael Boland points out in his 1961 book, “They All Discovered America,” it is not only an accurate depiction of a Scottish knight carrying a shield featuring the Sinclair crest but there is also a good reason for it being there.
Any serious student of early exploration of what came to be known as the Americas is familiar with the Zeno brothers, Niccolo and Antonio. After a voyage to Greenland sponsored by Prince Henry Sinclair, Niccolo became ill and died in the Faeroe Islands. Sinclair summoned Antonio Zeno to join him on a voyage of discovery to North America, which he had heard about from a fisherman who had landed there years before when his craft was blown off course.
The fisherman told Sinclair the land “was rich and abundant in all the good things of this world,” according to Boland’s research. The fisherman also reported he had seen things there that indicated the people of that land must have had traffic with Europe at some time in the past.
Sinclair, Zeno and crew left Scotland with several ships in 1395 for their voyage of discovery. After three weeks or more of sailing, including eight days in a furious storm, the ships that remained together found a “good harbor” with dark smoke coming from some kind of fire at the foot of a great mountain nearby. With winter ahead, many crew members wanted to return home, so Sinclair allowed them to go.
Among those was Zeno, who wrote letters about the expedition to his brother, Calo, in Venice. Those letters detailing an expedition to America 100 years before Columbus are still studied today.
During the 1940s, geologist and professor Dr. William H. Hobbs of Michigan tried to determine locations that could have produced a “great mountain which cast forth smoke.” He suspected this mountain was a source of a pitch deposit.
Only four natural pitch deposits are known in the Americas, and only one of those —- in Nova Scotia — is in the general location of the Sinclair party’s landing.
Dr. Frederick Pohl, who heard Hobbs speculate on this in a lecture, searched in 1950 for evidence of the smoking mountain. He found exposed seams of bituminous near Stellarton, Nova Scotia, that were known to have burned in recent times.
In 1832, for example, one of the seams burned for nearly a year, being extinguished only when the East River was diverted onto it.
Micmac Indians had oral traditions about “smoking holes” in the ground over the past few hundred years.
Everything fit the geography of the Zeno Narrative.
How long Sinclair remained n America is unknown, but he returned to Scotland by 1404, when his death is recorded in Orkney Island annals. However, he or some of his men undoubtedly wandered as far as the current location of Westford, Mass, for the Knight of Westford could only have been carved by someone familiar with Sinclair heraldry. The rock with its carving was there when the area was settled.
The reason for the carving? Probably as the gravesite marker for a member of the party who died there. Some excavations have been carried out near the rock, finding no evidence of a burial, but the most likely place is covered by an asphalt highway which runs near the stone, effectively halting future excavations.
Such is the suppression of ancient explorations to America in this country that little can be found about the Knight of Westford on the Internet. But a search turned up this bit of information — some folks think they know the name of the knight who died there.
The existence of this incised figure appears to corroborate a statement in the Zeno Narrative that explains that a cousin of Sinclair’s died while on the continent. If the Westford knight is indeed a 14th century carving, it is typical of an effigy used to mark the grave of a fallen knight, for the pommelled sword of the period is shown to be broken, indicating that the knight had died in the field.
The identity of this fallen knight has been claimed to be Sir James Gunn, which supporters claim is indisputably proven because the effigy clearly bears the arms of the Clan Gunn on the knight’s shield.
Boland’s book contains a picture of the Knight of Westford carving, chalked to make it show up better, along with a separate line drawing that also shows what the carving looks like before so much weathering.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an updated version of an article published on Dec. 31, 2009 in the Batesville (Arkansas) Daily Guard.
Larry Stroud is the associate editor of the Batesville Daily Guard. He can be reached at email@example.com or at the Guard office at (870) 793-2383.