Viking or Newport Tower, Touro Park - Newport, RI, USA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 41° 29.152 W 071° 18.593
19T E 307162 N 4595270
Quick Description: The origin of the stone cylindrical structure in a small green in Newport is not well known, but various theories proposed say that builders could have been Vikings, Celtics, Knights Templar, or Benedict Arnold - great frandfather of the traitor.
Location: Rhode Island, United States
Date Posted: 4/23/2011 3:57:46 PM
Waymark Code: WMB9M3
Views: 12

Long Description:
In Newport, in a small green called Touro Park, is a stone cylindrical structure surrounded by an iron fence. This structure is open to the sky and has various opening, including eight archways at the base, separated by relatively thin stone pillars. This structure is locally known as the Viking Tower, and one of the legends has it that the structure was built by Vikings while on a voyage to find Vinland. However, it's true origins have not been satisfactorily resolved.

The structure stands 28 feet tall. There are several niches on the inside that suggest places for floor joists. Nothing in or around the structure is wooden which may be because the wood rotted or, more likely, was taken out and either discarded or used for other purposes.

Not having the wood around makes it hard to date the structure, and there are no carved features on the structure that would indicate the culture that might have built it.

One paper [1] found online provides an exhaustive analysis of the proposed builders and the paper's own proposal. Here are some of the architecture of possible cultural groups compared together:

Celtic Monks, 6th to 11th Century - "Saint Brendan’s seven year shuttle between the various Atlantic Isles, including a “promised land” far to the west, is recorded in the Navigatio Sancti Brendani Abbatis...there is little evidence in the history of architecture that would suggest that these were the builders of our tower.

Pagan Vikings, 8th to 10th Century - "Wood was the Viking medium...Stonework seemed to be limited to stone fences marking out home fields or cattle pounds. There is little evidence that Vikings could have been the builders of Newport Tower."

Christian Vikings, 11th to 14th Century - "The Norse Jarls, or Earls, of Orkney adopted the new fashion for stone with a scattering of little family churches on remote farms. In faraway Garder, Greenland, the first tiny stone church built in the twelfth century was replaced in the mid-fourteenth century with a surprisingly rich cathedral complete with glass windows. In searching the repertoire for prototypes for Newport Tower, however, we find few candidates among the early Norse."

Various Medievel Cultures - Too many to recount here, but the article compares several churches and cathedrals found in Medievel times, including French, Templar, and English buildings. drawings are included and compared.

Benedict Arnold, Greatgrandfather of Benedict Arnold, the Traitor, 17 Century - "Fleeing the stern autocracy of the puritans, Roger Williams and Anne Hathaway brought their brand of tolerance to their new colony at Providence Plantations. Benedict Arnold joined the reformers in 1636, but being a scrappy and irascible young man, he squabbled with the local Baptists and removed himself to Newport in 1651...The Arnoldists have always presented one fail-proof prototype as the inspiration for the Tower. In Chersterton, Warwickshire, England, there stands a round stone windmill of a design that is remarkably similar to the Newport Tower. The theory holds that, Arnold, having grown up in nearby Leamington, would have remembered The octagonal arcaded tower and would have been inspired to replicated it in his New World estate. In his sleuthing, Means discovers that Arnold was not born anywhere near Chesterton..." The article also states that the windmill in Chesterton was originally an observatory that was converted into a windmill after Arnold left for America.

The article then discusses building methods from each time, and summarizes the points - but though it prefers the idea that Arnold had built it, the last sentence reads, "The question remains—who built the Newport tower, when and why?"

To add one more theory, an article in the Boston Globe states that the building was built for use by early Freemasons. [2] It also reviews the prevailing theories that the tower could have been built by Vikings, Knights Templar, or Arnold.

The Wikipedia article also reviews the proposed builders. It also states that carbon dating on the mortar resulted in a range for building between 1635 and 1698, which supports the idea of Arnold. Also under debate was the original use for the tower - as a windmill, an observatory, or defensive structure.

There is a small museum that is about the tower, located in a building that faces the park. I could not find a web site for the museum, so no further information could be provided about it. The web site provided below has more information about Newport. In this area, there is free street parking and there is no fee to see the tower.

Who do you think built the tower?
Type: Ancient Mystery

Referenced in (list books, websites and other media):
1. New England Antiquities Research Association. Loose Threads in a Tapestry of Stone: The Architecture of the Newport Tower 2. Boston Globe, Tower’s past a present puzzle 3. Wikipedia - Newport Tower

Website Reference: [Web Link]

Additional Coordinates: Not Listed

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