Return to Doug's archaeology
A PRELIMINARY REPORT ON A SURVEY OF
THE 'WESTFORD KNIGHT'
David K. Schafer, Curatorial Assistant for Archaeology at
Harvard's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, has
conducted a survey which will be published in the Massachusetts
Archaeological Society Bulletin as well as some regional
In his words (and with his permission):
The engraving on the bedrock in Westford, MA is not :
Some things it is:
- a depiction of "...a rough
life-sized portrayal of a late 14th century knight in full-length
surcoat" (Glynn 1957:11).
- Nor "....a knight's
great sword, a shield and crest, and the knight's face in a
bassinet helmet with pendent neckmail of the kind in use in A.D.
1360-1390" (Glynn 1967:14).
- Nor should the heraldry which
some people claim to see on the shield (since the *only* evidence
of the shield that I could distinguish was the one painted in
white paint on the bedrock by an unknown artist) be interpreted
as a 14th century Scottish coat of arms (Glynn 1967:14; Willard
- Nor should the
"T-shaped" engraving (which is in fact visible on the
bedrock) be thought of as "clearly show(ing) a hand and
half-wheel pommel sword of Medieval European vintage"
- Nor should the
"T-shaped" engraving be interpreted as "...an
early 18th century iron tomahawk of the era between 1700 and
1750...cut in the exposed rock by a Westford settler as a
memorial of encounter with the Indians...." (Fowler 1960:
Doug's archaeology page
- a roughly globular
"T-shaped" engraving on a section of exposed
- The engraving was made by
repetitive punching, most likely with a metal punch (I think
Folwer's assertion that is was a "case-hardened iron
center punch" dating to the mid-18th century is as fanciful
as Glynn's assertion the technique is exactly the same as
used by 14th-century blacksmith making armor).
- The "sword blade" that
extends from the "T" are actually glacial scratches
(marks made by rocks dragged along under the moving ice). The
surface of the entire bedrock are covered by these parallel
marks, and two are located in general proximity to the
- There are NO OTHER engravings on
the bedrock: weathering of the schist, yes; glacial scratches,
yes; undulations along the surface of the bedrock, yes; a nicely
painted portrait of the knight and shield, yes; even a nice
commemorative marble marker.
- Based upon environmental
studies, this area would have been a hardwood forest in the 14th
century, and given the currently landscape (i.e. a flat area in
an upland setting) the flat bedrock would have been buried under
1-3 feet of soil. Erosion of the area may have occurred as early
as the colonial period due to tree cutting and subsequent
farming. Luckily though, we know that Glynn himself was
responsible for removing all the soil and plants to expose the
greater portion of bedrock (Glynn 1957:11).
- Even though I claim no expertise
in 14th-century sea-faring vessels, I question whether Henry
Sinclair could have sailed his four ships up "Stony
Creek" to this Westford local.
- And also is the simple fact that
the town historian has evidence that the "T" was made
by two local boys in the late-19th century (although, 1. that is
his story to tell and will be in the articles, and 2. it
doesn't make as good of a story as 14th century Scottish