by Duncan Laurie ~ Jamestown, Rhode Island

Have you ever wondered who really built the Newport Tower? If so, consider the following:

As recently as January 5, 2003 the controversy concerning the Tower's remote origins were stirred once again. This time, the New York Times Magazine published an article titled "Goodbye Columbus!" by Jack Hitt that examined the startling conclusions of British researcher Gavin Menzies. Newporters, long accustomed to intense speculation as to the Towers' origins, can now add the Chinese to the list! Menzies believes the Tower's origin derives from a Chinese expedition in 1421 under Admiral Zheng He, also known as Sin Bao (i.e., 'Sinbad the Sailor').

Such speculation is nothing unusual for one group of dedicated researchers, called the New England Antiquities Research Association ( NEARA publishes books and journals, holds semi-annual conferences, and sponsors active research and field trips on a wide range of topics relevant to the early, pre-Columbian archaeology of New England. NEARA is also a hotbed of "Diffusionist" thought, the belief that the Americas were widely visited by European and Asiatic cultures before Columbus.

For a more thorough examination of the Tower's European architectural ancestry, there is no better place to look than through the research of NEARA's Suzanne Carlson. In "Loose Threads in a Tapestry of Stone: The Architecture of the Newport Tower", (NEARA Journal Vol. 35 #1), Ms. Carlson, an architect herself, weaves a fascinating picture together of similar structures throughout Europe from the 6th C. on. This path of discovery covers the architectural similarity of the Tower to Celtic, Irish, Cistercian, and "other" Christian monastic orders. Also reviewed are Pagan Viking, Christian Norse, Portuguese, Templar, Sinclair Family, and English Catholic architectural similarities, and not forgotten, the American hypothesis: Benedict Arnold's windmill!

For those readers fascinated by early Portuguese exploration, there is no better resource than Rhode Island author and NEARA member Dr. Manuel DaSilva, who presents a compelling picture of these discoveries in his book PORTUGUESE PILGRIMS & DIGHTON ROCK ( 1971 Bristol, R.I: Privately Published).

Another fascinating revelation concerning the Newport Tower is presented by U.R.I. Professor of Astronomy (and NEARA member) Dr. William Penhallow. Penhallow's research led him to discover numerous lunar, solar, stellar and other alignments to various windows and architectural details within the Tower. The obvious conclusion is that the Tower was built with precise astronomical alignments in mind, but why? To ponder this question, one must read Dr. Penhallow's presentation of his findings in ACROSS BEFORE COLUMBUS (Gilmore & McElroy, NEARA Publications, 1998).

To view the beauty and mystery of witnessing these alignments across the windows and surfaces of the Newport Tower, there are no better visual documents than the pictures of R.I. professional photographer and NEARA contributor, Jim Egan, that accompany this article.

For more information on the Newport Tower and many other mysterious stone structures that still lie undisturbed in the fields and woodlands of New England, visit
History Home Page

Newport Tower

First Beach

Second Beach

Third & Other