Somewhere near the end of a street in Hampton New Hampshire (appropriately named Viking Ave and Thorwald Ave), at Boars Head, a 600-pound boulder with rune-like inscriptions was found. In 1670 reference to it as a “Witch’s Rock” is found in the diary of Effie Taylor. The early locals were supicious of it, and most stayed away. Reportedly further investigation of the rock during the 1800s resulted in broken shovels, and lightning bolts.
Mention of this rock is strangely absent from the ‘History of the Town of Hampton, New Hampshire,’ by Joseph Dow, published in 1894. In 1902 Charles M. Lamprey, reportedly a descendant of the original owners of the land where the rock sat, wrote an article implicating the rock as Thorwald’s (brother to Lief Ericsson) burial place.
In the 1930s more attention came to the stone when “Runic expert Olaf Strandwold” reportedly stated the markings on the rock was of Norse origin. Others promoted the idea that it was the burial place of Thorwald Ericsson, brother of Lief. Many people were curious, and visited the stone, chipping away small pieces as souvenirs.
By 1989 the Norse Rock was smaller, and there were fears that it might be trucked away in the night. And so it was was moved to its current location at the Tuck Museum, encased in a concrete well with iron bars to deter the overly curious.
More recent investigation indicates that this rock is probably not the reported burial place of Thorwald Ericsson, brother of Lief. But it was the primary impetus behind the creation of the Hampton Historical Preservation Society, and a great focus on the area’s historic places. Perhaps the rock’s existence also brought to light that Vikings indeed visited North America before other Europeans.