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America’s Stonehenge, New Hampshire.

It is more plausible to believe Merlin built Stonehenge than it is to believe Columbus discovered the Americas. He just had better Marketing and Branding teams than previous travelers.

Archaeological evidence puts Vikings in North America about five hundred years before Columbus. Perhaps it was an oversight on their part to not hire a Branding team. (grin) Had they, the American continent might have been called The Ostmen’s New Found Land or something more cumbersome to pronounce. Vikings weren’t known as ‘Vikings’ until recently. Vikingland would have made the continent sound like an amusement park, perhaps.

Admit it, America trips off your tongue. Columbus named the Americas after his friend Amerigo Vespucci, an explorer, financier, navigator, and cartographer. If you’re going to ‘find’ a new land, it’s good to have friends like that.

Vikings, or Ostmen as they called themselves, were simply bent on exploration and trade. They didn’t budget for marketing or advertising. If they found trouble along the way, even better. They weren’t shy of fighting, but anyone watching TV these days would know that. It is thought that Leif Erikson was leader of one of the first, if not the first exploration and settlement.

Archaeologists are exploring Viking sites in Newfoundland, Canada. Farther south is a lesser known area that may also have been visited by Vikings. That’s unfortunate. Anyone who visits will find it fascinating.

America’s Stonehenge is located in Salem, New Hampshire. And no, this isn’t an amusement park or artistic recreation. And if you’re conjuring thoughts of witches, your mind has traveled a bit too far south. Salem, New Hampshire isn’t far from the Massachusetts border or its sister-name city. There are no witches in Salem, NH. There is a mysterious spot of land originally was known as Mystery Hill. Its name was changed to America’s Stonehenge in 1982 because, well, it is more accurate. Branding, right?

Snuggled into a New England forest on 30 acres of land is a scattering of stone structures, tunnels, and rooms. Did I mention standing stones? The standing stones, like those in Stonehenge, are carefully positioned in a similar way with marker stones for Celtic quarter days like Samhain, Beltane, Lammas, and Imbolc. The stones aren’t nearly as tall. They’re half the size of an average person.

In the center of the widely spread circle is the collection of granite stone structures. A focal point of these structures is an enormous flat stone-like a table. A narrow gutter carved completely around it could easily lead one’s imagination to strange sacrificial ceremonies. However, there is no evidence to what sort of ceremonies were conducted, if any, here.

Unfortunately this site was not originally understood as old. In fact, a farmer built atop it and lived on the area between 1826 and 1848. He moved stones around, damaging some and disturbing evidence. Because the farmer was something of a dishonest person, it was thought that he’d built the area. There’s a lot of conflicting rumors.

In 1936 the site changed hands. The new owner saw carvings in the stones and guessed that Irish monks had crossed the Atlantic before Columbus. Surely they had a hand it the site’s construction. The new owner’s archaeology was sloppy. He further damaged the site by getting rid of anything that didn’t fit his theory.

This is sadly an example of a fascinating place capable of revealing critical facts about our past. But then people have intervene and hinder, not help. It’s certainly not unique in that. Many famous sites have had overly zealous individuals who try to bend facts to prove their theory. They don’t follow the clues to find the real truth.

Since then archaeologists have restored the site as best as possible and examined the site, recovering many artifacts, including bits of stone carvings and pottery fragments. These were tested and found to date to 1000 BC. Charcoal from one fire pit was radiocarbon dated at 4000 years old.

So who built it?

It is entirely unknown. The site could have been built by the indigenous people of the area. But that is not the going theory. They could have had help from European visitors. Who these Europeans could have been can only be guessed at. At this point all that can be said is the site is likely about 4000 years old and built by a people we know nothing about. These people would have been much older than Vikings, Irish monks, or any known indigenous people. Certainly any or all of these people could have left their mark on this area.

The fact is there is more to be learned about this place before it will give up its secrets. The Eastern Seaboard would have been the first spot European visitors would have landed. There are more places like this to find, I am certain.

The Jamie Poole Books really found their footing when I lived in New Hampshire about 45 minutes from America’s Stonehenge. Incorporating it as a key focal point in the story is my way of shedding light on an area that deserves, in my humble opinion, more attention than it gets from visitors and archaeologists alike. If you happen to visit the New England states, don’t stop in Salem, MA. Hop the border for Salem, NH, and learn from one of the oldest known American sites.

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