Dighton Rock

The Dighton Rock is a 40 ton boulder, originally located in the riverbed of the Taunton River at Berkley, Massachusetts (formerly part of the town of Dighton). The rock is noted for the controversy surrounding a set of mysterious inscriptions on it. In 1963, the rock was removed from the river by a coffer dam and is under the protection of the state of Massachusetts.

The boulder was most likely deposited in the riverbed during the last ice age, approximately 13,000 years ago. The boulder has the form of a slanted, six-sided block, approximately 5 feet (1.5 m) high, 9.5 feet (2.9 m) wide, and 11 feet (3.4 m) long. It is gray-brown crystalline sandstone of medium to coarse texture. The surface with the inscriptions has a trapezoidal face and is inclined 70 degrees to the northwest

Over the last three hundred years, many theories have been proposed for the origin of the mysterious inscriptions. These include:

In 1848, Massachusetts writer James Russell Lowell suggested, concerning the promise-filled letters which were being written by Presidential candidates to newspapers:

"if letters must be written, profitable use might be made of the Dighton rock hieroglyphic or the cuneiform script, every fresh decipherer of which is enabled to educe a different meaning.
Lowell made other references to the Rock in his widely-circulated satirical writing, and may thus have helped to popularise it.

In November 1952, the Miguel Corte Real Memorial Society of New York City acquired 49 1/2 acres (200,000 m²) of land adjacent to the Rock for the purpose of creating a park. However, in 1951 the Massachusetts Legislature expropriated the same land for a State Park. More land was purchased, and Dighton Rock State Park now has an area of 100 acres (400,000 m²). The vicinity of Dighton Rock has been beautified and furnished with parking and picnic facilities.

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