The Westford Knight is perceived as either a carving or a natural feature, or a combination of both, it was found on a glacial boulder in Westford, Massachusetts in the United States. It is notable for being the subject of controversial speculation that it is evidence of exploration of North America by Europeans prior to Christopher Columbus. This interpretation is not currently accepted by most archaelogists or historians.
The rock is located along Depot Street in the town of Westford, just north of the town center. It is inconspicuous, situated along the side of the road and surrounded by a small chain fence. Next to the rock is a small monument commemorating the "inscription".
The rock and carving is first mentioned in print in an 1883 town history, identified as an Indian carving. The carving was subsequently identified as a broken Norse Sword by William Goodwin in his book on the America's Stonehenge site. Frank Glynn re-located the carving and chalked in a full figure, resembling a Medieval knight, with a sword and shield.
The common interpretation by those who advocate that the feature on the rock is a human figure is that it commemorates a fallen member of the party of Henry Sinclair, a Scottish Earl whom some believe to have made a voyage to the New World in 1398, traveling to Nova Scotia and New England . The existence of such a voyage is not accepted by mainstream archaeologists and historians. Usually it is claimed that the knight is Sir James Gunn, a member of Clan Gunn and a Knight Templar who reportedly traveled with Sinclair. The monument next to the "knight" commemorates this interpretation, stating as fact that Sinclair and his party traveled to present-day Massachusetts. Believers in this theory often cite the Newport Tower in Newport, Rhode Island as further evidence to support their claim.
Such claims are rejected as pseudoarchaeology by mainstream historians and archaeologists. A recent investigation of the rock by David K. Schafer, Curatorial Assistant for Archaeology at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, concluded that except for the "sword handle", which is definitely a punch carving, the entire feature consists of naturally-formed scratches caused by glaciation. The local town historian of Westford has stated that there is evidence that the T-shaped inscription was made in the late 19th century. Furthermore, historians believe that the area around the rock has undergone erosion since the clearing of trees in the 18th century, and that during the time of the alleged voyage by Sinclair, the rock was probably in a hardwood forest covered by 3 or 4 ft (1 or 1.3 m) of earth. Moreover, the area of Westford is inland and not easily accessible by water, making it highly improbable that any nautical voyage would venture there. It may be worth noting that the carving sits alongside a current road which lies on what would have been a natural path used to descend the hill through the woods. Had the expedition been made, and had the expedition decided to pass through this specific area, this was a likely route for the group to follow. However, there is no evidence that Sinclair or Gunn ever actually traveled to the Americas.
Some suggest that the timing is also inconsistent with history, as at the time of the alleged voyage (1398), the Order of the Knights Templar was not in existence, having been publicly disbanded ninety years earlier. However, there are those that claim that the order continued to exist "underground" after that time.