Nestled in the city of Newport, Rhode Island stands the ruins of a circular structure constructed of stone with a mixture of sand, shells and water for mortar. Many old stone structures are scattered throughout the United States, but this one has some controversy surrounding who built it, when it was built and for what use. Some people say it was the Norsemen who came ashore and built the stone structure, while others claim it was Chinese sailors, Portuguese navigators, or medieval Scottish Templars, but the most common theory is that it was an old stone windmill, possibly built by Benedict Arnold in the mid-17th century, the first colonial governor of Rhode Island (not to be confused with his great-grandson, General Benedict Arnold of the American Revolutionary War). So, was the Old Stone Mill pre-colonial or colonial period? To this day, no one is entirely certain. The colonial camp has the documentation of Governor Arnold stating that it was his stone mill, but he never actually states that he had the structure built. The Governor died in 1677, so we do know that the structure was standing then. Many archaeologists have examined the structure and some conclude that it was built around 1650 because of the plaster used to white-wash the building’s exterior. The argument for the pre-colonial era uses the basic fact that the structure is not built like a mill but more like a medieval baptistery, therefore it could be a tower (the structure today is commonly referred to as the Newport Tower). Another oddity of the Tower is the measurements used during construction – instead of using feet, the measurements appear to be of the old Scottish ell, which is equivalent to three Norse feet. So, who built it and why? If only those old stone walls could talk!
SharLeigh has an inquisitive nature – she is interested in current events, history, science and many more subjects, including things that go bump in the night! Since 1997, SharLeigh has scoured the internet, looking for interesting, fun and timely topics covering all sorts of human-interest subjects for her articles from her home in Fontana, CA.