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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/184

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

points of resemblance between these and Icelandic ruins, and in their reports by request wrote everything they could think of in opposition to, as well as in favor of, their being of Norse origin.

When these gentlemen left Cambridge the characteristic features of the early post-Columbian ruins on this coast had not been ascertained, and these researches were not finished satisfactorily until a year and a half after the Icelanders returned to Europe.

 

From Dr. Gudmundsson's Report.

The next place into which we dug was a depression or hollow in the hillside in a northerly direction from the above-mentioned place. Here we found unquestionable remains of a house which had been dug into the hillside, with walls constructed of stones, and layers of earth between the single rows of stones. The foundation and the lower parts of the two side walls were solid and well preserved, but the whole back wall, with the exception of a single row (the foundation), had fallen down. The stones from this and the upper parts of the side walls covered the whole bottom, so that they at the first glance seemed to form a pavement. When carefully examined, it was evident, however, that most of the stones which covered the bottom belonged to the walls, though some might have rolled down from the hill above the house. Thus it could clearly be seen how some of the stones had fallen down from the walls and some were just sliding down, without having as yet reached to the bottom, as some stones underneath had hindered them from gliding farther. The front wall of the house was wanting, and must either have heen of wood or—which seems most likely—have been spoiled when the road which runs close past the house was made. When the bottom was cleared of the stones which had fallen in it proved to consist of a level black floor.

The construction and situation of this house are quite Scandinavian, built in the same way as houses in Iceland and Greenland. I would therefore not have had the least hesitation to declare it to be a ruin of a house built by Scandinavians in the pre-Columbian period if between and under the stones which covered the bottom we had not found some pieces of glazed pottery and bricks, of which some small pieces were found trodden down even into the floor itself. This seems to indicate that the house must be post-Columbian, or at least have been occupied by the first English or French colonists. As in the meantime several American scholars, with whom I have had an opportunity to discuss this matter, positively declare that the post-Columbian colonists never would have built such walls of stones without mortar, and it must be regarded as quite certain that Indian people could not have built it, there seems to be no other explanation possible than that this ruin must be Scandinavian, and, having been found by some of the first post-Columbian colonists (e.g., some fishermen), had been repaired and occupied by them for a shorter or longer time. If it can be proved that such a building as this could not have been built by the post-Columbian colonists nor by Indians, it can hardly be anything else than Scandinavian. This, however, must be left to American scholars, who have sufficient knowledge in these matters. But so long as this is not proved, the pieces of pottery and bricks which were found in it rather seem to speak for its post-Columbian origin, as those pieces must have been there when the house fell down, and