norumplaque

Norumbega Plaque

Norumbega Harmony takes its name from Norumbega Hill. Whence Norumbega? I don't know of any definitive answer, but it is most likely aboriginal. An eccentric but wealthy Harvard professor in the late Nineteenth Century had strong opinions of a Scandinavian influence, and memorialized them throughout the area. Along the banks of the Charles River in Newton, Massachusetts, one can find the Norumbega Tower (picture below), with a stone plaque set in its base, carrying the following text:


           AD 1000              AD 1889
                     NORUMBEGA
           CITY . COUNTRY . FORT . RIVER
               NORUMBEGA = NOR MBEGA
  INDIAN UTTERANCE OF NORUMBEGA THE ANCIENT FORM
         OF NORVEGA . NORWAY TO WHICH THE
           REGION OF VINLAND WAS SUBJECT
                       CITY
               AT AND NEAR WATERTOWN
                WHERE REMAIN TODAY
      DOCKS . WHARVES . WALLS . DAMS . BASINS
                      COUNTRY
  EXTENDING FROM RHODE ISLAND TO THE ST. LAWRENCE
       FIRST SEEN BY BJARN HERJUFSON 985 AD
      NORSE CANALS . DAMS . WALLS. PAVEMENTS
FORTS . TERRACED PLACES OF ASSEMBLY . REMAIN TO-DAY
                       FORT
         AT BASE OF TOWER AND REGION ABOUT
     WAS OCCUPIED BY THE BRETON FRENCH IN THE
           15TH 16TH AND 17TH CENTURIES
                       RIVER
                    THE CHARLES
   DISCOVERED BY ...
                         ... LEIF ERICSON 1000 AD
   EXPLORED BY ...
            ... THORWALD . LEIF'S BROTHER 1003 AD
   COLONIZED BY ...
                   ... THORFINN KARLSEFNI 1007 AD
   FIRST BISHOP ...
                         ... ERIK GNUPSON 1121 AD
             INDUSTRIES FOR 350 YEARS
  MASUR-WOOD [BURRS] . FISH . FURS . AGRICULTURE
   LATEST NORSE SHIP RETURNED TO ICELAND IN 1347

The Norumbega Tower

This stone tower is on a wooded hill overlooking the Charles River in Newton, Massachusetts. The granite tablet which carries the above text can be seen at the left side of the base.

The Norumbega Ballroom was a popular night-spot before television; it was located nearby but burned down in the late 1960s.

Those interested in making a personal pilgrimmage to this site can find it between the junctions of Routes 90 and 95 (the Routes 128/30 exit from the Mass. Pike) and Brandeis University - Norumbega Road is off River Road in Newton, which becomes South Street in Waltham. An alternate approach is from the Duck Feeding Area across from the Charles River Canoe Service - go north from the parking lot on Norumbega Road; the tower is at the far end of the clearing at the top of the hill.

More Norumbega!

Acadia National Park, along the coast of Maine, has an 852 foot peak with a great view of the Atlantic and islands called Mount Norumbega.
Panoramic Photograph (JPEG, 16k, 600 x 252) taken from the summit by Susan Jaster of Norumbega Harmony, in 1993.

There is a small village called Norumbega near Brooksville on the Maine coast just off the road to Deer Isle.

In the Autumn of 1994 the Harvard Graduate School of Design had an exhibition of historic maps of the New World, which showed most of New England beyond the coast as Norumbega (or some variant in spelling) from 1548 to 1647, after which time settlements with placenames had replaced the former Terra Incognita.


Original July 1994
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Last Modified: Jan 11 21:55 1995 / ijs@eddie.mit.edu