Kevin J. Harty
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The ‘Viking tower’ in Newport, Rhode Island
Fact, fiction, and film
in From Iceland to the Americas
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Today in Touro Park in Newport, RI, a curious structure stands that has long been enshrined on the city’s flag, a stone tower said by some to have been built by Vikings before Columbus landed in the New World.  How the tower – the ruins of a colonial mill built by an ancestor of the Revolutionary War traitor Benedict Arnold – came to be associated with the Vikings is a long story that can be traced through history, literature, and film. And that association can be seen in terms of a larger political and cultural agenda which was intent on validating an alternate founding narrative for America. That narrative sought to recast the extent of the pre-Columbian Viking presence in America in terms of both race and religion, often at the expense of indigenous peoples.

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From Iceland to the Americas

Vinland and historical imagination


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