Columbus: Late to the North American Party

Little did I realize how a random 2006 conversation with my elementary-school daughter would change my life.

“Daddy, who discovered America?” she asked.

Suspecting she was learning about the Vikings in school, I played along. “Christopher Columbus,” I answered.

“Wrong!” she said. “It was Prince Henry Sinclair from Scotland. He came to Westford in 1399.”

Against the State: An ... Rockwell, Llewellyn Best Price: null Buy New $3.99 (as of 11:20 EST - Details) We were living in Westford, Massachusetts at the time, a bedroom community 25 miles northwest of Boston and an equal distance from the Atlantic coastline to the east. Westford boasts the highest hill in eastern Massachusetts, and is not far from a major river (the Merrimack) leading to the Atlantic, so it was not unreasonable to assume ancient explorers would have found their way here. And, even as a child, I had wondered why Europeans stopped exploring North America in the years between the Norse explorations and Columbus. But a Scotsman by the name of Prince Henry Sinclair in Westford a century before Columbus? This I had not heard before.

So I dove in. I examined the Westford Knight carving, the Westford Boat Stone, the Newport Tower—artifacts now as familiar to me (and probably to most readers of this site) as Plymouth Rock and the Liberty Bell. I soon moved on to the Spirit Pond Rune Stones, the Narragansett Rune Stone, the Tyngsboro Map Stone. And eventually, of course, to the Kensington Rune Stone and the America’s Stonehenge site. All fakes or follies, said the experts. Nothing to see here, move along. I wondered. Could they all really be fakes? Did the world really work that way?

Being a novelist by vocation, and an attorney by trade, I turned to the historical fiction genre to tell this story. The lawyer in me knew I needed to present my readers—the jury, if you will—with compelling evidence: If I expected people to rethink the history taught to them in their youth, I better bring my ‘A’ game. “In thirteen hundred and ninety-nine, Sinclair sailed the ocean fine,” was not going to cut it. And if I expected readers to invest their time and money, I better have a good story to tell. Fortunately, the deeper I dug the more I found: Sinclair, it seemed, was indeed here. And he came for a reason.

I won’t spoil the fun for those who have not read Cabal of the Westford Knight: Templars at the Newport Tower. But I will say Sinclair’s motivations tie back to the Knights Templar and the Jesus bloodline and Masonic secrets and ancient Goddess worship. Fertile ground for historical fiction—what many readers describe as The Da Vinci Code crossing the Atlantic.

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