During Season 4 of Ancient Aliens, H2 aired a promotional spot in which Giorgio Tsoukalos claimed that a straw suit worn by the Kayapo is a memory of an alien space suit. I completely demolished this stupid claim in April by looking at what the Kayapo themselves said about it, namely that the suit was a beekeeping suit worn by the supernatural protector of bees. Despite the facts, H2 filmed a completely different promotional spot for Season 5, airing this week, in which Tsoukalos is again claiming that the beekeeping suit is just like “a modern day astronaut suit.” If they can recycle debunked claims, I can recycle my debunking. Read my takedown of this dumb idea here.
H. P. Lovecraft was attuned to all the pseudo-archaeological nonsense of his day, and he almost certainly was familiar with the allegations about the ancient origin of the Newport Tower. Many Lovecraft scholars believe that an unused fragment from his notes was directly inspired by the Newport Tower, which seems fairly certain when reading his fragment in light of the structure itself:
S. of Arkham is cylindrical tower of stone with conical roof — perhaps 12 feet across & 20 ft. high. There has been a great arched opening ( up?), but it is sealed with masonry. The thing rises from the bottom of a densely wooded ravine once the bed of an extinct tributary of the Miskatonic. Whole region feared & shunned by rustics. Tales of fate of persons climbing into tower before opening was sealed. Indian legends speak of it as existing as long as they could remember — supposed to be older than mankind. Legend that it was built by Old Ones (shapeless & gigantic amphibia) & that it was once under the water. Dressed stone masonry shews odd & unknown technique. Geometrical designs on large stone above sealed opening utterly baffling. Supposed to house a treasure or something which Old Ones value highly. Possibly nothing of interest to human beings. Rumours that it connects with hidden caverns where water still exists. Perhaps old ones still alive. Base seems to extend indefinitely downward — ground level having somewhat risen. Has not been seen for ages, since everyone shuns the ravine. (Source)
The “conical roof” may well be derived from reconstructions of the Newport Tower as a windmill on comparison with the Chesterton Windmill in England. I don’t know that Lovecraft ever saw the illustrations of this windmill, but they appear frequently in newspaper and magazine articles about the Tower from the late nineteenth century through the 1930s.
So, if not for Thomas Webb and Carl Rafn speculating wildly about the Tower as a Norse church in 1839, Derleth’s Lurker at the Threshold most likely would not have its current form or plot.
Such are the unintended consequences of the words we publish.