Gunnar Thompson Claims to Have Identified Medieval Scottish Lime Kiln Near Newport Tower
Many of you will likely remember (Joe) Gunnar Thompson, the self-described “chief archaeologist” for the New World Discovery Institute who uses his Ph.D.—in studies related to rehabilitation counseling (his dissertation was on affirmative action compliance systems)—to give an air of academic legitimacy to diffusionist theories. (Thompson holds a master’s degree in anthropology, where he focused on linguistics, and a bachelor’s in anthropology.) Thompson, writing in his capacity as the “chief archaeologist” for the institute he operates himself, alleged in a recent letter to the Ancient America website that a medieval lime kiln has been identified in Newport, Rhode Island near the site of the colonial-era windmill fringe historians believe to be a medieval construction.
This would be news if there were a new discovery to support Thompson’s claims. Instead, Thompson himself made the identification based on photographs taken in 1898. The background is a bit confusing, but it runs something like this: According to Thompson, the lime kiln used to produce the five tons of lime that hold together the Newport Tower has never been found. He also asserts that because colonial builders reused earlier structures’ foundations for new constructions that we can therefore look for the missing kiln beneath later buildings.
So far, this is logical enough. He then identifies a candidate for where to look: the Seuton Grant House, once the oldest surviving great house in Newport before it was demolished in the 1890s. The house, built around 1670 or so, bore the name of its most famous occupant, Seuton Grant, who lived there after 1725. The Sueton Grant House was something of an architectural anomaly in Newport, for it had the only pre-1700 central stone chimney in the settlement, all the others having been made of less expensive brick.
The basement of the house was unusual for its time, being made of stone vaults in the European style. Thompson identifies these vaults as a medieval lime kiln, which he dates—based on no evidence other than his impression of a photograph—to 1370-1400 CE. Based on his viewing of the photo, he also believes the kiln ran on coal imported from Baffin Island.
The Colonial builder used the preexisting medieval lime kiln sections as a convenient foundation for three chimneys that were built above the ground floor. Photos show that the chimney superstructure is out-of-alignment by a meter on the east side; and this indicates that the foundation units of the kiln were not originally planned as part of a house foundation. Use of the structure as a kiln was determined by photos that revealed the presence of distinctive lime-kiln “vents.” These are situated above the north and south archways. These vents are common in medieval kilns that were built in the British Isles. Foundation vents of this type are otherwise totally unknown in Colonial New England.
It is not clear to me that the photograph (copied below at right with Thompson’s preferred but clearly not to scale drawing of it at left) actually shows the vents that Thompson claims to see in the blurry image. Certainly, no one who visited the site before its destruction described any vents, and if I had to guess, I’d say that they were holes where support beams ran to hold up the floor. Obviously, such beams could not run through the chimney and therefore had to terminate somewhere. That the holes are spaced just wider than the fireplace above (and thus outside the zone where the beams might catch fire) makes me suspect this was their function, though I am sure there are some experts in colonial architecture who could tell us for sure.
An architectural study of the house made just before its demolition, for example, records this unusual basement. Thompson cites the study in his piece as evidence of the basement’s connection to the Newport Tower, but the original author, Norman Isham, in Early Rhode Island Houses, noted that while the arrangement of the stone construction is unusual, crucially, it is not unique:
The arrangement of the stairs is peculiar. The two piers at each side of the flight come together above the stairs in the second story. Under the stairs in the first story are the steps to the cellar, which is very interesting, for the foundation of the huge chimney instead of being a square mass of stone, is cut into on three sides by deep recesses, which are arched over to support the masonry above them. The recess on the fourth side is occupied by the stairs from the first story. We more than suspect that these arches were turned by the same mason who built the Old Stone Mill. This arrangement occurs outside of Newport only, so far as we know, in the Lippitt house in old Warwick, of which the chimney is of brick.
Thompson chooses to omit that last point since his claim is that the organization of the original kiln dictated the organization of the (presumably later) superstructure, while the Lippitt House suggests that there were purposeful reasons for the arrangement that might therefore have dictated the reason for organizing the basement thusly.
According to Thompson, the unfinished, rough character of the arches in the basement marks the site as a “distinctly” Norman-Scottish medieval kiln, for he argues that no other colonial site (barring the Newport Tower) contains wide arches made from uneven stones. He compares the Seuton Grant House to a medieval Orkney church repair in this image posted on his Marco Polo in America website in 2014, before suspected that the colonial stonework was a kiln (and thus redrew the photograph, which appears only in the altered drawing form in his subsequent claims):
A similar arch is also seen in Greenland. He declines to note that the medieval European and Greenlander arches he cites were Gothic (pointed), while the colonial arch—rough because it was never meant to be seen—looks similar in geometry to other colonial arches used to span foundations. The reason far-flung outposts of civilization had weird, rough arches when other places didn’t? It should be obvious—at the edges of civilization, masons had to work with what they had, and local conditions limited them.
So why compare a flat arch to a Gothic one? Because Orkney is where Jarl Henry I Sinclair lived, and by imagining a colonial basement as a fourteenth century Scottish kiln, Thompson can lend spurious support to his fantasy that Henry Sinclair ruled over a far-flung colony in New England and shipped Mi’kmaq people back to Europe (yes, he really claims this). As I have demonstrated many times, there is no evidence whatsoever of Henry Sinclair traveling to America, and the entire claim rests on a sixteenth century hoax that doesn’t even mention him.
3/7/2015 08:19:28 am
Giving diffusionism the benefit of the doubt for a brief moment, is it remotely realistic to think that the founders of Newport would just ignore a medieval structure in their newly settled territory? Have fringe theorists ever bothered to explain this?
3/7/2015 09:03:17 am
Clearly you lack sufficient faith in the magical powers of sacred geometry :)
3/7/2015 12:13:05 pm
I was thinking the exact same thing.
3/7/2015 12:18:18 pm
Thompson argues that the colonists were suppressing the truth, and that Gov. Benedict Arnold, for example, purposely appropriated the Newport Tower as his property. In other words, it's all a conspiracy!
3/7/2015 12:41:33 pm
One would think he would just tear the tower down, rather than leaving intact for future intrepid truth-seekers to fantasize over!
3/7/2015 01:18:25 pm
I'm sure they would have, but... you know... magic powers of sacred geometry... :)
3/7/2015 02:28:52 pm
I'll take your word for it; I flunked Sacred Geometry, and barely passed Arithmancy.
3/7/2015 04:32:15 pm
9/9/2017 09:24:54 pm
No one says that Thompson said any of this was a conspiracy. What he did say is that Arnold used the Stone tower as a windmill by refurbishing it and utilizing its attributes to be used as a windmill. This in no way says that the original structure was actually built for this purpose but was reinvented to serve as a windmill. Even the Native Americans who were I this area said that it was built by those who came well before those who inhabited Newport!
William M Smith
9/10/2017 10:26:54 am
Steve D - Your recent post brought me back to this site which addresses the Newport Tower. Thanks for that post sept 2017. I plan to return to Newport this fall and provide the Historical Society with new information which may add support to the Thompson film connection as well as the mortar dates. I will be presenting a working model of the tower with all the wood structures in place as well as the atrium added by Jan Barstad. Some new findings at the tower (soil core samples) support the cod fish processing. The actual 1494 Portuguese treaty reads different than the English version as it relates to navigation of the day. The tower was built in 1472 and will support the film date. The tower was built in consealment from passing ships to disguise the fish processing of the day as it sets 30 feet lower than the ground to its east. It was never built or modified for use as a windmill and no findings of construction or artifacts would support this. Their are iems found in the Godfrey dig that support a pre-columbian period. Stay tuned as the Wolter supporters eat crow.
3/7/2015 10:21:52 am
Isn't that the guy from that youtube video where he mistakes sorghum in egypt with new world "corn" trying to make a diffusionist claim?These cons are relentless.
3/7/2015 12:18:40 pm
It is the same guy.
3/7/2015 01:41:24 pm
If I understand this correctly Mr. Thompson believes that Mesoamerica was the Egyptian Land of Punt and maize was brought back to Egypt for cultivation. The evidence being certain Egyptian depictions of plants that he believes look like maize.
3/7/2015 01:46:27 pm
3/7/2015 02:06:08 pm
mhe, putting the PUN in PUNT :P
3/8/2015 04:16:07 am
In the Isham quote above he mentions the Old Stone Mill - is th the Newport Tower?
3/8/2015 07:18:06 am
Someone call Jim Egan at the Newport Tower Museum. Maybe this is evidence for his John Dee theory.
3/8/2015 04:20:05 pm
Titus - I would like to address the two items you indicate are not present to sho pre-colonial existance of the Newport Tower. 1- (document of the tower) - This can be found in chapter three of the 1494 treaty between Spain and Portugal. attached link scroll down to the English translation and read very carfully chapter 3 and see if you find the tower mentioned and a stone 370 leagues west of this tower (http://www.sealegacy.com/Tratado%20De%20Tordesilhas.pdf) The other concern you have is pre-colonial findings at the tower, Many items in the 1948 Godfrey dig predate the colonial period. These items make up components to the lodestone compass and cod fish bones than have not been dated, also three mortar test of six show a date 1470.
3/8/2015 04:51:28 pm
Here is what you claim to be a reference to this 'tower' existing prior to colonial times:
3/9/2015 03:47:25 am
lurker - At the time of the treaty 1494, pole lines were identified by the magnetic declination reading between true north and magnetic north. The magnetic declination lines are isometric and do not follow north south pole lines. They do go from pole to pole and at the latitudes of 41 degrees north (Tower) and 46 degrees north (KRS) You can measure the distance of 370 leagues (1015 miles at the 46 degrees north between these two pole lines. A normal drift to the east exist for magnetic declination of about 50 miles per 100 years. You can use a magnetic declination calculator to see what the readings would have been in 1494. The same reading at the Newport Tower of magnetic declination on the 41 degree latitude would be found at the Cape Verdie Islands as measured in 1494. Most people feel the treaty was only to protect land in Brazil claimed by the portuguese. The builders mark at the Newport Tower is a small triangle stone at the top 14 degrees west of true north. In 1472 the builder placed this stone by the use of a lodestone compass. Today the magnetic declination at the Tower is about 17 degrees. This change of 3 degrees would equate to the 500 or more years age of the tower.
3/9/2015 05:59:01 am
A nice and wordy try, but once waded through, you concede that the actual line through the pole is not the line of magnetic north, and that the navigators of the time knew the difference and could determine true north, which is what they were tasked to establish under the treaty. Even if the building happens to be approximately where magnetic north might have led, it would be irrelevant.
3/9/2015 07:40:06 am
3/10/2015 03:52:28 am
Titus, the Newport Tower had mortar samples taken for C-14 dating, with control samples taken from the Wanton-Lyman-Hazard (WLH) House, known to have been built between 1676-1698. While I can't find the exact website for the results (I last looked at this almost a year ago) the tower samples yielded dates between 1410-1930. Even the WLH samples yielded dates of 1730, 1810, 1920 and 1945, according to J. Huston McCulloch. Because of these results, Jan Heinemeier and Högne Jungner's dates of 1635-1698 for the tower remain controversial.
3/13/2015 04:03:39 am
Just to further clarify the point "lurker uncloaking" made, the meridian for the Treaty of Tordesillas would be the 47th meridian west of Greenwich today. The Newport Tower lies on the 71st meridian west of Greenwich, so it can't serve as a marker in compliance with the treaty.
3/15/2015 04:43:02 am
Thanks for driving that home a bit, 'EP'.
3/15/2015 05:12:58 am
Lurker and EP--Thank you both for posting on this. I am a card-carrying member of the so-called "fringe history" brigade, yet even I recognize that the argument that the Treaty of Tordesillas makes reference to or relates in any way to the Newport Tower is an absurd one. I have pointed this out on other discussion forums to the poster yet he continues to ignore the plain language and meaning of the treaty. The Tower is a fascinating structure, one that I personally believe to be pre-Columbian. But this kind of shoddy analysis undermines intelligent and serious efforts to unravel its mysteries.
3/15/2015 07:19:11 am
lurker- At the time of the treaty in 1494 the tools for measuring location on the earth were quite different than today. Latitudes were very close to accurate because of the use of the Astrolabe which was developed in 600BC. Longitude was quite different because no true instrument was capable of reading position of longitude. If you understand the function and use of the tools for measurement in 1494 you will read the treaty quite different.
3/15/2015 08:19:38 am
The variation between true north and magnetic north was known in the late fifteenth century. No navigator worth his salt cod would have made the error you are banking on.
3/15/2015 08:27:59 am
Reading the treaty differently seems to be your problem, William. You attribute maritime excellence to the Portuguese when it suits your argument. However, you then undermine the argument by saying the instrumentation of the day would not allow for determining longitude, and therefore, true north.
3/15/2015 09:51:26 am
Lurker and Brody - This Lawer that publishes fiction books about the Newport Tower and uses natural marks on bedrock stone that was under the soil by three feet to say it has the hooked X that makes it Templar work and his buddy Scott Wolter swears to it on the history chanel is not science.
3/15/2015 10:11:53 am
In 1472 the magnetic declination isometric line of 17 degrees magnetic declination read at the Newport Tower would read the same at 100 leagues west of Cape Verdee Island. At the same time the Kensington rune stone would be placed on a magnetic declination line that read 0 variance between tru north and magnetic north. The King of Portugal and King of Denmark instructed the claiming party to mark and claim all unclaimed land (AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE) this is 90 degrees around the earth from their meridian line where they started in Segral Portugal. This voyage is documented in 1472. The 1362 date in runic letters on the west boundry of Vinland was maintained from the Pal Knutson voyage 110 years earlier when he was instructed to sail to the north pole (The north pole line was where the compass reading and the true north and south reading with a sun dial agreed). Their are 4 of these lines on the earth today, they are called argon lines, they existed as long as man has measured them, however they drift to the east about 50 miles every 100 years. The amount of drift can be used to date buildings with a builders mark placed with reference to true north and magnetic north.
3/15/2015 10:31:14 am
Now you are just being silly, and trying a lame stab at Gish Gallop.
3/15/2015 10:50:47 am
If the treaty of 1494 can explain the exact distance of 370 leagues (1,110 miles) to the west of the tower a stone marker will be placed, I find the other information in the treaty to also be accurate. Keep in mind it took two years before the Portuguese signed the treaty. Also keep in mind their was no understanding to a common means of measuring longitude as explained in the treaty. The only dating in the Godfrey dig was of the OX bone about 100 years old. No date was available on the cod fish bones or wooden knife handles or for mention of the lodestone compass parts that were used by the Portuguese to build the tower with Dutch Ell measurements. I have been through all of the Godfrey dig items and the fish hook alone is an example of pre colonial design. It has no eye on the shank, just a flat to hold the line when wrapped around the shank, like the Baske fisherman used in the 1300s. The outbreak of pneumonia in R.I. and western Wisc. is a key link. I am not aware of the date of the two post found by Jan Barsted that supports the atrium around the tower, however I am familiar with the small 52% magnetic stone found in the bottom of one hole that showed it had been exposed to fire. This was common for the magnitite used in lodestone compasses. Fire it to increase its accuracy and life.
3/15/2015 12:00:31 pm
The treaty does no such thing as you imagine or pretend it does, Sir.
3/15/2015 01:43:02 pm
Lurker - The complete treaty can be found by searching (sealegacy.com)
3/15/2015 03:09:21 pm
Apparently there is a character limit on posting here, which makes it impossible to put up the full text here.
3/15/2015 03:56:06 pm
Misinterpretation of the treaty is a huge problem. I'll illustrate my point.
William M Smith
3/8/2015 08:45:48 am
Gunnar Thompson has done a great job in connecting the kilm to the Newport Tower. The following link will allow you to download a 3D photo image of the tower where you can compare 10 of the arch construction to his kilm arches. Yes 10 (8 are ground floor openings and two are on the second floor, 1 over the second floor fireplace and one over the south west window). The south west window is interesting because it has an opening directly over the window used to support one end of a yard arm for unloading barrels of smoked cod fish. The arch above the second floor fire place which was used only to produce smoke also had two smoke vents for controlling the smoke. The most important fact of the second floor shallow fire place is that it is off the floor some distance over two feet which is uncommon for heating. http://www.photospherix.com/3d-view/newport-tower-360-view/ If you are convinced it is a Bennadict English wind mill or an English or Scotish Church then show your facts. If you are looking for another posability read chapter 3 in the 1494 treaty between Spain and Portugal. You can also read an engineers view of the tower in (Migration and Diffusion) http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?id=222
3/8/2015 08:51:22 am
I have a colonial era well in my backyard in Washington, DC. I wonder if its construction is proof of the secret Masonic blueprint of Washington DC. It could be there is a former Masons lodge a block away that was founded in 1785.
3/8/2015 10:13:31 am
Mr. Smith, I have found the secret underground pleasure labyrinth where our pre-Columbian Templar overlords did occult Satanic butt-stuff to each other.
3/8/2015 01:09:38 pm
Even if you accept Thompson's claim that the basement of the building was originally a kiln, this implies nothing about it being medieval. The Newport Tower and the basement arches were declared the work of the same mason back in the 1890s, so Thompson has contributed squarely nothing here except to claim the basement as a kiln. Again: He provided no evidence of a medieval date except imagination.
3/8/2015 01:34:30 pm
If I recall, all he was claiming was from the photos taken in the 1890s when the basement or kilm was exposed it apeard to be of the same design as the Newport Tower. Specific to the two vents and flat arch. If you have researched the Tower you would understand that the mortar volume required would have been larger than any colonial kilm known to exist. If you understood all the dating of the mortar on the Newport Tower you would also understand their are 3 dates to the late 1400s. Matt and EP - I do not know about your colonial well or about your secret underground pleasure labyrinth. I do know if you found it it is not a secrete. I also feel you are not qualified to judge Gunnar Thompson. It is best you stay with Steve Sinclair and Scott Wolter. The group of you can turn this site into a butt hole porn site. Jason - Gunnar Thompson has claimed the kilm size is the only one in history found local that has the capacity to make the quantity used in the Tower. As an engineer I feel this is important and a controbution to research of the tower.
3/8/2015 01:50:26 pm
3/8/2015 03:46:22 pm
I am not judging Thompson I am judging his claim. If he found a photo taken in 1890 it really was not much of a secret it might of been forgotten but not a secret as was the case of the well in my backyard which was rediscovered when we pulled records in planning an addition to my house.
3/9/2015 03:59:18 am
Matt - I agree with you concern about a 140 year old photo. I feel Gunnar Thompson is a messanger to share new ideas to serious people looking for the truth. If the self appointed experts on this site feel it is better to shoot the messanger rather than listen to his message so be it. I choose to not listen to the butt buddy clowns.
3/9/2015 04:02:10 am
I know. You'd rather contribute to periodicals that employ Nazi pedophiles, right?
3/9/2015 04:36:11 am
It is not about shooting the messenger it is about the message.
3/9/2015 04:56:38 am
Matt - The theory that the Newport Tower is a colonial wind mill has no more facts than any theory. If so you all the items found in the Godfrey dig of 1948 or the other digs by Jan Barstad later must fit the wind mill theory.
3/9/2015 05:13:02 am
The accept fact is that it was build in colonial times, and nothing has been presented to disprove this fact. People do have what they see as enough to present alternative theories but nothing that has warranted enough to call into question the established fact that the Tower was built in colonial times.
3/9/2015 09:28:35 am
Matt - If I recall this post was to challenge the findings of a kilm or at least an old photo showing what may be a kilm near the Newport Tower. As you stated a interested archaeoligest may get involved to date this strange foundation and compare the mortar to other colonial buildings. I have read 3 carbon dates that indicate mortar in the tower is pre colonial. This by itself proves little because 3 other carbon dates show colonial (time of powder explosion)
3/9/2015 09:43:10 am
Any time William Smith mentions anything to do with butts, you can almost feel his blood pressure rising as he types. I wonder why that is...
3/9/2015 10:30:46 am
My point is that it is only speculation and nothing more.
3/9/2015 01:33:36 pm
I bet William Smith also thinks that "evolutionism" is "just a theory". Don't you, Mr. Smith?...
3/9/2015 03:21:06 pm
The 1996 report by Heinemeier and Jungeir shows 3 carbon test dates that average 1463 and 3 that average 1663. All testing was of mortar from the tower. Note: the tower was repaired due to a powder explosion during the colonial period.
3/9/2015 07:12:58 am
Contrary to what the diffusionism enthusiast and homophobe-for-Jesus William Smith would like to think, there is exactly zero evidence that the Newport Tower is anything other than what it is - an unremarkable colonial construction.
3/9/2015 05:33:56 pm
EP - You show your charictor when you open your mouth. You also sound like the EP Grondine that had a stroke when people told him he had no facts that supported his astroid impact that ended the last ice age.
3/10/2015 06:11:45 am
Sick burn, bro. I'm crying like a little boy.
8/29/2015 07:21:46 am
Hi William -
3/9/2015 03:39:22 pm
It is one thing to chastize Gunnar Thompson for finding what he claims shown in a late 1890's photo as a large kilm that likely had the capacity needed to construct the Newport Tower. When in 1847 David Melville saw a picture of an English Chesterton Windmill in Aarwickshire and started the support for the Arnold theory that the tower was a colonial windmill.
3/10/2015 05:27:29 am
So it is considered inconclusive and therefore should be dismissed. Until the results are considered conclusive it really has no merit except for something that can be used to encourage further research.
3/10/2015 06:46:03 am
Matt - At what time do you feel it should be dismissed? 1847 when a picture portrayed it as a wind mill or 1890 when a photo shows like arches and a potential kilm or 1996 when 3 carbon dates stated 1400s and 3 stated 1600s? If you dismiss the 1890 photo, then you must dismiss the 1847 picture and the 1996 carbon dating of the mortar.
3/10/2015 07:12:58 am
It all should be dismissed because it is inconclusive, Is it enough to warrant more research, sure if someone is willing to fund it.
3/10/2015 07:45:04 am
Matt - You are correct in that only research will get to the truth. This is my last comment on this because any additional would just be repititious. Gunnar Thompson looked at a 1890 photo and observerd a structure that had vents and arches which may have been the remains of an ancient kilm with a capacity to produce mortar to construct the Newport Tower which is in the area. I do not read any reported information that indicates he is altering information to fit a specific theory. My theory on the Newport Tower is it is a land claim marker as well as a smoke house for processing Cod fish and built in 1472 by Portuguese. Gunnar Thompsons finding in a 1890 photo may add or deleate from my theory. If you want to call the tower a windmill that is ok, Scott Wolter calls it a church. Some of my ongoing research is at the following link. If you can prove the Newport Tower is a chicken house or alian fuel station then go for it. http://www.migration-diffusion.info/article.php?subject=astronomy&id=222
3/10/2015 07:53:36 am
When did I say anything more that the Newport Tower was built in colonial times?
3/10/2015 10:46:37 am
Matt - I agree with your position that proof must be available to disprove the colonial period as to the build date of the Newport Tower. Sometimes it takes many items to focus away from an established idea. At one time 98% of the people on earth thought it was flat. After some voyages of record it did not take long to convince the world that it was round. New information after 1847 has generated a few people that do not agree that the tower is a Arnold colonial windmill.
3/10/2015 11:30:36 am
All I can say is keep searching, I honestly believe you wont find anything.
3/10/2015 02:40:56 am
Those whacky guys with institutional degrees. Sheesh.
9/1/2022 02:55:36 pm
Old Stone Built Mill or as Verrazano put it Baptiz Mola. If you don't already know the meaning, look up Mola.
9/20/2022 08:15:03 pm
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