Scott Wolter and Steve St. Clair Help Dedicate Templar Statue at Site of Alleged Westford "Knight"
You don’t expect to see pseudo-history at the grocery store, but that’s exactly what happened when I picked up a carton of Welch’s Mango Twist mango and grape juice only to see that the side panel proclaimed that travelers to Asia brought mangoes back to South America in 300-400 CE. This would certainly be quite the proof of diffusionist claims about an East Asian influence on the pre-Columbian Americas, and I wondered why Welch’s was promoting bizarre diffusionist ideas. It turns out they didn’t know that’s what they’re doing. Welch’s lifted their mango trivia directly from mango.org, the mango industry website, where they misread one of the mango “fun facts”: “Mango seeds traveled with humans from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America beginning around 300 or 400 A.D.” The “fun fact” meant to say that mangos left Asia in 300 CE, eventually reaching the New World in the seventeenth century. Welch’s took the line to mean that they spread everywhere between 300 and 400 CE and accidentally created diffusionist mango juice.
This may seem like a silly thing to bother noting, but it’s exactly that kind of accumulating error that leads to the baroque pseudoscience we encounter today. On Saturday America Unearthed host Scott Wolter and his band of pseudoscience irregulars, including Steve St. Clair, gave speeches at the dedication of a life sized bronze statue of a Knight Templar erected in honor of the Westford Knight, a glacial formation mistakenly believed since 1954 to be a carving of a medieval soldier on the grounds that two Victorian boys chiseled a sword handle into the rock in full view of witnesses, who reported as much. The Knights Templar were disbanded more than 70 years before Westford Knight believers allege the image was carved, making it a curious choice to depict an anachronistic Knight Templar at the site, testimony to the strength of conspiracy culture, which imagines that the Templars lived on in secret. The stone itself was most likely four feet underground during the medieval period.
The Westford Eagle, the local Westford, Mass., newspaper, interviewed me on Friday for an article about the statue ceremony, but as of this writing the article has not appeared online. Not being in Westford, I don’t know if it ran in the print edition or if the editors considered the event too unworthy of notice to give space to.
Scott Wolter described his participation in the dedication ceremony on his blog, where he has added a new innovation: He has adopted my satirical use of the trademark symbol after the name Hooked X™ in backhanded reference to his trademarking the name for use in book titles. His trademark does not cover the use of the term of except in book titles. In his blog post, Wolter conceded that he was unable to determine whether any of the punch marks on the Westford Knight (the markings witnesses saw carved in the 1800s) were actually medieval: “until science can shed more light on the age of the carvings the current pre-Columbian theory is Templar’s (sic) in North America is as good as anything.” It’s not, of course, since it requires a vast architecture of conspiracy to support, whereas the retreating glacier and idle schoolboys theory requires no conspiracy. Despite declaring the Templar theory only “as good as anything,” by the end of his blog post Wolter had upped his rhetoric to make the Knight a “likely” pre-Columbian artifact.
According to the Lowell Sun, the unveiling took the form of a Scottish ceremony, with bagpipes and drums announcing the reveal of the recumbent bronze effigy as Steve St. Clair and Richard Gunn stood by in kilts. There is no evidence that the glacial markings are in any way Scottish. In fact, they were first taken for Native American petroglyphs before fringe believers assigned them a Viking origin. When the “knight” was proclaimed a European noble in 1954, he still had to wait for the myth of Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney to catch up to him before he became Scottish in recent decades. Steve St. Clair is identified by his friend Scott Wolter and the American Unearthed TV show as kin to Henry Sinclair and uses the myth of Henry Sinclair to generate interest in his genealogical research, while Richard Gunn alleges that he is related to the knight supposedly depicted on the Westford stone, Sir James Gunn, best known from the Assassin’s Creed video game on account of the fact that his alleged North American exploits are entirely fictional and thus were good fodder for a video game.
There was a real James Gunn, but there is no record of a North American voyage for him. Indeed, there is no knight of that name in the medieval Scottish records. Scottish knights were required to be either of royal blood or to have provided royal service, neither of which Gunn did. Only under the most generous of imaginary reconstructions of the fictitious effigy are the markers of “Clan Gunn” projected onto the stony surface, and from Frederick Pohl’s identification of these at midcentury did Scottish-Americans go searching for a knight of the Gunn clan to press into Henry Sinclair’s speculative service.
The entire myth of the Westford Knight is inextricably tied to the incorrect claim that Henry I Sinclair (or his son Henry II), Earl of Orkney, sailed to America in 1398, a claim I have discussed many times and pulled together in this article. The claim rests on the hoax Zeno Narrative, which believers allege refers to Sinclair as the mysterious Prince Zichmni. However, even if we take the Zeno Narrative literally and assume Zichmni is Sinclair, it proves nothing about America since the narrative states definitively that Zichmni traveled to and explored Greenland, not Massachusetts.
The problem is that visitors to Westford won’t likely know any of this when they visit a roadside attraction featuring a statue of a Knight Templar, an inscribed stone dedicated to James Gunn, and an official-looking endorsement of a modern myth concocted from misinterpretations and spare parts from earlier conspiracy theories.
6/15/2015 05:13:59 am
"You don’t expect to see pseudo-history at the grocery store"
6/15/2015 08:52:00 am
Surely we can involve bat-boy in this conspiracy.
6/15/2015 10:09:15 am
Jason appears to have forgotten about Oreo cookies.
6/15/2015 10:36:47 am
That really happened, didn't it?
6/17/2015 12:38:23 pm
Colavito wrote, “Steve St. Clair claims kinship to Henry Sinclair”
6/18/2015 01:32:34 am
It's probably Scott Wolter's fault:
6/19/2015 06:35:46 am
It's no lie however, that you do look fabulous in a skirt!
6/21/2015 05:20:47 am
Well then, I guess it was an enormous coincidence that a man who shares a family name with a supposed Templar Knight appears at a dedication ceremony in a kilt, on a show that undoubtedly mentioned Henry St. Clair and Roslyn Chapel and the Holy Grail! Having second thoughts?
6/21/2015 08:58:28 am
So you deny that the Sinclair family are related? Good to know. You might also want to check with America Unearthed about reediting those episodes that repeatedly call you a relative of Henry Sinclair. Did they just make that up?
6/21/2015 09:31:20 am
"So you deny that the Sinclair family are related?"
6/21/2015 12:05:06 pm
"I have no control what others say about me, whether on a show or on this hateful blog of yours. I correct what I can."
6/21/2015 03:02:53 pm
To make you happy, Steve, I've more clearly identified you as someone other people pretend is related to Henry Sinclair. Now you can explain why, according to the newspapers and Scott Wolter, you were there to "celebrate" the Henry Sinclair mission to Massachusetts as a "representative" of "Clan Sinclair" if you have nothing to do with Henry Sinclair or his Sinclair group. You like having it both ways, don't you?
6/21/2015 06:03:49 pm
“Steve St. Clair is identified by his friend Scott Wolter and the American Unearthed TV show as kin to Henry Sinclair and uses the myth of Henry Sinclair to generate interest in his genealogical research”
6/21/2015 07:03:55 pm
Already posted the link to that article, Steve.
6/21/2015 11:41:40 pm
Just to clarify: The Westford Eagle reporter wanted to interview me about the rise of pseudoscience in pop culture, and only one question was about the Westford Knight's archaeology. I was summarizing Ken Feder's entry on it from the Encyclopedia of Dubious Archaeology, but as we saw in my later blog post (the next one chronologically here), in trying to research it further I wasn't able to confirm the story of the two boys reported by David Schafer and attributed to historical records. The reporter chose to use only the bit about the archaeology of the knight even though that wasn't what I was being interviewed about.
6/22/2015 06:14:48 am
Steve refers to himself as representing “The Saint-Clair Family”- but surely that's in direct contradiction of his DNA-based claims that there are numerous strands of people with variants on the surname, no more related to each other as a family than to any other person with west European ancestry.
6/22/2015 06:32:27 am
Steve, can you go on the record and state whether or not you believe a "hooked X" was purposely carved on the Westford stone in question, and if so, what if anything it represents?
6/22/2015 12:22:31 pm
So to be clear Steve, you are complaining that Jason misrepresented you in his post. That you never claim to be related to Henry Sinclair or the Sinclair clan. However you are totally fine misrepresenting yourself by agreeing to wear Sinclair Clan kilts at the celebration (having Scott photo it an post it on his blog) and having Scott mention on his own blog that you are were there to represent the Sinclair clan?
2/6/2016 07:09:39 pm
Here is Steve posting on his DNA site long ago,stating his most distant known relative is .... Steves Kit # 29753 Stephen Robert St. Clair (Malger-le-Jeune, Compte de St Clair, c.1033, Corbu
11/26/2019 12:38:58 am
And here is the evidence, newly discovered, that the nasty who goes by the name "Sinclair" here is likely not who he wishes to be - https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/orkney/about/results
6/15/2015 05:25:38 am
Not my comment (although I wish I had written it), but it seems appropriate here. One can describe much of Wolter's (and all the other fringoid's) behavior as "a main course of pareidolia with a side dish of dishonesty."
6/15/2015 06:00:04 am
The self-seeking theorists do not want proof, they are making money, paid for by TV companies who want audiences and intrigue (truth would destroy their programs). I, maybe unfortunately, watched an episode of the search for "The Dutchmans Gold Mine" in the Superstation Mountains (enough said!). On route, following but ignoring a route on an old 'map', the team found evidence of a waterfall, where no watershed could possible have caused it, and way beyond that a non-descript rock that looked like a heart (only to a visually impaired person) that showed the source of a hidden gold deposit on the map. If they had found a major gold deposit, as the obviously contrived map showed, they would have kept it quiet and be millionaires by now. Obviously nothing was found. The point is that these theorists make small fortunes selling the intrigue, no truth needed, and get TV companies to attract audiences due to intrigue, the search for truth is no longer important to them. Regrettably historical truth is no longer very marketable, intrigue and mystery is.
6/15/2015 06:40:48 am
There was a knight called James Gunn born in 1360 according to here:
6/15/2015 06:54:25 am
He seems to have been made up by Clan Gunn, since no primary source documents exist for knights named Gunn, and Burke's peerage lacks Sir James. The genealogy of any Gunns before Gunn the Coroner is apparently undocumented.
6/15/2015 03:17:17 pm
speaking of primary sources- please give - I want to read the primary source you used as to the 'Victorian boys' and 'in full view of witnesses'- or you could just give it.
6/16/2015 03:18:40 am
The primary source could originate from a True Believer relating to the story of the boys (James P. Whittall II)
6/16/2015 03:27:40 am
James P. Whittall II, Gertrude Johnson (editors), " T.C. Lethbridge – Frank Glynn Correspondence: 1950-1966" (Early Sites Research Society, 1980; Revised Edition 1998)
6/16/2015 04:17:29 am
Price: £ 66.04
6/15/2015 08:41:11 am
Yikes! Who needs Game of Thrones when you've got Clan Gunn ....
6/15/2015 09:33:21 am
George RR Martin has mentioned that the Glencoe massacre inspired the Red Wedding. So you may not be to far off.
6/15/2015 07:00:16 am
As Alberto Brandolini once said:
6/15/2015 09:41:30 pm
Well, he didn't do it on his own, and his shirt was stupid. I'm glad he apologised, because it might make labs a better place for women to work in the future.
6/17/2015 10:56:14 am
To be fair on the shirt front, it was made for him BY a female friend. It doesn't make the print less sexist, and it doesn't make it less stupid for him to have worn it on international TV, but I'm fairly sure he was thinking, "Oh, I'll compliment the friend who made this by wearing it" not "women don't belong in science" when he picked it out. Which is cause for gentle correction, not spit-in-face outrage, IMO. (Thinking of the general shitstorm, not this thread, btw.)
6/17/2015 12:56:28 pm
"Matt Taylor of the Rosetta Project succeeds in landing a satellite on a comet, making history, but is forced to give a tearful apology due to feminist uproar over his shirt. "
6/15/2015 10:11:57 am
I don't think I would want to attend a ceremony if there was any possibility that I would see Scott Wolter in a kilt. I would be afraid he and Steve St. Clair would begin to sing "We're knights of the round table, we dance whenever we're able...."
6/15/2015 10:26:05 am
I'd like to see you deal with the Nimrod and Semiramis myth. heck out my website to see why I have an investment in discrediting it.
6/15/2015 01:47:22 pm
Well Semiramis was largely a Greek concoction based very loosely on an Ancient Assyrian Queen named Sammuramat. who lived in the 9th-8th century B.C.E. and may have been regent for about a decade. The Greeks erected from this a whole fantasy History of Assyria involving Semiramis has a great warrior Queen conquer, building Babylon and marrying her son etc. If the Greeks created a mythical Semiramis out of a historical Semiramis who was nothing like what they described; the character of Nimrod is completely fabricated. Nimrod seems to be based on the character of Ninius who in the Greek myth of the history of Assyria was the founder of the Assyrian empire and sometimes the husband of Semiramis. This character quite simply never existed.
6/15/2015 01:50:00 pm
Forgot to note that Diodorus' summary of Ktesias' Assyrian history is found in Book 2, s. 1-28.
6/15/2015 04:05:52 pm
Nimrod replaces Ninus in the Christian twisting of the Smeirmais tale. But The Bible's Nimrod was probably Enmerkar of the Sumerian Kingslist.
6/16/2015 11:16:39 am
I'd like to see see Jason go step by step over how this christian appropriation/demonization of Smerimais developed. Did any of the Early Church Fathers identify Ninus with Nimrod or did that start with Hislop?
6/15/2015 10:45:24 am
Hey any excuse to play kilt dress-up I guess.
6/15/2015 11:41:42 am
Why do I have the feeling that Wolter made this blog post as a means to build up momentum for his show? Cause I'm pretty sure he did the same thing in December last year for the beginning of his last season.
6/15/2015 01:16:49 pm
If only college kids today could be motivated to protest against the corruption of history for personal gain. Such a movement might give me hope for the next generation.
6/15/2015 08:16:39 pm
Per Wolter's blog post, the Westford pipe and drum contingent marched in "precession" up main street. I'll bet THAT was impressive. It probably has something to do with archeoastronomy. :)
6/21/2015 06:37:46 am
I enjoyed the mental image of those proceedings as well. This post of Wolters' was even worse than usual in terms of language and grammar. Haltingly painfull to read. I suppose proper grammar & usage are also 'mainstream academic theories' he is manfully fighting against!
6/17/2015 03:57:39 am
Having been there since the unveiling, you may be surprised to know that a new Historic sign was put at the site, along with a statue, that actually explains that the site is legend, not fact, that it may be done by Indians and other theories. It also explains the site needs further study and preservation. Before the site exclaimed it is fact, now it doesn't...it gives the visitor the choice. The statue according to sources is more about the legend and public art than factual. It is pretty interesting and makes the site far more truthful than it was before.
6/21/2015 04:51:00 pm
In case you haven't seen this, Jason, it should prove entertaining.
6/22/2015 01:59:46 am
Errrrr- for a start, how did the 1874 description of a "rude figure, supposed to have been cut by some Indian artist" become an 1873 description of a "crude human figure"? That description can't be found via Google, so did the reporter make it up?
6/22/2015 02:20:24 am
Page 542 of the 1873 Massachusetts Gazetteer..."There upon its face a rude figure, supposed to have been cut by some Indian Artist." This after describing the "immense ledge" with surface ridges furrowed by glacial forces." Not everything is on google... buy a book. Other revisions say the same thing.
6/22/2015 06:08:16 am
Is Joe P's response supposed to be correcting me? My point was that the 1874 description as quoted by both me and Joe P did not include the phrase "human figure" (which would imply a depiction of the whole of a human being), only the phrase "rude figure" (which is vague enough not to be inconsistent with the 1883 description of the image as "rude outlines of the human face").
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