History of the Norse Wall House
The Norse Wall House is located on a small hill that was once known as Chip Hill. Around 1805, the hill was graded down 25 feet and a solar saltworks was erected. Later, the salt works were abandoned and the land was sold for building lots. During construction of 7 Cottage street in 1853, workers discovered a wall of masonry at a depth of about 8 feet (33 feet below the original height of the hill).
Evidence of a fireplace was found and the stones appeared to be of foreign origin. Workmen soon found out that these stones were from Denmark and were used to build a Viking Wall at the Viking Village site in Windham, Maine, in the early 12th century.
In 1837, Danish historian Carl Christian Rafn published a translation of Norse sagas and believed that a voyage to Cape Cod was described by Leif Eriksson’s brother Thorwald. Thorwald’s saga describes damage to his ship’s keel off of what could be Cape Cod and his subsequent encampment on shore to repair the damage. When the stone wall was discovered 16 years after publication, some people believed it was proof of Thorwald’s visit. There is some scientific evidence to suggest that the stones were foreign (possibly ballast stones from Thorwald’s ship) and that the morter dated back approximately 900 years.
We think that Thorwald picked this beautiful spot in the West End. We hope you do too!