(and a few in Massachusetts) There are many different kinds of historic monuments. Some are built from stone – and some are the actual stones we come across in the woods, silent witnesses to some of the most important negotiations in Rhode Island’s early history. Stone walls, of course, are easy to find in Rhode Island woods, but there are other, larger rocks too. The forests around Southeastern New England still have significant boulders, cliffs, and outcroppings that Roger would recognize immediately. The Narragansett and Wampanoag people considered certain rocks to be very important meeting places and held important conversations about war and peace there. Some of the most important land purchases took place there, as well. In a time of some uncertainty about boundaries, a huge rock could serve as a good permanent marker. And rocks could also be identified with powerful sachems, as King Philip’s Seat still testifies.

Here are some of the important rocks of Roger’s day:

  • Margaret’s Rock, Swansea MA: where Roger spent time healing from illness and surviving the worst of the winter of 1636, according to tradition
  • Treaty Rock or Pettaquamscutt Rock, South Kingstown: where Roger Williams and William Coddington purchased Aquidneck Island in 1637 and where the Pettaquamscutt Purchase was completed in 1657 
  • Treaty Rock, Little Compton: where a meeting was arranged during King Philip’s War between Benjamin Church and the female sachem Awashonks  
  • Queen’s Fort, Exeter: a traditional hiding place for the Narragansett
  • Mark Rock, Warwick: a ledge with inscribed rocks
  • Devil’s Foot Rock, North Kingstown: according to legend, this was the site of a chase between the Devil and a Native American woman
  • Hipses Rock, Johnston: one of the western boundary markers of the Providence Plantations
  • Profile Rock, Freetown, MA; a rock believed to be a likeness of the Wampanoag sachem, Massasoit
  • Dighton Rock, Berkley, MA: a legendary rock with extensive carvings, alternatively attributed to Native Americans, Norse explorers, Portuguese settlers and ancient Phoenicians
  • King Philip’s Seat, Bristol: a natural throne in a cliff overlooking Mount Hope Bay, where Metacom (King Philip) held tribal meetings
  • Mount Hope Rock, Bristol: a flattened rock on a beach with old carvings and inscriptions


Source: Sidney S. Rider, The Lands of Rhode Island, as They Were Known to Caunonicus and Mianunnomu, When Roger Williams Came in 1636 (Providence: Author, 1904), between 152 and 153.


Source: From Edmund B. Delabarre, "The Inscribed Rocks of Narragansett Bay, " Rhode Island Historical Society Collections, XIII (January 1920), between 20 and 21. 


Mark Rock inscriptions, Warwick RI 
Source: Rhode Island Historical Society Collections XVI (April 1923), 56


Slate Rock, from a painting by Edward L. Peckham, 1832
Source: Gertrude Welwyn Kimball, Providence in Colonial Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1912), between 18 and 19


Edward Brecher, “The Enigma of Dighton Rock,” American Heritage (June 1958)

Edmund B. Delabarre, The Inscribed Rocks of Narragansett Bay, (Providence, 1924)

Robert A. Geake, “Natural Sites of Rhode Island’s Historical Memory,

Robert A. Geake, “Rediscovering Native American Places of Memory,” 

James W. Mavor Jr. and Byron E. Dix, Manitou: The Sacred Landscape of New England’s Native Civilization (Rochester VT)

Sidney Smith Rider, The Lands of Rhode Island as They were Known to Canonicus and Miantunnomu (Providence, 1901)

Rock Piles blog