The Viking Spear Head found on Charles Point has been the source of controversy for many years. We know that it is between 700 – 1200 years old and is believed to be the farthest south a Viking relic has ever been found. The spearhead is currently on display at the Wayne County Museum in Lyons, New York.
The big question of course, is how did it get here?
There seems to be two possibilities:
- Sometime in the distant past, perhaps around 1000 AD, the Vikings stopped off at Charles Point during their exploration of the new world
- The Vikings traded the spearhead to the Native Americans farther North and East and they brought it to Charles Point where we know they had their summer home for centuries
Most historians today believe the latter explanation is the most likely. Unfortunately, we will probably never know for sure. It is, however, fun to imagine a boatload of Vikings becoming Sodus Point’s first tourists around 1,000 years ago.
Below is a newspaper article that was written in 1939:
In the Summer of 1929, a great storm destroyed the breakwater on the west side of Charles Point which protected a row of boathouses belonging to the summer residents of the point. Augustus Hoffman owned one of these summer homes that was located about 1000 feet inside Sodus Bay from Lake Ontario. In the process of finding a suitable place to rebuild his boathouse, Augustus, by accident, discovered a spearhead that is still controversial. Here is Augustus’ story about the find, quoted in an interview with Mr. James Curran, the editor of the Sault Daily Star: “To rebuild our boathouse, we first tested the shore from the lake inward. Far inside the bay we were able to sink test pipes without any trouble, but as we approached the lake the ground became harder. On the lake shore the ground seemed like granite. At that place where our boathouse was located, 1000 feet from the lake, we found it so hard that we could not sink a pipe. When I began to excavate the hard pand it was so difficult to deal with that I had to scrape out the trench the ground was too hard to allow it to be dug. I would say that the relic was found possibly a foot below water level and about twenty feet from shore. Nobody else was present when I found it and I attached no importance to it. So far as I know, nobody here knows what it is, but it has been guessed to be an Indian relic of some kind.”
Augustus Hoffman’s boathouse as seen from the water
Location where the spearhead was found. Just north of the boathouse on the Bay side of Charles Point.
Augustus Hoffman’s house on Charles Point
The dimensions of the spearhead are:
Total present length –9 1/4 inches, Length of handle –2 l/l6 inches, Widest part of blade –l l/16 inches, Width of handle — 7/8 inches.
The relic is but a skeleton of its original size. The handle is of lapped iron not tubular. It is so badly rusted that a small hole has been eaten in it and some of its length and width has been rusted off.
In 1930, Augustus gave this spearhead to Mr. Saxon B. Gavitt, a banker in Lyons. Realizing that this object might have some historical value, Mr. Gavitt contacted Mr. James Curran, the editor of the Sault Daily Star. Their meeting occurred in Lyons on December 30, 1939; at that time an upstairs room in the bank had been converted into a local museum. Mr. Curran suggested that, because this did look like an authentic Norse Spearhead and because oxidation had proceeded so far, Mr. Gavitt should let him take it to the University of Toronto, where Dr. C. T. Currelly, Curator of the Royal Ontario Museum, would have it given an electrical treatment to stop the rust ravages and a spectrographic examination for iron composition. These were to be administered to the spearhead (whose age ranged from the ninth century to the fourteenth) at no cost. Mr. Gavitt agreed. Mr. Curran wrote an article for his paper on January 7, 1939, which quite thoroughly explained the circumstances surrounding the discovery of this spearhead and described its importance.
It conforms in all regards to those reported in Norwegian and other museums. It is the tenth genuine Norse relic uncovered around the Great Lakes at this time. It has added New York State to Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Ontario as areas in which relics have been found. It gives evidence that Norse explorers had gone much farther south than has hitherto been thought likely, and adds Lake Ontario to Lake Superior in the list of inland seas visited by them.
1. Mr. James Curran, Editor of the Sault Daily Star, Sault Ste. Marie, Canada, in an article dated January 7, 1939, taken from Here Was Vineland, same company, c 1939, PP. 294-6.
Let History Be Written by Ralph C. F. Brendes; Pages 38-40