Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Medieval Mystery In The Arizona Desert?

This is an intriguing segment of America Unearthed, an anomalous archaeology program on H2, a History channel. In this episode, Scott Wolter (the host and a forensic geologist) investigates a runestone memorial to a man named "Rough Hurech" tucked away in a remote cave in southern Arizona that just might indicate the burial of a 12 century Englishman.

While fascinating, I must confess to at least one point of contention with what is going on here: the runic inscription an unnamed consultant claims is 12th century English. My problem with this is that 12th century runic English doesn't seem likely since after 1066 the Latin alphabet was predominantly used for the English language. Even by the 10th century, the runic alphabet in English was largely relegated to manuscripts.

However, if true, this tells us that the individual who wrote it was likely a religious man or scholar of sorts.

Our host then examines the Gila cliff dwellings in neighboring New Mexico, a location that the superintendent of the monument asserts asserts can 100% be attributed to Native Americans. Why our host was directed to the site or what he hoped to find there is never explained and the whole trip is dropped as he jets to Staffordshire, England to investigate a connection across the pond. Turns out a site in England has a similar--and only a similar--look to the the Gila cliff dwellings tucked into the New Mexican sandstone cliffs.

Five minutes from these similar sandstone hovels in Staffordshire (which are said to be Tolkien's inspiration for his Hobbit houses) is the purported former home of one Peter Hurech. But the Whittington Inn is a 14th century manor home built by Sir William de Whittington, a knight. Although in this episode, our host's guide tells him (perhaps erroneously) that it dates to the 1200s (we're looking for someone from the 1100s) and was the home of Peter de Hurech. Although I can find no connection to a Hurech name and the Whittington Manor.

It is possible the manor house was built on the site of a still older home, one in which a Hurech lived. There isn't much readily-available information though and it would take some digging to confirm this story.

Is this another example of a History Channel hyperbole, of taking threadbare tidbits of disparate half-truths and quilting them into whatever story our proponents want to here? It's common motif found among these programs. I wouldn't be surprised. But then mysteries, including those surrounding pre-Columbian American runes, abound and aren't all as easy to dismiss as this.

1 comment:

Brandi Johnson said...

I had just caught a TV airing of this episode and decided to research the runes myself. I don't know what they used to translate them, but from what I found, their translation was way off. The rune inscription on the rock , when translated into letters, is a bunch of gibberish, although, the actual meanings of the rune characters would make more sense. Examples of some of the meanings are "Heat", "Danger", "The Soul" and "Departure" I plan on further investigating the rune inscription in hopes of seeing if it is in fact a hoax or something real.