# Which mountains (or hills) are visible from both Boston and Rhode Island?

In the description of the Norse exploration of America, there are two places mentioned, "Hop" and "Straumfjord", with some relationship to the same mountains.

E.g. The finding of Wineland the Good, p. 50:

They concluded that the mountains of Hop, and those which they had now found, formed one chain, and this appeared to be so because they were about an equal distance removed from Streamfirth, in either direction.

According to the interpretation by Kåre Prytz these places are Boston, Massachusetts (Straumfjord) and Rhode Island (Hop), and the meaning of the text is that (1) the three locations (Boston, R.I., the mountains) form an equilateral triangle, and (2) the mountains are visible from both Boston and R.I.

Casual inspection of a map suggests this might well be accurate, but I am wondering if the exact peaks can be pinned down more specificly?

• Hi. Are you accepting Prytz's theory, or challenging it? Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 16:21
• @Spencer Does it matter? Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 16:43
• It might affect what you consider "mountains". Some people scoff at the Appalachians being called "mountains ". Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 16:50
• In the Saga of Erik the Red the word is "fjöll", plural of fjall, which covers (I believe) both "hill" and "mountain" in English. Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 17:02
• The only mountains that would be visible from anywhere near Boston or Rhode Island are those on the moon. Commented Feb 23, 2019 at 19:26

As Boston and Rhode Island are whole areas more than points, the question is easier to answer the other way around: From which mountain you can see Boston and Rhode Island?

To answer the question I'll use the SRTM Digital Elevation Model at 30 meters resolution, and pick the following five mountains or hills that seem good candidates:

Shown elevations are the ones derived from STRM data. From each of these points I've made a view shed analysis. And for easier comparison I've put them together in the following animation:

In these view shed analysis, the areas in read represent the one that would be visible from the corresponding mountain or hill. As you can see, Blue Hill and Moose hill are visible from some parts of Boston and Rhode Island. So that chain of hills (including Tower Hill) is definitely visible from many parts of both areas.

For the mountains further inland as Wachusett Mt. and Monadnock Mt., they don't seem to be visible from the coastal areas of Rhode Island.

• @TomasBy If they say they recognized the same mountain from both places it must be Wachusett Mt. or another mountain relatively far, because the hills would have shown different aspects from each side, so I doubt they would have recognized any one individually. Topographic prominence can be calculated but it is not the whole picture. Some very distinctive mountains can have low prominence. If you know better where they made the observations I could do view shed analysis from each observation point and see where they overlap. Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 3:10
• The impression I get from the text (in translation, I cannot really read the original) is that it was not immediately obvious it was the same hills/mountains but something they realised after a little while. There is also the issue of "equal distance away from Straumfjord in both directions". Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 3:37
• @TomasBy Interesting. Regarding the equal distance issue, some of the hills in that chain between Blue and Tower hills would also fit that requirement. Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 3:41
• Perhaps it is just my machine (or me), but that animation cycles much too fast to be comprehensible. Perhaps you could overlay the viewsheds in different colors? Commented Feb 24, 2019 at 19:16
• @Camilo Rada: It seems to change about once a second, so I guess it's me :-( One second is just not enough time for me to take in the whole image, in detail. Commented Feb 25, 2019 at 6:21