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Barnegat Light Historical Society and Museum



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The above photos were taken in August 1956, when The Beachcomber newspaper ran a story about Charles Bacheller, who found the artifact on Conklin’s Island in 1938. Bacheller, a retired schoolteacher, was gunning on the marshes east of Barnegat, when he saw what looked like a scroll sticking out of the ground. He dug it out and found a piece of wood three or four feet long, about a foot in diameter, and entirely covered with carving, the base with ornamental scrolls and the top with the mane and head of a lion with the face of a man. Bacheller said he took it to the “curator of the Metropolitan Museum” in New York, who pronounced it a figurehead from a Viking ship, estimating that the wood was Norway pine between four- and five-hundred years old. One side of the figurehead was partially burned. The article says: “The museum curator surmised it had floated off a burning ship, probably not far from where it was found. There are two wooden pins in the base that attached it to the ship, and if it had floated any great distance, the pins would not have remained there, he said.”

The figurehead was given to the Barnegat Light Museum sometime in the 1950s and then, after Mr. Bacheller died, his family took it back sometime in the late 1960s and its whereabouts remain unknown. The Museum hopes to discover its fate, and if anyone on the list has any information, or connections to the world of Viking artifacts, we hope they will pass on this query. Any questions, please write Margaret Buchholz at lbipooch@comcast.net.