Anawan Rock, a large dome of conglomerate rock, is a colonial historic site located off Winthrop Street in Rehoboth.
Native settlement was likely adjacent to the Anawan trail and Palmer River and the Anawan Rock [MHC Reconnaissance Survey Town Report for Rehoboth]
[From the National Archives Catalogue] “The event known as King Philip’ s War (1675-1676) had a great impact on the early colonial settlers in Southeast Massachusetts and Rhode Island. . . Its close marked the firm ascendancy of colonial power and the end of Native American resistance in the region. Anawan Rock is historically significant as the site of one of the closing confrontations of the war and as one of the few incidents for which an exact location is known.”
“On August 28, 1676, following the death of King Philip in Rhode Island, Captain Benjamin Church and his company of colonists and Indians sought out Anawan, one of two of Philip’ s remaining chieftains . Surprising him and his men in Rehoboth, Church forced them to surrender. The Indians offered no resistance and Anawan gave Church Philip’ s regalia as a symbol of his defeat. Church promised to spare Anawan’s life ; however, he was called to Boston and upon his return to Plymouth within a few days found that Anawon had been executed.”
Anawan Rock overlooks Squannakonk Swamp. not far from the village of Rehoboth, where Anawan and his warriors hid from Benjamin Church and his militia. Church relates that legend states that visitors to the area may witness wisps of smoke rising up from the swamp, representing the long extinguished fires of Anawan’s braves. Moreover, it is said that you may hear cries of “Iootash!” in the distance, which is the Wampanoag phrase for “stand and fight!”. [http://fadinghistory.blogspot.com/2005/07/]
A sign on Winthrop Street (Route 44) marks the beginning of the short trail to the Rock. There is a small parking lot at the entrance to the trail. The Rock is visible just beyond the sign. At the rock, there is a narrow hiking trail that winds up and around the rock, to the top.
The grave of Benjamin Church sits next to a tablet erected in his honor in the Little Compton Cemetery.
Click here for a two-minute video of Rebecca Smith of the Rehoboth Antequarian Society describing the Rock and the events that occurred there in 1676.
Click here for the Trails & Walks in Rhode Island web page about the Rock.
Click here for a link to Michael Tougias’ book on King Philip’s War.