Berkley, Massachusetts

Berkley is a town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, located south of Boston and east of Providence, Rhode Island. First settled in 1638, it was officially incorporated as a separate town in 1735. The town was named for the philosopher and bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753), who lived in Newport, Rhode Island from 1728 to 1731. The change in the spelling to “Berkley” was likely due to a clerk’s carelessness.

Dighton Rock State Park, near the town’s southwestern corner, is home to the well-known Bridge Village Heritage Park, a park created by the Berkley Historical Commission, which opened in October 2006. Dighton Rock State Park is also home to the mysterious Dighton Rock, a tidal boulder with petrogylphs of uncertain age and authorship, located in a museum on an 85-acre (340,000 m2) site on the Taunton River. The boulder’s strange markings have been variously attributed to Vikings, Native American Wampanoags and the Portuguese explorer Miguel Corte-Real.

Similarly mysterious is the origin of the name Conspiracy Island, a small island located at the southern tip of Berkley Neck, pointing into the confluence of the Taunton River and the Assonet River. More straightforward is the Berkley Congregational Church, established just two years after the town’s founding, functioning continuously since that time. The town can be accessed by two state routes, Route 24 and Route 79.

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