You are standing at the corner of Leyden Street and Water Street. Leyden Street is the first street laid out in Plymouth and the location of the first Pilgrim homes. From this location one can see Cole's Hill, the Waterfront and Leyden Street leading to Town Square and Burial Hill
The hill rises up from the shores of Plymouth Bay near the foot of Leyden Street, principal thoroughfare of the original settlement. It was the traditional burial place of the Plymouth colonists, Pilgrims and others, who died during the “starving time,” the tragic first winter of 1620-21. The dead were reportedly buried at night, and their graves disguised to hide the dangerously weakened state of the survivors. In 1697 John Cole, who gave the hill his name, built a house on the northeast corner of the hill. Cannons were installed in earthworks on Cole’s Hill in 1742, during the Revolution and again in 1814 of protection of the town.
As shipping became less prosperous in the mid-nineteenth century, the Pilgrim Society (founded in 1820) was able to buy and remove eight of the old commercial establishments to create the smooth slope
A the top of Cole’s Hill stands the memorial to the Mayflower Pilgrims, erected by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. The first rediscovery of Pilgrim remains occurred in 1735 following a heavy rain which washed many of the bones down the hill and into the harbor. Remains found nearby during the digging of sewer lines in 1855 and 1883 were sent to Boston to determine if they were Europeans or Native. Pronounced European by Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., four skeletons were returned to Plymouth and placed in a led-lined casket in the top of the old Hammatt Billings canopy over Plymouth Rock in 1867. The casket was retrieved when the old canopy was torn down, and it was interred in the present memorial on May 24, 1921.
Massasoit, the chief sachem or leader of the indigenous Wampanoag people governed a federation of autonomous Native American communities in the Plymouth Colony region.
When the Pilgrims arrived his people were recovering from a terrible epidemic that wiped out entire communities (such as Patuxet where Plymouth is today). The powerful Narraganset tribe, which has not suffered such losses, was demanding that Massasoit become their vassal and the Wampanoag territory be
The Bridal Tree
At the top of Cole’s Hill are the remains of an ancient linden tree known as the “Bridal Tree”. The tree had been planted in a nearby yard by a young couple on their engagement in 1809. However, the marriage never took place, and the young woman in question pulled the sapling up and threw it into the road. It was found by William Davis, who lived on the hill, and he dug a hole with his heel and stuck it in the ground. It survived and has been known as a local landmark for many years.
The 1809 “Bridal Tree.”
The ancient linden tree as it appears today on the northeast corner of Cole’s Hill
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial Era • Notable Places. In addition, it is included in the National Historic Landmarks series list. A significant historical month for this entry is May 1835.
Location. 41° 57.398′ N, 70° 39.73′ W. Marker
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Plymouth Waterfront (a few steps from this marker); William Bradford (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Coles Hill (within shouting distance of this marker); Joseph Tribble House (within shouting distance of this marker); House of Isaac Doten (within shouting distance of this marker); Gurnet Fortifications (within shouting distance of this marker); First House Built by the Pilgrims (within shouting distance of this marker); 1630-1930 (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Plymouth.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 13, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 1, 2014, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. This page has been viewed 607 times since then and 83 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on June 13, 2020, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana. 2. submitted on August 1, 2014, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. 3. submitted on August 23, 2017, by Bill Coughlin of Woodland Park, New Jersey. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. submitted on August 1, 2014, by Sandra Hughes Tidwell of Killen, Alabama, USA. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.