You’ll only be able to appreciate this gorgeous granite marker near the town line if you’re on foot, or at the very least have parked your car for a moment. It’s well worth pausing in front of the Last Unicorn Condominium to do so. Set into the granite tablet is a reproduction — not altogether accurate, but quite fine — of the seal of Plymouth Colony. The arms are quartered and within each quartering is a kneeling figure, shown with a loincloth here though naked in the original, that is thought by some to represent a native American. He holds an object in his hand, thought by some to be a heart. Our artist has taken the liberty of showing a heart with a flame. Above the arms is the familiar date of 1620. Encircling them is the legend, “PLIMOVTH NOV ANGLIA SIGILLVM SOCIETATIS.”
The seal of Plymouth Colony has a particular resonance for anyone tracing the roots of American independence, as it was supposed to have been seized in 1686 at the dawn of the short-lived Dominion of New England under Sir Edmund Andros. Upon the creation of this union, individual colonies had to surrender their charters and privileges, including their seals. Andros — and the Dominion — were so wildly unpopular that they were overturned within three years. But the seal was never recovered, and so became an emblem of the indignities suffered under British rule.
But here’s a delightful paradox, given the age-old rivalry between Provincetown and Plymouth over who gets to lay true claim to the Pilgrims. The seal of Plymouth Colony was adopted for use by the Town of Plymouth. So it is that keen-eyed modern-day pilgrims will find Plymouth’s symbol as they first cross the line into Provincetown.