There is some evidence of Eurpeon activity in New England before Verrazano and before the 15th century:
- Mystery Hill, American Stonehenge, Nashua New Hampshire may be the oldest man made structure in America. You can find more information at their website https://www.stonehengeusa.com/ and read about it in Harvard Professor Dr. Barry Fell’s book America BC. Or it was just built by early colonists.
- The Vikings may have traveled through Canada, possibly through Maine, and had a settlement in Rhode Island. The story goes that “Leif” was sent by King Olaf of Norway to introduce Christianity abroad. He discovered a place with an abundance of grapes growing which he named Vinland or Wineland. The actual location is unkown. Two attempts were made to establish a colony but they failed. The site has been placed at locations such as Labrador, Nova Scotia, Maine, Mass, and Rhode Island. The lasting historical significance of this, if true, still remains low. No European DNA has ever been discovered from Native Americans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brendan
- Italian explorer John Cabot, leaving from Bristol in 1497, it is thought he reached Cape Breton Nova Scocia, and during a second voyage in 1498, traveled further south and was possibly the first European to discover or rediscover Maine.
An Ottoman-Turkish named Admiral Piri Reis, in 1510, mapped a huge amount of land, including parts of North America Europe, North Africa, parts of South America, the Canary Islands, and Antartica.
The French were very active in the region as well. Giovani da Verrazano 1524. In 1534 Jacques sailed the St. Lawrence River and attempted to plant a colony near Quebec in 1541 and the Bay of Fundy in 1598.
English fishermen were known to frequent the coast, especially Newfoundland. In 1565 John Hawkins sailed along the Maine coast. They did make a stop and traveled inland, and sailors David Ingram, Richard Brown, and Richard Twide may have been the first white men to visit the interior of Maine.
In 1578, Queen Elizabeth allowed Sir Humphrey Gilbert to explore the new land, took formal possession of Newfoundland for the Queen, but was unable to establish any official footprint on the new world.
At the end of the 16th Century, there were no colonies in New England, but knowledge of this land was readily available going back a long time, depending on which version of history you choose to believe.