EVIDENCE: The Irish Found West Virginia Before Columbus Found America



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Each October, the entire nation celebrates the life of Christopher Columbus, crediting him for “discovering” America in 1492 – but if you’re like me, you find this concept somewhat laughable in and of itself, as millions of people were already living on the continent for thousands of years before Columbus was even conceived; however, we’ll save that debate for some other day!

Instead, today, we’re going to explore the unimaginable and incredible scenario in which Columbus’ voyage to the Caribbean was predated by nearly a thousand years by Christian Irish missionaries, who not only landed on America’s mainland but explored as far inland as Mingo County, West Virginia.

Though the evidence is hardly enough to put someone to death over, the mounting case does deserve more of a credible look than many are allowing.

Archaeologists first began exploring the possibility of ancient Irish missionaries in the new world, roughly a generation ago, after local residents discovered ancient markings and engravings on large boulders near a strip mines in the tiny Southern West Virginia community of Dingess.

Discovered in the 1980s, the slabs of rock were found on property owned by the Marrowbone Development Corporation and immediately became the source of study for scholars from around the world, as the markings were said to resemble ancient Irish letters known as Celtic Ogham.

In October of 1988, representatives from the Irish Embassy, including the nation’s secretary of cultural affairs met with archaeologist Robert Pyle to examine the ancient rock carvings, referred to as petroglyphs. 

Speaking to members of the media, Pyle was quoted as having said, “They’re really unique. They have Christian religious symbols that are identifiable, many of them identifiable were recorded very early… The markings appear to be from around as early as the eighth century to the 12th century A.D.”

The veteran archaeologist said that he believed the markings were made by early Irish missionaries who followed major trails through the mountains, stating, “It’s really a tremendous discovery.”

Pyle is not alone in his belief that the Irish were roaming the hills along the Tug Valley centuries prior to Columbus’ voyage. 

Dr. Barry Fell, a biologist who has studied numerous archaeological sites and ancient languages, contended that ancient West Virginia Petroglyphs were indeed written in the ancient Irish language known as Ogham.

Translating rock markings found in neighboring Wyoming County, West Virginia, Dr. Fell concluded that the ancient message carved into the rocks read: “At the time of sunrise, a ray grazes the notch on the left side on Christmas Day, the first season of the year, the season of the blessed advent of the savior Lord Christ. Behold he is born of Mary, a woman.”

The translation leads Fell to believe the ancient markings are part of an ancient solar calendar created to bear a Christian message.

One article states:
“To try and prove this theory a small group decided to verify the translation. Calculating the difference between the Julian calendar, used until the 16th Century, and today’s Gregorian calendar, they met at the petroglyph just before sunrise on December 22, 1982. Quietly they waited as the sun climbed in the east, spilled over the mountains, and streamed its rays toward the cliff face before them. They watched in amazement as the first shaft of sunlight funneled like a flashlight beam through a 3-sided notch in the cliff overhang and struck the center of a sun symbol on the left side of the panel. As they watched in awe, the beam pushed the shadow from left to right, slowly bathing the entire message in sunlight like a prehistoric neon sign announcing yet another Christmas, as it has done for centuries. Before their eyes, they had received a message across the ages.

“Subsequent visits showed that the phenomenon only occurred at the winter solstice; and at other times of the year the sun only partially lit the message. In 1985, the distinguished Celtic scholar, Professor Robert T. Meyer visited the site and responded to a question regarding its authenticity in these words: ‘Nobody could have faked this sort of thing unless they had a very deep knowledge of Celtic philosophy, for this is very archaic, and probably from the sixth or seventh centuries. This, for Celtic scholars, is probably at least as important as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls . . . because it shows that Irish Monks, I suppose, came here, I would say, about 1500 years ago.’”

In 1989 lawyers Monroe Oppenheimer and Willard Wirtz wrote an article based on opinions of other archaeologists and linguists experts, disputing the theory that the inscription is written in Ogham script. They further accused Fell of deliberate fraud, a charge Fell denied.  

Today, the carvings of the Dingess Petroglyphs remain a controversial mystery.

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  1. My family new of these carvings for years. I have played under the cliff where these were located many times. We always called them the ‘Indian Rocks’ because of the carvings. My uncle Gary and brother Paul took a man from some magazine to see them back in the 80’s. He was going to write an article on them. This post says they were discovered in 1987 but locally they have been known of for generations.

  2. When I was writing the 1st edition of “Way Out in West Virginia” (now in its 4th edition) I heard of these writings and went to explore them although the ones I was sent to were outside Lilydale in Wyoming County. Having seen them and “felt” them, I’d have to side with the folks who claim they’re bogus.

    • I’m curious what evidence lead you to this conclusion? And if you are able to give an age estimate as to when you believe these were created?

      I would think there should be some scientific method able to determine the age without destroying the evidence.

  3. “History is important. Myth is, too, from an anthropological point of view. Origins of both are baffling and a source of constant wonder. It’s joy! I’m researching a bit more on the oghams. There were some found in Tennessee as well but have not been authenticated yet. Sounds like a road trip!”
    Nancy Vickery Clark

  4. Its said that my dad Dennis and a friend found it while working… I don’t doubt the locals knew about it way before they found it. I’m pretty sure the rocks are still sitting in front of the park rangers place.

  5. Where exactly are these located? I’m from charleston and would live to go take a look, especially on the day it is lit up. Thanks any who could help.

  6. Another revisionist with an agenda.. it’s getting old. Why not fight it out with the other 100 or so people who want to rewrite history based off of assumption and innuendo and then that winner can challenge the viking landing.

    It’s much easier to do something right with your life for attention. No need to make up stories.. really.

    • Wait, so you think history is accurately written? I literally burst into laughter. Surely that’s not what you’re saying.

    • wv archeologist and bj, there is no controversy and established history is the psuedo-history bull crap to delude the slaves, and so called experts in history who echo the lies of history books are fools who dare not look at substantial incontrovertible evidence from all over N. America because they invested their careers in bullcrap taught at expensive propaganda institutions called colleges. The evidence is over whelmingly strong and fools who argue against the evidence do so because the truth being known proves what fools they really are deluded puppets of contrived histories for the purposes of empire. FOOLS

  7. This article misrepresents the nature of these petroglyphs. They are not controversial in the slightest only fringe, pseudo-archaeologists believe that they are of Celtic origin. Professional and academic archaeologists across the region know that these are of Native American origin. This case of bad scholarship was debunked in the early 1980s. Shame on Appalachian Magazine for publishing this drivel. Not only is it counter factual, but it serves to further disenfranchise the Native Americans whose lands we stole by claiming that Europeans were here long before Columbus.

  8. The Irish have been around a long time,,i viited a site in northwest Ireland that was abandoned 7000 years ago because the weather got too cold,,,makes you scratch your head about global warming,,,,??

  9. There are Very Similar markings on a rock in Boone co WV not far for from where I live.. The were featured in the National Geographic Magazine in the mid 80’s (84-85) referring to them as the Horse Creek Petraglyphs. Very cool place to hike down the railroad to..

  10. I have not been to this site, but in Robert Pyles book, “All That Remains” a detailed study of these petroglyphs. You may also want to read about the Red Bird Petroglyph near Manchester KY. I was there with Mr. Pyle previous and we made a latex cast of the inscription prior to it falling which was by the highway and then was transported to the town and now is under a pavilion. Luckily it was not destroyed in the fall.We visited other sites in Ky with inscriptions that are as those in WV. Another interesting read is read about the voyages of St. Brendan of Ireland to America.

  11. These markings are extremely controversial, and professional archaeologists and experts have debunked them as not of Irish origin. I’ve got to believe them. Sorry, can’t buy the story. (Also, Mr. Pyles is not held in high regard by the professional community.)

  12. It is possible the markings may be from pagans who were driven out of Ireland by Christian missionaries. The cross-like symbol is found in stones in Ireland and is believed to pre-date Christianity.

  13. My thoughts on the Irish settling in West Virginia is a real possibility . There was an ancient Irish settlement discovered on the coast in South Carolina . Could be the same people which migrated west.

  14. There is also evidence that the Pueblo Indians actually came here from a section that is now France and that most of whom we call “Native Americans are actually from Asia so why is there so much effort to tear down Columbus, simply because he had the ability to charm a queen out of her jewels and bring a sustained migration of Europeans to the Western Hemisphere.

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