Monday, December 7, 2009

Ready or Not, Part Two

Yesterday the story about the Grave Creek Tablet challenged established views of European presence in the Western Hemisphere, but was a hard-to-buy piece of isolated data, despite the concrete facts of the case. Today isn't about Moundsville or even the Adena culture [necessarily] but it is about another data point which makes for me the possibility of erratic visits by long-distance passers-by more believable. Today is about old Irish writing inscribed on a cave wall in central West Virginia.
One nice thing about being in a small and simple state like West Virginia is that you can "comprehend" the extent of the strange claims which have been made there and even locate them if you wanted to make a little tour there. The map puts Mothman, the Flatwoods Monster, the Wyoming County "Irish" Ogham, and even my own UFO sighting "in their places". You can see from the map that the old cave writing is quite far from the Grave Creek Mound, which is off the top of the map. If the Ogham writing is real, it is also quite distant in time, being likely more of the 600AD era than 100BC. The "scratches" on the cave wall in Wyoming County were known to the state's amateur archaeological society at least as early as the 1940s but didn't receive any serious attention until about 40 years later. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The reason for the slowness of attention was probably that A). the state had no formally empowered archaeologist [despite Delf Norona of the Grave Creek Museum and others in the amateur archaeological society crying out for one] and B). the crude-looking ogham writing wasn't at all well understood, and, frankly looked like someone was just scratching their knife blades on rocks. Once Irish and Celtic language scholars began to figure out this weird form of writing, people began looking for it, and of all places they found some in the West Virginia hills. The key figures in this exposition were an energetic amateur, Ida Gallagher, and one of the first official state archaeologists, Robert Pyle. [Pyle is in the center photo on the right, standing with a colleague as they chalked the ogham markings at the rockface.] Of course no one wanted to believe that anyone could find a Dark Ages European language of any sort in West Virginia, let alone one as controversial and "ill-formed" as ogham.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, is ogham a language at all? And what the heck is it anyway? When I was in Ireland I saw several Oghamstones and my pictures of them are on the right. Ogham could be termed a minimalist form of writing geared to be incised on very hard surfaces such as stone. For that reason it has no curves. Letters are composed of series of straight cuts. Some forms of ogham used long and short cuts, some use straight or slanted cuts, some use cuts above or below a horizontal line. The technique is awkward and very rarely used for any message that would be long. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Robert Pyle turned out to be a good man for the moment. When I met him, he proved to be an "empirical" sort of guy, in no awe or restriction by the archaeological establishment at all. What he wanted to do was get out in the field and discover things. Walking the woods with Robert Pyle is a real trip. Every ten feet he's bending over to pick up a fossil or an arrowhead or, once, a piece of very old Native American copper. In a way, the man's a discovery a minute. Probably the biggest thing he'll ever be involved with is the finding of an ancient Irish language on a cave wall.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------[The picture associated with this part of the text has lost its ability to be clicked upon so I'll just say that the person in the upper left is Glyn Daniel and the person on the right is Robert Meyer. The relevant text of Meyer's letter is quoted at the bottom of the following paragraph.]------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------But who says he did? Glyn Daniel is the editor of the hoary journal Antiquity, and thereby the holder of the keys to the kingdom of acknowledged truth. He has not only denied all such matters as Grave Creek Tablets and Wyoming County Ogham but does so in the most uncivilized and mockery-laden ways. His "arguments" almost never consist of facts and usually feature the apparent impossibility of such nonsense and the fact that such discoveries don't fit with the current theories [as if that should be taken as a definitive prohibition]. But Daniel didn't count on a prominent establishment expert abandoning the Ship-of-Dogma and going rogue. This expert was about as expert as you can get, in fact, being one of the world's best at Celtic language forms. Catholic University's Robert Meyer looked at the information sent to him and instead of laughing, went himself to visit the cave. Upon studying the markings in situ, Meyer pronounced them not only genuine ogham of a type used around 500-600AD but a real treasure of language in their own right, being one of the longer passages of the language available to scholars. One suspects that Daniel nearly chewed glass when he heard that. Well OK, says I, I'm up for old Irish in West Virginia as much as anyone, but it would be a lot more convincing if someone would translate this thing and the translation make sense. To try to bring the story all the way home, the extremely controversial former Harvard professor and
lover of all things archaeologically out-of-place, Barry Fell, came out with this interpretation: "At the time of sunrise, a ray grazes the notch on the left side [think Indiana Jones or Archaeoastronomy, folks] on Christmas Day, a feastday of the Church, the first seven of the year, the season of the blessed advent of the Savior, Lord Christ. Behold, He is born of Mary, a woman". Hmmm...I guess that I could imagine a group of Brendanesque monks "celebrating" Christmas wherever they were, and making an ogham memorial of it. But this seems to claim something more--a promise of a light signal of some kind. On December 22, 1982 four people who had been involved with the research [led by Ida Gallagher, but unfortunately for me, not including Robert Pyle] went to the cave to record the sun effect at sunrise. The Sun broke above the nearby hill at about 9AM and its rays hit the writing on the panel. It funneled through a three-sided notch and moved across the writing finally falling on the Sunburst symbol at the end of the line. Since no one had suspected this before Fell's interpretation, and since no one had noticed that three separate rock extensions formed a "notch" for the light until then, the group was understandably stunned. Ida Gallagher said that "light had just fallen on West Virginia prehistory". Nicely said, and, yes, full of wonder. But we shouldn't make this mean more than it is. It is, apparently, evidence that people from practically anywhere can make long voyages of adventure, faith, and discovery, and not take any glory away from the people they meet.{dear folks, due to an error in identification of a picture I had to re-do the illustration. This led to a bit of a nightmare, resulting ultimately in the loss of being able to click on the picture of Robert Meyer and read his letter. So, instead of re-doing the entire post, I'll just quote the letter now: "Dear Sir, I am the professor of Celtic here ever since 1953. I was privileged to visit at the site of the newly deciphered Ogham inscriptions in the rock cave in Wyoming County, West Virginia on Friday April 8, 1983. There I met Mr. Pyle and Mrs. Gallagher, also the owner of the farm where one of the inscriptions is located. I should judge the language to be that of the 6th to the 8th century of our era. It is very archaic, and what is most important it gives us longer texts than we have had at our disposal....Sincerely yours, Robert T. Meyer".} -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, as Butch Cassidy and Sundance said: who ARE these guys? We have, completely amazingly to me, some outstanding candidates. The old folklore of the Church in Ireland had the popular legend of St Brendan's voyage to the west for centuries. As time has gone on, we have a hard time believing that Brendan said Mass on the back of Jaconis The Friendly Whale [a moment of vast cryptozoological importance] but the remainder of Brendan' voyages has a lot of detail which makes sense. The places as describe in the Brendan saga sound suspiciously like places such as Streymoy and Mykines in the Faeroes Islands as well as Iceland. A prominent great floating "crystal column" could well be an Arctic iceberg. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In the 1970s some intrepid modern Brendans decided to construct a smallish but sturdy boat of the era, named a "curragh", made of wooden planks covered with leather [they used tarred canvas instead of leather] to try the trip to America across the northern seas in imitation of Brendan and his intrepid monks. The maps at left show their modern voyage and the fact that they made it to the American continent. Well, maybe so did Brendan, or any of the endless number of courageous and "insanely curious" men, who just have to see what's on the other side of the hill. I've known several such people in my life, probably you do too. Those guys who went to the Moon were surely fools if they were looking for a safely-led long life. I hope that establishment archaeology cracks its wall of forbidden ideas and impossibilities, because there seem to be many insights out there waiting for an open mind.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
...and an occasional itinerant Irishman is hardly going to demean the accomplishments of Native American cultures.


  1. Just wondering - Is this you?
    Aliens And Us

    I thought I would check just in case because this has happened to me before too. Those jpgs are even your blogs jpgs.

    I hope it's you, if not maybe you need to mention the 250 word copyright rule to the individual.

    I really enjoy your articles by the way.


  2. Hello. No, that site has nothing to do with me. It seems to be a "robot" blog harvester mechanism which just mindlessly enters information to its database wholesale without any polite ceremony. The "owner" probably feels that the blog entries are being posted for people to look at anyway, so "he" just re-publishes them---not a good neighborly technique, but what the heck.[ it's kind of funny that he seems to have originally seen this site as a UFO site only, and now his robot is publishing Dowsing, Ogham, and "Everyday Spirituality" right along side. His readers must think he's crazy.] Actually i am happy for anyone to use the material from this blog as long as they treat it respectfully. Sharing knowledge is what teaching is all about anyway. But, if you decide to glue all these entries together and publish a book, please let me be the author...or co-author, if you write some yourself.:-)}. and, thank you for the nice comment--I'm working at it.

  3. A while back I had someone literally drag their cursor across multiple pages of my quickblog and copy/paste it to their site. It cost me dearly in bandwidth with GoDaddy. That site is now down thank goodness.

    Their comments area was open and not maintained so I spoke my mind on every single page where he had posted 'literally' my blog. Including surfing, it takes me about 10 hours a day to put my daily posts together for that quickblog and he stole it in moments.

    Consequently, even though it's a robot action, they need to cease because if they don't do it the right way, they'll just continue stealing.

    My excess bandwidth with GoDaddy for 6 weeks was almost $300.00 because of his pages. My initial monthly charge with GoDaddy was only $2.99 so you can see how little bandwidth I was paying for to begin with but it was always sufficient. It was quite a shocker to see those new charges.

    There was no address on the website of course so I went to their host and began the necessary action to get him taken down. Obviously they contacted him first, which was when it all ceased so I didn't have to finish filing and I'm back to my $2.99 charges.

  4. I ran out of comment area in that last comment.

    To continue - I run all of your articles in my blog in picture form that link back to you directly. I use your picture but my jpg of course.

    Even though I'm paranormal, UFO/alien I have a section called Potpourri, which allows me to post some of yours that don't pertain to the UFO, alien or paranormal theme. They're all very good so I hate missing any of them.

    Because I do spend so much time putting together what it is I do, I have mirror Bloggers where I copy paste the whole darn thing and give it a second address. It works for me because both locations have quite a following. I'm like a daily newspaper so I HAVE to post every single day - no days off for this kid. :)

    If interested, here are my blogs. The first two are Bloggers
    Paranormal Casebook - The Last 24
    Alien Casebook Fringe

    This last one is my Quickblog
    Alien, UFO & The Paranormal Casebook

    Welp, onward and upward. It's 6:50am and I've been at it for over 2 hours and have lots to do before I post today.


  5. Dear Professor,

    I'm almost certain that your picture of the WV skeptic Glynn Daniels is, in fact, a picture of the great british naturalist and filmmaker, David Attenborough.


  6. To Eileen, thanks for all the information [I'll pass it on to my GODson who is wise on these things]. Also thanks for your blog information and how much work you put in; I can relate.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------To Derek, thanks for the heads-up--if this is NOT Daniel then someone made a mistake on their labeling of the picture. I'll try to see if I can figure it out, and in the meantime apologize for the possible screw-up.

  7. To Derek: you are correct on the error on "Daniel's" picture. I have corrected that. In the process [an electronic nightmare for me] we've lost the ability to click and magnify that picture. i've quoted the Meyer letter so we don't lose anything important.

  8. I am an Irish citizen, and have also lived in Kentucky. I have studied Early Irish history extensively.
    Ogham is not a mystery script. It derives from a form of sign language-- the five strokes equating with the fingers. It was used in early Christian Ireland to denote lineages on stone grave pillars, but also occurs in monastic manuscripts , such as "the Annals of Innisfallen". The language used is a clerical mix of Latin and Early Irish.
    I participated in field work on"Celtic" sites in Kentucky,in rock shelters and other sites, and saw no archeological evidence that convinced me of an actual foreign presence there. I stand by my earlier assertion of cultural influence. There is no reason to assume that Native Americans were not sophisticated enough to grasp the concept of written language. It could have come and gone, just like the old Copper culture.

  9. Barry Fell, in his book "America B.C." describes many, many artifacts and structures that speak of early European and Mediterranean visits and perhaps small colonies in North America going as far back as 1000 B.C.
    Celtiberian Ogham (ogham inscriptions using a Phoenician language) are found in North America as well as throughout the Iberian peninsula.
    Additionally, recent work at the Topper site in N. Carolina indicates a continual human presence
    for the past 45,000 years. Yes, 45,000.

  10. What convinced me that there was a lot to this [other than personally meeting Robert Pyle] was the existence of a yearly journal [Epigraphical Society of the Pacific (ESOP)] which had the research of many people publishing in it. This got the "work" beyond the "one-man-show" problem that these sorts of subjects sometimes place the reader in. I have nothing against the work of Fell, but he obviously "wants it" a bit too enthusiastically for my comfort, so it is good for me to see many other people whose work seems to trend in the same direction. And, Robert Meyer's "blessing" on the West Virginia Ogham was a big deal at least for me. My suggestion for all armchair adventurers in the anomalies [and for almost all of them, that includes me], is to look very hard for other resources than the most public of them. Sometimes those publications are Ok and sometimes they are bent way out of shape. Only by embedding them in a much larger context of facts and thinking can you protect yourself from what may even be honest enthusiasms.

  11. These Ogham writings are no joke, How do I know because one of a very few Wyoming County WV area writing's are on my families property.
    We called them "Indian's Writings" as kids. But early 1990's my Dad was there ( I was working in Coal Mines that day) I know both Fell & Pyle been on property countless times and at that time with host other experts on the very spot where writing are and they ones who told us they believe they figure out what that Irish Monk was writing.
    This not only thing they found but I will not go into that because we want the property to be left alone only experts allowed any access to much hard to find site.

    1. Thanks very much for the personal reply. There is nothing that I value more than hearing from real people directly involved.



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