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Prince Madoc of Wales and the discovery of America

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Legend has it that Prince Madoc sailed from Wales in 1170 and discovered America many years before Columbus. This page includes extracts from an article by Jayne Wanner about Madoc, the Mandan indians (the tribe some historians say could have been the descendants of the Welsh settlers), and information about the strange welsh style stone buildings unlike any other american indian structure found in the regions of the Mandan tribe, and indeed one structure is supposed to resemble Dolwyddelan Castle the birthplace of Madoc in North Wales.

First the Colwyn Bay, North Wales connection.

In 1170 the ships of two nations rendezvoused in the Irish Sea. Bewitched by a viking tale of a great land beyond the ocean, Madoc, Prince of Snowdon, commanding the Welsh ships with Rhiryd his brother, commanding the Irish fleet, set out into the unknown. Some years later Madoc returned in his ship , the Gwennan Gorn and told of their discovery of a new land. A great fleet set sail with Welsh settlers and was never seen again.
Did Madoc, Prince of Snowdon, really find America? Just another fairy tale? Perhaps not.
On the shores of Alabama there stands a stone , "In memory of Prince Madoc" A Welsh explorer who landed on the shore of Mobile Bay in 1170 AD.
The Welsh legend says Madoc sailed from the Afon Ganol in Penrhyn Bay. However there was no evidence to support this until in the 1950's the new sea wall was being constructed. During the construction work the workmen came across the remains of an ancient and long forgotten Harbour wall. Parts of the original 1000 year old quay can still be found in the garden of a house called "Odstone" on the sea front between Penrhyn Bay and Rhos on Sea.



By: Jayne Wanner.

Extract 1
"In 1170 A.D., a certain Welsh prince, Madoc ab Owain Gwynedd, sailed away from his homeland, which was filled with war and strife and battles between his brothers. Yearning to be away from the feuds and quarrels, he took his ships and headed west, seeking a better place. He returned to Wales brimming with tales of the new land he found--warm and golden and fair. His tales convinced more than a few of his fellow countrymen, and many left with him to return to this wondrous new land, far across the sea.

This wondrous new land is believed to be what is now Mobile Bay, Alabama. Time has left several blank pages between the legend of Madoc and the "history" of America, with its reports of white Indians who speak Welsh, and these blank pages have been the subject of much controversy in certain circles over the five centuries since Columbus discovered the New World."


Dolwyddelan Castle
Dolwyddelan Castle.

Madoc's Birthplace?

The site of the original Castle, that is probably the actual birthplace of Madoc, as viewed from the present Castle.



Extract 2
"The second, and more convincing reason, is a series of pre-Columbian forts built up the Alabama River, and the tradition handed down by the Cherokee Indians of the "White People" who built them. Testimony includes a letter dated 1810 from Governor John Seiver of Tennessee in response to an inquiry by Major Amos Stoddard. Governor Seiver refers to a time he spent with the Cherokee in 1782, and relates a conversation he had with Oconostota, who had been the ruling chief of the Cherokee Nation for nearly sixty years. Seiver had asked the Chief about the people who had left the "fortifications" in his country. The chief told him: "It is handed down by the Forefathers that the works had been made by the White people who had formerly inhabited the country. . ." and gave him a brief history of the "Whites." When asked if he had ever heard what nation these Whites had belonged to, Oconostota told Seiver that he ". . .had heard his grandfather and father say they were a people called Welsh, and that they had crossed the Great Water and landed first near the mouth of the Alabama River near Mobile. . .."
Extract 3
Three major forts, completely unlike any known Indian structure, were constructed along the route settlers arriving at Mobile Bay would have taken up the Alabama and Coosa rivers to the Chattanooga area. Archaeologists have testified that the forts are of pre-Columbian origin, and most agree they date several hundred years before 1492. All are believed to have been built by the same group of people within the period of a single generation, and all bear striking similarities to the ancient fortifications of Wales.The first fort, erected on top of Lookout Mountain, near DeSoto Falls, Alabama, was found to be nearly identical in setting, layout, and method of construction, to Dolwyddelan Castle in Gwynedd, North Wales, the presumed birthplace of Madoc."

If you have found this of interest go to http://www.barstow.cc.ca.us/wac/madoc.htm for the complete article on Prince Madoc by Jane Wanner.

There is more information & pictures of the area in the USA at http://www.tylwythteg.com/fortmount/Ftmount.html

This has more information about "welsh" style forts in the southern USA.

Other historical sites around Colwyn Bay, Conwy, North Wales:

The 6th Century Chapel & Holy Well of St Trillo .
St Trillo's Chapel This is said to be the smallest Church in Britain and is located just a mile from where Madoc is supposed to have set sail. Bearing in mind that it predates Prince Madoc it is more than likely that Madoc would have prayed here before setting sail to the new world.


Colwyn Bay Accommodation
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