The Story So Far…

On a cool fall morning two thousand years ago, a hunting party broke through the dense forests along the north shore of the great expanse of water we now call Lake Ontario and found themselves in a terrifying situation. Out on the water, a multiheaded creature floated towards them. It was not a fish that swam; it was one that walked across the water through some powerful magic.

When the creature neared shore, the hunting party was further stunned to see that it was not one creature, but instead it was a craft carrying several creatures whose hair and skin colours were unknown to them. The creatures came ashore and were noisy and aggressive.

The hunters, confounded and frightened, turned back into the safety of the forest. They raced north to a sacred site where they could communicate with their gods. They carved images of the invaders on an expanse of white rock in explanation, perhaps a warning, to their kinsmen who also searched these woods for food and fuel.

Is it possible that New World aboriginal peoples met a handful of Celtic sailors near Peterborough, Ontario more than two thousand years ago? Had these sailors set out from Old World shores in a sailboat made from leather, stitched with sinew and waterproofed with lard? Did these ancient Celts sail across the ocean by way of Iceland, then Greenland and the shores of Labrador, through Hudson Bay to the Great Lakes in Ontario and Michigan in search of a mineral as precious to them as gold?

Robert Burcher is quite certain this episode of Celtic history did happen. Robert believes that petroglyphs at a site near Peterborough, Ontario are not the sacred images as long believed by scholars, but instead document a visit to their land by Celtic explorers on a quest for copper.

Hundreds, thousands of years ago, an unknown people carefully carved more than 900 images into a white marble rock face. Lost in the deep forest for generations, the carvings were found by prospectors in the mid-1950s and the site became an overnight sensation. Archaeologists believe that the images on the site are sacred symbols of the Iroquois people who lived and hunted in the lands around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. The site is known to First Nations people today as “The Rocks that Teach”.

Robert visited the petroglyph site in the early 1990s, unaware of the history or any current interpretations of the carvings. As a professional photographer, he was enchanted by the mystery and the mood of the area and the carvings themselves. As an avid sailor, Robert was particularly taken with what appeared to be an image of a sailing ship among the carvings. Robert knew there was no sailing tradition among the native peoples who had lived for generations around the lakes and in fact they were afraid of the great expanses of water.  Why would a people who feared the water carve the image of a sailing ship into the rock with other sacred images?

That question set off a 20-year journey of research and investigation that has led Robert to the conclusion that the images carved into the rock record the story of a day when native people encountered a party of Celtic explorers on their hunting grounds.


3 comments on “The Story So Far…

  1. There is research done re a DNA connection with the myth of Atlantis but that work is not highly esteemed as it connects with the myth of Atlantis and Theosophy etc. The reference we found may be connected too, that of Gregory L Little, and team. First research in 1997 then “Mound Builders” pub. 2001 and another 2002. “Ancient South America”.

    The 5th mt DNA haplogroup is found in the Iroquois and also in Basque territory (4%) and we know too that many of the Basque group immigrated to Ireland thousands of years BC,(again all the DNA studies of Oppenheimer and others, several waves of immigration). Later Little found 25% of an Iroquois tribe and 25% of some tribe in Florida had that 5 th DNA group. Little also gives the date of 6,000 which ties in with clovis.

    The clovis point in archaeology is unique in the NE of N America but was found in Europe, unsure where. I could look it up. Date is 6.000 BC. This coincidence is most unusual. One day you could contact those folks and see where they are at now.

  2. Fascinating book, Robert. Your findings present a compelling case around an earlier Celtic-Native North American contact. By integrating native/pagan spirituality and archaeology, Robert shows us what can be accomplished by opening up our spirits to the peoples of these lands and inviting their mythologies to inform us where the science is lacking. Regardless of whether this can be ‘scientifically’ proven, The Leather Boat makes the case that even earlier ventures into the North American continent are certainly possible. Moreover, his refreshing perspective deepens our understanding of the cultural contributions of the Celts and Native North Americans, and invites us to embrace a deeper sense of belonging on earth.

  3. Suzy Kies says:

    When we lived in Vermont,20 years ago, we were told of ancient Celtic cairns in the Montpelier countryside. One of my friends went looking for them and yes they look exactly like the ones found in Ireland. What is most interesting is that the Abenaki people, of whom I am a proud member, have a traditional story about a chief who went looking for his son when he didn’t come home when expected. He found the boy playing doge ball with “strange hairy faced people with light skin”. This is how dodge ball became a sacred game to our people. Isn’t if funny how the archeologists who claimed, back in the 20s, that they had found evidence of Vikings and Celts in America were ridiculed, only to be proven right 90 years later.

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