An Analysis of Barry Fell's Kawartha Viking Theory

This article is based on an interview that I conducted in 1999 with the park's assistant superintendent Jay Johnson. He is a Native Canadian and a Professor of Anthropology who has studied the site extensively. 

1. The Canoe

Were some of these petroglyphs carved by Vikings? In America BC, on page 307, fig 4, author Barry Fell presents an inaccurate line drawing of the above petroglyph and identifies it as the Norse "Ship of the Blazing Standard".

  Is this a Native Canoe or Viking Ship?  

There are many eroded glyphs at this site which have been carved over at a later date, making the reconstruction of some of the newer glyphs questionable. The petroglyphs were colored in by archeologists with wax crayon to make them visible. What appears to be a 'sun' at the top of a mast is actually a separate glyph of a turtle. The leg was mistakenly extended to contact the canoe by the person(s) who colored in the petroglyphs with wax crayon. Close up inspection of the carvings has shown differing depths of cut and line width between the turtle and the canoe.

Notice that the photograph above show the turtle with six appendages while the inaccurate line drawing above shows seven appendages on the 'sun'.

  The triangle at the bottom is similar to a dozen or so other triangular petroglyphs at the site (see examples in photograph below) and are thought to represent the Spirits of Shamans. Close up inspection of the carving depths show that the canoe was carved over the earlier triangle.
Triangular Spirits of Shamans    
The C shape to the left of the turtle is likewise not joined to the canoe. The C shape, as well as a nodule on the tip of the stern (left), are eroded turtle eggs that have been mistakenly colored in as joined. There is an upside down U shape on the bow (right) of the canoe that has been cropped out of the photographs, but is shown in the drawings below. Close inspection reveals it to be one of a series of animal tracks carved into the stone, as depicted in the enlarged drawing below.    
  Tifinag Script or Turtle Eggs    

This drawing is missing three dots situated to the far left that Mr Fell identifies as the letter K. The three dots are depicted in the large drawing below along with several other shapes that he conveniently omits from his drawing. His drawing places the three dots further to the right, much closer to the others. Notice also that the C shape mentioned above has been erased by the artist of the above drawing.

Animal Tracks


  Turtle and Eggs


The Original Canoe

  The photograph on the right is a digitally corrected version of this petroglyph, with the connections between the extraneous glyphs removed. This is a Native canoe, not a "Ship of the Blazing Standard" as Mr Fell claims is written in Tifinag script to the left. The dots (not visible in the photographs, see the drawings above) that are said to be Tifinag script are turtle eggs trailing from the turtle (see the turtle photograph above for one of many examples of the motif at the site).

2. The Feminine Earth Spirit

In America BC, on page 305, fig 4, author Barry Fell presents an inaccurate line drawing of the petroglyph and identifies it as the Norse god Thor.

Thorette, maybe.

In the photo, there is no cross bar between the lower legs as is depicted in Fell's drawing; thus no TS letter. The two dots for letter W in Fell's drawing are missing here.

  Is this Thor or a Feminine Earth Spirit?  

Notice the breast in the photo; it is portrayed very much smaller in Fell's drawing. Notice also the vagina, which is conspicuously absent from Fell's drawing. It is a water eroded crevice in the soft marble rock which "speaks" with the gurggle of an underground stream, not thunder. Mr Fell makes no mention of this important feature. The petroglyph was incorporated with the natural features of the earth as a symbol of the Feminine Earth Spirit.


It is apparent that Barry Fell was wrong in his analysis of this petroglyph site. There are several reasons for this error : 1. The use of poor quality, innacurate drawings. 2. Failure to take into account the depth and erosion of the carvings. 3. Innacurate 'coloring in' of the glyphs by archeologists.

While some of Fell's work has established a pre-Columbus presence in North America, in this instance, there is no evidence of Viking influence at this site. The author concludes that it is entirely the work of the indiginous inhabitants of the area.


Article and Site Copyright 1999 by Ian C MacFarlane

Links of Relevance

The Petroglyphs are located north of Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Ontario Parks Website for Petroglyphs Provincial Park
All Photos are Queen's Printer for Ontario, 1997

This link examines another error by Barry Fell in the translation of Ogham Script. In this case the corrected translation actually supports Fell's theory of a pre-Columbus presence in North America.

Other Megaliths in the Kawarthas

Archaeology in Arctic North America

L'Anse aux Meadows World Heritage Site

Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web

Ogam in Oklahoma

Every Ogham Thing on the Web

The Ogam Script