A Disagreement Translating the Horse Creek Petroglyph

By Roger B. Wise
Comment on Fell (1983) and Nyland (1996)
© 2003 Roger B. Wise, used with permission
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© 1983 WV Division of Natural Resources, used with permission

Edo Nyland (1996) agrees with Fell's transliteration of the petroglyph to ogham characters and the Latin alphabet. He disagrees with the translation, however. Nyland says it was not done in Old Irish and Berber, but in Basque. Armed with Fell's letter conversions and copying Fell's methods, he used a Basque dictionary to translate the petroglyph somewhat differently (the detailed work is on his web page, linked below). Nyland and Fell also place the five sections of the petroglyph in different sequences.

Translation of Edo Nyland from Basque

Translation of Barry Fell
from Old Irish and Berber

Nyland's first line is labeled Section 3 in the illustration:
The migration passed by like a powerful mirage, quietly undulating and moving unsuspectingly a short distance, peacefully. To bring about a disturbance we advanced rattling branches and shouting. I remember that a whole wave happened to pass by and we fell back in fear (to avoid) the bad-tempered stampede of the frightened herd of bison (moving into) the entrance of the narrow wooden-fenced passage and into the abyss in flight. Come and help! The clan-mother was pleased with our co-operative effort.

Fell placed this line last in his sequence:
She gave birth to a son in a cave. The name of the cave was the Cave of Bethlehem. His foster-father gave him the name Jesus, the Christ, Alpha and Omega. Festive season of prayer.

Section 1 -- Nyland's second line:
Club blows in abundant measure (were needed) because many which had fallen into the ravine resisted with obviously broken legs. Brothers, come and help the slaughterer to finish them off.

Fell placed this line first:
A happy season is Christmas, a time of joy and goodwill to all people.

Section 2 -- Nyland's third line:
Having prevented escape by running away, we made the usual preparations by the edge of the stream and happily rejoiced in dividing the welcome riches into three parts by plentiful butchering. At first unaccustomed (to the task) we undeniably had to pay attention. We were as busy as possible and so happily exhausted that (we didn't notice) the noise of the thunder coming in our direction.

Fell placed this in the middle:
A virgin was with child; God ordained her to conceive and be fruitful. Ah, Behold, a miracle!

Sections 4 and 5 come last:
In spite of (being) some distance away, the clan mother, just in time, reached the cattle shelter during a period of silence, to sensibly wait out the approaching thunder. Your dear Friend.

Fell's section 4 is an unrelated text:
The right hand of God is a shield - A prayer

Fell's section 5 is an unrelated text:
[In Berber] The right hand of God

Nyland adds: "The symbol which Dr. Fell interprets as the Greek letter 'omega' is probably a sketch of the ground plan of the wooden fence, while his 'alpha' character may illustrate the A-frame type of construction used to build the bison fence."

References Cited

Fell, Barry

1983 "Christian Messages in Old Irish Script Deciphered from Rock Carvings in W. Va." Wonderful West Virginia Volume 47, No. 1, pp. 12-19

Nyland, Edo

1996 The Horse Creek Petroglyph of West Virginia Accessed January 14, 2003.PDF

Additional Reading

Wise, Roger B.

2019 "Solstice Observations at the Luther Elkins Petroglyph (46WM3)." West Virginia Archaeologist Volume 59, No. 1, pp. 15-20.

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