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Update: Irish Colonists on the South Atlantic Coast

Update:  Irish Colonists on the South Atlantic Coast


Since this article was first published at Thanksgiving of 2012,  we have found much more proof that there were indeed European settlers on the South Atlantic Coast long before the French and Spanish of the Renaissance.   In 2014, we found an obscure report from the famous Smithsonian archaeologist, James Ford, that in 1935 he had excavated numerous bronze and iron, swords, axes, hammers, chisels and daggers from the south bank of the Altamaha River in Georgia during a survey of Santo Domingo State Park.  Ford attributed these artifacts to late 16th Spanish explorers.

Ford was only 24 at the time and didn’t even have an undergraduate degree in archaeology.   No bronze weapons had been made in the Iberian Peninsula, where Spain was later located, after about 5-600 BC.

We also found that the opening page of the first book on Georgia’s history by William Bacon Stevens specifically stated that the early British colonists on the coast of South Carolina and Georgia encountered peoples that were of mixed European and Native ancestry, who spoke a Medieval dialect of Irish Gaelic.

The updated version of this article may be found at:

Irish Colonists on the South Atlantic Coast

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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    The bronze and iron artifacts are a rare find, but natives could have obtained them from shipwrecks. More evidence would be needed to prove a significant European contact with N. America.


    Under Habsburgh King Phillip II, the Spanish did manufacture bronze cannons. The Ottomans did also during the late Medieval period. The Spanish sent their armada against the Dutch and English with the wrong produced mass-pammunition (wrong powder charge?). The Spanish cannons exploded when artillery men attempted to fire them. These weapons never did any damage to the English ships.


      Oops–typos due to uncontrollable cursor on my “smart” phone.

    • These were not fire arms. They were battle axes, daggers, swords, chisels and hammers.


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