Posts Tagged ‘Prince Madoc’

In 1963, workers were constructing the Sherman Minton Bridge, connecting New Albany, Indiana with Louisville, Kentucky. On the Indiana side they dug up a hoard of Roman coins. This was close to Sand Island, legendary site of the battle between Prince Madoc and Indians. Possibly someone coming upriver by boat reached the Falls of the Ohio and buried the gold coins for safekeeping. Vikings or nineteenth-century river pirates? (river pirates were active on the lower Ohio) The coins are from around 300 AD, late Roman times, almost too late for Romans to have crossed the Atlantic.

Two construction engineers took the coins. Donated by an engineer’s widow, two are in the Falls of the Ohio Museum—Falls of the Ohio State Park.


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According to legend, in 1170 AD Welsh Prince Madoc left Wales in a ship and traveled west. His ship sailed up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers until he reached the Falls of the Ohio and thence to Devil’s Backbone. I prefer a Native American explanation for Devil’s Backbone. My cousin, Danny Calton, asked: Why can’t both theories be true? He has a point. The Welsh could have come upon a deserted Devil’s Backbone fort or they may have defeated the Shawnee.

Legend number 1: Prince Madoc and followers left the ship on the Indiana shore and marched around the Falls of the Ohio to Devil’s Backbone. They defeated the Shawnee and took over Devil’s Backbone. What happened to them? Legends of Welsh speaking people living persist, but no one has found them.

Legend number 2. Rumors in Louisville speak of a battle waged between Prince Madoc’s army and Indians at Sand Island where the ship could have landed. The Welsh were defeated. Rumors of armor discovered on Sand Island and other islands in the Ohio River have circulated for years. Other rumors speak of a graveyard in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The skeletons and armor have vanished, if they existed. Somebody in the Louisville area may have the armor—who knows?

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