In one of my field research excursions in April, here in Colorado, I stumbled upon the Millennial Site, a notorious ground for academic drama, and a highly disputed site for Ogham writing. Even though beyond the scope of my research interests, I could not resist exploring it, after I requested permission by the ranch owner whose property now engulfs Millennial Site (aka Hackberry Springs, and Bloody Springs), and was granted escorted access to this unique, historically rich site. Here are some photographs from sites 1 and 2.
Colorado Millennial Site is a prehistoric Paleo-Indian archaeological site located near Ruxton in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of Colorado, sitting along the border between Baca and Las Animas counties. It is also known by its site ID, 5LA1115, and the names Hackberry Springs and Bloody Springs.
The site was inhabited from 6999 B.C. to A.D. 1900. The prehistoric cultures included Archaic and Woodland cultures and the site is significant for its rock art, village settlement, and military battle site.
Some background on the Ogham controversy:
[In 1975, historian Dr. Donald G. Rickey (1925 – 2000) was investigating the site of an 1868 battle which took place between soldiers of the 7th US Cavalry and a raiding party of Cheyenne warriors at Hackberry Springs, in Colorado.
At the time, Dr. Rickey was the Chief Historian for the Bureau of Land Management (part of the US Department of the Interior), and had a personal interest in the battle in that one of the two 7th Cavalry troopers killed in the battle was his ancestor Sam Rickey.
While at the site, Dr. Rickey discovered groove marks which he initially called “spear-sharpening marks.” However, as circumstance would have it, he traveled to Scotland only a few weeks later, where he happened to visit a museum displaying the distinctive grooved writing system known as Ogham or Ogam, used by the Celts and found in throughout the British Isles, mainly in Ireland but also in England, Wales and Scotland, almost always in the form of grooves carved into stones.
He immediately suspected that the rock inscriptions he had seen in southern Colorado might be an example of this same writing system. Dr. Rickey returned to the site with other researchers over the next two years, and eventually contacted Dr. Barry Fell (1917 – 1994), a Harvard professor and the author of the controversial America BC, first published in 1976. Professor Fell agreed that the inscriptions were likely an example of Ogham, and of the older “all-consonant” variety which seems to prevail in the Americas.
Dr. Rickey submitted the site for consideration for recognition of its historic significance, but his mention of the possibility that the rock art might be Ogham elicited a swift and contemptuous response from his archaeological colleagues, as described in the short video clip above. The full text of the memos and letters between the defenders of the orthodox view of history (which does not admit to the possibility of ancient trans-oceanic travel) can be seen here.
The tone of these letters is revealing. Dr. Stuart Piggott of the University of Edinburgh (to whom the Chief Archaeologist of the National Park Service wrote upon learning of Dr. Rickey’s heretical suggestion) wrote back to say “I have just heard of this and have no doubt that it is not just the fringe but hard-core lunacy. I am astonished that anyone, particularly a historian, should have fallen for it” (see page 3 of the online pdf linked above; that pdf also contains a photograph of the inscriptions on page 6).]