Summary of “A Seafarer’s Decoding of the Irish Symbols: 3200 BCE”

Summary of “A Seafarer’s Decoding of the Irish Symbols: 3200 BCE”

Donald J. McMahon


The seafarer was born, sailed the oceans, and generated symbols as a testament to the journeys undertaken. The seafarer connected the star dots. The god was the sun, and the goddess was Venus, and every eight years they unite. They shared equal attention by the ancient civilizations.

Water flowed and five thousand years ago people determined that they could navigate the waters to explore the earth. Celestial guidance was developed with symbolic representation. The seafarers were interested in sailing on the waters and staying on islands, noting the safety the islands provided. Out of land sight, new lands and islands were discovered by the seafarers, and they needed a way to preserve their findings, that is, locations. Symbols were created to record the calendar and navigation aspects of the seafarer’s explorations.

Realities needed to be expressed. Pictograms, or glyphs, were etched on stones and represented an object, a single symbol. Combining the symbols led to further expressions of reality. What was below were locations, latitudes and longitudes. What was above were celestial bodies. Connecting the stars forming various shapes with well-defined angles generated patterns, i.e., maps. Astronomy was created for calendars and then for navigation.

Before 5000 BCE, seafarers were sailing to Ireland, and by 3200 BCE symbols were being etched on stones in Ireland. To reach Ireland, sailing was required. There, also, is evidence that seafarers reached North America by 3000 BCE.

The seafarers left symbols for those who came later to understand why they went to Ireland. By taking a seafarer’s perspective, the Irish symbols were decoded. Taking a seafaring view, the reality behind the symbols is understood. Many of these navigation symbols are found in North America with the same meaning.

The following seafaring questions were a theme throughout the book, Reference 1:

A Seafarer’s Perspective

Where am I? Customer’s Location, Latitude and Longitude

Where am I going? Trading Locations, Latitude and Longitude

Why am I going? Gold and Copper

How will I get there? Celestial Navigation by Boat

How long will it take? One Sailing Season, a Planting Season, and a Return Season

Will I, or someone, return? Yes, need Symbols/Logbooks

These questions all require counting, measuring of angles and the creation of symbols.

Two basic trips were discovered and decoded: the RK Trip for copper to North America returning through Ireland and the Harp Trip to Ireland. The RK Trip for copper to North America started in the Isle of Meroe on the Nile River and went to the Isle Royale in Northern Michigan. The Harp Trips for gold also began on the Nile River and went to Ireland. These trips were significant events evolving as the seafarers sailed west and were painted in the pharaoh’s pyramids. The trips were frequently taken based on the number of times the trips were painted on the Nile River Dynasty’s stone structures. One should realize that these trips were initially taken hundreds of years before the pyramids were built.

Symbols were created to record these significant trips for gold and copper. The following summarizes the decoded navigation symbols.

Navigation: Megalithic maps for key locations in Ireland

A summary of decoded map kerbstones in Ireland is shown in Figure 1, where the kerbstones surround a map of Ireland. Spirals were a symbol for a safe harbor.

Figure 1: Summary of symbols from key kerbstones in Ireland

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These kerbstones, Reference 4, are maps of harbors (spirals), storage facilities, mining locations (cup marks) and metal ruler’s locations (concentric circles within ovals, cartouches) in Ireland. The upper-right stone found at Knockmany, Reference 5, shows the Barnenez Mound in northwest Brittany. There are symbol connections to other megalithic locations on the west coast of Europe. The diamonds represent the sun-shadow latitudes based on the Winter Solstice sunrise angles of these locations. The zigzags represent counting for trip days between locations.

Maps in Locations Close to Ireland

Figure 2: Summary of symbols from key stones from megalithic sites close to Ireland

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Figure 2 shows key map stones from harbors next to Ireland. Going clockwise, we have the spiral harbor map of Wales, the concentric semicircle map of the Brittany harbors, the grid map showing the path through the Strait of Gibraltar and then to the Azores Islands, the river map of the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the spiral harbor maps of Ireland. The stacked diamonds on the Brittany Coast Map relate to decreasing sun-shadow latitudes for the selected locations. The right column of navigation symbols is found in Mound A at Barnenez and has symbols for a global map, the horns of Venus, the Northern Cross with the Summer (navigation) Triangle, the symbol for sea travel and a feather for truth. These stones at locations near to Ireland relate to navigation and the storage and processing of metals as part of the trade routes.

The seafarer’s language of symbols appears to be universal as they were also seen in the North American sites decoded in this book, Reference 1.

Navigation: Passageways and Chambers with Latitudes and Longitudes for Key Locations


The passageway/chamber designs for a given location provide information on latitude and longitude for that location by measuring the angles of the various sections of the passageway. The passageway name suggests a path from some location, to the current location. Figure 3 summarizes the passageways that I observed in Ireland.

Figure 3: Summary of passageway/chambers in Ireland

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Two general passageway/chamber shapes are observed, one that is similar to the Northern Cross and the other that resembles the Greek figure rho or ankh. The Northern Cross-type passageway/chambers tend to have three angled (zigzagzig) sections, the entrance angle, the center main passageway angle, and the slight angle to the clockwise direction from the center of the main chamber to the center of the top chamber. The left chamber is about thirteen degrees counterclockwise to the line connecting the right chamber to the center. The Northern Cross seen in the upper left picture has the same design angles.

The Northern Cross is part of the Summer Navigation Triangle and was used as an ancient chronometer to determine relative longitude.

The center section of the passageway is usually aligned with the winter solstice angle and represents the sun-shadow latitude for the mound’s location. Some Northern Cross-type passageways are aligned with the east-west axis. The Newgrange Mound has a center window, box passageway aligned with the winter solstice at 43 degrees from the east-west axis, the sun-shadow latitude for Newgrange. There is an 8 degree clockwise rotation from the main passageway angle. This relates to the 8 degree west longitude at Newgrange, if measured from the Rose Line meridian.

The mysterious rotation of the main chamber of many mound designs from a central axis usually relates to the longitude of that location.

The angles of the triangle formed by the peripheral smaller side chambers tend to be 30/40/110 degree triangles.

There is a remarkable resemblance with the detailed angles of the passageways and chambers to the Northern Cross. The Northern Cross and the Summer Navigation Triangle were key navigation aids to the ancient mariners.

Locations Close to Ireland

Figure 4: Summary of passageways in Locations close to Ireland

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The passageway mounds near harbors close to Ireland are shown in Figure 4. Two passageway types are observed: the Northern Cross type and the ankh/rho type. The center passageway section usually is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise (e.g., the sun-shadow latitude). The main chambers are ankh/rho shaped and tend to be rotated clockwise from the main passageway.

The oldest structure, c. 4200 BCE, is the Barnenez Mound in Brittany, having the eleven rho-type passageway/chamber design at two different angles. These angles relate to two different locations. The Barnenez eleven-passageway mound is carved into a stone located at Knockmany, Ireland.

The earliest, c. 3500 BCE, Northern Cross stone structure is found at Callanish, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.

The mound complex at Barclodiad y Gawres, Wales, is very similar to the north passageway in the mound at Dowth, Ireland, in Figure 3.

The rho-type passageway mounds with the large stones crossing the passageway resemble the pillar in the ankh sexton.

Navigation: Mound Configurations for Supplier and Customer Locations

Essential to land exploration was establishing key locations in a pattern that could be easily located and was creating logbooks containing location information. These logbooks, etched stones and hieroglyphic pictures, were maps locating the site of the owners, the storage location for the trade commodities and the safe harbors. Since the sailing occurred before written language, symbols were created and locations were arranged in geometric patterns based on celestial orientations of stars, i.e., What is Above, Is Below!

My investigations have found one particular celestial configuration in most all megalithic sites established as part of the metal trade, a triangle of stars (locations) having an angular orientation of 30, 40 and 110° triangle which I call the “GOLDEN LOCATION TRIANGLE”.  Based on ancient myths, zodiacs, etc., the celestial asterism can only be Libra, le Balance, Figure 5.

Figure 5: Libra, le Balance

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Carved into Irish kerbstones K13 and K52 are locations having concentric circles, cartouches with the metal symbol, and spirals. Triangles were then constructed by the author. Figure 6 compares these triangles to the triangles on actual maps connecting various mound configurations.

Figure 6: Mound configurations in the Boyne Valley area

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A 30/40/110 degree triangle connects the following:

  • the three mounds surrounding the main Knowth mound
  • the mounds at Dowth, Knowth, and Newgrange
  • the three cartouches in K52
  • the three large cup marks on the entrance stone at Dowth
  • the three mounds surrounding Mound T at Loughcrew
  • the three locations of Loughcrew, Fourknocks and Seefin
  • and the three mounds at Fourknocks.

What really is amazing is a 30/40/110 degree triangle connects the Irish locations of Loughcrew, Fourknocks and Seefin: the locations of the Judgement seat, the storage facility, and the metal mining in the Wicklow mountains.

It is my opinion that the 30/40/110 degree triangle of the constellation Libra, le Balance, was the basis for the many 30/40/110 triangle configurations in Ireland and many Mediterranean Islands on the ancient trade routes.

Other megalithic sites reviewed in Reference 1 had stones and mounds with similar triangular configurations.

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30/40/110 degree triangles were observed at:

  • the Callanish sites I, II, and X
  • the megalithic site of Skara Brae in the Orkney Island
  • the locations of Coustaussa, Rennes le Chateau, and the Blanchefort Castle in Languedoc
  • old zodiac map of southern France showing the constellation Libra, the Balance
  • the Watson Brake mounds in Louisiana
  • Grave Creek Mound Complex, Moundsville, West Virginia
  • Mystery Hill, New Hampshire
  • Newport Tower, Newport ,Rhode Island
  • and at Oak Island, Nova Scotia.

Propose for Navigation: Gold and Copper Mining Exploration

Valuable metals were embedded in quartz rocks. To separate the metal from the quartz, slurry crushing mills were designed and built by the megalithic cultures. A clue for finding a crushing mill is to find a stone structure or mound that has basins with a lip depression for water flow, a water flow path, large stones on which to crush the quartz, nubs or troughs to catch the heavy metals, and quartz remnants nearby. Eroded rifts should be found where the quartz veins would have been mined.

A summary of the gold slurry crushing mills discussed in this book is shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7: Summary of gold slurry crushing mills

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The quartz slurry crushing mills were:

  • the nub, the symbol for gold, is a picture of a slurry crushing mill
  • the oldest slurry crushing mill in the Nubian desert near the Isle of Meroe
  • the three Carrowkell mounds near the depleted veins as seen by satellite
  • the Rose stone at Rennes le Chateau near the Aude (gold) river
  • the slurry crushing mill at Cornwall
  • the stone circle near Cadiz with five pentagon chambers all having crushing stones
  • and the “sacrificial” stone at Mystery Hill, New Hampshire with a collection channel and several nubs.


Copper was more valuable than gold during the Copper and Bronze Ages. Copper was found in southwestern Ireland, Ross Island, southeastern Ireland in the Wicklow Mountains and the Great Orme Mines of Wales. The best tin was found in Cornwall England. The great copper mines of the Iberian Peninsula are still being mined at Rio Tinto.

The purest copper in the world was found in the Isle Royale region, Northern Michigan with a sample having a chemistry of 97 percent copper and 3 percent silver. It is estimated that five hundred thousand tons of copper were mined in the Isle Royale/ Keneewha Peninsula of northern Michigan from 2500 BCE to 1200 BCE.

The pure copper required no crushing mills. The refining process began when the copper was alloyed with tin to form bronze.

It is obvious that copper played a dominant role at the locations surrounding the Great Circle Loop of navigation in North America as early as 2500 BCE. The copper route in North America had the western Spanish word for copper, Anti or Onto, embedded in the location names surrounding the sailing’s Great Circle, Figure 8.

Figure 8: Summary of Copper Trade Route locations in North America

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The Great Circle Loop for sailing from the St. Lawrence down the Mississippi River and up the East Coast of North America exists today, and also at 2500 BCE. Copper is embedded in all of the key location names on the Great Circle Loop.

Seafarers came to North America and sailed either of two routes, the St. Lawrence or the Mississippi, looking for metal, gold, and copper. The seafarers would sail up and down the eastern coast of America, depending on whether they came from the north or from the south. The key harbors for the northern and southern trade routes in North America had similar symbols to those found in Ireland and were selected because they related to the copper trade routes.

The key fact is: five hundred thousand tons of copper were mined in the Isle Royale/ Keweenaw Peninsula of northern Michigan from 2500 BCE to 1200 BCE.


Ancient Logbooks

The logbooks do exist, c 3000 BCE!

Harp Trip to Ireland

Major seafaring trips are often illustrated in the pyramid structures (per ankhs) of the Nile River dynasties. Figure 9 shows a trip to Ireland and return to the Nile River.

Figure 9: A seafaring trip going to Ireland and returning to a Nile River Dynasty with trip days in the annals of Ireland (References 2 and 13)

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The Harp Trip is color coded: the outward bound is (black) and homeward bound is (white). Each segment on the harp in Figure 9a has zigzags indicating travel days between each segment that total about seventy. The sailing trip from the reed fields of the Nile to Ireland can be sailed in about seventy days (Figure 9b, Reference 13). Boats were even designed in harp shapes, Figure 9c.

In Figure 10, the harp’s shape, as depicted in Figure 9a, is overlaid on a map of the Mediterranean Sea.

Figure 10: The Harp Trip to Ireland from the Nile River,

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 author’s annotations

This pattern is more than coincidence (e.g., note the location of the reed fields of the Nile River and the harp). There are three dotted circles that I have emphasized in Figure 10. They represent the reed fields on the Nile River, the crossover point from Carthage through Sardinia to the south coast of Europe, and the two mountain ranges of the Alps and the Pyrenees.

Between the glyphs showing the two mountain symbols are symbols showing that the basins are being replenished with grain. Directly below these symbols are the symbols for two and one hundred. It appears that the Harp Trip spent two hundred days in Southern France, Languedoc, to plant and harvest grains.

The spiral symbol represents the harbor at Byblos, a Nile River Dynasty’s colony for trading and shipbuilding using the cedars of Lebanon.

The reed fields on the harp are colored green in Figure 9. Green was used by the Nile River Dynasties to represent the Mediterranean Sea. Blue represented the Nile River.

The 11 harp strings correspond to the 11 sun-shadow degrees of latitude difference between two locations. The Nile reed fields are at 32 degrees, and the Ireland harbor at Cork is at 43 degrees north using sun-shadow latitudes. More decoding is needed for the outbound and return trips to Ireland shown in Figure 9.


The RK Trip to North America


The RK Trip from the Isle of Meroe, to the Isle Royale, and return, via Ireland was recorded. The logbook comes from the sarcophagus of the last king, Unas, of the Fifth Dynasty near Memphis, Egypt, dated 2415 BCE. Figure 11 is the outward-bound route on one side of the sarcophagus, Reference 6. Figure 12 is the homeward return route, Reference 2. I was stunned to find, after looking for two years, the homeward route in a book at a used bookstore at Fort Mason, San Francisco, when I was waiting for the America’s Cup races to begin in 2013.

Figure 11: Trip to the otherworld, West, or the trip to the supplier

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Figure 12: Return trip from the West, the trip back to the customer

(Reference 2)

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The trip took three years to complete, one outbound sailing season, one season to plant and one return sailing season. The counting and angles found in Figures 11 and 12 represent the latitudes and longitudes for the harbors of the customer, the supplier, and the Nile Delta reed fields. The customer was at the Isle of Meroe; the supplier came from near Aztalan, Wisconsin; and the return trip came back through Ireland; Carnac, Brittany; and a North African harbor near Carthage. What a trip to the otherworld—West. Reference 1 describes the decoding of the RK Trip.

In my opinion, one of the myths that was created from the sailing trips to Ireland and North America from the Nile River was this: The world is flat! The RK Trip and the Harp Trips were keep secret so that the purpose of these trips for gold and copper would remain a secret. Both trips were recorded in the Harp Room and Sarcophagus Room of king, Unas, of the Fifth Dynasty near Memphis, Egypt, c 2500 BCE.

See Figure 13 showing the key latitudes and longitudes for the ancient navigation trips to Ireland and North America.

Figure 13: Key Latitudes and Longitudes for the Ancient Seafarers

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A paper describing the conversion of GPS latitudes to the Sun Shadow Latitudes as represented by the Winter Solstice sunrise angle is presented in the June 2016 transactions of the Ancient American Magazine, Reference 15. Note that the symbol  is the same for copper and Venus.

The RK Trip from the Isle of Meroe to the Isle Royale occurred many times in my opionion. The seafarers returned with the purest copper in the world, from c. 2500 BCE to about 1200 c. BCE, and then the trip’s reality became myth, math, metaphor, and music.

This summary cannot be complete without mentioning kerbstone K67 found at Newgrange.

Kerbstone K67

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The excitement I felt was overwhelming when I first saw K67 and realized that I understood the meaning of the symbols from a navigation point of view. Michael Slavin, antiquarian at the Hill of Tara, Ireland, having seen my interpretation of K67, said that he always knew that there was meaning to the symbols. He then encouraged me to write this book, Reference 1, which I have now done.


Kirkus Reviews: “An informed, freethinking re-creation of ancient trade routes, rooted in research and serious fieldwork…..This was a sophisticated communication system, expressing a deep understanding of how to get from A to B, and the author steps into the shoes of ancient mariners to grasp how they read the world…… McMahon’s reasoning is far from far-fetched….This is a charged anthropological story, one that the author relates in a clipped, distilled manner…. connecting the dots in an elegantly simple process of following history’s clues…An often engaging book that shows readers the beginnings of the great voyages and the ancient symbols of seafaring communication.”

Midwest Epigraphic Society (Rich Moats): “Simply stated, Don has decoded the foundation for Archaeoastronomy and much of the inexplicable iconography we see in prehistoric Native Americans as well as the early cultures of the British Isles. He in essence has found the proof, and I don’t use that word lightly, that supports dispersionist theory from 4000bc forward coming from the Med. basin and into the America’s through both the southern Gulf route and Northern St. Laurence route.”

Jim Egan: Curator Newport Tower Museum, Newport Rhode Island: “Brilliant out of the box thinking.”

Henry Lincoln, (Reference 14): “Serious and Significant”





  1. McMahon, Donald J., A Seafarers Decoding of the Irish Symbols, The Oldest Testament, 3200 BCE to 2500 BCE, Strategic i LLC, Createspace/Amazon,

ISBN 10:1497395208, 2014

  1. Neret, Gilles, Description of Egypt, Taschen, Koln, Germany, 2001.
  2. Goggle Maps and Google Earth
  3. Brennan, Martin, The Stones of Time, Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1994.
  4. O Riordain Daniel, Ancient Peoples and Places NEW GRANGE, Thames and Hunson, London, 1964
  5. de Jonge, R.M. and Wakefield, J.S., How the Sun God Reached America c.2500 BC, MCS Inc. Kirkland Wa. 2002.
  6. Wikipedia Images : all pictures without References
  7. Hoskin, Michael, Tombs, Temples, and Their Orientations, Ocarina Books Ltd., United Kingdom,2001
  8. Wolter, Scott F. The Hooked X, Key to the Secret History of North America. North Star Press: St. Cloud, Minnesota, 2009.
  9. Fell, Barry, America B.C., Artisan Publishers, Muskogee OK, 2010 Edition.
  10. Joseph, Frank, Unearthing Ancient America, New Page Books, A division of the Career Press, Inc. Pompton Plains NJ, 2009.
  11. Thomas, N.L., Irish Symbols of 3500 BC, Mercier Press, Dublin, Ireland, 1988.
  12. Macalister, R.A. Stewart, The Book of the Taking of Ireland Part 1, Irish Texts Society, London, 2009
  13. Lincoln, Henry, Key to the Sacred Pattern, Cassel Paperbacks, London, 1997
  14. McMahon, Donald J., The Golden Ratio Latitude Model presents in Neolithic Sites, Ancient American Magazine, June 2016 Edition

Mr. McMahon’s amazing book can be purchased here. The photos are darker than the actual bright blue book.