Saturday, September 14, 2013


Castle Gardens, Wyoming.

Continuing to kick poor old Barry Fell around, we now come to what I feel may be the most egregious example of falsification and fabrication in his whole repertoire. In central Wyoming a concentration of petroglyphs is found at Castle Gardens near the small town of Moneta. The Plains Indian petroglyphs here show a major concentration of shield images.

Castle Gardens, Wyoming.

Fell however, cannot let these marvelous images of Native American heraldry just be what they are. He has to warp them into a fantastic story of Celtic/Roman/Iberian travelers and traders who voyaged to Wyoming to open a branch of the First Iberian Bank of Moneta. I will be presenting this story mostly in his own words with comments thrown in as seems appropriate. Notice that the petroglyph panel showing the grouping of shields has a lot of plaster stuck on it from attempts to make molds of the images. I would not personally be surprised to find out that this was the result of Fell’s operations since we have already seen in so many examples that he works mostly from reproductions made from molds cast from the original rock art.

“Petroglyphs representing ancient coins extend the range to the ancient equivalent of the Oregon Trail, extending across the prairies to Moneta in Wyoming. The latter town appears to mark the site of the annual fur market in Roman times, lying near the North Pass in the Great Divide, and thus as convenient for ancient trappers as the nineteenth-century Wyoming markets were for trappers and buyers of the Astor company. The route also gave access to Nevada and California silver.“ (Fell 1980:35)

There is one more site: the great pictograph and petroglyph location called Castle Gardens, near the town of Moneta, in central Wyoming. Dr. Don Rickey, chief historian of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, was one of my first visitors a few days after America B.C. was published at the end of 1976. He had been struck by many features of the book that appeared to throw possible light on problems of American epigraphy and early history.  -  He began by referring to me various reports in the files of the Bureau of Land Management dealing with unexplained petroglyphs. One of the reports dealt with the Wyoming site mentioned above – the finest petroglyph location in Wyoming, remarkable for the almost universal circular form of all the designs depicted on a series of rock faces that dominate the site.
            Some of the designs I recognized at sight as well-known Celtic patterns, used on disc-shaped bronze harness trappings of Celtic kings in Europe, and also occurring in the Spiro Mound in Oklahoma, together with other evidences of Celtic designs. But the great majority of circular patterns cut into the cliffs at Castle Gardens were not familiar to me when I first saw them. They seemed so dissimilar to Indian shield patterns that it was hard to relate them to these either.” (Fell 1980:134-5) 

The final solution to the Castle Gardens mystery came like this:
            After the match between the Byzantine bronze-coin series and the supposed “Indian shield” series of Colorado petroglyphs was discovered, I remembered the mysterious suite of circular “shield” patterns from the Wyoming site, and once more got out Dr. Rickey’s report -. This time I did indeed begin to recognize, one by one, designs that resembled ancient coins I had once seen.”(Fell 1980:140)

"Italian chariot wheel coin design and supposed imitation
at Castle Gardens. Barry Fell, Saga America, p.152.

“Bewilderment was the Wyoming artist’s reaction to certain themes featured on the Romano-Iberian coinage. In B, the crab of the Roman model A, unknown in mid-continent is rendered as an obese person executing a handstand. In D, a half-chariot becomes a mysterious sun god; for where no horses exist, there can be no wheeled vehicles. In F, the Old World cock of an Italian bronze piece becomes a turkey, experiencing great difficulty in fitting its ample proportions into the confines of a circular flan. In H an Italian chariot wheel becomes a cross-pattee. All designs on the right side are petroglyphs from the Moneta site of the Wyoming Iberian bank. Those on the left side are drawn from Roman Republican and Campanian coins; Iberian examples are commonly bisected to yield lesser denominations, or “bits,” as shown at C.” (Fell 1980:152)

I believe that the image of the supposed imitation "Italian chariot wheel coin" corresponds to the shield figure found in the illustrations below. According to James Keyser this image is not even from Castle Gardens, Wyoming. He identified it as being found near Sheriden, Wyoming. Although a little hard to make out in the actual photo you can identify the form of the shield easily in the drawing that I made from an illustration in James Keyser and Keyser and Michael A. Klassen's 2001 book, Plains Indian Rock Art.

Shield figures, Wyoming. The shield of
the figure on the right corresponds to Fell's "H" above.

Comparing Fell’s coin with a cross-pattee to the original rock art photo exposes just how egregious the falsehood and deception is. The original is a shield figure (on the right of the grouping above) and Fell omitted the legs, head, spear, and many details of the shield itself including the fringe of feathers around it (not to mention the whole of the rest of the group of figures), to make it fit his strange idea of it representing a coin from the First Iberian Bank of Moneta, Wyoming.
Shield figure panel, drawn by 
Peter Faris after Keyser and Klassen, p. 197.

But Fell goes further, he not only has identified all the circular shields at Castle Gardens (and throughout the rest of western North America) as coins, he has also discovered the sign of the bank that handled those coins, a supposed inscription in Iberian-Greek. 

Castle Gardens translation, Barry Fell,
Saga America, 1980, p. 149.

“The business sign or tile engraved at the Wyoming site near Moneta. On the left the Iberic letters spell the old Gaelic word for moneychanger, or, in modern parlance bank. On the right, the word intended apparently is Old Gaelic for no interest – or perhaps, rather, no usury (i.e., not more than 12-1/2%). In the center Greek letters phi, alpha, theta, and eta form a rebus in which a moneybag discharges coins onto a dish. The word spelled means “[it was] the first to come here,” resembling the modern use of the word “First” in bank names.” (Fell 1980:149) In other words Fell is stating that this is the sign that identifies the First Iberian Bank of Moneta (the underline is mine).

Maybe Barry Fell for this, but we don’t have to.


Fell, Barry
1980    Saga America, Times Books, New York.

Keyser, James D. and Michael A. Klassen
2001    Plains Indian Rock Art, University of Washington Press, Seattle.

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