Luther Elkins Petroglyphs – Clear Fork, West Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Luther Elkins Petroglyphs

Clear Fork, West Virginia

A cult archaeology conspiracy theory claims these West Virginia petroglyphs were written by Irish monks in Ogham. 


Etched onto a rock that’s part of a cliff overhang in Wyoming County, West Virginia, is a set of controversial petroglyphs. If you have the nose for seeking out the pockets of hidden history within the United States, then these incredible rock carvings will satisfy even the most reserved amateur archeologist.

The Luther Elkins Petroglyph, also known as the “Lynco,” “Lillyhaven,” or “Horse Creek” petroglyphs, are located at the base of a steep hill overlooking the bottom of the upper Clear Fork of the Guyandotte River. Though their age and meaning are unknown, they’re widely attributed to the Algonquian peoples.

But there are some who think the rock art was the work of a foreign hand. Archaeological conspiracy theorists believe these prehistoric markings were created not by the area’s indigenous inhabitants, but by Irish monks.

The conspiracy was sparked in the early 1980s, when a few articles were published claiming that the petroglyphs were Christian messages carved in the early eighth century. The theory proposes that the glyphs are actually written in Ogham, an old Irish alphabet.

Know Before You Go

Do not touch the petroglyphs. 

The area is undeveloped and hidden from the public by overgrown brush much of the year. Take caution when making the trek to the site. At the historic marker on Clear Fork Road (W.Va. Route 971) south of Oceana, turn off 971 at the marker onto Wyoming County Route 7. A dirt road will allow you to pass through private property on either side to an alley then over railroad tracks. Walk along the tracks southwestward for approximately 750 feet then keep an eye out for a path leading off the trail and heading up the bank to the right. The path will ascend about 30 feet to reach the cliff with the rock overhang bearing the glyphs.

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