One of the most enduring legends found in Welsh history is of Prince Madoc’s voyages to the mainland of America in the 12th century, over 300years before Columbus.
Madoc was an illegitimate son of Owain ap Gruffydd, King of Gwynedd, born of his favourite mistress, Lady Brenda, about 1140-1150 in Dolwyddelan Castle on the edge of Snowdonia.
It was said that Madoc was tall, of pleasant looks, mild mannered, and with his part Viking blood through his Grandmother was naturally fond of seafaring.
To avoid the feuding and fighting that followed the death of his father. Prince Madoc had a ship built at Abergele on the North Wales coast, called the Gwennan Gorn, and with his brother Rhiryd in his own ship sailed out of Rhos on Sea into the Western Ocean. There is a plaque on the remains of an old stone quay in the garden of ‘Odstone’ a bungalow at Rhos that reads “Prince Madoc sailed from here Aber Kerrick Gwynan 1170 a,d. and landed on the shore of Mobile Bay, Alabama with his ships Gworn Gwynant and Pedr Sant”
On the shore at Point Morgan, Mobile, Alabama, The Daughters of the American Revolution erected a plaque reading ” In memory of Prince Madoc, a Welsh Explorer who landed on the shores of Mobile Bay in 1170 and left behind with the native Indians, the Welsh language”
Having left some of his party on shore, he and his brother returned to Wales to collect a much larger group of colonists to reinforce the landing party they had left in Mobile Bay.They sailed with the reinforcements from Lundy Island in the mouth of the Bristol Channel, but nothing was heard of them again. Thy may have reached Mobile Bay again or perished on the way.
Meanwhile, the remaining members, at least, of Madoc ‘s expedition moved deep in land using the many rivers like roadways. First fighting the native Indians and eventually becoming assimilated with them. High up the Missouri River a tribe called the Mandans are claimed to be partly descended from the Welsh Settlers in culture, language and appearance. Being taller, of fair complexion, villages of static construction and the use of round coracle like boats.
Is there any truth in this story ? I like to think so.