The Island Of Hy Brasil: Another Atlantis Or Insula Mirabilis

Ian R ThorpeStarred Page By Ian R Thorpe, 17th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Mythology

The myth of Atlantis exercises a particularly strong hold on the collective imagination, it is hard to think of another myth that so many people are determined to demonstrate is true. Several sites have been named as the likely geographical position of Atlantis but there is another contender few people have heard of.

Atlantis, or just another illusion

The myth of Altantis, the lost island continent that according to some stories was the birthplace of civilization has fascinated human curiosity since the earliest times. Though the first written mention of Atlantis occurs in Plato's dialogue Critias* in which the Greek Philosopher refers to his ancestor Solon, one of the Seven Sages of Athens recounting the story of a lost civilization. A poet and lawgiver, Solon had travelled extensively in Egypt, in order to study with the Egyptian priests and compare Egyptian and Athenian cultures and the Gods and Legends of both lands.
(other references at end of article)

While in Egypt he became fascinated with a story about Atlantis.

Now before I quote a section from Plato's Critias, as translated by Benjamin Jowett, it must be stressed this is an imaginary philosophical dialogue and not a historical document. For those hoping to find proof here that Atlantis existed, sorry there is none anywhere. You may read various speculations all based on flimsy evidence and formulate your own belief but there is not a shred of evidence other than myth, legend and folklore to support the notion that there ever was such a place of which Plato wrote:

“Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories. But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end.
This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless continent.

Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one, endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the Hellenes.

And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.”

Many scholars have speculated that the story above refers to the Minoan civilisation centred on the Island of Crete, which was destroyed, probably by a huge earthquake according to archaeologists, around 1500 BC. Plato's pupils noted that the philosopher placed the site of the lost island in the Atlantic, in a shallow region known as The Celtic Bank, just to the west of Gibraltar. It is possible that some parts of The Celtic Bank would have been above sea level at the height of the last Ice Age when sea levels were five hundred feet below the current shore line, but nobody has ever produced evidence of a geological catastrophe that would have submerged a large island in that part of the sea. Creete and other islands occupied by the Minoans however are on a large volcanic caldera which could conceivably have sunk several hundred feet.

Other sites for the possible location of Atlantis have included the area around the Azores archipelago and a submerged Pyramid complex in the Bermuda-Triangle (the existence of which is disputed).

When we think of mythical lands and legends of lost cities, Atlantis exerercises a firm grip on the collective imagination. Other mythical lands, Annwn (aka Sidhe or Tír na n'Óg), Avalon, Cockaigne, Hyperboria, Mu, Lemuria, Shambhala and a host of others do not inspire such a stubborn need to believe they truly existed or such determination to find evidence that would place them in reality. If we could find out where we might discover what. But the sites identified yield little by way of concrete evidence. (Mythical places )

There is another contender for the source of the Atlantis myth however. Few people have heard of the lost island of Hy-Brasil, although it is just as fascinating as Plato's lost civilisation and has more numerous and more recent eye witness accounts of it's existence few people today are aware of the legends surrounding Hy Brasil.
Hy-Brasil, also spelled Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil, Brazir and the legends surrounding it may be the reason that the South American country, Brazil, was so named. The central image on the Brazilian flag, a circle with a channel across the center, is the symbol for Hy-Brasil, which lies to the south and west of Ireland on early maps.

The name of Hy-Brasil may come from the medieval word brasil, which seems to indicate a source of rare red dye. The dye may have acquired its name from the legendary island, or vice versa.

Or Hy-Brasil, also called the Fortunate Island, may have taken it's name from the old Irish word, breas, meaning noble or fortunate. In Celtic folklore Breasal is the High King of the World, a figure the English Myth of King Arthur seems to have been descended from.

More Mystery Maps

Hy-Brasil was noted on maps as early as 1325, when a Genoese explorer and cartographer Dalorto placed the island off the south – west tip of Ireland, west of what remains of another Celtic mystery, the pre- Christian monastic community on the isolated rockSkellig Michael (Pictured above, source Wikimedia Commons) which is miles out from the coast of Ireland.
On later sailing charts, Hy Brasil appears south - west of Galway Bay. On some 15th century maps, islands of the Azores appear as Isola de Brazil, or Insulla de Brazil.

If the apperance of this now vanished island was confined to one ancient map it might be easily dismissed, but there are many mysteries on ancient maps. How, for example, were the map makers employed by Egyptian scholar Claudius Ptolemy who lived in Egypt under The Roman Empire in the first century AD, able to map a rough but recognisable outline of the eastern coast of north America, how were the maps of sixteenth century Turkish admiral Piri Ries able to show the east coast of the America quite accurately and also parts of the coast of Antarctica when that continent was not discovered until centuries later and the coastilne shown was, and is, buried under ice and can only be plotted with modern technology.

The Piri Re'is map was discovered in the Imperial Palace in Constantinople (Now Istanbul and from the late Roman era to the medieval period Byzantium) in the period between the twentieth century's great wars. Painted on parchment and dated 919 A.H. (in the Islamic calendar), which corresponds to 1513 AD. It is signed by an admiral of the Turkish Navy named Piri Ibn Haji Memmed, also known as Piri Re'is from whom the document takes its name. According to experts who have been asked to authenticate the map, it was originally created from a set of 20 maps drawn in the time of Alexander the Great.

After 1865, Hy-Brasil appears on few maps since its location could not be verified.

The island’s history, mostly from Irish folklore and the writings of monks in the many monasteries of the western coast is very consistent with legends of Atlantis: It is the home to a wealthy and highly advanced civilization, people who claim to have visited the island returned with tales of gold-roofed towers and domes, healthy cattle, and opulent citizens and the island is only intermittently prestent in physical form.

The lore of Hy-Brasil however places is in the uberwald dimension rather than our reality. The Celtic and Germanic tribes thought of the dimensions inhabited by fairies, spirits and supernatural creatures as a higher world, the overworld rather than the underworld.) One story tells that Hy Brasil is shrouded in fog or perhaps lies beneath the ocean most of the time, and appears only briefly, once every seven years.

Atlantis or a fairy tale, only you can decide. But you don't have to make up your mind now, there will be parts two and three to this article.

Solon the Law Giver of Athens

Benjamin Jowett - Plato dialogues
Breasal (Irish folklore)
Skellig Michael
A - Z of Celtic Myth and Legend
Phantom Islands Of The Atlantic

Missing Malaysian Aircraft: Crash Or Cover Up?
Eat The King
Blake's Heaven
Mary Gypsy
Wales, land of dragons and druids
Terra Incognita (poem)
Three Secrets (poem)


Atlantis, Celtic, Greek, Hellenic, Irish, Myth

Meet the author

author avatar Ian R Thorpe
Born Manchester UK, 1948. varied early career from clerk via construction site worker and street trader to I T consultant. Performance poet, broadcaster, fiction writer and essayist on many topics.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
17th Oct 2013 (#)

this is wonderful and Atlantis did exist for I lived there before the second deluge...

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
17th Oct 2013 (#)

Two more parts to come on this, I'll give you a nudge :-)

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author avatar Mike Robbers
17th Oct 2013 (#)

Great article Ian. Had never heard about Hy-Brasil's case before. It sounds very interesting, indeed.

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
18th Oct 2013 (#)

There's more to come on this topic.

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author avatar Lady Aiyanna
18th Oct 2013 (#)

The place was washed away due to non-conformity and the technology they had out there was way more advanced that what we see and use this day.
Good luck in your deep sea mining.

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author avatar Ian R Thorpe
18th Oct 2013 (#)

Funny you should mention technology. There are currently worries that parts of Britain, particularly the north, will sink because of fracking.
And we've always been non conformists in the north.

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author avatar James Albright
20th Feb 2019 (#)

The Darwinian Atheist cult demonstrates a pattern of calling everything that points out that their tax payer funded cult is based on fabricated science, a myth.

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