1 Introduction



I read Gavin Menzies’ book 1421, The Year China Discovered the World, with great interest, for two reasons. As a young marine engineer, the company I worked for traded extensively around the far east, so I already was well aware of the sea-going qualities of junks. Also I have just entered my tenth year, since retirement, of full-time searching for the evidence of Roman navigation in the Lake District and latterly in Scotland. Like Gavin Menzies, I had also endured the disbelief of historians and archaeologists, when I stated that my surveys showed that the Romans had constructed a navigational route through the Great Glen, using Loch Ness as an inland sea and that the Vallum paralleling Hadrian’s Wall was actually a canal, linking Newcastle with Carlisle.

My visit and surveys in New Zealand confirmed Gavin Menzies’ comments regarding the formation of colonies. The foundations of twenty-one settlements were visually located, large and small, mainly on the east coast of the South Island. By using a method involving magnetic anomalies, the foundations of permanent dwellings for approximately 19,000 people have been located. Most of these settlements had purpose built stone harbours, indicating trading. In some cases there was evidence of iron smelting, and within sight of Mount Cook, I located a complete industrial process operation, probably handling gold. Altogether the outlines of 31 junks have been located including 7 of the enormous 150m x 50m and 100m x 50m junks. The timbers of one smaller 47m x 11m junk were actually found protruding through a sand dune.

The indications are that it all suddenly ended. Each colony was wiped out by a superior invading force, whilst their junks were destroyed in their harbours. Akaroa’s harbour was the only empty harbour found, bearing witness to a hurried flight. Akaroa also had the strongest, best-sited fort. By contrast, the findings of the outlines of three sampans hidden within Catlin’s Cathedral Caves and the walled hideaways at the end of the caves, indicated the last hiding place of a few survivors of one colony, waiting for help which never came. One of Catlin’s bays is called Cannibal Bay. After the finding of human bones, this gives one a clue as to the fate of any survivors taken captive.

Cedric Bell’s resume: Chartered Engineer, Member of Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology, Commenced marine engineering career with Blue Funnel Line, then via surveying, to works engineer, Delta Metal. Then to Castrol for 26 years, works engineer to production manager. Further surveying with NW Water. Now in tenth year surveying for Romans in NW of United Kingdom. Specialising in navigation, hence involvement with 1421. Major UK successes include locating evidence of Roman navigation of Cumbria’s lakes, the Great Glen via Loch Ness, and Hadrian’s Wall via the “Vallum” canal, coupled with appreciation that they used a biological oxygen control system in their canals.

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