Missing Islands Are Not Unusual

Other “Missing” Islands

Popular lost islands include

  • St. Brendan’s Isle – described in the ninth-century book, Voyage of St. Brendan (St. Brendan 1928) and was supposedly located by the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean, covered with apple trees. St. Brendan of Clonfert (484-577) desired to find a land of his own, and after an angel appeared to him, he set out on his quest. It was last seriously searched for in the eighteenth century. The historical accounts of St. Brendan note that he was an Irish monk who went on a sea voyage from 565 to 573 and is known to have visited Iona and Scotland.
  • Lyonesse – the island now vanished off Cornwall and had one survivor, Trevillion, who rode to the mainland. Lyonesse has been identified with Lothian in Scotland, Loonois in French, and in Cornwall, it is called Lethowstow.
  • Terra Astalis Incognita – placed in the southern Indian and South Pacific Ocean since the time of Ptolemy. The myth of Terra Astalis Incognita persisted until Captain James Cook sailed extensively over the Pacific Ocean in the 1760s and 1770s and concluded no land mass existed. Ortelius’s world map of 1611 included the Isle of Brazil, west of Ireland but sometimes placed around the mouth of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, though it does not appear on a map prior to 1325.
  • Isle of Brazil
  • The Isle of the Seven Cities – had several other names, including Septe Cidades, which may be the same one discovered by St. Brendan.
  • Estotiland – described as about 1000 miles west of Frisland; the inhabitants were of European lineage but had their own language. They also supposedly had books in Latin, which they did not know how to read. The inhabitants of Estotiland, now known to be the island of Labrador, engaged in trade with Greenland.
  • Grocland – placed west of Greenland and Frisland appeared on virtually all of the maps of the North Atlantic from the 1560s through the 1660s.
  • Frisland – placed on world maps between 1558 and the 1660s. Frisland is now identified as the Faroe Islands, which are east of Iceland.
A map of Frisland

Where did these Missing islands come from?

At the beginning of exploration, cartographers placed islands on maps according to explorers’ accounts. Later, these islands were taken off maps, identified as an island chain like the archipelago, or even misidentified. As cartographers’ skills became more precise, these islands were taken off maps. However, the days of loose sea wandering are pretty well over, and there are stretches of ocean measurable in thousands of miles that are hardly visited once in a decade. The latitudes may have been better known in the past when whale hunting and fishing expeditions were more common.

In conclusion, lost islands and continents are not unique to history or to cartographers. Atlantis and Lemuria are unique because these two lost continents claimed to be the precedent of modern civilization and the point of human origin. No other “lost” place has ever made that claim.

Further Reading

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