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The Biggest Liar In The World : The Man Who Discovered Great Britain

Updated on May 24, 2014
Pytheas of Massalia
Pytheas of Massalia | Source

Imagine This

Imagine, if you will, being an explorer. You decide to travel to the opposite side of the Sun. The side totally invisible to us, the polar opposite of where we are here on Earth.

Furthermore imagine returning from this epic journey with information about a planet just like Earth, but the people there have only just discovered glass and a country called Aipoihte is the most powerful country in the world.

Unfortunately no one believes you. They consider your account as a masterpiece of fabrication. You are labelled a charlatan by your contempories and historians for the next 2000 years. Until, that is, it becomes clear you were telling the truth.

The above scenario is precisely what happened to Pytheas of Marseilles, a Greek explorer around 304 BC.


Although Greek historians referred to Pytheas' travels in their books, he was for the most part discredited. They did, however, enjoy his own accounts of the journeys he undertook, unbelievable as they were.


Discovering Albion

He may not have been the first person to travel to the coast Britain ( It was known as Albion to the ancient Greeks.), but he was the first Greek to visit and describe Britain and its people as well as sailing within sight of the Icelandic coast.

Pytheas wrote two books "The Ocean" and "A Description Of Earth" neither of which remain,but his contempories wrote enough about him for his journey to be reconstructed.

His journey from Marseilles (Massalia) is thought to have taken around six years, during which he circled the British coast and in various places, where accessible, went ashore. Pytheas also wrote a detailed account of sailing for six days north west of Britannia toward Thule until a sea of slush, ice and fog forced him back.

His descriptions of the sea and conditions north of Scotland were extremely accurate, but in the warmer climes of the Mediterranean, in the fourth century BC, his stories were treated as mere fantasy.

The 400 BCs

He said of Britain. "The island is thickly populated and has an extremely chilly climate". He described the British as "unusually hospitable and gentle in their manner.... there are many kings and potentates who live for the most part in a state of mutual peace.... the people of Britannia are simple in their habits and far removed from the cunning and knavishness of modern man...they do not drink wine, but a fermented liquor made from barley which they call curmi."

He saw people harvesting grain and tending cattle. In Cornwall he visited tin mines.

Sir Clement Markham


Truth Will Out

Pytheas spent the remainder of his life trying in vain to convince his peers of his journey.

It took until 1893 when a British historian, Sir Clement Markham, wrote an article that caused worldwide interest and finally recognised Pytheas as the man who discovered Britain.


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