Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Horned Skeleton Story

While doing research for my article in Pa Archaeologist and making the website, , I have come acrossed many references to the "Giant Horned Skeletons" that were supposedly found in the 1880's "in a mound near Sayre, PA." Most people that contact me through the internet concerning this story do so because they believe that Spanish Hill must certainly be the mound that was being referenced. However, I have no evidence to support that theory. In fact, I have decided to provide what information I do have for you, the reader to decide whether this story is factual or merely a mythical legend.

"Chemung's Predecessors Huge Giants

Were Seven Feet Tall and Had Horns" - Thursday July 12, 1916.

This is the headline from the earliest news article that I can find. It is from 1916,( as opposed to the 1880's.) This article goes on to say that this is "One of the Most Remarkable Scientific Discoveries in History Made Here - Sixty Eight Skeletons of Men Living 700 years ago Unearthed between Sayre and Waverly"… "A Queer Fellow: He was seven feet in height. Horns protruded from his skull"…"horns of solid bone which grew straight out from the skull about two inches above the perfectly formed skull and which gave every evidence of having been there since birth."

However a follow-up article is also available to this article with a quote from one of the men from the Moorehead expedition who have been identified as the team who found the skeletons. In the follow-up article, Alanson Skinner, asked, "Will you grant me the privilege of correcting the assertions of a news dispatch concerning a find made by our party and the alleged discovery of a mound near Sayre, Pa, in which the bones of men seven feet and more were unearthed? The dispatch further narrates the astounding fact that on some of the skulls, two inches above the perfectly formed forehead, were protuberances of bone, the inference being that these monsters were horned!" Unfortunately, I can only include short excerpts from it here, but you get the idea and can read these articles in their entirety at:

Later in 1921, the founder of the Tioga Point Museum and owner of the land where the burials were supposedly found, Louise Welles Murray followed this up with her explanation as to what had happened that day in her article, "Aboriginal Sites in and Near "Teago", now Athens, PA." In this article she stated, "While the writer was present one of the men in working a grave exclaimed, "There are horns over his head!" Mr. Skinner said that indicated chieftainship. Later this was found to be a bundle burial, completely covered with antlers of a Virginia deer. A passing visitor, however, heard the exclamation and attempted to verify it by interrogating a fun-loving Maine workman, and the story grew and was printed from coast to coast that one or more skulls had been found with horns growing from the forehead!"

Recently, I was given a small grocery store checkout style booklet that had the following on pages 16 & 17:

"It was the late 1880's. A group of scientists were conducting an expedition through the Bradford County area of Pennsylvania, in the northeastern part of the state near the New York state line.

The group, which included a Pennsylvania state historian and two professors, as well as a member of the Presbyterian church's hierarchy, had worked their way to a town called Sayre, where they became interested in a series of what appeared to be burial mounds.

Dr. P.G. Donehoo of the church and professor's A.B. Skinner and W.K. Moorehead of the American Investigation Museum and Phillips Academy in Andover, respectively led their group to the first of the mouonds to begin careful excavation.

What they uncovered has puzzled science for nearly a hundred years.

Painstakingly scraping away dirt and rocks the expedition revealed several skeletons of males. The burial date of the skeleltons was estimated at about A.D. 1200. So far, not unusual. But then they measured the remains and looked more closely at the structure. It was then discovered that the males had been over seven feet tall - - all of them - - a height unheard of in ancient times.

But strangest of all, close examinations of the skulls of the mystery men showed that they had horns...two actual horns apiece...that were an integral part of each skull.

Impossible, but they were there. Seven foot giants with horned skulls who died nearly 800 years ago.

The excited scientists carefully wrapped the remains for shipping and sent them to the American Investigation Museum in Philadelphia for closer examination. At the facility, scientists puzzled over the mysterious skeletons for months. Articles about them appeared in journals and magazines and then somehow they disappeared and were never seen again, taking with them the riddle that forever belongs to the unsolved." - Source: Great Unexplained Mysteries- Probing the Unknown - Globe Communications Corp, 1989

With that I have given you what I know or where to find it and will leave this up to you to decide for yourself what is truth or legend, and will just state that while I think it is a fun topic, it would be irresponsible to not include Skinner's and Murray's explanations in any report on this topic. So while you can find tons of references on the internet concerning our local "giants with horns" to this day, while you are surfing, don’t forget to check out all that I have compiled at:

Want to see actual local artifacts and learn more about the local Native Americans that lived here centuries ago? Visit SRAC at 345 Broad St. Waverly from 1-5pm Tuesdays - Fridays and 11-3pm on Saturdays!


  1. We will be seeing these creatures roaming the earth once again in due time.

  2. In response to anonymous - I am curious as to why you would say that.

  3. It is said in the bible, that they will be back because not all were destroyed in the flood. They are the Nephilim, offspring of the fallen angels. Goliath was one of the last walking on the earth at the time, but the others will be released before judgement time when Jesus returns.

  4. Do realize the religion of the ancient ones ? Its not rocket science these beings will be conjured by those with secret "knowledge". Thy loose lips might sink ships.