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Malden Island Ruin

Ruins of Malden Island and The Mysterious Roads that Lead into the Sea

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Malden is a tiny, island in the central Pacific Ocean, covering about 15 square miles in area. It is one of the Line Islands belonging to the Republic of Kiribati and while there are no resident staff on Malden, there are the occasional visits by foreign yachtsmen. The island is best known for its ruins of unknown origins, its deposits of guano (a valuable agricultural fertilizer) and its former use as the site of the first British H-bomb tests.

The triangular shaped island is located 1,530 nautical miles south of Honolulu, and over 4,000 nautical miles west of South America. It is now a protected breeding island for about a dozen species of birds as well as a winter-stop for migratory seabirds.

A small lagoon, entirely enclosed by land, fills the east part of the island. It is connected to the sea by subterranean channels and the water is salty. Most of the land area of the island lies to the south and west of the lagoon. The island is low, no more than 33 feet above sea level, and there is no fresh water.

The island was named after Lt. Charles Robert Malden, the navigator of the HMS Blonde, who briefly explored it, along with a naturalist and a botanist travelling for the Royal Horticultural Society in 1825.

Aerial view of Malden Island (Public Domain)

Aerial view of Malden Island (Public Domain)

The island was occupied from the 1860s by an Australian company for the purpose of collecting guano, but all activity ceased by the early 1930s. No further use was made of Malden until 1956 when the United Kingdom selected Malden as the instrumentation site for its first series of H-bomb tests.

At the time of discovery, Malden was unoccupied, but the remains of ruined temples and megalithic monuments indicated that the island had at one time been inhabited.

Between 100 and 200 Natives Could Have Produced the Malden Structures.

In 1924, the Malden ruins were examined by Kenneth Emory, an anthropologist from the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, who theorized that they were the creation of a small Polynesian population which had resided there for several generations some centuries earlier. There are, however, those who dispute his theory, claiming that Emory was not motivated to reach any other conclusions and that his purpose for reaching this conclusion was primarily to support his thesis that Tonga and Samoa were the departure point when the Polynesian culture spread westwards across the Pacific to Tahiti, the Marquesas, and Hawaii. They also claim that an admission that Malden might have traces of an older human presence than that of the Polynesians would have destroyed Emory’s entire paradigm of the earliest settlement in the Pacific. “For aspiring young scientists at the beginning of their career, such things have never been particularly tempting.” Emory went on to become the foremost expert on Polynesian culture 30 years later.

Amongst the 21 archaeological sites discovered, they found temple platforms, housing, and graves. Various wells once used by these ancients were later claimed to be dry or brackish. Emory theorized that a population of between 100 and 200 natives could have produced all of the Malden structures. Maraes (spiritual meeting grounds) of a similar type are found on Raivavae, one of the Austral Islands.

Marae found on Raivavae (CC BY 2.0)

Marae found on Raivavae (CC BY 2.0)

As others have pointed out, the remains of the later Polynesians do not rule out evidence of an even older civilization, but further investigations, which would take months or years, have never been made. Malden Island is so remote that the cost of getting there for further archaeological exploration is prohibitive.

The Paved Roads Lead Into The Sea, But How Far Do They Extend?

Documented observations state that from the center of the island, radiating from several temple complexes, are a network of roads made of large basalt slabs, fitted tightly together. These roads cross the island and the beaches and disappears under the waves of the Pacific. They are very similar to the Ara Metua, a paved road on Rarotonga Island, 1,000 miles to the south. Rarotonga, like Malden Island and others in the Pacific, has a number of pyramid-platforms connected by roads. Strange stacks of stones are also scattered across Malden Island, while the pyramids are capped with dolmens or ‘compass stones’. These 40 stone temples on Malden Island are described as similar in design to the buildings of Nan Madol on Pohnpei, some 3,400 miles away.

Why such a remote island contains temples, pyramid-platforms and ancient paved paths leading directly into the ocean, is still a mystery.

A drawing made in 1825 by ship artist Robert Dampier (Public Domain)

A drawing made in 1825 by ship artist Robert Dampier (Public Domain)

Mitch Williamson, researcher and writers says, “This suggests a culture that is more than 50,000 years old and that this entire land mass was once above water supporting a civilization that had no trouble moving around tremendous stones to build very large, complicated societies which we know absolutely nothing about, other than the fact that someone built them and they are older than biblical history….” He also states, “Sea levels have not risen significantly during the last three millennia. If future research shows that the paved paths extend beyond the current water edge of the beaches into the sea, then it would have been proven that these relics must be of pre-Polynesian origin.”

Lost Pacific Continent?

Some claim that the roads, leading from the structures of unidentified purpose, may be evidence for a lost Pacific continent. The reality is that no one really knows. One thing is certain, some mysterious group put great effort into building megalithic monuments on an island that could hardly support even a small population.

The various theories could make sense if we place the island and its relics into a wider geographic and cultural context. After all, evidence of lost continents such as Mauritia which were once thought fiction have now been found and we can never be sure when new evidence will come to light.

In his book Riddle of the Pacific of 1924, Prof. John Macmillan Brown drew a picture of Malden island with “its great temple pyramids as a relic of a bygone era, when they were still part of a ‘vanished empire’, and a place where people came from fertile archipelagos that lay within Canoe range [of Malden], which were later sunk.”  

Top image: Malden Island Ruin         Source: (Mike Fray)

By Michelle Freson


Hoffman, R. 2011. Secret of Malden Island: Why public education is hiding history. Overman Warrior

Available at:

Williamson, M. 2008. Malden Island. Old Maps, Expeditions and Explorations.

Available at:

2014. The Secrets of Malden Island. Atlantisforschung.

Available at:

2015. East Asia - Remnants of Lemuria. Lemurian Fellowship

Available at:



step's picture

There was a continent where the Pacific Ocean is now situated. It was roughly triangular in shape with the northern tip of the triangle being in the Bering Sea. Japan, Philipine Islands and Sulawesi form part of the former western coastline, the remaining parts of the southern coastline are formed by the islands of Papua and Fiji. The south eastern and eastern coastlines are totally submerged. All of the Pacific islands situated north of the tropic of Capricorn are mountain ranges or individual mountain peaks that did not sink below sea level. The story of the sinking of Pan has been kept alive in the ancient stories of nearly all the peoples of the world, including (in simplified form) the story of Noah in the Ezra bible. A few thousand years ago when the Greeks learned of this ancient cataclysm, they called the submerged continent Atlantis. In modern times the name Atlantis has been confused with the Atlantic Ocean and for that reason people have been looking in the wrong place for evidence. Ancient submerged ruins that pre-date the pyramids on all continents have been discoved at Okinawa and many other Pacific islands. There were many boatloads of people that escaped the submerging of Pan and they drifted in all directions, hence the cultural memories of the great flood all over the globe. The Ezra bible only describes one boat (Noah) that drifted to the middle east, but there were many more boats and they drifted in all directions until they reached land.


Seems like we have 'lost lands' in the North Sea between Britain and the main continent, we have a land bridge in India, we have all sorts of goodies found underwater around various areas of the world, why not a lost Pacific land area? The sea level has bounced up and down since *forever* and is currently going back up [a reputed 3.3 meters/10 feet last I heard] which will make our Florida Keys mostly lost lands, as with much of our coastal area.

Michelle Freson's picture


Michelle Freson is a professional writer and editor and has spent many hundreds of wonderful hours working with and learning from fiction writers based all over the globe.

Born in July, 1971, Michelle has long since stopped working out her... Read More

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