Last month I might have frightened you away from visiting Cornwall, and damaged the local tourist industry in the process. So to maintain a balance, and hopefully encourage you to come to this beautiful county, here's the story of Cornwall's very own Atlantis.
According to The Saxon Chronicle Lyonesse was obliterated on the 11th November 1099. The chronicle tells of the sea inundating the land and drowning towns, people, and animals. However, that date may be misleading as there are other references to a date of 1089, or even sometime during the 6th Century. But, whatever the date, the myth of a lost land persists, so it might well be a folk memory of dry land that did exist at some point. And geological evidence shows that sea levels were different within human memory.
Today, legend has it that the Isles of Scilly are all that remain of Lyonesse, with the islands having been recorded as one single island during the reign of Maximus in the 4th Century. Lyonesse is said to have contained one hundred and forty villages and churches, and local tradition has it that fishermen still find parts of old buildings in their trawling nets. Some even say they've heard the church bells ring when the sea has been stormy. There is a report that an ex-mayor of Wilton had twice seen domes, towers, spires, and fortifications beneath the sea while standing on the cliffs at Lands End. And, as recently as the 1930s, a News Chronicle journalist claimed to have been woken by the sound of muffled bells ringing one night. His hosts maintained that he had heard the bells of Lyonesse.
The Seven Stone Rocks are held to be the remains of a city that Fishermen call 'The Town', while in Mount's Bay the remains of a sunken forest can be seen at low tide. Lending weight to this belief is the fact that St. Michael's Mount, in Mount's Bay itself, is the old Cornish name meaning 'the hoar rock in the wood'. Added to this is the locally held idea that the Isles of Scilly are the old hilltops of Lyonesse, and it is a fact that the remains of many ancient stone buildings, including megalithic structures, can be seen below the high-tide mark.
Today, there are roughly fifty islands within the Isles of
Scilly group, although only four are inhabited, and have been inhabited since prehistoric times. They have also been identified as the famous
'Tin Islands' that were known to the Greeks. Geologically they are made from granite that is very similar to the granite of Cornwall.
The following link will give you a short history of the
Isles of Scilly from 1180 up to 1831:
Here you can read a brief outline of the possible
Phoenician influence on the Island of Tresco:
In an article about Wolves and War mention is
made of the Isles of Scilly and Lyonesse. Wolf Rock lies in deep and treacherous water, about half way between Lands End and the Isles of Scilly. It
relates how the Wolf Rock came to be named, and details the history of the lighthouse that now stands guard over this part of the Atlantic.
Intriguingly this is one of the few lighthouses to be built directly on the sea floor:
In an archaeological model of the Isles of Scilly published by Professor Charles Thomas he states:
Bryher, Samson, Tesco
And Dr. B. P. Horton, from Durham University, thinks that:
You can read more about it at this link, where the author
notes that the legend of Lyonesse is similar to that of the Breton story about the drowning of Caer Ys, also known as Ker-Is, in which a king escapes
The site also has this map, with text that reads:
Global Sea Levles
From another part of the same site, the author suggests that Plato's Atlantis disappeared in 9,600 B.C., around the time that the last Ice Age ended, and that memories of sunken lands are passed down in oral traditions across the world. To again take a quote from the site:
In the middle of 1998 Russian scientists were
investigating the area below sea level just beyond the Isles of Scilly, known as the Celtic Shelf. They were hoping to find the legendary land of
Atlantis. This is not quite so crazy as it sounds, and in a book called The Atlantis of the West, by Paul Dunbavin, he makes a very good
case for the British Isles to have been Plato's Atlantis.
It is also interesting to read what the following link
says about the geology, just after the end of the last Ice Age, and the various flood myths from around the world:
In an article by Andrew Rothovius, written just after we saw the Shoemaker Levy comet smash into Jupiter, he examines the idea of a comet impact on Earth around 534 A.D. There is evidence, supported by the dendrochronology data, that something occurred around this time to cause abnormally low temperatures that lasted for about fifteen to twenty years in the Northern Hemisphere.
Shoemaker-Levy and Halley's Comet
He suggests that the impact might have been a fragment of Halley's Comet, which would have been seen in September 530 A.D. He also makes reference to the:
Within this timeframe it appears that not only Lyonesse
was sunk, but also the Lost Land of Cantref in Cardigan Bay, Wales, and the lost city of Ys, which Breton legend says sank beneath the Bay of
Douarnenez. During the same timeframe there were also many other catastrophes that befell various parts of the world, including earthquakes, plagues,
However, the contemporary historical sources of Gildas, and Nennius, don't mention any such flooding event. And during the conquest of Anglesey, undertaken by Suetonius, the author Tacitus notes that the Romans had to cross the Menai Straits to reach the island.
It would appear that in Roman times the Isles of Scilly were still a single island. There are old maps from the period, and before, which seem to substantiate this fact. Nigel Pennick wrote a book entitled Lost Lands and Sunken Cities in which he states in his introduction:
In the following article many of these ancient maps are
discussed, and the findings are indeed intriguing:
Piri Reis Map
In Andrew Collins's article, entitled Atlantis in
Northern Europe, he examines why this part of Europe should be linked to Plato's Atlantis. He begins by referencing an 1876 book, entitled
The Oera Linda Book, that was ostensibly a translation of a 13th Century ancient Frisian text. It told of an old land known as Atland, or
Aldland, that supposedly was to be found in the North Sea between Denmark and Shetland. This ancient land was said to have been destroyed by floods
and upheaval in 2,193 B.C. However, the book was never given credence by serious academics, and it was dismissed as pure hoax. You can read the rest
of the article here:
There is a persistent legend that a man who escaped the
inundation of Lyonesse, on his white horse, founded the Cornish family of Trevelyan; who's family crest still shows a white horse. He out-rode
the flood until he reached the higher ground of Perranuthnoe, now on the south coast of Cornwall.
Fanciful as that sounds, there are also reports of similar
events happening during the 1953 and 1978 flood disasters in East Anglia. You can read more about the Trevelyan legend here:
Isles of Scilly
Of course it isn't possible to write about Lyonesse
without mentioning its relevance to the Arthurian legends, and especially the story of Tristan. But my purpose here is to look at the real evidence
for the existence of this sunken land. However, if you'd like to read about the Arthurian ideas then the following links will give you most of
the information. The first link gives information about the oral tradition, and writing, from which it comes:
Ritual Landscapes & Ley Lines
Another very interesting aspect of Lyonesse is its
relevance to the famous St. Michael Ley Line that runs from St. Michael's Mount, off the coast of Penzance in Cornwall, to the coast near Bury
St. Edmunds in East Anglia. John Michel, in his book entitled The Sun and The Serpent, proposes that the line actually starts from Mont St.
Michel, just off the coast of France. All along this particular Ley Line can be found many of Britain's megalithic monuments.
St. Michael's Mount and Mont St. Michel
And this link from the Daily Grail web site explains much
about geomancy and ritual landscapes, including Ley Lines; which are also known as Dragon Paths:
Here's just one quote from the article:
It appears to have been written just prior to the
millennial change of 2000, but it covers many New Age topics from the Druids, the End of the Mayan Long Count, and the Fisher King, to an ET group
called the Umer, (that are supposedly from star number 20 in the Pleiades), and the need for the reintroduction of the Feminine Principle:
Lanyon Quoit and Men-an-Tol
One quote from the site at the end of this section says:
Avebury and Glastonbury Tor
At the forum of the alien-ufos.com web site there is a
thread that talks of Lyonesse. However, it also covers some other very intriguing topics including underwater bases off the Cornish coast,
'Wurst' shaped UFO sightings, natiform tazza sightings between 1958 and 1960, and the strange sinking of the Trewlany in 1946. But
unfortunately, doing my usual Googling, I haven't been able to turn up any further references to these.