St. Michael’s mount in Cornwall is a place steeped in history going back thousands of years. Sue Vincent takes us on a guided tour with snapshots of the various events. Enjoy the narrative and the photographs…
The tide was still in when we reached Marazion, and yet a line of people snaked between the shore and the island half a mile into the sea, seemingly walking on water. We were going to join them, walking the old pilgrim route to St Michael’s Mount, one of the first points on the Michael Line, that runs from the westernmost tip of the land to its eastern shores.
The Mount rises from the sea topped with a fairytale castle and is now completely cut-off from the mainland. The castle, like the island, has belonged to the St Aubyn family since around 1650, although it has been gifted to the nation, the family still lives there and manages the mount and the tiny village at its feet. Aside from the thousands of visitors, it is a peaceful place, though it has not always been so, and for a thousand years it has seen warfare and siege, from the Normans, to the pillboxes of WWII that still remain, tucked into the rocks.
The Cornish name for the island, Karrek Loos yn Koos, suggests that it was once a rocky hill within a woodland. The remains of a hazel forest have been found at low tide on a nearby beach, and radiocarbon dating suggests that the trees were swallowed by the sea around four thousand years ago. Was this the cataclysm that drowned the fabled land of Lyonesse, just off the coast here?
Historically, John of Worcester writes that in 1099, the Mount rose from a forest and was still five miles or more from the sea. In November that year, according to his account and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, the sea rose in fury and left the mount stranded in the sea.