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Cut off by high tide | by Silanov
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Cut off by high tide

Harbour of St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, Cornwall


Some background information


St Michael's Mount (Cornish "Karrek Loos y'n Koos" meaning "grey rock in the woods") is a tidal island located 366 metres off the Mount's Bay coast of Cornwall. It is a civil parish and is united with the little seaport of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water.


The island exhibits a combination of slate and granite. Its Cornish language name "grey rock in the woods" may represent a folk memory of a time before Mount's Bay was flooded. Certainly, the Cornish name would be an accurate description of the Mount set in woodland. Remains of trees have been seen at low tides following storms on the beach at Perranuthnoe, but radiocarbon dating established the submerging of the hazel wood at about 1700 BC. The chronicler John of Worcester relates under the year 1099 that St. Michael's Mount was located five or six miles from the sea, enclosed in a thick wood, but that on the third day of the nones of November the sea overflowed the land, destroying many towns and drowning many people as well as innumerable oxen and sheep. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records under the date 11th November 1099: "The sea-flood sprung up to such a height, and did so much harm, as no man remembered that it ever did before". The Cornish legend of Lyonesse, an ancient kingdom said to have extended from Penwith toward the Isles of Scilly, also talks of land being inundated by the sea.


The Mount may be the "Mictis" of Timaeus, mentioned by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, and the "Ictis" of Diodorus Siculus. Both men had access to the now lost texts of the ancient Greek geographer Pytheas, who visited the island in the fourth century BC. If this is true, it is one of the earliest identified locations in the whole of Western Europe and particularly on the island of Britain.


In the fifth century A.D., it is claimed that St. Michael, the archangel appeared to local fishermen on the Mount. From this ancient legend St. Michael’s mount derives its name.


It may have been the site of a monastery in the 8th to early 11th centuries and Edward the Confessor gave it to the Norman abbey of Mont Saint-Michel. St Michael’s Mount was a priory of that abbey until the dissolution of the alien houses by Henry V, when it was given to the abbess and Convent of Syon at Isleworth, Middlesex. It was a resort of pilgrims, whose devotions were encouraged by an indulgence granted by Pope Gregory in the 11th century. The monastic buildings were built during the 12th century, but in 1425 as an alien monastery it was suppressed.


Henry Pomeroy captured the Mount, on behalf of Prince John, in the reign of Richard I. John de Vere, 13th Earl of Oxford, seized and held it during a siege of 23 weeks against 6,000 of Edward IV's troops in 1473. Perkin Warbeck occupied the Mount in 1497. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, it was given to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury, by whose son it was sold to Sir Francis Basset. In the course of the Civil War, Sir Arthur Basset, brother of Sir Francis, held the Mount against the parliament until July 1646.


In 1659 St. Michael’s Mount was sold to Colonel John St Aubyn. His descendant, Lord St Levan, continues to be the "tenant" of the Mount but has ceased to be resident there. His nephew, James St Aubyn, took up residency and management of the Mount in 2004.


The Mount was fortified during the Second World War whilst the invasion crisis of 1940/41. In 2010 it was discovered through archives that the former Nazi foreign minister and one time ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentrop, had wanted to live on the Mount after the planned German conquest. During his time in Britain in the 1930s, in which he had initially proposed an alliance with Nazi Germany, he had become an anglophile and hoped one day to retire in Cornwall.


Today St Michael's Mount is still owned by the St Aubyn family, but visitor access is controlled by the National Trust. Village, grounds, interiors and gardens are open to the public and at high tide tourists are brought to the Mount by boats, which are operated from men from Marazion and the little village on St Michael’s Mount.


PS: I'm really not sure if I should have cut off the bottom edge of this photo above the little red buoy, because I feel that this red spot might wrongly draw the viewer's attention to the left bottom corner... ;-)

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Taken on September 7, 2011