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St Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

St Michael's Mount, CornwallSt Michael’s Mount, Cornwall

Located on an island in Mount’s Bay along the southern coast of Cornwall, St Michael’s Mount is a castle built on sharp peaked hill. It is so named after the angel Michael appeared at this site in the fifth century. It has been the home to Benedictine monks under Edward the Confessor, to Saint Keyne of Ireland, and, likely, to earlier native religious cults who may have worshiped the sun on the mount.

The Mount is connected by a land bridge to the mainland during low tide; it is a true island at high tide.

The island/peninsula was most certainly a trading place for tin since ancient times. It is a viable candidate for the famous trading island called Ictus by the Phoenicians who traded tin with the native Britons before the common era. The island could have held the valuable tin offshore allowing the strangers to trade without actually setting foot on the mainland.

According to the folk tale, Jack the Giant Killer slew the Cornish Giant Cormoran after tricking him to fall into a pit on this island. The greenstone on the island is supposed to have been brought there by the Giantess Cormelian, wife of the Giant Cormoran, in her apron. Cormoran, building the mount of granite, saw that she had brought the wrong rock, and killed her. Cormelian dropped the stones as she fell dead and is said to be buried under the pile of greenstone still found today.

A sister location, Mont St Michel, is located across the English Channel along the northern coast of Normandy.

Some believe that this island would make a good candidate for Avalon of King Arthur lore and legend. Like Avalon, the island is approachable by foot at certain times (low tide) and approachable only by boat (high tide), and has a prominent hill on it. To those who so believe, or would like to believe, nearby Loe Pool, a freshwater lake separated from the sea by Loe Bar outside of Helston, Cornwall, also makes a good candidate for the abode of the Lady of the Lake of Arthurian lore. Arthur was killed by his son Mordred on the shore of southern Britain, and if it were in this area, his sword, Excalibur (or Caliburn or Caledfwlch) could have easily been returned to the Lady of the Lake (at Loe Pool today).

Reference: (Seymour, The Companion Guide to the Coast of South-West England, facing page 160.)
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