Twenty-eight miles south-west of Land’s End the last outcrops of granite form a rugged archipelago of five inhabited islands and more than a hundred others.
Their occupation in prehistoric times is evidenced by a bewildering number of remains: settlements, field boundaries, standing stones, chambered tombs and a few promontory forts from the Iron Age (1200 BC to 1 BC).
|c/o Duchy of Cornwall Cottages -|
aerial view of St Mary's
Beautiful islands, uncrowded beaches, a mild climate, seals to watch, birds to twitch at … all making this an unrivalled setting with its variety of sea and migrant life.
|Strabo's map of Western Europe|
(64 BC - 24 AD): Strabo was the
Greek Geographer, Philospher and Historian
I hadn’t realised quite how much history is here ... there are 239 scheduled monuments, meaning there’s a greater density of historical sites on the Scillies than anywhere else in the British Isles.
Traces of human life stretch back at least 3,000 years, when the islands were one large land mass that was home to nomadic hunter gatherers.
|Bronze Age Scilly Islands -|
c/o Megalithic Britain
It appears that the Phoenicians (1550BC to 300BC), who had an enterprising maritime trading culture, came as far round as Britain and the Scilly Isles, and used the island (as it was then) as a staging post for the tin found in Cornwall. A description in Roman times describes Scilly as “Scillonia Insula” in the singular … rising sea levels around 400 AD – 500 AD flooded the central plain forming the current islands: there is evidence to be found of this.
Lyonnesse, the mythical lost land, referred to in Arthurian literature midway between Land’s End and the Isles of Scilly … may well be here … in Penzance Bay is the remnants of a lost forest … our lands alter through time.
|The Hundreds of Cornwall -|
administrative divisions in the
early 19th C. The large bay facing
the Scillies is Penance Bay
Moving to today’s era – tourism is now the economic driving force – the Scilly Isles offer so much ... beautiful beaches, rugged coastlines, coastal walks with sensational views.
|Tresco Abbey Garden|
Under G for Gardens I have mentioned Tresco and its Abbey Garden … a sheltered haven where many plants from around the world flourish. The Scillies are known for their scented narcissi and pinks, and fields of cream and golden daffodils … a thriving market for cut flowers exists on the mainland. Yet the windswept coastal landscapes are cloaked in heather and flowering gorse …
|Heather, Gorse and Sea Pinks -|
the national flower of the Scillies
… as you would expect the Scillies have been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, whose primary purpose is to conserve. There are also two Sites of Special Scientific Interest: the Moors Nature Trails inhabited by a range of aquatic plant and animal species.
Plenty of fresh fish and shellfish are available to purchase and cook at your cottage, or to rest up and enjoy a delicious seafood catch from a chef’s kitchen.
Tourism is now the main income earner for the islanders … and diversification has been key ... harvesting herbs for essential oils, keeping small herds for local consumption, etc
|There's an annual Gig Racing Competition|
Then there’s the highly competitive sport of rowing in pilot gigs … carrying on the traditions of the past, when pilots would guide larger vessels through the perilous waters.
Time has shaped these Isles … giving them the rich diversity of life on offer today … there is also evidence of inundation by the tsunami caused from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
That is I for the Isles of Scilly, a paradise of island refuges on the edge of England – a journey to another world ... from Aspects of British Cornish …
Here is an interesting site which I used for some of the ideas in the post: Visit Isles of Scilly
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