St. Michel’s Mount, Cornwall
Cut off around noon, or sometimes at six
St. Michel’s is tidal, a heavenly mix
Of natural beauty and man-made approach
By foot Or, if room, then by horses and coach!
An enchanting perspective of romance offshore
Protected, enclosed and with tin at its core
The Cormoran Giant, the monster here lieth
Succumbed to a trick, much like David’s Goliath!
The legend of how local Jack killed the Giant
By digging a pit and making compliant
The Monster that all would stay clear of and fear
Was found beneath stones in the chapel, right here!
Since then there are miracle maidens who lured
The sailors to death, under waves, not interned
Though some were washed-up and lived on with a chance
To make good on life and our human advance.
Thus the light and the colours of Island folklore
Beg the questions of ‘how we live?’, ‘where?’ And ‘what for?’
The mysterious magic, the mistress mistrust
And beauty, subjectively, whisping to lust!
Yet a hermit prayed on where a giant once preyed
A single, lone man without money or maid
And found in the solitude, comfort and peace
Art is to each one of us some such release!
St. Michael’s Mount, Cornwall, is one of the most delightful great British Landmarks to paint, particularly in sunset. It is a small, tidal island linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, that it is only possible to cross between mid-tide and when the tide is out. It has an enchanting chapel and Castle steeped in magic, mystery and myth: as far back as 495AD there are stories of sailors being lured to their deaths on the rocks by mermaids, or guided to safety by St Michel! 4 Miracles are recorded during the Middle Ages, and the Cornish Legend of Jack the Giant Killer is one that locals tell very well: a gruesome beast terrorised the land, called Cormoran and he lived on the Island, stealing cattle when he was hungry. one moonlit night a local lad called Jack made his way across the causeway to lay a trap. He dug a deep pit, which he covered with bracken, sticks and earth.
The trap set, he waited for dawn-break, and then blew his horn as loudly as he could to rouse the sleeping giant. The Giant raced angrily towards him, thundering violent threats as he ran.
Moments later the ground gave way, and the astonished Cormoran tumbled headlong into the pit, where Jack finished him off by sinking a pickaxe into his skull. When the noblemen-Judges of Cornwall heard of the giants defeat, they sent for the brave lad and declared that from that day forth he should be known as "Jack the Giant Killer."
In the Nineteenth Century a real Giant skeleton was found on the Island. During work on the chapel a small stone doorway was discovered in the south wall. Beyond this was a flight of steps leading to a small hermitage cell within which were laid the bones of a man measuring 7 feet 8 inches. It is believed the man was an anchorite (a type of hermit) and his cell became a hidden tomb after his death.
Originally the site of a Benedictine Chapel, the spectacular castle on the rock dates from the 14th Century. Access is on foot across the causeway at low tide, or by short ferry crossing at high tide.
It has stunning panoramic views across Mounts Bay to Lands End and The Lizard, boasts a picturesque harbour and has a spectacular castle, complete with magestic gardens.
The mount itself, is dedicated to St. Michael, whom in Cornish Legend; appeared to a group of Cornish fishermen in 495 AD - standing high on a rocky ledge on the western side of the Mount. This is The Great Vision of the Guarded Mount from Milton's Lycidas (A lament for a friend drowned during a passage from Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637).
St Michaels Mount is believed to have been a trading post from the earliest times, becoming an important port by the Iron Age. It is generally believed the St Michaels Mount was the island of 'Ictis' where the Greeks traded for Cornish tin; in fact Diodorus (a Sicilian Greek historian writing in the very early years of the first century A.D.) gives an account of the inhabitants of Belerion (Lands End), tin streaming and the way that the early tin streamers used wagons to carry the hard won minerals across to the island of Ictis; during the ebb of the tide, when the intervening space is left dry, to trade with the waiting merchants.
Edward the Confessor founded a chapel on the Mount in 1044 in a grant to the Benedictine Abbey of Mont Saint Michael in Brittany - though he may have made the grant before he was actually King of the English, and some doubts exist over what actually happened at this time. Edward did spend much of his youth in Normandy and was greatly influenced by the Norman monks and intrigued by the symbolic similarity between St. Michaels Mount and Mont Saint Michael. The charter, held by the Monks at Mont Saint Michael may even have been a forgery, to strengthen the Monks claim on their possessions in Cornwall.