Saturday, 21 March 2009

Lost Lands (Part Three - Lancarrow)

I have spoken of Perran Bay before a little here and I mentioned a lost city. This city was called Lancarrow or Langona and legends of it's past exist with little in terms of fact known.

Lancarrow was a great city and in it's time was the biggest in England. The inhabitants were wealthy and the city had seven churches known for their beauty. The inhabitants had been made wealthy by using the resurces around them, the sea, the mines and the tracts of woodland about. Criminals from across the country were bought here to work but were not allowed to live in the city.

Eventually the criminals persuaded their masters to let them move into the city and eventually they intermarried. Crime was thus brought to Lancarrow and it became a hedonistic place. In punishment God caused a huge storm that blew for three days and three nights and buried the city under sand.

Amongst the dunes of this bay quantities of human bones have apparently been found. The dunes however are holy and it is likely that they were home to the earliest church in mainland Britain after the Romans left. St Piran, the patron saint of Cornwall, travelled from Ireland on a millstone and landed in the bay and founded his church here. His earliest wattle and daub church was lost to the sand and replaced by a stone church which, although it has been excavated, is currently under the sand as well.

I find it intriguing that a city lost in vice was buried by sand and that the greastest saint of Cornwall landed here and built his church on top of the lost city but he to lost his church. Just as the land of Lyonesse was swallowed, so there was land that extended out from this bay bu this would have been lost at a much earlier time. The shallow nature of the bay which is full of sand and the direction of the prevailing winds mean that the land is fantastic for dune building processes to occur.

It is possible that the city is not under the dunes but out in the bay. Under the dunes there are rocky outcrops and a low cliff which can in some parts be seen from the beach and have been exensively mined. This is obviously a more ancient legend as no trace of this city was found by the Romans. It may seem unlikely that Cornwall was the centre of England at one point but Cornwall was home of metals highly prized by early civilizations and was visited by the Greeks and Phoenicians for trade. Cornwall was far more worldy than the rest of England at these times.

The dunes of Gwithian Bay are also said to hide a lost city and this bay would also have been above sea level in distant past times. One farmstead was nearly buried overnight and the inhabitants had to escape by a bedroom window. This house became uncovered for a while in the early 1800s.

The shifting sands of both bays were eventually tamed by the introduction of Marram Grass (to repeat my previous post). Marram was introduced from the new world by Sir Walter Raleigh. Raligh was friends with the Cot family whose family home was endangered by the sands of Perran Bay. It is easy for us to forget how dangerous these sands were once and how mobile.

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