Tradition & History
St. Michael’s Mount sits on the Pilgrim’s Way (St. Michael’s Way) one of the network of pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain. Welsh and Irish pilgrims used to join the Cornish at St. Uny, on the north coast, to avoid the treacherous sea around Land’s End. You can follow their footprints today from St. Uny, over Trencrom to Marazion, and across the causeway to The Mount. Read about St Michael’s Way on our blog.
St. Michael’s Mount is also on the great ley-line through Glastonbury to Bury St. Edmunds.
The old name for St. Michael’s Mount was ‘Careg Cowse in Clowse’ (The Hoary Rock in the Wood). Before it was an island it was part of Lyonesse. The tradition comes from the time when the mainland and the Isles off Scilly were joined. The woods have been lost to sea erosion. ‘Cornish Tynners, while digging for fuel in the bay at low tide, doe many times digge up whole and huge timber trees.’ records Carew in his Survey of Cornwall in 1602.
The spring tides crash in and the sand slips and everyone knows someone who knew someone who has seen the trees at low tide.
If you are interested in finding out more about the history of St Michael’s Mount, visit Morrab Library in Penzance’s Morrab Gardens is well worth a visit. And if you can, find a copy of: Popular Romances of the West of England by Robert Hunt. This informative book will keep you engrossed with myth, legend and tradition and tell you everything about piskies, giants and drowned lands.
St. Michael’s Mount Today
At low tide you can walk across the causeway. You can also go across by boat. There is a close-knit community on the Mount and the atmosphere is special because the castle is not just a museum, it is the private home of James and Mary St. Aubyn.
Don’t underestimate the sea, or the rugged quality of this island castle. These are the qualities that entice but are not always easy walking places. Also, wear sun-screen!! Even when it isn’t sunny, there is usually a wind to burn your cheeks.
The church at the summit was granted to the Benedictine Abbey of Mont St Michel in France after the Norman invasion of Britain. The church is beautiful and well worth the climb. Try to catch a Concert here.
The castle has guns and ramparts. Visit the stone chair from which fishermen are said to have seen a vision of the Archangel St. Michael in 495. Ponder the legend of Cormoran the Giant and the boy Jack. Gaze back at Marazion and out across the ocean. Then relax in the sub-tropical gardens and visit the shops and the quay before going home.
The pathway up to the castle is steep, cobbled and has no hand-rails. There is no access to the summit for wheelchair users. However, the garden lawn and all the village facilities have access available. There are four parking bays for registered disabled badge holders and an access toilet on the east side of the village, and ramps available for shop entrances. The best advice for registered wheelchair users is to ring 01736 710507 before you visit.
Find a Marazion holiday cottage that will make your trip to see St Michael’s Mount even more special.