Page 3 of 4
Two other dates are 3rd November 1099 and St. Martin's Day, 11 November 1099. Entries in both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Chronicle of Florence of Worcester refer to disastrous sea floods on these dates, but they link them with no specific place. However, in The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea it says, under Lyonesse, that the country, including its sudden and unexplained disappearance beneath the sea, is described in great detail in several of the early English chronicles, such as that of Florence of Worcester, who died in 1118. This does not seem to be correct as Florence of Worcester only writes one line about the inundation. However, such specific dates imply that there was some catastrophic event at this time and it is worth doing further research to try and establish where and what this was. There is possibly a link with St. Martin's in the Isles of Scilly. This island was called "Brethyoke" or "Brechiek" until the 16th century, after which it took the name of the patron saint of the church there. It is conceivable that there is a link between the name of the church and whatever it was that happened on St. Martin's Day 1099.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle also mentions two other sea floods without saying where they were and the one in 1014 has also been associated with the inundation of Lyonesse.
Whenever the date was, there are several events that supposedly relate to the inundation of Lyonesse. There is the story of Trevilian, an ancestor of the modern Trevelyan family, related by Camden who rode his white horse to high ground at Perranuthnoe east of Penzance. The family once used to keep a permanently saddled white horse in their stables in case of another similar event.
Sennen Cove was, prior to the 19th C, called Porth Gone Hollye, which is reputed to mean "the port serving Ganilly in the Isles of Scilly." Ganilly (Cornish for "saltwater downs") is currently uninhabited, but it is one of the closest of the islands to Sennen. There is a legend that a survivor of the drowning of Lyonesse, the Lord of Goonhily, landed at Sennen Cove and founded a chapel there in thanks for his deliverance. This was Chapel Idne, which is now destroyed and replaced by a car park.
Crantock, near Newquay, also has various archaeological sites buried in its sand dunes that have been linked with Lyonesse. This was once an important port and it seemed to decline after what was described as a period of three days when windblown sand smothered much of the town. A number of these buildings have since been excavated, so clearly something happened.
Another event which may be connected is the inundation of the City of Ys, or Ker Ys, in Douarnenez Bay at the western end of Brittany. Ys was reputed to be a large and rather wicked place built below sea level. One night the sea gates were deliberately opened and the city permanently drowned with, as in the case of the Cornish stories, one man escaping on a horse. The legend of Ys is part of Breton folklore and, real or otherwise, the inundation would have occurred sometime around the 4th or 5th century and could therefore be consistent with an event in the Arthurian period. It is interesting in this context that the Bay of Douarnenez has a Tristan's Isle in it where some of King Mark of Cornwall's troops landed in the 6th century.
© 1998 Dr. Patrick Roper