Once upon a time (so tradition says) a region of extreme fertility lay between the Scilly Islands and Cornwall. This land was called Lyonesse; and where now roll the waters of the Atlantic there once stood prosperous towns and no less than a hundred and forty churches. The rocks called the Seven Stones, seven miles west of Land's End, are said to mark the site of a large city. This country was overwhelmed by the sea, and the sole survivor, one Trevilian, escaped destruction only by mounting a swift horse and fleeing to the mainland.
Such, stripped to the bone, is the famous legend of Lyonesse. Had it any real basis in fact, or is it merely an invention of the “dreamy Celt”? There are good reasons for believing that the substance of the legend is true, that within prehistoric times there did actually exist land which is now covered by the sea, and that it has been gradually overwhelmed. In one respect only does the modern critic disagree with tradition. He believes that Lyonesse was the Scilly Islands themselves, not a completely vanished region between them and Cornwall; and that what is now an archipelago of islands was a single large island, surrounded perhaps by a few rocky islets.
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