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Falmouth Legends, Myths and Landmarks

March 3, 2014
Falmouth, Cornwall

Today, I thought I would tell you about a few Falmouth local legends, landmarks & myths to make your visit to see us even more interesting! 

What is Black Rock?  Well, it’s the pointy sticky-up thing in the water half way between Pendennis (castle seen in picture above) and  St Mawes (the marker was placed on the rock by Trinity House 1835, but it didn’t stop boats hitting it and they still do!)

St. Mawes was the tenth son of an Irish king and his name is revered not only here but in Brittany too, where he is known as St. Maudez and, possibly St. Malo. His stone chair is still preserved in the wall of a house in St. Mawes village. One day, so the legend goes, he was sitting there preaching when a noisy seal came out of the sea and interrupted him with its barking. After a while he became impatient, picked up a large rock and threw it at the animal. It missed, but legend tells us that the rock still remains where it fell, wedged on top of the Black Rocks halfway across Falmouth Harbour.

You can see also Gyllyngvase beach on the left. In 1120 Prince William the son of Henry I was shipwrecked off Barfleur in Normandy with his sister and several Norman nobles. Prince William was consequently buried at Gyllyng Vase, which translates to, ‘William’s Grave’. Gyllyngdune, which means ‘William’s Hill’, is also named in memory of the unlucky prince. This story is deemed to be myth by local historians, as the literal meaning of Gyllyngdune is Goengellom Downe meaning Goen or goon, open land.

Falmouth, Cornwall

Looking from St Mawes towards Pendennis Castle. Black rock is in the water between the land and the yacht. Gyllyngvase Beach is on the left.

 

 








Something else you may not know:

On the Falmouth Coat of Arms there is (amongst other things) a rock and pole, with red pennant flying, which stands for the Black Rock, on which former rectors of Falmouth were allowed by Act of Parliament to keep a pole flying a red flag to warn ships of the danger. The rectors, for this service, received sixpence for every decked ship that came into port.

 

Black Rock and the red flag can be seen on the Falmouth Crest.

Black Rock and the red flag can be seen on the Falmouth Crest.

I know – you’re amazed…

…and the best thing is that you can book into The Rathgowry Guesthouse and take a leisurely walk along the seafront or a short drive to see most of these things for yourselves!

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