Looe Island

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Looe Island, also known as St George's Island, and historically St Michael's Island is a small island a mile from the mainland town of Looe in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

According to local legend, Joseph of Arimathea landed here with the child Christ. Others have identified the island as Ictis, the location described by Diodorus Siculus as a center for the tin trade in pre-Roman Britain.

The waters around the island are a marine nature reserve[1] and form part of the Looe Voluntary Marine Conservation Area (VMCA)[2]. First established in 1995, the Looe VCMA covers nearly 5 km of coastline[3] and aims to protect the coastal and marine wildlife around Looe.

Contents

History

People have been coming to the island since the Iron Age. Evidence of early habitation includes pieces of Roman amphora as well as stone boat anchors [4]. In the Dark Ages, the island was used a seat of early Christian settlement. There was a chapel and dwellings.

In the later Medieval period, the island came under the control of Glastonbury Abbey. This continued until the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536 when it became property of the Crown.

Through the 17th and 18th centuries the island was a popular haunt for smugglers avoiding the British government's revenue cutters out of Plymouth and Falmouth.

In the 20th century, Looe island was owned (and inhabited) by two sisters, Babs and Evelyn Atkins, who wrote two books: We Bought An Island (1976, ISBN 0245529403) and its sequel Tales From Our Cornish Island (1986, ISBN 0245542655). They chronicle the purchase of the island and what it was like to live there. Evelyn died in 1997 at the age of 87; Babs continued to live on the island until her death in 2004, at the age of 86. On her death, the island was made a bequest to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust; it will be preserved as a nature reserve in perpetuity.

Geography

It is about 22.5 acres (91,000 m²) in area and a mile (1.6 km) in circumference. The highest point is 47 m above sea level. The island, like much of the south west England, has a mild climate with frost and snow being rare.

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