LOST CITIES AND SUNKEN LANDS
By Nigel Pennick, published by Capall Bann at £10.95. 190pp. (Revised 2nd edition) ISBN: 1988307-83-0
In this offering, the prolific Mr Pennick turns his attention to Britain's coasts in a fascinating exploration of the eternal battle between land and sea. Starting with discussions of the wide occurence of catastropic floods in mythology, a dispassionate and level-headed round up of the crank theories about Atlantis, he examines the widepread nature of British coastal folklore and legends which speak of bells which toll beneath the waves and of the hard evidence for coastal inundations down the ages.
Using original accounts, chronicles and early maps, Pennick then discusses the very real cases of areas such as the flooding of large areas of East Anglia in the 1953 floods and of the destruction over the past 700 or 800 hundred years of areas such as Holderness in East Yorkshire and the mediaeval town of Dunwich in Suffolk.
Pennick next turns to the legends and local folklore which tell of lands lost to the sea in earlier centuries, and of which no official records exist in the form of reliable chronicles or other reports, to ask whether the historically chonicled cases can be used to shed light on what truths may underlie those legends. He concentrates predictably on the cases of Lyonnesse, between Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, and Cantref y Gwaelod in what is now Cardigan Bay, said by Welsh chronicles to have been lost in the 6th century, and other areas around the Welsh coast as well as on the cases of a number of coastal towns in the south east of England which have lost harbours and more to the sea.
This is a splendid effort by Nigel to rescue this whole aspect of Britain's real and legendary past from the clutches of the ever-burgeoning ranks of mindless Atlantean dolphin-channelers and a fascinating exploration of the relationship between legend and folklore and historical realities.