In the days when King Arthur ruled Camelot, an island nation flourished off the coast of Cornwall, among the Scilly Isles. Lyonnesse was a magical kingdom blessed with all things beautiful and abundant. The climate remained ideal year-round, resulting in lush orchards and fertile farmland. Beehives oozed honey and cows produced rich, thick cream. Even the poorest among the populace lived in charming cottages nestled among verdant gardens.
Trade thrived between England and Lyonnesse, and although practitioners of white magic were common, the dark arts were unknown.
Some believe Lyonnesse was the home of Tristan, and that he was prince of this enchanted land. It doesn’t surprise me, given what I know of Prince Tristan. His legend has long been a favorite of mine. Last February, I did a post about his doomed love affair with Iseult: Mythical Monday: Heartbreak and Valor. As tragic as their love was, perhaps it’s equally fitting Lyonnesse was eventually claimed by the cold waters of the Atlantic.
No one knows exactly how or why the island vanished, only that it sank into the sea around the time of King Arthur’s death. How sad to think that Camelot and this place of grace and beauty vanished nearly simultaneously. Perhaps, with the demise of Arthur’s shining dream, the nobility and virtue of Lyonnesse could not continue.
It is not, however, forgotten. Passing fishermen know to listen closely on a quiet day. When all is still, legend says you can hear the church bells of Lyonnesse tolling a dirge beneath the waves.