History of the Mount

One island, a thousand faces…

Forgotten forests. Ancient lookouts. Tin-laden ships sailing over the horizon. Napoleonic sieges. Benedictine Monks. Uncover the Mount’s colourful history.

A magnetic draw

Imagine Neolithic man winding his way through towering woodland to watch livestock roam. Feel the same breeze as the Bronze Age settlers who hunted here. Be transported on white-crested waves back to a time of angels and visions.

Watch boats bobbing on to the harbour, where ships once creaked with Cornish tin and traders made their fortunes. The Mount may have evolved through the centuries but one thing has always remained the same. The way this unique island draws people in, to lay claim to the granite and call it their own.

The castle’s beginnings

By the time of the Norman conquest in 1066, St Michael's Mount had come into the possession of the monks of its sister isle, Mont St Michel in Normandy. In the 12th century it was their hands that built the church and priory that still lie at the heart of the castle today.

A site of conflict

From 1193 when the Mount was seized by Henry La Pomeray who disguised his men as pilgrims, through the Wars of the Roses in 1473 when the Mount was held by the Earl of Oxford, to the Civil War, when Royalists valiantly held back the forces of Oliver Cromwell – the Mount has weathered many times of battle. Gaze out across the rows of cannons which once drove a Napoleonic ship to its capture on Marazion beach or peer up to the top of the church tower where the first beacon was lit of the series that warned London of the approach of the Spanish Armada.

Find out more about our island’s rich history. Ask anyone in the community that calls the Mount their home, or take a village and castle tour with one of our island experts, who’ll combine the Mount’s rich history with their own first-hand knowledge.

Did you know? St Michael’s Mount used to have its very own herd of grazing cows, whose milk was churned in the island’s dairy to make cheese and butter for the islanders.

Everyday discoveries

From a pilgrim’s path uncovered in the 1950s that is now the main route to the castle, to ancient tree stumps, blackened with age, unearthed in a recent storms, and Bronze age artefacts dug up by our gardeners – the Mount never ceases to surprise us. What secrets will it yield to you?