Roland Turner

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Cornwall, United Kingdom

Today we turned our attention to more contemporary sites, or at least sites with 'AD' in their date. The first was the Madron Baptistry; constructed circa 100AD and still in use today. Various of my ancestors were baptised here. The pieces of cloth hanging about the place appear to be related to St Madron's day having been a few days prior to our visit; I suspect that each piece represents a prayer/wish of the person who placed it.

Our next stop was the Geevor Tin Mine. Cornwall has been a tin-mining site for millenia; needless to say the techniques have improved somewhat of late. Cornwall's tin is mixed with granite, so extraction is difficult and expensive. A world-wide tin marketing cartel existed until about 1985, however it went bankrupt; days later the price of tin had dropped by 80% and has never recovered. So, Cornwall's tin deposits wait until (i) someone comes up with an incredibly cheap, non-damaging way to extract tin from granite (unlikely) or (ii) other reserves (typically alluvial) are exhausted and prices rise once more; this is likely to take a long time. In the meantime, we were able to see most of the mine's above-ground processing equipment and tour underground in a recently discovered mine that was worked for centuries (until about the 18th century) by a single family using hand tools.

We then visited St Ives, an ancient fishing village which, in addition to being pleasant to walk around, is the namesake for the suburb of Sydney in which I grew up.

The day's final stop was St. Michael's Mount. This is a hill just off Marazion which fluctuates between being a head at low tide to being an island at high tide. The joining strip of land is flat enough that the change from head to island is very quick, tourists are advised to check tides before walking over. For those unlucky enough to be caught by the tide, there is a ferry service, of course. On top of this craggy hill is St Michael's Mount Castle, originally a twelfth century Benedictine priory. We arrived too late to visit the castle, however we were able to walk over and back on the causeway before the tide rose.