Samson, Isles of Scilly

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Coordinates: 49°56′00″N 6°21′10″W / 49.9332°N 6.3529°W / 49.9332; -6.3529

Samson
Looking from the grassy shore of Tresco, across the calm water, to the low twin hills of Samson
A view of Samson from Tresco
Samson is located in Isles of Scilly
Samson
Samson
 Samson shown within Isles of Scilly
OS grid reference SV877127
List of places
UK
England
Isles of Scilly

Samson (Cornish: Enys Samson) is the largest uninhabited island of the Isles of Scilly, off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula of Great Britain. It is 38 hectares (0.15 sq mi) in size.[1] The island consists of two hills, North Hill and South Hill, which are connected by an isthmus on which the former inhabitants built many of their sturdy stone cottages.[2] Samson was named after Samson of Dol.[3]

History[edit]

The twin hills of Samson were formerly associated with breasts, in a similar way to the Paps of Jura in Scotland and the Paps of Anu in Ireland. There are large ancient burial grounds both on the North Hill and South Hill.[4][5]

The island was inhabited until 1855, when the Lord Proprietor Augustus Smith removed the remaining population from the island.[6] By this point, the population was found to be suffering from severe deprivation—particularly due to a diet of limpets and potatoes—and consisted of only 2 families: the Woodcocks and the Webbers. Smith then built a deer park on the island, but all the deer escaped. In recent times, the area has become a protected wildlife site. The island houses many different birds such as terns and gannets, and many wild flowers.

In 1971 the island, along with the nearby islands of Green Island, Puffin Island, Stony Island, and White Island, was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for their biological characteristics.[7]

Population[edit]

  • 1669: One family[8]
  • 1715: Only 3 men fit to carry arms
  • 1751: 2 households
  • 1794: 6 households
  • 1816: 40 people
  • 1822: 7 households (34 persons)
  • 1851: 3 households[9]
  • 1855: Augustus Smith removed the remaining inhabitants who consisted of two families.

Visiting the island[edit]

Boat trips to Samson are regularly available. There is no quay, so visitors disembark via wooden plank. The remains of the old cottages can be explored, and there are also the remains of Smith's deer park and prehistoric entrance graves.[10] There are no amenities or services available, but guided walks are led by local experts.[11]

Literary associations[edit]

The island is featured in the children's story Why the Whales Came by Michael Morpurgo. In the book, Samson is under a curse that needs to be lifted.[12] The island also featured in Armorel of Lyonesse by Walter Besant.[13] Many have made reference to Webber's Cottage on Samson as Armorel's house.[2]

The island also features in the Ann Bridge novel The Dangerous Islands.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Samson, Isles of Scilly. TrailBehind.com
  2. ^ a b Tourist information. iknow-cornwall.co.uk.
  3. ^ Orme, Nicholas (2000). Saints of Cornwall. OUP Oxford. p. 228. ISBN 978-0198207658
  4. ^ Samson, South Hill Chambered Cairn. The Megalithic Portal.
  5. ^ Samson, North Hill. The Megalithic Portal.
  6. ^ Tourist information. iknow-cornwall.co.uk.
  7. ^ "Samson (with Green, White, Puffin and Stony Islands)". Natural England. 12 December 1986. Retrieved 11 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Samson. TrailBehind.com.
  9. ^ "1851—Transcript of Piece HO107/1919 (Part 7)". Cornwall Online Census Project (Freepages, Ancestry.com). Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Samson, South Hill - Chambered Cairn in England in Scilly Isles". megalithic.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  11. ^ "Scilly Walks Visits Samson". Council of the Isles of Scilly. 3 October 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Why the Whales Came review. ReadingMatters.co.uk.
  13. ^ Mr. Besant's Story.; Armorel of Lyonesse. A Romance of To-day review. August 11, 1890. New York Times.

External links[edit]