wUnfortunately, after dealing with ‘Geoffrey’ it is necessary to investigate a tedious amount of information which leads to the incontestable deduction that Joseph of Arimathea is buried on Burgh Island, the very island named as Iniswitrin on the 601 charter donated to Glastonbury and the reasoning behind why Henry Blois connected Joseph of Arimathea’s name to Glastonbury and why King Arthur was linked with Joseph of Arimathea in Grail literature and Why both Joseph and Arthur are linked to the isle of Avalon.
The island of Ictis was engaged in the tin trade. The Island was referred to by the explorer named Pytheas c.325 BC. Our interest in this island is to establish the whereabouts of the legendary Ictis.389 The island of Ictis was a central market place which acted as a storage facility from which tin ingots were sold to Phonecian traders from Pytheas’ era until around 30AD
The island of Ictis referred to in ancient Greek and Latin texts was not an island where tin is produced as some historians in antiquity have related when referring to Pytheas’ voyage. Discovery of Ictis as the island referred to by the Greek explorer Pytheas has been obfuscated, partly by misinterpretation of Pytheas’ words by subsequent chroniclers that have recycled or commented on Pytheas’ account and partly by Henry Blois.
The Island’s location is obviously the same as it was in Pytheas’ day but today Ictis is now known as Burgh Island; but, in the sixth/seventh century its local name was Ineswirtrin and was the property of the King of Devon. The island’s geographical location is central for the exportation of tin for the tin deposits mined from the rivers of Dartmoor. The Island’s location and the ease of access navigationally made it the ideal marketplace in Pytheas era and into the Roman era to sell tin to the ancient world.
The reason this is important to this exposé of our three genres under investigation i.e. Glastonbury lore, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work and Grail legend… is because of two people already mentioned in this expose; Joseph of Arimathea and the elusive Melkin. They are intricately linked to this island…. as is also the testimony derived from the 601 AD charter discovered at Glastonbury which refers to the island as Ineswitrin.
389The original connection between Burgh Island and Ictis was put forward by Michael Goldsworthy And did those feet. Much of his theory is employed in this section explaining the relationship between the island of Ictis, Ineswitrin and Burgh Island and the Isle of Avalon..
In the next section, I will show the prophecy of Melkin contains precise directional data which points out Joseph of Arimathea’s burial site on this island of Ictis presently known as Burgh Island today. As we have alluded to already, Henry Blois substituted the name of Ineswitrin for Insula Avallonis in the copy of Melkin’s prophecy recycled by John of Glastonbury.
The only copy of Melkin’s prophecy which has been passed down to posterity is included in John of Glastonbury’s Cronica. The recycled prophecy must have been derived from Henry Blois’ inclusion of the prophecy in another work. This work was the ‘De Regis Arthurii mensa rotunda’ from which JG obtained and recycled the excerpt which constitutes the Prophecy of Melkin as we know it today. However, Henry Blois substituted the name of Insula Avallonis for Ineswitrin so that it would tie back to an Island named Avalon of his own invention which we find in ‘Geoffrey’s’ HRB.
My intention is to show that the island of Ineswitrin is the identical location to the ancient island of Ictis. Also, that the prophecy of Melkin which geometrically directs us to Burgh Island, (once decrypted), is the same Island upon which Melkin states that Joseph of Arimathea is buried, along with the duo fassula. The directions in the prophecy of Melkin supposedly lead us to Insula Avallonis because Henry Blois has substituted the name which originally was to be seen on the original document i.e. Ineswitrin, the same name as found mentioned on the 601 AD charter which was donated to Glastonbury by the King of Devon.
The prophecy of Melkin in fact locates the real Ineswitrin geographically; that Island donated to Glastonbury. The reasoning behind Henry Blois having substituted the name of Ineswitrin for Insula Avallonis on the Melkin prophecy is because he had secreted a bogus grave containing King Arthur at Glastonbury before he died. Also, King Arthur in Henry Blois’ composition of HRB and VM is lastly recorded on this fictitious Isle of Avalon. In the Vera Historia de morte Arthuri (an addition to the First Variant), King Arthur’s grave is near the old church and the grave-site of King Arthur’s burial was spelled out in the interpolated text of DA as being in the graveyard of the church at Glastonbury. Both the Vera Historia de morte Arthuri and the interpolation into William of Malmesbury’s DA were both authored by Henry Blois.
This island of Ictis presently called Burgh Island is the same island as that which the Devonian King donated to Glastonbury in the charter dated 601 referred to by William of Malmesbury in his unadulterated copy of the DA and his GR3. This will become clear as we progress, but firstly we need to understand how it is that Joseph of Arimathea is buried on Burgh island and the reasoning behind why this Island was chosen as his burial site and also became the burial site of his son.
The obstacles which have prevented the discovery of the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea are many. The first is the meddling of Henry Blois by changing the name of Ineswitrin to Avallon in Melkin’s original prophecy. Secondly, modern scholars such as Carley and Lagorio have been duped by the fraud of Henry Blois and have misdirected others. A major factor has been scholarships’ inability to decode the prophecy of Melkin which has led them to believe that it is a spurious fourteenth century invention. The other main problem is that another branch of scholarship has been unable to determine the location of the island of Ictis.
What needs to be made clear is that the Ineswitrin donated by the King of Devon to Glastonbury on the 601 charter; the Island of Ictis known to be on the southern coast of Britain, discovered and described by Pytheas and the description of Pytheas’ island recycled by Diodorus; the Insula Avallonis of Melkin’s prophecy…. are all in fact the same place. On this Island is Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. It is accessed by a bricked up tunnel tunnel390 leading to a hewn vault. The vault originally was used to store tin ingots in an era when the Phoenician’s came to Britain to trade tin.
390See image 4
Cornish traditions have maintained that Joseph of Arimathea was a tin merchant who visited Britain. It is part of Cornish tin-miners folklore that there is a saying and song that “Joseph was a ‘tin-man’ and the miners loved him well.”
Let us assume for the moment that if this legend has any truth to it, one could conclude that Joseph would have visited the Island of Ictis which sold tin to the ancient world.
The Island of Ictis was referred to by Pytheas, Strabo, Pliny and Diodorus amongst many others. The search for the Island of Ictis originated due to a Greek named Pytheas, who made a journey by sea, circa 325 BC and wrote a chronicle of his voyage, which no longer exists. He mentioned the island in his journals and left quite specific detailed eye witness references to it, the most pertinent being that it dried out at low tide and he said that the island was located in southern England
It is because of Pytheas’s notoriety and the fact that his original writings no longer exist, that over time, spurious references with conflicting evidences from other ancient chroniclers both Greek and Latin, have almost made the island’s exact location indeterminable. The original account of Pytheas’ journey and his description of the island and its environs, have become garbled by later Greek and Latin historians. Some subsequent chroniclers when referring to Pytheas’s voyage disbelieve what Pytheas had related. Timeus’ recycling of Pytheas’s log or account have produced further inaccuracies in subsequent accounts. Pytheas had written an account of his journey titled ‘On the Ocean’.
We know something of Pytheas’ travels through another Greek historian called Polybius, who lived around 200 BC. Timaeus writing in the third century BC closest to when Pytheas made the voyage mentions the Island of Ictis before Polybius. The most pertinent ancient writers in our investigation who relate to Pytheas’ voyage are Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. Diodorus gives a good description of the island of Ictis and its trade recycled from Pytheas’ original eye witness description. It tells how large cart loads of tin were brought to the island of Ictis.
Diodorus’s ‘Bibliotheca Historica’ in the following passage relates to the Island of Ictis and the British tin trade: “We shall give an account of the British institutions, and other peculiar features, when we come to Caesar’s expedition undertaken against them, but we will now discuss of the tin produced there. The inhabitants who dwell near the promontory of Britain, known as Belerium, are remarkably hospitable; and, from their intercourse with other people’s merchants, they are civilized in their mode of life. These people prepare the tin, in an ingenious way, quarrying the ground from which it is produced, and which, though rocky, has fissures containing ore; and having extracted the supply of ore, they cleanse and purify it, and when they have melted it into tin ingots (Astragali), they carry it to a certain island, which lies off Britain, and is called Ictis. At the ebbing of the tide, the space between this island and the mainland is left dry and then they can convey the tin in large quantities over to the island on their wagons.391 A peculiar circumstance happens with regard to the neighbouring islands, which lie between Europe and Britain, for at flood tide, the intermediate space being filled up, they appear as islands; but at ebb tide, the sea recedes, and leaves a large extent of dry land, and at that time, they look like peninsulas. Hence the merchants buy the tin from the natives, on Ictis and carry it over into Gaul (Galatia); and in the end after travelling through Gaul on foot about a thirty days journey, they bring their wares on horses to the mouth of the river Rhone.”
391See image 4
Diodorus is witnessed to be quoting from Posiedonius. Pliny, who wrote circa 50AD on the subject of Ictis, quotes from Timaeus who was contemporaneous with Pytheas.
It is evident that over the period of four hundred years when these Greek and Latin speaking historians were recounting Pytheas’ exploits, mostly second or third hand since Pytheas’ original account; an inaccurate account has been passed down about an island that traded tin and its relation geographically to the Channel Islands. The only inaccuracy in Diodorus’ account is obviously a mix up with the ‘Channel islands’ as being in the same group where Ictis is located. Diodorus has conflated these ‘neighbouring islands’ as being in the proximity of Ictis in Belerion. The word “near” when referring to neighbouring islands has made it impossible to find a relative location on the South West coast of Devon and Cornwall.
The most probable explanation of this confusion is that it is a combination of Pytheas’ original eye witness account combined with that of a later trader who gives account of passing the Channel Islands or even Pytheas’ original account mentioning other islands nearby. There is no location which fits Diodorus’ description on the coast of Devon and Cornwall i.e. no conglomeration of islands on the peninsula of Belerion. Pliny quotes Timaeus’ account of Pytheas’ voyage ’six days sail inland from Britain, there is an island called Mictis in which white lead is found, and to this island the Britons come in boats of Osier covered with sewn hides’.
Pytheas, sailing from Ushant, made the southern tip of Cornwall. Diodorus’ quotes from Posidonius who travelled in Britain around 80BC and describes the metal workers of Belerion carrying their tin to a certain Island called Ictis which acted as a great trading post for merchants. Ictis was the central point from which tin was sold until the Roman invasion. At this time accounts given by Strabo show that Ictis and its location was actively being sought out by the Romans in order to plunder it.
Pytheas, as a ships navigator, had mastered the use of the “Gnomon,” an instrument similar to the hexante or Sextant as it is known today. This instrument was used by Phoenician and Greek navigators since very early times and Pytheas used it to calculate the latitude of Massalia, which he found to be 43′ 11′ N, almost matching the exact figure of 43′ 18’N where Marseilles is in fact situated.
It was a committee of merchants from Marseilles that engaged the services of Pytheas to undergo his voyage of discovery. He was a renowned mathematician of that city, who was already famous for his measurement of the declination of the ecliptic, and for the calculation of the latitude of that city, by a method which he had recently invented of comparing the height of the gnomon or pillar with the length of the solstitial shadow.
The important fact is that Pytheas in 325 BC, is capable of working out latitude. This can only be done by comprehension that the nautical mile measure is one sixtieth of a degree. This is a very important point concerning the geometrical information in the Prophecy of Melkin and scholars like Carley who dismiss the Melkin prophecy should not pronounce on matters of which they are entirely ignorant.
If Pytheas knows of this measurement of a nautical mile, it would be ludicrous to think that someone in the sixth century AD called Melkin, attested as a geometer and astronomer, does not understand the same unit of measurement. If you are an extremely competent mathematician and can see polaris, you can work out a distance between two points i.e. Avebury and Burgh Island and one could work out the height of Avebury above sea level. Also it can be done on the same principal in right angle latitude and longitude intersects by measuring the distance between meridians of longitude along a parallel of latitude or more correctly by calculating the distance between two points along a rhumb line where a series of right-angled triangles can be constructed along the rhumb line i.e the 104 nautical mile line from Avebury to Burgh Island; and in each triangle, one short side lies along a meridian of longitude and one lies along a parallel of latitude and the hypotenuse lies along the rhumb line.
The only reason I bring this up now is that many sceptics do not realize that the ancients, like us, are constrained to the same unit of measurement i.e. the nautical mile, defined by the size (circumference) of the earth. Thus, there are sixty nautical miles to one degree, and it is the only natural division of measurement, given that there are 360 degrees in a circle and our earth is defined by its circumference. A nautical mile is 6076 feet or 1852 meters.
The earth measures 21,600 nautical miles in circumference. A nautical mile is equal to one minute of arc of a great circle. All navigators or mathematicians at whatever time they lived, lived on this same earth and its size has not changed. Therefore, there has always been only one immutable measurement which subdivides the earth at its circumference. This is the ‘nautical mile’ of which there are 60 in one degree.
Melkin who gives us instructions to locate Burgh Island (Ineswitrin) as the resting place of Joseph of Arimathea, uses this same unit of measurement, as it cannot change over time. It is a function of measurement of the circumference of our earth and the only unit to define distance between two points on this earth’s circumference using star sights and planetary bodies. That ‘nautical mile’ measurement I have just explained is entirely relevant to how Pytheas had knowledge of this immutable fact in 325 BC in being able to define the latitude of Marseille. Knowledge in the ancient world of the nautical mile becomes very relevant in the next chapter on the Prophecy of Melkin originally composed in 600 AD.
Ictis is a single Island in Pytheas’ account and it is just a confusion where Diodorus recycles the plurality of Islands supposedly nearby. We know that Pytheas is talking of a singular Island called Ictis to which wagons cross over when the tide recedes which sells tin.
Burgh Island showing the sand spit at low tide.
The Belerion mentioned by Pytheas is most likely defined as the southern promontory of Great Britain commencing with Salcombe in South Devon. This ‘promontory’ stretching to Land’s End geographically adheres to Pytheas’ description. We can therefore understand his definition of the south west peninsula or ‘promontory’ as a description derived by a Navigator. There is also the fact that the name of Belerion tends to suggest the area defined by a people and that same area would then latterly become known as Dumnonia c.600 AD, an area or kingdon incorporating both Devon and Cornwall.
Incidentally, the chronicler Ptolemy (c.100 AD) says this area was populated by the Hebrews and in my opinion may well be the origin of the name of Belerion derived from the God Bel. It was Pytheas which named the southern promontory of Britain Belerion obviously taking that name from what the inhabitants at that time called their land. Diodorus in his description shown above, implies they were being defined by a people: ‘the natives of this promontory area more than the norm, being ’friendly to strangers’.
Just west of the entrance into Salcombe estuary, about 2.5 miles west of ‘Bolt tail’, there lies a small island called Burgh Island which fits Pytheas’ description exactly.
The Island of Ictis as it appeared in 1918 and relatively unchanged since Pytheas first visited. This was known in the British tongue as the ‘Island of White Tin’ and is synonymous with the Ineswitrin on the 601AD charter found at Glastonbury. Note approximately 5 buildings on the Island (5 cassates).392
392Also see Image 3
Pliny, who is using Timaeus as a source says, “there is an island named Mictis where tin is found, and to which the Britains cross.” He uses the word ‘proveniat’ which commentators have assumed as meaning that Tin was actually mined on Ictis. The real meaning is ‘provend’ as a supplier which matches the concept of ‘Emporium’ found in other accounts describing Ictis. Diodorus writes that tin is brought to the island of Ictis, where there is an Emporium, literally being translated as a ‘marketplace or agency’ and this is the definition which defines the role of Ictis from the time of Pytheas’ account up until the Roman era.
Diodorus relates that Ictis was dry at low water and “the natives conveyed to it wagons, in which were large quantities of tin”. The fact that Burgh Island is connected by a causeway at low tide, across which these wagons could convey the tin are the essential facts relayed by Pytheas himself.
The fact that large quantities of tin at this stage in 325BC and more specifically before that, was produced in Devon can be seen archeologically. It makes little practical sense to think that the Isle of Wight or Hengistbury point or Thanet are even viable candidates for the island of Ictis as proposed by previous commentators.
It is known that tin mining had first started in between the Erm and Avon estuary in the early British Bronze Age. There is ample archaeological evidence to show that tin streaming existed on the moors behind South Brent at Shipley Bridge on the river Avon c.1600BC 10 miles from Burgh island.
The Island of Ictis, first heard of in the chronicles of the ancient writers, was probably coined from the Greek ikhthys meaning fish, because up until recently Burgh Island was renowned for the shoals of pilchards that congregated naturally around it in Bigbury Bay. We can speculate that Pytheas referred to the Island as ikhthys island or ‘fish island’ i.e. Ictis Island.
The shoals of pilchards in the bay were legendary well into the 18th century. Fishing fleets are recorded to have made catches of 12 million fish in a single day. The pilchards were cured with salt and were either pressed for oil or shipped by the barrel load to Europe. The Island described by Pytheas as ‘Fish Island’ is renowned for its huge shoals of fish that sometimes darkened the whole bay. Why would its name not be associated with the Greek word ichthys which I propose became Ictis? Especially because it is the only tidal island which dries out with a sand spit393 on the southern promontory of Belerion as described by Pytheas. Apart from St Michael’s mount in Cornwall there is no other which dries out; but the approaches to the island for a visiting foreign vessel would be hazardous by comparison with Burgh Island.
393See Image 3
More importantly Ictis is situated just 10 miles from the huge alluvial tin deposits that existed on southern Dartmoor which prompted the name in old British. The island was called Ineswitrin in the language spoken in Dumnonia in the time of Melkin. If we accept the old English name of Melkin’s Ynis Witrin is synonymous with Insula Avallonis (only because the name was changed/substituted by Henry Blois on the Melkin Prophecy), and this island is where Joseph the tin merchant is buried; if we can then establish this island as the Island of Ictis which then links to Joseph and his tin mining affiliation…. we can accept more easily how it is that he is buried on the island of Ineswitrin/Avalon with something Melkin refers to as the duo fassula. The word Ynis pertains to ‘Island’ in old English, but if the name ‘Witrin’ were derived from an island known as ‘white tin’ from the Old English hwit for white, we have a solid connection with tin sold from Ictis and Ineswitrin which an ancient tin trader is said to be buried on.
The reasoning behind the appellation of ‘White tin’ is based upon the ancient world’s fascination with tin’s shininess. Tin is a metal as well as being an alloy which adds to copper to make a much harder bronze. Tin shines and the ancients termed this shininess as ‘white’ which is clearly seen in the French and Latin terms for tin. The French termed it fer-blanc (or white iron). Pliny’s Latin refers to tin as plumbum album, (or white lead). We can see the primitive association of shiny with ‘white’ and can understand the provenance of how a known metal became ‘shiny lead’ or ‘shiny iron’. The origin is unknown for the English word ‘tin’ i.e. no-one has understood any etymological connection for our present day English word ‘tin’. It is quite feasible that an r was dropped from ‘trin’ to give ‘tin’ and hence ‘white trin’ is contracted to ‘witrin’.
It is not unfounded to posit this explanation for the provenance of the name Witrin if the island donated in the 601 charter is synonymous with Pytheas’ Ictis. The fact that Melkin’s prophecy locates Burgh Island by its geometry and the fact that Joseph is said to be buried on the island and we know the island is in Devon goes along way toward establishing Ineswitrin as the ancient isle of Ictis.
The fact that Pytheas’ island is on the ancient promontory of Belerion which was later known as the equivalent area of Dumnonia would suggest why its King donated the island to Glastonbury. The island of Ineswitrin was never anything to do with Glastonbury’s location as Henry Blois tries to convince us in the Life of Gildas. Nor was Melkin’s Island which unequivocally is situated in Devon by the solution to the geometrical data provided in the prophecy as seen in the next chapter i.e. it is not ‘Insulam Avallonis’ as Marked on the Melkin prophecy recycled by JG. This will become clearer as we progress and understand the separate agenda’s of Henry Blois and unlock the meaning of Melkin’s prophecy; but we need to digress briefly to retrace what has happened and where this leads.
There is little doubt that the 601AD charter existed and is genuine as related by Malmesbury. In fact, William of Malmesbury originally started his proof of Antiquity for Glastonbury starting with the 601 charter which now constitutes chapter 35 of DA. As I have explained, Ineswitrin is identified to pertain to Glastonbury simply because of the etymological contortion pulled off by the author of the Life of Gildas; where we are led to believe Ineswitrin is identified as the old name of Glastonbury.
The fact that it was Henry Blois who changed Witrin to Gutrin to more suggest the Glass of Glastonbury in the explanation found in the last paragraph of Life of Gildas, (which differed from the name seen on the 601AD charter), indicates someone is trying to convince us of something which is not true. If we also consider that Joseph of Arimathea was never mentioned before Henry’s arrival at Glastonbury, and nor was Ineswitrin, it suggests Henry is the cause of this confusion between Avalon and Ineswitrin and both of their spurious connections to the location of Glastonbury.
Now, this gets further complicated by the fact Henry reverses his original need to convince us that the 601AD charter pertains to the ‘estate’ on Island Glastonbury when, later, after 1158…. Henry undertakes to hide the body of King Arthur to be discovered in Avalon (in the future).
At that time, it then becomes important for Henry Blois to reverse his initial need of Ineswitrin to be equitable as the old name for Glastonbury…. and subsequently convince us that Glastonbury is now Avalon. This will become much clearer when we cover the chapter on DA. But, if we remember Avallon is named from the French town and is ‘Geoffrey’s’ invention in HRB (where Arthur supposedly died), it should not be difficult to grasp that the interpolator of DA is the person who tells us where to look to find Arthur’s body.
Henry Blois also provides us with a ‘leaden cross’ which is planted in King Arthur’s manufactured gravesite at Glastonbury and confirms the name of the location as Avalon by what is written upon it.
For the moment we must continue with the present evidence in hand which shows why Joseph is buried on the ancient island of Ictis, because of the Island’sconnection to tin.
In a recent discovery on the Eastern shore at Wash Gully, 300 yards off the coast on the approaches to the Salcombe estuary, divers recently uncovered 259 copper ingots, a bronze leaf sword and 27 tin ingots. The wreck of an old trading vessel found there, dates from around 900BC and measures 40ft long and is constructed from timber planks. It is thought to have been powered by a crew of 15 seamen with paddles. This indicates like the evidences on Dean Moor just above the island that there was a tin trade prior to Pytheas’era.
There is more physical archaeological evidence along this small stretch of coast, between the mouth of the river Erm and Salcombe, which adds credibility to Burgh Island being synonymous with the acient island Ictis and its links with the tin industry. The archeological evidence indicates that there was considerable trade in tin ore being shipped abroad from an early period through to the Roman period.
The tin trade was seriously interfered with by Julius Caesar’s expeditions in 55 and 54 BC. The recent find of tin ingots at the mouth of the River Erm, only two and a half miles distant from Burgh Island should confirm it as the ancient island of Ictis and its link with the tin trade. Especially with Strabo’s concise account of how these tin ingots arrived in their present location, inshore of the reef, just a short distance from Burgh Island.
Strabo a Greek geographer and historian who died c.24 AD, relates the fact that the people who controlled the Island of Ictis took great pains to hide the business of the island from Roman vessels seen on that part of the coast. Late in Ictis’ history, with the emerging Roman Empire trying to get their hands on as much tin as possible, it proved necessary, in its final century of trading, to conceal the active trade of the island as so much tin was being stored there.
Strabo relates: ‘Now in former times it was the Phoenicians alone who carried on this commerce for they kept the voyage a secret from everyone else. At one time when the Romans were closely pursuing a certain Phoenician ship-captain in order that they too might uncover the tin markets in question, jealously guarding the secret, the ship-captain drove his ship on purpose off its course into shoal water; and after he had lured his pursuer into the same ruin, he himself escaped by a piece of wreckage and received from the State the value of the cargo and what he had lost. Still, by trying many times, the Romans learned all about the voyage.’
Strabo tells us of a Phoenician trading vessel whose captain was trying to keep the location of Ictis a secret, lured a pursuing Roman vessel onto a reef. The fact that the only evidence we are likely to find of the outcome of such an account appears as archaeological evidence today and so close to the Island which by the description of Diodorus can only be the ancient Ictis, should be a strong case in favour of Burgh Island’s identification as the ancient location of Ictis.
Strabo’s vessel, obviously on its return voyage home, just having left from the “Tin Isles”, while being followed by a Roman vessel and unable to elude it; duly steered into the reef at the mouth of the river Erm which caused the sinking of both vessels on a shoal. This endeavour, as we saw in the passage earlier, was to maintain the secrecy of the location of the Island of Ictis. The only thing an archaeologist could hope to find are ingots inshore of a reef nearly 2000 years later, and this is what the divers found. The ingots were spread inshore of the rocks just as a moving sinking vessel would distribute them as it sank after having had its own keel ripped out by the partially submerged reef.
Now, there would be no point in this selfless deed unless of course the captain was seen heading to seaward from the proximity of Ictis. He must have been fully laden because he was on a return journey to his home port and hence the cargo mentioned by Strabo. If overhauled and captured, the Phoenician captain would have difficulty explaining, being laden with ingots in close proximity to an island…. without the Roman deducing this was the Island which sold tin.
If the Phoenician was somewhat distant from the island and then captured, he might convince the Roman that Ictis was at any location. But to be seen heading to seaward departing from what looks to be a Lee shore and in close proximity to an island, would surely have made a Roman captain suspicious…. if he had indeed survived to tell the tale or captured the Phoenician captain with his cargo.
This caption shows the ‘white water’ at the head of the river Erm caused by the submerged rocks that Strabo refers to as a reef. These are called West Mary’s rocks onto which the Phoenician pilot ran his vessel. The image also shows the proximity of these rocks where the ingots were found to the fabled Island of Ictis situated in Bigbury Bay. The captain of the Phoenician vessel, whose own life was preserved, was rewarded by his countryman or the agency on the island for managing to maintain the secrecy of the island.
Under normal circumstances, it is very strange that a trading vessel laden with a cargo of tin ingots, having just left the coast would fall upon the tidal ‘Mary’s rocks’ at the mouth of the Erm estuary. The only explanation to why the ingots were found inshore of the reef can reasonably be explained by Strabo’s account. If we have located Ictis, (as the Melkin prophecy later confirms), it seems extraordinary for a cache of ingots to be found which correlates with Strabo’s ancient record. Logically, why would a vessel set out in foul conditions after having loaded a cargo, only to fall prey to rocks which are sometimes covered depending on the state of the tide. Especially on the river mouth next to the island from which one had just set sail. Strabo’s account explains the archaeological find of astralagi dating from that period.
Strabo’s report that this island was held in such high esteem by the Phoenicians as an Island from which tin was obtained, witnesses that Ictis was probably kept secret to avoid plunder. It is why the vault itself within the island was never discovered. The Island remained unexposed to Roman discovery and takeover as Strabo indicates until the era of Joseph of Arimathea.
It is probable that the early wagoner’s who brought the tin down to the island mentioned by Diodorus would be a detail mentioned by Pytheas and it is strangely coincidental that the only ‘wagon pin’ found in Devon is only a couple of miles from the island. It was found on an old track way leading up to where the tin was transported from at Shipley bridge and Dean Moor. The island’s monopoly and establishment as the most convenient place from which to export came about by its proximity to the tin source on Dartmoor. Another major factor is the islands ease of navigation for an arriving or departing vessel. A captain can land on the sand spit at all states of tide i.e. for the foreign tin traders to land onshore.
The word ‘Emporium’ (a description of Ictis) indicates that Ictis acted as a market, which indicates a trading post from which the tin was traded. This would make sense practically, understanding that a trading vessel would not want to wait around for the tin to be brought down from the various tin streamers high up on Dartmoor, or from miners in the various river valleys i.e. Ictis is a central delivery and pick up point below Dartmoor from which it is safe to land on the beach and depart on the tide.
This leads to a natural conclusion that Ictis maintained some sort of vault or storage area from which tin was dispersed as trading vessels arrived. This would also concur with the ‘wagon loads’ being transported ‘to’ the island of Pytheas’ eye witness account. Vessels arriving from abroad could expedite their business by landing and loading on the sand causeway and if the winds were fair, return home without a long wait in the anchorage at Bantham.
The island of Ictis decline from around 50BC until its closure due to Roman encroachment. Until that point, miners up on Dartmoor would have found it very difficult to deliver to the coast as demand dictated, without an store facility on the shore to deal with the comings and goings of foreign vessels. There is no question that the tin was traded with Europe…. the Greek historian Herodotus in the 5th century B.C, referring to the tin trade. Herodotus in book 3 referring to the ‘Isles in the west’ says ‘I cannot speak with certainty nor am I acquainted with the islands called the Cassiterides from which tin is brought to us….it is never the less, certain that both our tin and our amber are brought from these extremely remote regions, in the western extremities of Europe’.
Ptolemy, writing c.140 A.D. says of the British Isles,’they were peopled by descendants of the Hebrew race who were skilled in smelting operations and excelled in working metals’. Biblical records recording the use of tin as far back as the ‘coming out of Egypt’ with Moses; ‘Tubal-Cain the instructor of every artificer in works of bronze and Iron’, and the building of the first Temple.
Ictis might have had an ancient heritage, but at some stage evolved into its role as a market place or pick up point for foreign vessels. Ictis’ central agency, originally determined by geographical convenience; dissolved, as the industry changed or as the Roman’s search for the tin island became ever closer to discovery as we saw in Strabo’s account.
Ictis contains what probably can be likened to one of the first bank vaults to ever exist…. an old cave where the Ingots were stored for collection. As such it would allow the miners to bring their tin down from the moors when they wished and the foreign traders to purchase their ingots at their arrival point. To store this quantity of tin in one location needed some sort of security from plunder and therefore the vault was hewed out of the rock to secret the tin on the island. It is the old tin vault which then became Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb and to which Melkin’s instructions lead us to.
If Ictis is the ‘White Tin’ island of Ineswitrin in Devon and Ictis is synonymous with Burgh Island; the information that Melkin later provides by geometrical precision which leads us to this island and Joseph’s connection with the tin trade…. and the fact that Melkin shows us that Joseph’s tomb exists there…. should under normal circumstances indicate to the scholastic community that the island needs to be archaeologically investigated.
Barry Cunliffe394 who wrote about Ictis has fixated upon Mount Batten in Plymouth as the location for Ictis. He refers in his book to the wreck site which produced the find of the tin ingots in the mouth of the Erm River. By the photograpgh of the coast above, we can see the tin ingot discovery is in clear sight of Burgh Island, and the island description given by Diodorus to any perceptive investigator might be a match in terms of topographical features, ease of navigation and plum central on the coast of all the rivers flowing from Dartmoor. But, Cunliffe does not even mention Burgh Island 2 miles distant. This is my problem with modern scholars!!!.
The archaeological community’s ignorance of the part the island played in secreting and storing the tin is the reason there is no evidence of its role as a storage facility. For archaeologists to investigate they must first understand how the island operated. The scholastic community which denies Melkin’s existence (and hence the directional data in his prophecy) has led to the assumption that any burial place of Joseph is fictitious. This is of course is true relative to any false information regarding Josph’s burial at Glastonbury, but not to the vault secreted 50ft under Burgh island which became Joseph’s tomb.395 If Henry Blois had not substituted the name of Avalon on the Melkin prophecy, maybe Melkin’s prophecy would not be declared a fake.
394The extraordinary voyage of Pytheas the Greek
395See image 5
It was the community at Folly Hill just above Bigbury on Sea which operated Ictis as a storehouse and mart for tin…. due to its close proximity for loading tin ingots onto foreign vessels. The island remained uninhabited so as not to draw attention to pillagers. There would be no community which has left archaeological evidence of dwelling on the island itself. As the charter shows, in 601AD there were only five cottages on it; long after Joseph had been buried there.
Bantham with Ictis in the background
The Folly Hill site just above Burgh Island which is being archeologically excavated at present shows evidence of a large community living along the hillside from the present Bigbury Golf course to the other side of what used to be the cart route down from the tin deposits on the moors. Bronze Age pits were uncovered underneath the Iron Age surfaces and have been dated by ceramics. Only a small area along this ridge at Folly Hill has been archeologically surveyed, but there is evidence through high resolution ‘magnetic gradiometry’ and from surface evidence that a large community lived along the ridge. This was probably the community which controlled and operated the Ictis trade.
Presently the archaeological excavation has dated the site to around 300BC through to approximately 300 AD and shows evidence of extensive trade with the continent, but what is most interesting is the find of some locally made granite clays and these are surely evidence of the earlier culture that initially set up Ictis.
In 2003 a component of an Iron-age ‘Linch-pin’ was found south west of the iron-age hill fort of ‘Blackdown Rings’. No other iron-age finds have been found in the area, which indicates that the cart pin was lost ‘en route’ down from Shipley Bridge to Ictis. The Pin is of the Kirkburn type and dated to around 300BC. Where this pin was found is right next to the oldest road down from the alluvial tin deposits on Southern Dartmoor which leads to the tidal road in Aveton Gifford…. the same track that the wagons took to get to Ictis.
Just as Pytheas had said, carts brought the tin to the tidal beach. The use of carts is rare in the hilly terrain of Devon, compared with the rest of the country and for the most part, pack horses were used. So, this really is a singular link to the usage of carts in a prehistoric period. The Devon Archaeological Society goes on to say in their report: ‘The Loddiswell find is the only example known so far in Devon of a piece of equipment which can with reasonable confidence be attributed to the prehistoric chariot or cart. It therefore provides the earliest evidence in the county for the use of a wheeled vehicle.
There is strong evidence to indicate that Burgh Island is the ancient Ictis…. and that Melkin’s island which has been given the name Insula Avallonis, is in reality the ‘White Tin island’ of Ineswitrin donated to Glastonbury by the King of Devon. The reader shall understand all the reasons which clearly show that Henry Blois has substituted the name of Ineswitrin on the prophecy of Melkin. Posterity has received Melkin’s prophecy with all its attributes in the information it intended to convey i.e. the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea. The crucial difference now is that the prophecy of Melkin names the fictional island of Avallonis, invented by the muses of Henry Blois in HRB.
If we can accept that Henry Blois changed the name on the Melkin prophecy so that it coincided with the name of the island in HRB where Arthur was taken after Camblan, I shall also show in the next section, how it is that we can be certain that the Prophecy of Melkin existed in Henry Blois’ era and that he in fact saw it. Let us, for the moment, see why Melkin says that Joseph of Arimathea is buried on this Devonian Island.
The now redundant tin vault that exists on Burgh Island has been the point of this investigation, establishing that Ictis of the ancient world became known in the British tongue c.600 AD as Ineswitrin and Joseph was said by Melkin originally to be buried on Ineswitrin before Henry Blois confused everyone by implanting the name of Insula Avallonis on the Melkin prophecy.