Secrets of the Sea: The Hidden History Behind Cornwall’s Cliffside Poles

Source: Reddit

The picture of the beautiful Cornwall coast with the wind blowing through the trees and across the sandy beaches made me recall the summer holidays of the past. It echoed the feeling of the childhood, memories of family vacations in the “60s and ‘70s: the smell of the sea, the roar of the waves against the cliff, the cry of the gulls. It was a time when people could roam around the rocky shores and in the evening listen to sea adventures.

This is what I saw one evening when I was walking down the memory lane on the bank of a river, two rusty poles standing on the edge of a cliff. Broken and isolated they were like the dark guardians of a majestic scenery of the sea. I could not quite tell what their objective was, but they interested me and thus I decided to find out more about them.

These poles could have had a number of historic purposes for instance. One of the possible functions could have been that they were used in a mooring system. Cornwall’s coast line with lots of coves and inlets is quite a maritime region. These poles could have been for holding boats, for instance, as anchorages or to tether boats to the shore through the help of mooring post or bollards. Picture it in the past, a tiny fishing boat is anchored and tied to these strong wooden poles.

Source: Reddit

Another theory is that the poles were used for navigation saying that these poles were used as a guidance. During the period when there was no such thing as GPS, people used actual objects and landmarks to ensure that they were not lost at sea especially when sailing along the coast. These poles may have been part of a navigational aid to show the way or danger zones to avoid capsizing of the ships.

It is also conceivable that these poles once held fishing nets because the nets were used for fishing. Fishing has always been one of the major sources of living for people living near the coast and these poles could probably have been used in supporting fishing nets to dry and repair.

But as I was standing there admiring the poles and the view that the field offered, another idea popped up in my mind – could these have been the remains of an old observation deck with chains or a railing? Picture this: parents and grandparents in the ‘50s and ‘60s, all clean and neat for Sunday, coming to this place. Little ones leaning over the railing to look down, but not allowed to get too close by the safety barrier, as their parents admired the views. It is probable that erosion has, in the course of time, taken away some part of the cliff as well as the chains that linked it with the rest and only the poles remained to remind people of the once famous lookout point.

Source: Reddit

These theories also explain the applicability of the poles and, at the same time, show the evolutions in the culture and society over the years. Transforming from a functional coast that was filled with maritime activities to a recreational one shows the shift in society’s lifestyle and their appreciation of the natural environment and physical activities.

More so, those poles are rather symbolic of how people engage with their surroundings and, in this case, the sea – how they create lives that are so closely linked with it. No matter if they served as a mooring place, a tool for navigation, a fishing gear or a part of a safety system these structures reflect the spirit of the coastal dwellers.

Contemplating about these options, I could feel the connection with the past and the feeling that someone, at some point, has been walking on the same path. The reason for these poles is still unknown today; however, they add to the knowledge of the coastal history of Cornwall. It does make us recall the fun of discovery and the eternal mystique of the ocean.

Source: Reddit

When you are walking on such trails, you can only wonder what these poles have witnessed in the course of history. Whether they bring back the reminiscence of childhood holidays or create an interest in the history of the place, these are a fine example of the timeless beauty and the mystique of Cornwall’s coastline.

Thus, the next time you are walking along the cliff, do not hesitate to free your imagination. Maybe you will find out what secrets and stories have not been told yet and are ready to be told by your curiosity?