Chapter 16
Pytheas and the Island of Ictis
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 its whereabouts.
Ictis was a central market place which gathered
tin to be sold to Phonecian traders….not an island where tin is produced. Its
location made it the ideal marketplace. The reason this is important to this
exposé of our three genres is because of two people already mentioned;
Joseph of Arimathea and the elusive Melkin are intricately linked to this
In the next chapter, 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. As we have alluded to already, it later becomes clear that
Henry Blois changed the name of Ineswitrin for Insula Avallonis in the copy
The 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 chapter.
of Melkin’s prophecy. The only copy of Melkin’s prophecy which has been
passed down to posterity is included in John of Glastonbury’s Cronica which
must have been derived from Henry’s inclusion of the prophecy in another which he substituted the name of Insula Avallonis for Ineswitrin
so that it would tie back to his own Island invention which we find in
‘Geoffrey’s’ HRB.
My intention is to show that the island of Ineswitrin is the identical
location as 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 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 substituted the name on the
original document.
The prophecy in fact locates Ineswitrin. Henry had substituted
Ineswitrin for Insula Avallonis on the Melkin prophecy purely because he
had secreted a bogus grave containing King Arthur at Glastonbury before
he died. This island presently called Burgh Island is the same as the
Devonian King donated to Glastonbury in the charter dated 601 referred to
by William of Malmesbury. 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 a
burial site. 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. They have been led to
false conclusions as to the existence of Melkin. 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 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 by Pytheas and described by
Diodorus; the Insula Avallonis of Melkin’s prophecy.... are all the same
place. On this Island is Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. It is accessed by a long
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.
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 he would have visited the island 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 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 location indeterminable. The original account
of his journey and his description of the island and its environs, have
become garbled. Some of the subsequent chroniclers when referring to
Pytheas’s voyage disbelieve what Pytheas had related. Pytheas’s log or
account of his journey was called ‘On the Ocean’. We know something of his
travels through the other Greek historian called Polybius, who lived around
200 BC. Timaeus writing in the third century BC mentions Ictis before
Polybius. The most pertinent ancient writers who relate to Pytheas’ voyage
are Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. Diodorus gives a good description of the
island of Ictis and its trade. He ascertained his account from Pytheas’
original eye witness description. It tells how large cart loads of tin were
brought to the island.
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,
See image 4
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. 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
Diodorus is witnessed to be quoting from Posidonius. Pliny, who
wrote circa 50 AD 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, an inaccurate account has been passed down
about an island that traded tin. 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. 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 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 Pytheasvoyage ’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 appreciating that the nautical mile
measure is one sixtieth of a degree. Now, if Pytheas knows of this
measurement it would be ludicrous to think that someone in the sixth
century AD called Melkin known 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.
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,
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 Burgh Island 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.
Ictis is a single Island in Pytheas’ account. However one might view the
confusion of the plurality of Islands; we know that Pytheas is talking of a
singular Island called Ictis to which wagons cross over when the tide
recedes which sells tin.
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 which included both Devon and Cornwall.
Incidentally, the chronicler Ptolemy says this area was populated by the
Hebrews and may well be the origin of the name of Belerion derived from
the God Bel. 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.
Copyright. The Francis Frith Collection
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 601 charter. Note
approximately 5 buildings on the Island (5 cassates).
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.
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 350BC 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
Also see Image 3
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 Avon c.1600BC not far 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. It seems extraordinary that
the one Island described by Pytheas as ‘Fish Island and renowned for its
huge shoals that sometimes darkened the whole bay, would not be
associated with the Greek word ikhthys. Especially, being the only tidal
island which dries out with a sand spit
on the southern promontory as
described by Pytheas (apart from St Michael’s mount in Cornwall).
More importantly it 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), 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 there with something Melkin
refers to as the duo fassula. As we have covered, there seems to be no doubt
that 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.
See Image 3
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 is
shiny 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
PytheasIctis. 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. Nor was
Melkin’s Island which unequivocally is situated in Devon by the solution to
the data provided in the prophecy as seen in the next chapter. This will
become clearer as we progress and understand the separate agenda’s of
Henry Blois.
There is little doubt that the 601 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
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 charter pertains to the Island
Glastonbury when, later, after 1158…. Henry undertakes to hide the body of
King Arthur to be discovered in Avalon (in the future). 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 cross which planted in King Arthur’s
manufactured gravesite at Glastonbury which confirms the name of the
location as Avalon. For the moment we must continue with the present
evidence which shows why Joseph is buried on this island, because of its
connection 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 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.
The tin trade must have been 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 2.5 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 ingots arrived in their present location,
inshore of the reef just a short distance from Burgh Island.
Strabo 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 lured a
Roman pursuing 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 we are identifying as 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 Ictis. The only thing
we 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. 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 are inshore of the reef can reasonably be
explained by Strabo’s account. If we have located Ictis, (as Melkin 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
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…. and on an old track way leading up to
where the tin was found 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. Another major factor
is the islands ease of navigation to land on the spit at all states of tide i.e.
for the foreign tin traders to land onshore.
The word ‘Emporium’ (used in a description of Ictis) indicates that Ictis
acted as a market, which indicates some sort of central agency, trading post
or even monopoly 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 the moors, or from miners in the various river valleys i.e. Ictis is a
central delivery and pick up point below Dartmoor.
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 acted as the main tin agency for the western
peninsular of England, declining 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
agency 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 brass and Iron’, and the building of the first
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 built
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
Barry Cunliffe
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 caption above we can see it is in clear sight of Burgh Island…. which to
any perceptive investigator might be a match for Diodorus’ description.
But, Cunliffe does not even mention Burgh Island. This is because there is
no superficial archaeological evidence on the island.
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
The extraordinary voyage of Pytheas the Greek
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 Glastonbury, but not to the vault secreted 50ft
under Burgh island which became Joseph’s tomb.
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.
See image 5
Courtesy of Francis Frith. Bantham with Ictis in the background.
The Folly Hill site just above Burgh Island which is being archeologically
excavated 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
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. As we progress we 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 what it intended to point out 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 island where Arthur was
taken after Camblan, I shall also show in progression how it is that we can
be certain that the Prophecy of Melkin existed in Henry Bloisera 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.