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Looe Island


Looe Island's romanticized relationship to smuggling has always led to rumors and stories of treasure and secret caves, although no strong evidence for buried treasure or the infamous network of smuggling caves have been verified to this date.

Strangely, some interesting historical observations of the island have made claims of submerged networks of man-made caves which many believe may have been used for hiding contraband to collect at a later date. The validity of the reports are in question however, due to the mysterious circumstances surrounding their publishing.

On the 15th of September 1900 The Cornish Times reported that 'Remarkable discoveries at Looe Island' had been made, giving a description of the findings and promising a full detailed article in the next issue, but no such report ever appeared - fueling conspiracy theorists and treasure hunters curiosity in what, if anything, was actually found beneath Looe Island.

The original report that appeared in The Cornish Times told the story of two young men who had become enthralled with stories of smuggling and treasure while staying in Looe on holiday. Having nothing to occupy their time, these gentlemen (named as Messrs R. Lawson, of the Inner Temple, and F.A. Somers, F.S.A.) approached Sir William Trelawny for permission to visit the island to investigate further. What they found was astonishing.

The cave was soon found, and shortly after an adjoining one, which from its curious resemblance to the celebrated Etruscan caves at Clusia in central Italy, let the investigators to suspect that they had accidentally stumbled on a discovery unknown to even the old smugglers themselves. It was decided to make further excavations, and the most remarkable results were obtained.

At a distance of about 18ft below the surface, St. George's Island was nothing but an extensive ramification of caves. Everything pointed towards the fact that these caves were originally above the ground as many of the larger ones - of which there were said to be dozens - were build of brick, similar to that used on the Hannafore Estate and probably obtained from the same source. They were evidently very ancient, probably prehistoric structures, several having collapsed over there long history.

The style of their 'architecture' was said to be that of a very early pre-mesopelagic or Etruscan design (around 800BC). It was noted in The Cornish Times that no human remains had been found and a cemetery discovered on the island was most probably made by monks at a much later date.

The last paragraph of The Cornish Times article states that further important developments are expected, and that excavations and finds are expected to be thrown open to the public.

A follow up, more detailed, article was to be produced in the next issue of The Cornish Times, but the article never appeared, and nothing was ever heard of these claims again. A quick search of the internet will find no information about or references to the article, the only evidence that such a discovery was made is the existence of the newspaper itself. What ever happened to the caves and their discoverers remains a mystery.

Looe Island Caves