Don't miss a story sign up to Weston Mercury's FREE daily newsletter CLICK HERE

What is the history of Steep Holm island and what can you see there?

PUBLISHED: 18:00 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 09:32 13 October 2017

Steep Holm. Picture: Mark Cooper

Steep Holm. Picture: Mark Cooper

(c) copyright newzulu.com

Vikings, smugglers and pirates have all played a role in the curious history of Steep Holm island, which is just across the water from Weston-super-Mare. How can you take a trip to Steep Holm island and what can you see there? Here are some things you probably did not know about it.

Steep Holm. Picture: Aleks Nocny Steep Holm. Picture: Aleks Nocny

Steep Holm island is an island in the Bristol Channel, covering 48.87 acres at high tide. Its highest point is 78 metres above sea level.

How can you get to Steep Holm?

Occasional day trips operate between May and September, though they are entirely dependent on the weather conditions. It is essential to book, by calling 01934 522125 or emailing steepholmbookings@gmail.com

It costs £30 for adults and £25 for children aged five to 12. Visit www.steepholm.org.uk for more information.

A post shared by David Walker (@dpwlkr) on

Does anyone live on Steep Holm?

No – but invaders once thought it was a good place to settle. Both the Vikings and the Romans made stops at Steep Holm during their invasions of Britain. The Romans got there first, and various artefacts relating to their visits have been found there. There is also a Roman signal station above Rudder Rock.

Later, the Vikings used it as a secure base as they prepared to invade the mainland.

Steep Holm: Sally Griffiths Steep Holm: Sally Griffiths

What happens at Steep Holm now?

The island was bought by the Kenneth Allsop Memorial Committee, as a living memorial to Kenneth Allsop, in 1976. He was a broadcaster on the BBC’s Tonight programme and an author, as well as a passionate campaigner for conservation causes. The Trust continues to maintain the island as a nature reserve and bird sanctuary.

It is a site of special scientific interest, owing to its rare plants.

What can you see at Steep Holm?

As well as a visitor centre and exhibition area, some old gun batteries are available to view. The island was used to protect against French invasion after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited France, and were worried about the size of its Navy. It was recommended Steep Holm became part of the coastal defence system.

Fortifications were built in 1865 and completed in 1869 and some of the gun batteries are now scheduled ancient monuments. Soldiers were housed in the main barracks, which have been converted into a visitor centre and exhibition area. The 19th century batteries were updated in World War One and Two.

What is the history of Steep Holm?

Legend tells how the islands of Flat Holm, Steep Holm and Brent Knoll were formed when the Devil was cleaving Cheddar Gorge and hurling great spade fulls of earth out from it.

It was the site for an early Christian monastery in the sixth century, and there was a small Augustinian Priory in the 12th. The chapel, which had closed by 1260, was rebuilt again after the Lords Berkeley moved in from 1315.

More than 200 years ago, Weston fishermen were turning their attention to another profitable sideline – smuggling. The heyday was from about 1735-1825, and Steep Holm was a regular haunt where casks of spirits, tea and tobacco could be hidden away.

A hotel and inn was built in the 1800s, and provided illicit liquor to thirsty sailors.

MORE: What else can you do in Somerset? Try out 9 of its prettiest villages.

Other News Stories

16:55

A train station café has been vandalised for the second time this year, raising fears of another financial ‘near disaster’.

Read more
20:42

Wrington’s annual Dickensian Fair drew a large crowd to the village on Friday evening.

Read more

A Worle singer raised £215 by busking ahead of a performance at Wells Cathedral.

Read more

A 15-year-old girl was airlifted to hospital this morning (Wednesday) after serious collision on the A370.

Read more

Hundreds of runners will brave the freezing cold weather to raise money for Weston Hospicecare this weekend.

Read more

More than 200 children enjoyed a Christmas wonderland at Weston Helicopter Museum.

Read more

A motoring group committed to improving the standard of driving in Weston is piloting a new course and needs volunteers.

Read more

A Christmas event brought members of the community together in Weston-super-Mare’s Bournville estate.

Read more

The music video for a comedy Christmas song was filmed in Kewstoke.

Read more
12:00

A former drug user from Weston whose addiction led him to prison, psychiatric units and three suicide attempts is supporting Addaction’s call for more support for people with mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

Read more

Most Read News

Read Online

Image
Read the Weston Worle and Somerset Mercury e-edition E-edition

Local Weather

Sunny

Sunny

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 5°C

Useful Links

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
Send Your Letters
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Show Job Lists

Local business directory

Somerset's trusted business finder