The Manacles

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The Manacles

The Manacles (SW820205) are a set of treacherous rock]]s off The Lizard peninsula in Cornwall. Many a ship has been wrecked on these rocks.

The name is from the Cornish Meyn Eglos, meaning 'church stones'. Traditionally the name was pronounced mean-a'klz (recorded in 1808), and the name is given because the top of St Keverne church spire is visible from here.

The rocks are rich in marine wildlife and they are a popular spot for diving due to the many shipwrecks.


The rocks are in Falmouth Bay and extends about 1 nautical mile east and south-east of Manacle Point, on the east coast of the Lizard Peninsula. The nearest village is Porthoustock.

The reef consists of many submerged rocks and several groups of rocks that break the surface, although some only do so at low water. The Middle Manacles in the north consist of Maen Chynoweth or Morah (Cornish: Morhogh, meaning 'dolphin'), Chyronos, Maen Gerrick and the Gwinges, the eastern group has Vase Rock and Pen Vin, the large group in the centre include the Minstrel Rock, Carn-dhu, Maen Voes (the Voices) and the Quants and Maen Land is in the south-west.

Marine Conservation Zone

The Manacles MCZ was designated on 21 November 2013 and covers an area of approximately Error: mismatched units. The zone extends from Porthoustock Point south to Polcries and extends 2,000 yards from the coastline. The seabed varies within the site and includes rocky reefs, vertical rock faces, subtidal sand and intertidal coarse sediment. The sediments in shallow water support Maerl beds: 'maerl' is a collective term for several species of red seaweed which have a hard, chalky skeleton. It can be an important habitat for juvenile animals, anemones, sea cucumbers and sea urchins.


There have been over a thousand lives lost from more than one hundred ships that have been wrecked on The Manacles. The reef lying on the eastern approach to the port of Falmouth is one reason for the large number of wrecks, although some ships such as the SS Mohegan were many miles off course when they ploughed into the rocks.[1]

Many of the well-known wrecks are in the central group where depths are less than a three fathoms for an area of 300 yards by 200 yards. These wrecks include:

  • HMS Primrose, an 18-gun Cruizer class brig-sloop, sank on 21 June 1809, with only 1 of the 126 on board surviving.
  • SS Mohegan sank on 14 October 1898 with 106 fatalities
  • Spyridon Vagliano, a Greek steamer carrying grain from Novorossijsk to Falmouth sank on 8 February 1890 with the loss of 14 of the 22 crew.
  • The John carrying 263 emigrants to Canada, sank on the Maen Land in May 1855, only 86 survived.

Outside links


  1. Larn, Richard (1996). Dive South Cornwall (3rd ed.). Teddington, Middlesex: Underwater World Publications Ltd. pp. 101–128. ISBN 0 946020 25 6.