Cornwall has been the graveyard of shipping over the centuries, it is a prime area for shipwrecks as it is close to major shipping routes. In the past the high rate of shipping; in conjunction with precarious currents, stormy weather, concealed rocky outcrops and particularly inadequate navigational aids, were the major causes of shipwrecks. It was considered a Cornishman's right to salvage any of the goods that were left on abandoned ships or that were washed ashore, which led to a considerable amount of smuggling.
Shipwrecks in this area have hit the headlines over the last thirty years. There was the ill fated Torrey Canyon whose load of oil decimated local marine life in 1967 after running aground on the Seven Stones reef, whilst on a lighter note, there was the recovery of bullion from the Association on The Isles of Scilly. Shipwrecks have not been eliminated by technology, but just reduced. There will always be a chance of wrecks with the amount of shipping around Cornwall, particularly as ships often come close into shore.
Stories abound of Cornish wreckers luring shipping onto rocks with false navigational lighting, with the survivors on reaching the shore being set upon and killed.
Such stories are erroneous and not supported by historical records. There has never been a conviction for such a crime. Whilst on the other hand there are many recorded stories of bravery by local people rescuing victims of shipwrecks.
Cornish Lighthouses Shipwrecks Around The Isles of Scilly Smuggling in Cornwall
Cornwall's Beaches Cornish Lifeboat Stations