The Lizard

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The Lizard is a peninsula in south Cornwall, United Kingdom. The most southerly point of the British mainland is near Lizard Point at grid reference SW 701 115. Lizard village, the most southerly village on the British mainland, is in Landewednack, the most southerly parish.

The peninsula measures approximately 14 miles (23 km) x 14 miles (23 km). It is southwest of Falmouth ten miles (16 km) east of Penzance.[1][2]

The name "Lizard" is most probably a corruption of the Cornish name "Lys Ardh", meaning "high court".[3] The name is not connected to the rock called serpentinite which is found here.

The Lizard's coast is particularly hazardous to shipping and the seaways round the peninsula were historically known as the "Graveyard of Ships". The Lizard Lighthouse was built at Lizard Point in 1752 and the RNLI operates The Lizard lifeboat station.

Geography[change | change source]

Outline map of civil parishes on The Lizard
Lizard Point

The parishes on the peninsula proper are (west to east):

Geology[change | change source]

The peninsula's geology is the best preserved example of an exposed ophiolite in the United Kingdom. An ophiolite is a group of geological formations which represent a slice through a section of ocean crust thrust onto the continental crust. Geologists have identified these three parts of the rock: the serpentinites, the "oceanic complex" and the metamorphic basement.[4]

Ecology[change | change source]

Several nature sites exist on the Lizard Peninsula including Predannack nature reserve, Mullion Island, and Goonhilly Downs. An area of the Lizard coverning 1,662 hectares (6.42 sq mi) is designated a National Nature Reserve because of its coastal grasslands and heaths and inland heaths.[5]

The Lizard contains some of the most specialised plants of any area in Britain, including many endangered species.

References[change | change source]

  1. Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 203 Land's End ISBN 9780319231487
  2. Ordnance Survey: Landranger map sheet 204 Truro & Falmouth ISBN 9780319231494
  3. Mills, A. D.. The Popular Dictionary of English Place-Names. Parragon Book Service Ltd & Magpie Books. pp. 213. ISBN 0752518518.
  4. Kirby G.A. 1979. The Lizard complex as an ophiolite. Nature. 282, pp. 58-61.
  5. "The Lizard NNR". Natural England. http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/designatedareas/nnr/1006094.aspx. Retrieved 31 January 2010.