Sully Island (Welsh: Ynys Sili) is a small tidal island at the hamlet of Swanbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, four hundred and fifty metres off the northern coast of the Bristol Channel.
During the 13th century, the island was the base for “Alfredo De Marisco”, a Norman pirate known locally as “The Night Hawk”. In the Middle Ages the island was well known for its involvement in the local smuggling trade.
A rocky causeway connecting the island to the mainland is uncovered for approximately 3 hours either side of low tide, the island being cut off from the mainland for the rest of the day. This makes Sully Island a potentially dangerous place, and many people have been swept to their deaths while trying to leave the island as the tide rises very rapidly. All visitors to the island must exercise care and due diligence.
There is evidence that the island was frequently visited by both Romans and Vikings and there is archeological evidence for remains of a Saxon multivallate promontory fort occupying the eastern end of the Island, on the summit of which is a Bronze Age barrow. It has been suggested by some that this was an armed stronghold, but it was more likely to have been a defended residence and farm homestead.
Owing to the tricky tides and narrow access many ships have sunk in the vicinity of the island. Several sources record that the famous Antarctic survey vessel, the SY Scotia, was wrecked on the island during 18 January 1916. Local elderly residents from as far away as Barry remember arriving at Swanbridge as children, with sacks to harvest coal spilled on the foreshore from the wreck, over several weeks. There is a skeleton of a wreck still visible on the island’s north foreshore facing Swanbridge, but this vessel’s keel is too short to have been the Scotia.
Joshua visited the Island and explored it, looking into all the nooks and crannies, scrambling over the cliffs and helping the many sunstar fish that had been left on the rocks after the tide had gone out. He also enjoyed collecting many fishing weights that had been caught in the rocks, as well as exploring the shipwreck on the island.