Les Casquets

Les Casquets

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Les Casquets or (The) Casquets; is a group of rocks approx 8 miles to the northwest of Alderney and are part of an underwater sandstone ridge. Other parts which emerge above the water are the islets of Burhou and Ortac. Little vegetation grows on them.

A lighthouse was built in 1724. It had three separate lights in order to distinguish it from those on the opposite shores of England and France. These three lights called, St. Peter, St. Thomas and Dungeon were first exhibited on 30 October 1724.

The three original towers at the Casquets are still in use, although only the North West Tower still exhibits a light. A helideck is mounted on one tower.

Despite the lighthouse there have been numerous wrecks on the islets. The most famous include SS Stella, wrecked in 1899 and, its largest casualty, the 8000 tonne water tanker Constantia S.

This may account for the many works by literary artists including A. C. Swinburne, C.S.Forester and  Victor Hugo.

Victor Hugo who lived on Guernsey, and who wrote a great deal about the Channel Islands, says in his novel The Laughing Man (L'Homme qui Rit):

To be wrecked on the Casquets is to be cut into ribbons; to strike on the Ortac is to be crushed into powder... On a straight frontage, such of that of the Ortac, neither the wave nor the cannon ball can ricochet... if the wave carries the vessel on the rock she breaks on it, and is lost...