A mythical place is a place that does not really exist but is accepted folk lore or speculation that it it might exist or might have existed in earlier times but its actual location is now lost. Unlike fictional places, which are only used in fictional writings, mythical places are often considered un(re)discovered places in the real world. While they may appear in fictional stories, there is often some scientific, historical or archeological evidence, as well as myths and legends that indicate such places may have existed or are awaiting discovery, rediscovery or at least explanation about their location.
Islands that some think or thought used to exist.
Atlantis originally mentioned by Plato, was supposedly an ancient culture and island that he said was destroyed by a natural disaster (probably an earthquake) about 9,000 years before Plato's own time.
Avalon is a legendary island somewhere in the British Isles.
It is sometimes referred to as the legendary location where Jesus visited the British Isles with Joseph of Arimathea and that it was later the site of the first church in Britain. This location of the Isle of Avalon is usually associated with present day Glastonbury.
It is also said to be the place where the body of King Arthur is buried. He was supposedly brought there via boat by his half sister, Morgan le Fay. According to some legends Arthur merely sleeps there, to awakon at some future time.
According to one theory the word is an anglicisation of the Celtic "Annwyn", the realm of fairies, or netherworld. Geoffrey of Monmouth interpreted the name as the "isle of apples".
As early at least as the beginning of the 11th century the tradition that Arthur was buried at Glastonbury Tor appears to have taken shape. Before the surrounding fenland in the Somerset Levels was drained, Glastonbury's high round bulk rose out of the water-meadows like an island. In the reign of Henry II, according to the chronicler Giraldus of Cambrai and others, the abbot Henry de Blois commissioned a search, discovering at the depth of 16 feet a massive oak trunk with an inscription Hic jacet sepultus inclitus rex Arthurus in insula Avalonia. The remains were reinterred with great ceremony, attended by King Edward I and his queen, before the High Altar at Glastonbury Abbey, where they were the focus of pilgrimages until the Reformation.
A nearby valley is named the Vale of Avalon.
Hyperborea In Greek mythology, according to tradition, the Hyperboreans were a mythical people who lived to the far north of Greece. Their land, called Hyperborea, or Hyperboria ("beyond the Boreas (north wind)"), was perfect, with the sun shining twenty-four hours a day. Apollo spent his winter amongst them. Theseus and Perseus also visited the Hyperboreans.
According to Herodotus (4.13), they live beyond the Arimaspians and were visited by Aristeas, who is said to have written a hexameter poem (now lost) dealing with them. Large quantities of gold were here, guarded by the griffins.
Lemuria is the name given by 19th century geologist Philip Sclater to a hypothetical land mass in the Indian Ocean, used in the theories of Victorian Darwinists to explain the isolation of lemurs in Madagascar and the distribution of their fossil relatives across Africa and Southeast Asia. Ernst Haeckel, a German Darwinist, used a 'Lemuria' to explain the absence of 'missing link' fossil records, claiming they were all undersea.
Lyonesse is the land believed in legend to lie off the Scilly Isles, to the south-west of Cornwall.
It has sometimes been used as the setting for fantasy stories, notably Jack Vance's Lyonesse trilogy. See also: fantasy world.
An excerpt from an ancient book discovered in an old castle along the coast of Cornwall;
Heerke ye men, for heyre wonce wast thye guart lande of Lyonesse, nawe sonken oonter thye see. Guart foartreses wure bilt heyre, andd alle uf Angland and Newstria (Frankish name for Gaul) cayme toogethre. Bat withyn a guart stoarme, thyse landes wure washd' a'wae, andd alle uf thye landes uf Lyonesse wure takd'n bye the see.
It seems evident that this excerpt was written by monks much later, but evidence of a low-lying landbridge have been found. As written by ancient authors, it is believed that this land connected England and France, having maybe a sandy tidal wash in the center, where the two countries were eventually separated.
Mu is the name of a (hypothetical) vanished continent, located in the Pacific Ocean but now, like Atlantis and Lemuria, sunk beneath the waters. The idea of this continent first appeared in the works of the antiquitarian Augustus Le Plongeon (18261908), a 19th century traveler and writer who conducted his own investigations of the Maya ruins in Yucatán. He announced that he had translated the ancient Mayan writings, which supposedly showed that the Maya of Yucatán were older than the later civilizations of Atlantis and Egypt, and additionally told the story of an even older continent of Mu, which had foundered in a similar fashion to Atlantis, with the survivors founding the Maya civilisation. (Later students of the Ancient Maya writings believe that Le Plongeon's "translations" were based on little more than his vivid imagination.)
This lost continent was later popularised by James Churchward (18521936) in a series of books, beginning with 'Lost Continent of Mu' (1931, not 1926). The books still have devotees, but they are not considered serious archaeology, and nowadays are found in bookshops classed under 'New Age' or 'Religion and Spirituality'. Moo was also the prehistoric kingdom where Alley Oop lived.
Geologists maintain that we may be quite certain that no such Pacific continent existed. Continental masses are composed of the lighter "sial" (silicon/aluminum) type rocks which literally float on the heavier "sima" (silicon/magnesium) rocks which constitute ocean bottoms. The Pacific basin is noticeably lacking in sial rock.
Lost cities are places, once prosperous and well-populated, that have since disappeared for some reason, or dwindled into near nothingness. There was an Arabian city named Ubar, which became abandoned with changes in trade routes, and its location was forgotten for some centuries: it was rediscovered in 1992 by satellite photography revealing the traces of the ancient tracks.
Cities which historians are not sure what happened to include the Colony of Roanoke. In August 1590, John White returned to the former English colony, which had housed 85 men, 17 women (two of them pregnant) and 11 children when he left, to find it completely empty.
Malden Island, in the central Pacific, was deserted when first visited by Europeans in 1825, but ruined temples and the remains of other structures found on the island indicate that a small population of Polynesians had lived there for perhaps several generations some centuries earlier. Prolonged drought seems the most likely explanation for their demise. The ruins of another city, called Nan Matol, have been found on another Polynesian island, Ponape. In more recent times Port Royal, Jamaica sunk into the Caribbean Sea after an earthquake.
Cities have been destroyed by natural disasters and rebuilt, again and again, but the destruction has occasionally been so complete that they were not rebuilt: the classic examples are the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, buried with many of their inhabitants in a catastrophic flow of volcanic ash from an eruption of Vesuvius. A less well known example would be Akrotiri, on the island of Thera, where in 1967, under a blanket of ash, the remains of a Minoan city were discovered. The volcanic explosion on Thera was immense, and would have had disastrous effects on the Minoan civilisation. It has been suggested that Plato may have heard legends about this, and used them as the germ of his story of Atlantis.
Less dramatic examples of the destruction of cities by natural forces are those where the coastline has eroded away. Cities which have sunk into the sea include: the once centre of the English wool-trade, at Dunwich, England, and the city of Rungholt in Germany which sunk into the North Sea in a great stormtide in 1362.
Cities are also often destroyed by wars. This is the case, for instance, with Troy and Carthage, though both of these were subsequently rebuilt. The various abandonded capitals of the middle east are an interesting case: Persepolis was accidentally burnt by Alexander the Great, while Babylon was abandoned in favor of Ctesiphon, which was in turn abandoned in favor of Baghdad, though all these are fairly close together.
Some of the cities which are considered lost are (or may be) places of legend such as the Arthurian Camelot, Lyonesse or Atlantis, whilst some, such as Troy, having once been considered to be legendary, have been subsequently discovered to have a basis in reality.