Mick Harper wrote:Navigating from headland to headland would last less than a season on lee shores like Portugal, the Bay of Biscay and the western Channel
I'm glad you followed the clues. Aiming for headlands is not a good way to navigate. (It's like modern sailors using a lighthouse as a waypoint for GPS navigation when the lighthouse is on top of a cliff). Especially when the westerly prevailing winds are blowing you towards these lee headlands.
And therein lies a clue to one of the elephants in the corner of European linguistics. That is, why is Galician so similar to Welsh?
I shall explain in parts.
Part 1 : Long-term experience and survival would reward the sailing routes that used the westerly prevailing winds but avoided these lee headlands. Something that was the undoing of the Spanish Amarda that let the prevailing winds take them into the English Channel. Which then had effectively trapped them. They had to attempt to sail all the way around Britain to avoid trying to sail against the prevailing winds. The best way to regularly avoid these lee headlands (as a regular trade route for sailing ships with cargoes) is to head due north towards Ireland (say St. Michael's) and then right-hand down a bit until you head east towards Wales and the safe deep water harbours like Milford Haven. Which explains all those silly old maps which show Ireland closer to Spain than Britain. Because everybody knew you got to Ireland before you got to Britain.
Part 2 : A Coruña in Galicia is famously the location of the Tower of Hercules, which served as a beacon for ships sailing from the north.
The tower is known to have existed by the 2nd century, built or perhaps rebuilt under Trajan, possibly on foundations following a design that was Phoenician in origin. It is thought to be modeled after the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
The position of the lighthouse is not understood since it strongly favours an approach from the northwest. It does not provide a guide to safe harbour to vessels approaching either up the West coast of the Iberian peninsula, nor along the Rias of the north coast. This would imply that the lighthouse was built to satisfy the needs of regular traffic coming in from the Atlantic, perhaps taking a Westerly route from the Cap Gris Nez area to avoid the Bay of Biscay or direct from Ireland or South West England.
Part 3: #1 Son is turning out to be a bit of a cunning linguist. On top of his native English, he's mastered French and Spanish, and he's been studying Arabic and Mandarin Chinese. How much of the world has he got covered? Perhaps 80%? Anyway, he's off to Galicia for a year, to teach English in A Coruña. He's been telling me : the Galician language *isn't* Spanish and it is similar to Welsh. So there, that's me told. I didn't mention I'd heard the same 25 years ago while I was in Yorkshire (of all places). Someone from Galicia was a friend of a friend of mine. They went to Aberystwyth, where magically he could speak his native Galician to Welsh-speakers and they could understand each other. They just thought he was from a strange part of Wales.
I can't find any written mention of that similarity here:
Which Harpo might call "careful ignoral" as it's a mystery.
But it's only a mystery for those historians who are ignorant of the ancient trade routes by sea.
I look forward to any suggestions as to which came first, the Galician or the Welsh. Or both came from somewhere else?