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The Needles is a row of three detached masses of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight, in UK, close to Alum Bay. The easternmost stack is close to shore, then there is a wide gap, and then two more chalk stacks follow. Originally, there were four stacks – the fourth one was located between the first and the second, which is immediately apparent from the gap. The rock collapsed in a great storm in 1764, and its impact was reportedly heard as far away as Southampton and Portsmouth. At 120 feet, this rock was the tallest of the four, and was shaped like a needle, which gave the entire formation the name of “Needles”. Although the original “needle” no longer exist, and despite the relatively squat shapes of the surviving rocks, the name has stuck.

The missing rock was also known as “Lot’s Wife”. The name comes from the book of Genesis in the Bible, where Lot’s Wife was turned into a pillar of salt as a punishment for looking back after being told not to when she was fleeing from the destruction of Sodom. There is a lighthouse at the end of the chalk formation near sea level, built in 1859. The rocks and the lighthouse have become the iconic symbol of the Isle of Wight, and are featured on many of the souvenirs sold throughout the island.


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