Even though the weather today in Cornwall is a bit breezy, the hail showers stinging the shoppers battling their way through the largely deserted town centres, it’s nothing compared to a storm that occurred many, many centuries ago. Davies Gilbert, in his History of Cornwall, relates a belief in the district of Perranporth that there … Continue reading The lost city of Langarrow or Langona
One surname you won’t meet in today’s Cornwall is Bodrugan. The name has its origin in a place overlooking St Austell Bay near Mavagissey. It means Rygan’s farmstead and was acquired by the family that had emerged as the owners of the local manor by the 1200s. By the 1320s Otto Bodrugan was one of … Continue reading Who were the Bodrugans?
The other day I was asked what houses would have looked like in early medieval Cornwall. At the time I couldn’t put my hands on a good source but have since rediscovered some notes on an article that appeared in Cornish Archaeology back in 1971 on the deserted village of Tresmorn at St Gennys parish … Continue reading Housing in rural Cornwall in medieval times
At the very margins of Cornwall, the River Tamar is nonetheless central to Cornish identity. Countless books refer to the river ‘almost’ extending far enough to make Cornwall an island. When Brunel’s railway bridge spanned the estuary at Saltash in 1859 it was widely viewed as ending Cornwall’s remoteness. Even sober industrial archaeologists have written … Continue reading Bridging the Tamar
Or at least a version of Brittonic Celtic, the language that was spoken, along with Latin, when the Romans left Britain in the early 400s. Within a relatively short time the whole of what became England, or at least its southern part, was speaking English. We know this because the number of Celtic placenames in … Continue reading Why don’t the English speak Cornish?
Cornwall is known for its stones, which can conveniently be divided into three main types dating from three different periods. One of the pair of stones known as the Pipers in West Penwith, the tallest stone still standing The first, and most active, period of erecting stones in the landscape was the early bronze age, … Continue reading The standing stones of Cornwall
That’s 1497 of course. On this day in that year the two leaders of the Cornish rising met their grisly end. Michael Angove, a blacksmith from St Keverne and Thomas Flamank, a Bodmin lawyer, were hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn in London. They suffered this fate for what they had considered was the perfectly … Continue reading The martyrs of ’97 and the Cornish rising
These days we often hear the word transgender in the news. But what about transhumance? And why was it important to Cornwall? The dictionary definition of transhumance is the seasonal movement of livestock from one grazing ground to another. Let’s go back around 1,300 years to the time when transhumance was widely operating in Cornwall. … Continue reading Transhumance in Cornwall
No-one likes to think their ancestors were slaves. These days, it’s probably much worse to imagine that our ancestors may have been slaveholders. Yet at the time of Domesday Book, in 1080, Cornwall had more than its fair share of slaves. These not only worked their lord’s land, like later serfs, but were owned outright … Continue reading Slavery in Cornwall: the Bodmin manumissions
It’s Easter Sunday. It seems appropriate therefore to write about something religious. The original Cornish monasteries were part of the Celtic church, but by the Norman period these were just memories, if that. Then, from 1100 to the mid-1200s, a great wave of monastic foundations burst across the British Isles. Cornwall received its share of … Continue reading The medieval monasteries of Cornwall