The lost city of Langarrow or Langona

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

Bridging the Tamar

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

Why don’t the English speak Cornish?

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?

The standing stones of Cornwall

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

The martyrs of ’97 and the Cornish rising

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

Slavery in Cornwall: the Bodmin manumissions

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

The medieval monasteries of Cornwall

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