John of Cornwall and the prophecies of Merlin

In an age before surnames John of Cornwall was one of the first Cornish literary ‘greats’. A theologian, he studied in Paris before returning to Britain and teaching at Oxford. By 1197 he was archdeacon of Worcester but had been twice turned down for the post of bishop of St David’s in Wales. He was … Continue reading John of Cornwall and the prophecies of Merlin

Thomasine Bonaventure: the true story

Richard Carew was the first to record the story of Thomasine Bonaventure, a poor young shepherdess of Week St Mary in north Cornwall, who was carried off to London by a rich merchant who happened to be passing. He wrote that he ‘saw her, heeded her, liked her, begged her of her poor parents, and … Continue reading Thomasine Bonaventure: the true story

Were Cornish kings will o’ the wisps?

Search online for ‘kings of Cornwall’ and you’ll find impressive lists of Cornish kings in its period of independence and even afterwards down to the 1000s. The only problem is that most of these kings reside only as names in ambiguous Welsh genealogical lists. Although resting on earlier but now lost texts, these bare roll … Continue reading Were Cornish kings will o’ the wisps?

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