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- 1. Penwith
- 2. Kerrier
- 3. Carrick
- 4. Restormel
- 5. Caradon
- 6. North Cornwall
- 7. Isles of Scilly (Unitary)
Mên-an-Tol.Cornwall (pronounced /'k?rnw??l/, Cornish: Kernow ['k?rn??]) is a county of England, United Kingdom, located at the tip of the south-western peninsula of Great Britain. It is bordered to the north by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of 526,300, covering an area of 1,376 square miles (3,563 km²).[not in citation given] The administrative centre and only city is Truro.
The area now known as Cornwall was first inhabited by Neolithic and then Bronze Age peoples, and later (in the Iron Age) by Celts. Cornwall is part of the Brythonic (Celtic) area of Britain, separated from Wales after the Battle of Deorham, often coming into conflict with the expanding English kingdom of Wessex before King Athelstan in 922 A.D. set the boundary between English and Cornish people at the Tamar. Today, Cornwall's economy struggles after the decline of the mining and fishing industries, and has become more dependent on tourism. The area is noted for its wild moorland landscapes, its extensive and varied coastline and its mild climate.
Cornwall is the homeland of the Cornish people and diaspora, and is considered one of the six "Celtic nations" by many residents and scholars. The county continues to retain its distinct identity, with its own history, language and culture. Some inhabitants question the present constitutional status of Cornwall, and a self-government movement seeks greater autonomy.
"Cornweallas" in the Anglo-Saxon ChronicleThe name Cornwall comes from a merger of two different terms from separate languages.
The Roman term for the Celtic tribe which inhabited what is now Cornwall at the time of Roman rule, Cornovii, came from a Brythonic tribal name which gave modern Cornish Kernow, also known as Corneu to the Brythons. This could be from two sources; the term may be related to the common Celtic root cern, or the Latin cornu, both of which mean "horn" or "peninsula", suggestive of the shape of Cornwall's landmass. The Cornovii were sufficiently established for their territory to be recorded as Cornubia by AD 700, the name meaning "people of the horn", and remained as such into the Middle Ages. Even earlier 'Cornovia' is attested in the Ravenna Cosmography where its principal town (associated with Tintagel) is shown in Latin as 'Duro Cornovii' (Stronghold of the Cornovians).
During the 6th and 7th centuries, the name Cornubia became corrupted by extensive changes in the Old English language. The Anglo-Saxons provided the suffix wealas, meaning "foreigners", creating the term Corn-wealas. Some historians note that this was the word for Wales, however it is understood that the term applied instead to all Brythonic peoples and lands, who were considered foreign by the Anglo-Saxons. As Cornwall was known as West Wales and present-day Cumberland as North Wales during those times, the "Wales" meaning is probable: this is because the word 'wealhas' is Anglo-Saxon (i.e. Old English) and from the perspective of Winchester, the capital of the Kings of Wessex from whom the English Crown derives, Cownwall is to Winchester's west, and Cumberland is to Winchester's north -- hence the use of the terms West Wales and North Wales by English kings.
History and Religious history
Prehistory, Roman and post-Roman periods
The present human history of Cornwall begins with the reoccupation of Britain after the last Ice Age. The pre-Roman inhabitants included speakers of a Celtic language that would develop into the Brythonic language Cornish. After a period of Roman rule, Cornwall reverted to independent Celtic chieftains. The first account of Cornwall comes from the Sicilian Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (c.90 BC–c.30 BC), supposedly quoting or paraphrasing the fourth-century BC geographer Pytheas, who had sailed to Britain:
The inhabitants of that part of Britain called Belerion (or Land's End) from their intercourse with foreign merchants, are civilised in their manner of life. They prepare the tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced ... Here then the merchants buy the tin from the natives and carry it over to Gaul, and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhône.
The identity of these merchants is unknown. There has been a theory that they were Phoenicians, however there is no evidence for this. (For further discussion of tin mining see the section on the economy below.)
There is a theory that once silver was extracted from the copper ores of Cornwall in pre-Roman times, as silver is easily converted to its chloride (AgCl) by surface waters containing chlorine.
Conflict with Wessex
In the early Middle Ages Cornwall came into conflict with the expanding kingdom of Wessex. The Annales Cambriae report that in 722 AD the Britons of Cornwall won a battle at Hehil. Annales Cambriae However, it is not stated whether the Cornish fought the West Saxons or some other enemy. In 814 King Egbert laid waste to West Wealas from East to West. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles tells us that in 825 (adjusted date) a battle was fought between the "Welsh", presumably those of Cornwall, and the Anglo-Saxons. In 838, the Cornish and their Danish allies were defeated by Egbert at Hengestesdune (Anglo-Saxon Chronicles): an unknown location (various places have been suggested over the years from Hengistbury Head in Dorset, Hingston Down, Devon to Hingston Down in Cornwall).
Around the 880s Anglo-Saxons from Wessex had established modest land holdings in the Eastern part of Cornwall, notably Alfred the Great had acquired estates. William of Malmesbury, writing around 1120, says that King Athelstan of England (924–939) fixed the boundary between English and Cornish people at the Tamar, their having until then lived as equals.
Debate among the historians
The chronology of English dominance over Cornwall is unclear. Astonishingly there are no recorded charters or legal agreements showing Cornwall as part of Wessex. Furthermore, there is no economic, military, social, cultural or archaeological evidence of Wessex having established control over Cornwall whatsoever. Anglo-Saxonists continually assert 'evidence' (notably Michael Swanton in The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, 2nd ed. London, Phoenix Press, 2500, p. 177), despite the considerable evidence to the contrary. Indeed, this clash of historical perspectives is itself of interest, demonstrating that contemporary Anglo-Saxon and Cornish historians thoroughly disagree. One would be tempted to say that the clash of integrationist and autonomist ideologies are continuing the millennia-long struggle between these two geographical neighbours by other means.
The Old English word translated by Swanton as "Cornwall" is "Wealas", which some translations render as "Wales". This is a pejorative Old English term equating roughly to 'aliens' or 'foreigners'. However, in the Anglo-Saxon period this terminology was applied equally to all Brythonic people and their lands, not specifically to Wales and the Welsh in the modern sense. Since this reference concerns a parcel of adjoining territories contiguous with Cornwall but not with Wales, and since Wales was not under English rule at this date whereas the evidence of Domesday Book indicates that Cornwall was, it may reasonably be concluded that the land in question was "West Wales" (i.e. Cornwall), not "North Wales".
One interpretation of the Domesday Book is that by this time the native Cornish landowning class had been almost completely dispossessed and replaced by English landowners, the largest of whom was Harold Godwinson himself. However, this is highly questionable: The Bodmin manumissions show that two leading Cornish figures, nominally had Saxon names, but these were both glossed with native Cornish names. This suggests that Saxon names in Cornwall indicate not ethnicity, but preferences in naming, perhaps as means to establish membership of a pro-Saxon ruling class.
However, after the Norman conquest most of the land was seized and transferred into the hands of a new Breton-Norman aristocracy, with the lion's share going to Robert, Count of Mortain, half-brother of King William and the largest landholder in England after the king. Ultimately this aristocracy eventually became a Cornu-Norman ruling class, a phenomenon closely resembling the situation in Ireland.
Later medieval administration and society
Subsequently however, Norman absentee landlords became replaced by a new Cornu-Norman elite. These families eventually became the new Cornish aristocracy (typically speaking Norman French, Cornish, Latin and eventually English), many becoming involved in the operation of the Stannary Parliament system, Earldom and eventually the Duchy. The Cornish language continued to be spoken and it acquired a number of characteristics establishing its identity as a separate language from Breton. Cornwall showed a very different type of settlement pattern from that of Saxon Wessex and places continued, even after 1066, to be named in the Celtic Cornish tradition with Saxon architecture being uncommon. The earliest record for any Anglo-Saxon place-names west of the Tamar is around 1040.
Christianity in Cornwall
Many place names in Cornwall are associated with Christian missionaries described as coming from Ireland and Wales in the fifth century AD and usually called saints (See List of Cornish saints). The historicity of some of these missionaries is problematic and it has been pointed out by Canon Doble that it was customary in the Middle Ages to ascribe such geographic origins to saints. Some of these saints are not included in the early lists of saints.
It is notable that in Cornwall that most of the parish churches in existence in Norman times were generally not in the larger settlements and that the medieval towns which developed thereafter usually had only a chapel of ease with the right of burial remaining at the ancient parish church. Over a hundred holy wells exist in Cornwall, each associated with a particular saint, though not always the same one as the dedication of the church.
Various kinds of religious houses existed in medieval Cornwall though none of them were nunneries; the benefices of the parishes were in many cases appropriated to religious houses within Cornwall or elsewhere in England or France.
St Piran, after whom Perranporth is named, is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall. However in earlier times it is likely that St Michael the Archangel was recognized as the patron saint and the title has also been claimed for St Petroc.
The Church in Cornwall in Celtic and Anglo-Saxon times
The church in Cornwall until the time of Athelstan of Wessex observed more or less orthodox practices, being completely separate from the Anglo-Saxon church until then (and perhaps later). The See of Cornwall continued until much later: Bishop Conan apparently in place previously, but (re-?)consecrated in 931 AD by Athelstan. However, it is unclear whether he was the sole Bishop for Cornwall or the leading Bishop in the area. The situation in Cornwall may have been somewhat similar to Wales where each major religious house equated to a kevrang (cf. Welsh cantref), each under the control of a Bishop.
Religious history from the Reformation to the Victorian period
In the sixteenth century there was some violent resistance to the replacement of Catholicism with Protestantism in the 1549 uprising. From the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century Methodism was the leading form of Christianity in Cornwall but is now in decline. The Church of England was in the majority from the reign of Queen Elizabeth until the Methodist revival of the 19th century: before the Wesleyan missions dissenters were very few in Cornwall. The county remained within the Diocese of Exeter until 1876 when the Anglican Diocese of Truro was created (the first Bishop was appointed in 1877).