Source: Western Morning News
Just who are the Cornish and why are they different?
"With last week’s decision to include the Cornish people on the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Craig Weatherhill poses the inevitable question.
The news that, on April 24, 2014, the Cornish people were finally recognised as a national minority by the UK Government and included on the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, throws up the question: Just who are the Cornish and why are they different? The answers may be surprising.
Communities minister Stephen Williams stated: “The Cornish, with the Welsh, are the oldest people in Britain.” This fact was drawn from the ongoing nine-year genetic survey of the peoples of Britain being undertaken by the University of Oxford, which concludes that the Cornish and Welsh people are descended from the original post-Ice Age colonists of Britain, 12,000 years ago. It even finds that the Cornish are genetically distinct from people in Devon right next door.
Those people, from the Atlantic fringes of what are now France, Spain and Portugal, entered a completely depopulated island, and have been here ever since. No-one was displaced, for there was no-one to displace.
No-one knows what language they spoke, although one intriguing theory is that it might have been an early form of Euskara (Basque), a pre-Indo-European language of very great antiquity.
In the Neolithic period, from 4,500 BC, more people, from the very same areas of Atlantic Europe, arrived bringing agricultural skills to Britain for the first time. From then until the Roman invasion in AD 43, there was relative continuity, although minor movements to and from the European mainland must have occurred, each bringing new technology, expertise and implements.
So, why did these people come to be defined as Celtic? The term is not one of race, but of language and culture. Over the last two decades, wholly new findings have emerged about the origin of the Celts and the 18th-century idea of a Central European origin and a Celtic invasion of Britain at the start of the Iron Age after 800 BC has, at long last, fallen by the wayside.
It now appears that the Celtic language was developed from Indo-European in the western part of the Iberian peninsula, possibly around the Tagus estuary, which was a centre for prehistoric innovation and within the same area from which many of those early British colonists had come.
Today, we think that “Atlantic Arc trading” is a new concept but, in fact, it’s incredibly ancient. By the beginning of the Neolithic period, around 4500 BC, an Atlantic sea-trading route from western Iberia to Britain and Ireland was already established and, in time, Celtic became the common language of the trading nations along that route. The language became established in Ireland and Western Britain by 3000 BC, and across the rest of Britain by 2000 BC. Current work by leading archaeologist Professor Sir Barry Cunliffe and archaeo-linguist Dr John Koch is attempting to pin down those dates even more closely.
This was the language from which all the present-day Celtic languages, including Cornish, descended and perhaps the best definition of a Celt is “a person who speaks, or whose forebears spoke, as their native tongue, a Celtic language”. This would certainly include the Cornish people.
West Cornwall was the very first place in Britain ever to have been written about, following a visit by a Greek explorer and geographer called Pytheas of Massalia, around 325 BC. From his account, the native Cornish were described as “courteous” and “civilised” and their expertise in tin production and smelting was also described.
Roman occupation of Britain had little effect upon the Cornish people and their way of life. Cornwall did not become absorbed into the expanding Saxon Kingdom of Wessex, their king Athelstan placing the east bank of the Tamar as a revised border between his own Wessex kingdom and the independent Kingdom of Cornwall (it had previously been the Taw-Exe line for several centuries), grabbing our then territory of Western Devon for himself in 926 AD.
Saxon settlement was small, late (no evidence suggests any earlier than the 10th century) and confined to a few small areas close to the Tamar. Cornwall retained its own status as an independent kingdom whose royal line continued until the 11th century. This – under Norman rule – became an Earldom and then, in 1337, the Duchy it remains today, giving Cornwall a peculiar constitutional and legal status which remains unique in the UK. Not so much a “county” as a Crown Dependency.
The early Celtic Christian church in Cornwall (predating St Augustine) had its own doctrines and practices, and Cornwall was the last of the Celtic nations to hold out against demands for change and conformity by Rome.
The Cornish language continued, with major literary production in the 14th century and again in the 16th. The relationship with England became fraught under Tudor rule, with two major uprisings in 1497 and 1549, the second resulting in a five-week siege of Exeter, five horrific battles – some of the bloodiest engagements ever fought on British soil – and savage reprisals resulting in the deaths of an estimated 11 per cent of the Cornish population. Refusal to allow a prayer book or Bible in Cornish struck a potential death-knell for the language, already retreating westward under the overwhelming influence of English.
Somehow, the language continued until confined to the Penwith and Lizard peninsulas by the 18th century. Isolated pockets of community use in remote parishes carried on throughout the 19th century, by which time a revival had begun among enthusiasts that continues today, securing official recognition and protection for the Cornish language in 2002, under the European Charter for the Protection of Regional and Minority Languages.
Today, the Cornish retain traditions and customs little known elsewhere, some of which derive from prehistory.
When the Cornish became known as Cornish (or the pre-English language equivalents) is also probably of pre-Roman date. The Cornish were one of three people known as “Cornovii” to the Romans, a name derived from native Celtic and meaning “horn or promontory people”. Around 400 AD, a Roman itinerary listing a route through north-east Cornwall included a place-name Durocornouio(n), “fortress of the Cornovii”, tentatively identified as Tintagel. In modern Cornish, that name would be rendered as “Din Kernowyon”, so the language hasn’t altered too greatly.
Cornwall’s King Donyarth, who drowned in 875 AD, was described in ancient records and in a strange mix of Latin and Celtic as “rex Cerniu, id est Cornubiae” (King of Cornwall, that is, of the Cornish people). In “Cerniu” and the “-cornou-” of Durocornouio(n), we can recognise the native name, Kernow, first spelt that way in 1400. The name “Cornwall” retains the Celtic word meaning “horns” or “promontories”, plus the West Saxon word “wealas” which they applied to Celtic-speaking Britons (hence “Wales”). To the West Saxons, the Cornish were the “Westwealas”; the Welsh, the “Northwealas”.
The Cornish were always an innovative people, blazing the trail for technologies from blood transfusion to the nationwide postal service; from road and rail transport to powered flight (yes, the son of Cornish emigrants to New Zealand achieved that feat eight months before the Wright brothers did so) and the screw propeller which drives most of the world’s shipping. And, of course, Cornish hard rock mining techniques and expertise, developed over 4,000 years, have been taken all over the world.
The Cornish have always been a special people. And now National Minority status is official.
Craig Weatherhill is a Cornish historian, archaeologist, writer and Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd.
Message from Colin Murley, Save Cornwall
The Cultural Future of the Cornish People
The decision of the UK Government of 24th April 2014 to include the Cornish within the terms of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities comes fifteen years after its official ratification in1999. The determined 83,499 Cornish people who made the effort to “write in” their “other” national identity on the 2011 Census form should be given credit for this decision.
It would appear that the 125% increase in the official Census figures for the “Cornish” population for 2011, compared with 2001, finally penetrated the official mind that the Cornish were not going to give up their birthright any time soon. However, the policy of delay in ignoring the positive evidence submitted from many quarters, has proved advantageous for the majority while subjecting the claims of the Cornish minority to cheap ridicule and instant rejection. It is, therefore, very important to secure the immediate implementation of the spirit and the letter of the Convention, in particular, Articles 4 and 5 without further delay. We need to establish a firm foundation for the survival of, and respect for, all the aspects of life which comprise the Cornish identity with regard to the individual, the national group and future generations.
Section II Article 4
In order to establish a multi-racial “right to equality before the law” and “protection from assimilation”, all UK government sponsored and protected organisations currently operating in Cornwall to promote the majority culture, such as, “English Heritage”; “Duchy of Cornwall”; “English Nature”; “The National Trust” and “English Tourist Board”, should be required to make immediate preparations to cease operations in Cornwall and transfer all assets held in Cornwall into the administrative protection and control of the duly elected Cornish Council at Truro.
Your support would be appreciated,
Save Cornwall, Camborne, Kernow
28th April 2014
Source: Western Morning News
Digging for history at Royal Cornwall Show
As the country prepares to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War, a group of dedicated re-enactors from Launceston will bring trench conditions to life at this year’s Royal Cornwall Show.
The WWI Living History Group aims to provide an authentic scene to demonstrate what life on the front line would have been like for civilians and soldiers from the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, the local regiment of the British Army.
The re-enactment will see uniformed and fully equipped recruits building their own trench on the showground, to 1914 army manual specifications.
The team also plan to camp out during the show, as their counterparts would have done a hundred years ago. Show visitors will be invited to try on gas masks and shell jackets, as well as having a go at putting on putties, a type of gaiter used to keep water and rats at bay in Great War trenches.
Amanda Durden, from the WWI Living History Group, said: “Our main aim in bringing this era to life is to spark people’s interest and inspire them to find out more about their own ancestors’ involvement in the war.
“Cornwall played its part during the conflict – directly on the battlefields and also on our farms to ensure the armed forces and the nation were fed.”
The Royal Cornwall Show was also involved in the war effort, not only by encouraging innovation and advancement in farming, but also supporting the supply of horses required for wartime roles. The War Office was permitted to display infantry and cavalry horses as examples of the type of horses they needed, with prize money given for showing classes to encourage local breeders.
In spite of the hostilities raging across mainland Europe, Camborne successfully hosted the 1915 show and records indicate that 40 men were recruited for the army at the event. Despite no further shows being held until 1919, after peace returned, Royal Cornwall Agricultural Association members continued to make subscriptions and donations to the Allies Fund.
At end of the war £3,760 had been raised by the association. The fund was distributed to European farmers to rebuild their farms after their land became battlefields.
Amanda said group members were keen for those visiting the show to do some digging of their own.
“We’d like to encourage those coming to the show to bring any WWI memorabilia or photographs along to show us and, of course, we’d also love to hear any stories that people may have,” she added.
The Royal Cornwall Show is on June 5, 6 and 7. For more information visit royalcornwall.co.uk
Flora Day Exhibition
When: 03 May 2014 to 17 May 2014
Where: Helston Museum
Time: 10.00 - 16.00
Suitable for: Any age
An exhibition celebrating Helston's greatest day of the year - Flora Day! The museum has a large collection of Flora Day memorabilia, including photographs, costumes and souvenirs and this year, we have the added attraction of our 'Knitted Flora Day' - a community project to knit dancers, the band and even the museum itself. Don't miss this fabulous display!
The exhibition is in the art gallery at the museum, and is open Monday to Saturday, 10am - 4pm, between Saturday 3rd May and Saturday 17th May.
Please note - the museum will be CLOSED to the public on Flora Day itself - to allow the dancers to come through.
The May Day Padstow ’Obby ‘Oss procession is the oldest of its kind in the country, possibly dating back thousands of years.
There are two Osses, one red and the other blue. The followers dress in white with either blue or red scarves and ribbons depending which Obby Oss they follow. The Red Oss, or Old Oss, is the original. The Blue Oss was introduced in the 19th century and has links with the The Temperance Movement and the Great War, after which it became known as the Peace Oss.
On the day, Padstow is decked in flags and greenery, and the Maypole in garlands. The coming of the Obby Oss is marked at midnight when the crowd gathers around the Golden Lion pub, home of the Old Oss and sings the Morning song “Unite and unite, and let us all unite.”
The Blue Oss appears from its stable in the Market Institute at 10am. The Master of Ceremonies, dressed in top hat and tails, emerges followed by the Oss’s followers who cry “Oss, Oss!”, the crowd replying “Wee Oss”, before the Blue Oss and its Teaser erupt from the stable. The Followers perform the May song with drums and accordions, as the drama between the Oss and its Teaser are played out. At 11am, the Red Oss emerges from the Golden Lion, following the same ritual. Both make their separate way through the town with no definite set route.
The rivalry between two Osses is friendly and they avoid one other until early evening, before meeting and dancing around the Maypole. At 9.30 the Peace Oss returns to its stable, not to be seen for another year. The Old Oss does the same an hour later. At the end of the day, the Oss is ritually done to death, marking the passing of the old year.
Source: The West Briton
An animated story about a girl with a pasty for a head has beaten 28,000 entries to win an international award for two Falmouth students.
Using stop motion animation effects, the two Falmouth students created the three-minute short Pasty Child follows the growing pains of a young girl with and her struggle within the confines of a pasty shop.
Praised by judges as, “dark yet warm and sympathetic”, the animation was made using stop motion effects and techniques reminiscent of Aardman Animations’ Wallace and Gromit films.
At the inaugural GuardianWitness awards, hosted by comedian David Mitchell, the two animation degree students Andy Luck and George Tymvios were presented with the trophy for best original short film.
The film-makers were also named as overall winners in the EE contributor of the year category.
Clare Margetson, Guardian network editor and judging panel chair, said: “The overall winner demonstrates a fantastically exciting way of using GuardianWitness.
“This was about creativity rather than journalism. And that's something we feel strongly about.”
“The winner combined ingenious tech, a singular aesthetic, perfect characterisation, a brilliant compressed narrative and pitch-black humour.
“Its 180 seconds stay with you as long as many full-length movies,” continued Margetson.
With 28,000 entries from across all continents including Antarctica, competition was fierce.
Judges were drawn from journalism, film, photography, science and food, and included Guardian News & Media's director of digital strategy Wolfgang Blau, vice-president of CNN International Europe, Middle East and Africa Deborah Rayner and acclaimed British film-maker Andrea Arnold.
Derek Hayes, course coordinator for the animation and visual effects degree, congratulated the Pasty Child team, saying: “As a final year major project, the animation was designed to showcase the students’ achievements.
“To have won an international award for it demonstrates the extent of their skills and is a real credit to their professionalism. I have no doubt that we’ll see exciting things from all of the Pasty Child team – a truly talented bunch.”
Pasty Child was co-directed by Mr Luck and Mr Tymvios. The story was written and devised by Sasha Lawrence. Emily Stone designed costumes and settings.
The film also collected a Royal Television Society student award for Devon & Cornwall in 2012.
The inaugural GuardianWitness awards celebrated the first year for the newspaper’s user-generated content platform and took place in London on March 27.
From the Secretary of the An Gof Committee:
An Gof commemorated 517 years on
"I am writing as secretary of the An Gof Committee ask with your help to spread the word of our Annual An Gof Commemoration which will be taking place this year on Friday 27th June 2014.
We are trying really hard this year to help spread the word to raise awareness of this event which always proves to be a huge success however we are trying to involve more people from further afield.
The evening starts at 7pm at the An Gof Statue in St Keverne (which can easily be seen on the entrance to the village). We hold a commemorative service here and then this is followed by a procession down to the Square where ‘a chosen speaker’ talks about a chosen subject to do with Cornwall.
The evening culminates with an evening of entertainment in the Parish Hall starting at 8pm and each year we choose a different theme.
This year we are celebrating the life of Cornish Artist John Opie ‘The Cornish Wonder’.
The local school children will sing a song to start the evening. There will also be artwork produced by the children displayed around the hall and judged on the evening.
The An Gof Players will then perform a play based on John Opie.
This is followed by a Pasty Supper.
The evening will then round off with some more Cornish entertainment and community singing.
Pasties and Bar Available
Entrance is £4 (not including refreshments).
If you are able to come that would be great but if you could help spread the word I would be really grateful.
Secretary – An Gof Committee
25 April, 2014
See Penzance May Horns Facebook Page
Penzance May Horns - Sunday 4th May
First Sunday of May meet at 7:45pm at the Tolcarne Inn in Newlyn for the annual Penzance May Horns attempt to "Drive our the Devil of Winter and call in the warmth of Summer".
This is an open event anybody is welcome.
Please dress in white of green, decorate yourselves with greenery or flowers.
Please bring a horn, whistle, drum or other musical instrument.
We will then process to The Admiral Benbow, Penzance across Penzance sea front making AS MUCH NOISE AS POSSIBLE joined by the LADY OF THE MAY, THE LORD OF THE MAY (Dressed as the Green Man), Old Ned and Teazer led by our Master of Ceremonies and musicians!
An evening of entertainment and revelry to be held at the Admiral Benbow - including dancing music and refreshments.
Book your place here
Informal workshop the day before May Horns - Learn how to make traditional Cornish May Whistles:
May Whistles for May Horns Saturday, May 3 at 2:00pmin the Admiral Benbow, Penzance. RSVP here
Here is a video from last year
Two blog posts celebrating the news of National Minority status:
Frugal Queen - Kernow a'gas dynergh!
Living with Proles -
I am in much too good a mood to discuss Parenting, Widowhood or the state of my compost bin today
Maintaining the Celtic Spirit of Cornwall
Gorsedh Kernow welcomes historic news
Gorsedh Kernow has welcomed with great pride and enthusiasm today’s historic announcement that the proud history, unique culture, and distinctive language of Cornwall will be fully recognised under European rules for the protection of national minorities.
"We have always known that we are Cornish,” said Grand Bard of Cornwall Maureen Fuller, “and we are elated by this historic annoucement which affords us the same status and protection as the Celtic people of Wales, Scotland and Ireland.”
“Cornish people have a proud and distinct identity and a genuinely democratic society respects the ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity of people belonging to a national minority, and from today the Cornish have been officially recognised under the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
"Gorsedh Kernow exists to maintain the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall and as a non political organisation we are well placed to help create opportunities for Cornish people of all ages to express, preserve and develop their identity,” continued Maureen Fuller.
“Our aim is to foster good relations and promote co-operation and goodwill between those who work for the honour of Cornwall. We are proud of our history and our unique language and look forward to the day when these feature as regular subjects on school timetables and are spoken of by Cornish people as a way of life.”
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