Cornwall, England: Wikis


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St Piran's Flag of Cornwall
Motto of County Council: Onen hag oll (Cornish)
One and all
Status Ceremonial county & (smaller) Unitary district
Origin Historic
Region South West England
- Total
- Admin. council
- Admin. area
Ranked 12th
3,563 km2 (1,376 sq mi)
Ranked 2nd
3,546 km2 (1,369 sq mi)
Admin HQ Truro
ISO 3166-2 GB-CON
ONS code 00HE
- Total (2008 est.[1])
- Density
- Admin. council
Ranked 39th
150 /km2 (388/sq mi)
Ranked 4th
Ethnicity 99.0% White, 1% Other
Cornwall Council.gif
Cornwall Council
Executive Liberal Democrat
Members of Parliament

Cornwall Council (unitary)
Isles of Scilly (sui generis unitary)

Cornwall (English pronunciation: /ˈkɔrnwɔːl/; Cornish: Kernow [ˈkɛrnɔʊ]) is a county of England in the United Kingdom, forming the tip of the south-western peninsula of Great Britain. It is bordered to the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Taken with the Isles of Scilly Cornwall has a population of 534,300, and covers an area of 3,563 km2 (1,376 sq mi).[1][2] The administrative centre and only city is Truro.

The area now known as Cornwall was first inhabited in the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods. It continued to be occupied by Neolithic and then Bronze Age peoples, and later (in the Iron Age) by Celts. There is little evidence that Roman rule was effective west of Exeter and few Roman remains have been found. Cornwall was afterwards part of the Brythonic (Celtic) area of Dumnonia, separated from Wales after the Battle of Deorham, often coming into conflict with the expanding English kingdom of Wessex before King Athelstan in 936 AD set the boundary between English and Cornish people at the Tamar.[3] Today, Cornwall's economy struggles after the decline of the mining and fishing industries, and has become more dependent on tourism: however some decline in this has also occurred. The area is noted for its wild moorland landscapes, its extensive and varied coastline and its mild climate.

Cornwall is recognised as one of the "Celtic nations" by many Cornish people, residents and organisations.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] It retains a distinct cultural identity, reflecting its history, and modern use of the formerly extinct Cornish language is increasing.[11] Some people question the present constitutional status of Cornwall, and a self-government movement seeks greater autonomy within the United Kingdom.[12]



"Cornweallas" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

The name Cornwall comes from combining 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 in Britain, Cornovii, came from a Brythonic tribal name which gave modern Cornish Kernow, also known as Corneu to the Brythons.[13] This could be from either of two sources; the common Celtic root cern, or the Latin cornu, both of which mean "horn" or "peninsula", suggestive of the shape of Cornwall's landmass. There is a problem with this theory however. At least two other known Celtic tribes bore the name Cornovii, one tribe in Caithness which may also be considered a "headland" or "horn-land", yet another, the principal tribe known to the Romans as Cornovii lived in the West Midlands and Powys areas, calling into question the derivation of the name from a peninsula (however Celtic tribes were not necessarily permanently settled and the Latin forms may be based on different British names).[14] Another theory suggests that the name of the Cornovii tribes may well be connected to totemic worship of the "horned god" such as the Gaulish Cernunnos or a similar totemic cult. Nevertheless, the Cornovii were sufficiently established in the present day area recognised as Cornwall for their territory to be recorded as Cornubia by 700 AD, and remained as such into the Middle Ages. The Ravenna Cosmography, of around 700, makes reference to Purocoronavis, (almost certainly a corruption of Durocornovium), 'a fort or walled settlement of the Cornovii', (unidentified, but possibly Tintagel or Carn Brea).[15][16]

During the 6th and 7th centuries, the name Cornubia became corrupted by extensive changes in the Old English language.[17] 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 (as being west of Wessex) and present-day Cumbria as North Wales during those times, the "Wales" meaning is probable.



Prehistory, Roman and post-Roman periods

The present human history of Cornwall begins with the reoccupation of Britain after the last Ice Age. During the British Iron Age Cornwall, like all of Britain south of the Firth of Forth, was inhabited by the Celtic people known as the Britons. The Celtic British language spoken at the time eventually developed into several distinct tongues, including Cornish.[15] 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.


Celtic tribes of Southern Britain

The identity of these merchants is unknown. There has been a theory that they were Phoenicians, however there is no evidence for this.[19] (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.[20] After a period of Roman rule, Cornwall reverted to independent Celtic chieftains.

Conflict with Wessex

The chronology of English dominance over Cornwall is unclear. In the 8th century Cornwall came into conflict with the expanding kingdom of Wessex. There are no recorded charters or legal agreements showing Cornwall as part of Wessex.[21] Furthermore, there is little economic, military, social, cultural or archaeological evidence that Wessex established control over Cornwall, although some historians, notably Michael Swanton,[22] and Malcolm Todd[23] assert to the contrary.

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. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states in 815 (adjusted date) "& þy geare gehergade Ecgbryht cyning on West Walas from easteweardum oþ westewearde."..."and in this year king Ecgbryht raided in Cornwall from east to west." and thenceforth apparently held it as a ducatus or dukedom annexed to his regnum or kingdom of Wessex, but not wholly incorporated with it.[24] The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles states that in 825 (adjusted date) a battle was fought involving the "Welsh", presumably those of Cornwall, and the Defnas (men of Devon). It only states:- "The Westwealas (Cornish) and the Defnas (men of Devon) fought at Gafulforda". However, there is no mention of who won or who lost, whether the men of Cornwall and Devon were fighting each other or on the same side, and no mention of Egbert. This is the only record of this battle. In the same year Ecgbert, as a later document phrases it, "disposed of their territory as it seemed fit to him, giving a tenth part of it to God." In other words he incorporated Cornwall ecclesiastically with the West Saxon diocese of Sherborne, and endowed Ealhstan, his fighting bishop, who took part in the campaign, with an extensive Cornish estate consisting of Callington and Lawhitton, both in the Tamar valley, and Pawton near Padstow.

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 a few estates.[25] William of Malmesbury, writing around 1120, says that King Athelstan of England (924–939) fixed the boundary between English and Cornish people at the east bank of the River Tamar.

Norman period

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.[26] Ultimately this aristocracy eventually became a Cornu-Norman ruling class, a phenomenon closely resembling the situation in the rest of England, and later 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 ruling class of Cornwall (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.[27] 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: they are particularly noticeable in the north-east of the county.[15]

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[28] and it has been pointed out by Canon Doble that it was customary in the Middle Ages to ascribe such geographic origins to saints.[29] Some of these saints are not included in the early lists of saints.[30]

St Piran, after whom Perranporth is named, is generally regarded as the patron saint of Cornwall.[31] However in earlier times it is likely that St Michael the Archangel was recognized as the patron saint[citation needed] 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 corresponded to a cantref (this has the same meaning as Cornish kevrang) both being under the supervision of a Bishop.[32] However if this was so the status of kevrangow before the time of King Athelstan is not recorded. However it can be inferred from the districts included at this period that the minimum number would be three: Triggshire; Wivelshire; and the remaining area. Penwith, Kerrier, Pydar and Powder meet at a central point (Scorrier) which some have believed indicates a fourfold division imposed by Athelstan on a sub-kingdom.

The Middle Ages

One of Cornwalls' many holy wells

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.[33] 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.[34][35]

Various kinds of religious houses existed in mediaeval 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.[36]

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 Prayer Book Rebellion.[37] The Cornish, amongst other reasons, objected to the English language Book of Common Prayer, protesting that the English language was still unknown to many at the time. The Prayer Book Rebellion was a cultural and social disaster for Cornwall, the reprisals taken by the forces of the Crown have been estimated to account for 10-11% of the civilian population of Cornwall. Culturally speaking, it saw the beginning of the slow "death" of Cornish language.

From the early nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century Methodism was the leading form of Christianity in Cornwall but is now in decline.[38][39] 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[40][41] (the first Bishop was appointed in 1877). Roman Catholicism was virtually extinct in Cornwall after the 17th century except for a few families such as the Arundells of Lanherne. From the mid-19th century the church reestablished episcopal sees in England, one of these being at Plymouth.[42] Since then immigration to Cornwall has brought more Roman Catholics into the population.

Physical geography

Satellite image of Cornwall

Cornwall forms the tip of the south-west peninsula of the island of Great Britain, and is therefore exposed to the full force of the prevailing winds that blow in from the Atlantic Ocean. The coastline is composed mainly of resistant rocks that give rise in many places to impressive cliffs. Cornwall has a border with only one other county, Devon.

The north and south coasts

The north and south coasts have different characteristics. The north coast is more exposed and therefore has a wilder nature. The prosaically named High Cliff, between Boscastle and St Gennys, is the highest sheer-drop cliff in Cornwall at 223 metres (732 ft).[43] However, there are also many extensive stretches of fine golden sand which form the beaches that are so important to the tourist industry, such as those at Bude, Polzeath, Watergate Bay, Perranporth, Porthtowan, Fistral Beach, Newquay, St Agnes, St Ives, and on the south coast Gyllyngvase beach in Falmouth. There are two river estuaries on the north coast: Hayle Estuary and the estuary of the River Camel, which provides Padstow and Rock with a safe harbour. The south coast, dubbed the "riviera", is more sheltered and there are several broad estuaries offering safe anchorages, such as at Falmouth and Fowey. Beaches on the south coast usually consist of coarser sand and shingle, interspersed with rocky sections of wave-cut platform.

St Michael's Mount in Marazion.

Inland areas

The interior of the county consists of a roughly east-west spine of infertile and exposed upland, with a series of granite intrusions, such as Bodmin Moor, which contains the highest land within Cornwall. From east to west, and with approximately descending altitude, these are Bodmin Moor, the area north of St Austell, the area south of Camborne, and the Penwith or Land's End peninsula. These intrusions are the central part of the granite outcrops of south-west Britain, which include Dartmoor to the east in Devon and the Isles of Scilly to the west, the latter now being partially submerged.

Cornwall is known for its beaches and rugged coastline.

The intrusion of the granite into the surrounding sedimentary rocks gave rise to extensive metamorphism and mineralization, and this led to Cornwall being one of the most important mining areas in Europe until the early 20th century. It is thought Tin was mined here as early as the Bronze Age, and copper, lead, zinc and silver have all been mined in Cornwall. Alteration of the granite also gave rise to extensive deposits of China Clay, especially in the area to the north of St Austell, and the extraction of this remains an important industry.

The uplands are surrounded by more fertile, mainly pastoral farmland. Near the south coast, deep wooded valleys provide sheltered conditions for flora that like shade and a moist, mild climate. These areas lie mainly on Devonian sandstone and slate. The north east of Cornwall lies on Carboniferous rocks known as the Culm Measures. In places these have been subjected to severe folding, as can be seen on the north coast near Crackington Haven and in several other locations.

The Lizard Peninsula

The geology of the Lizard peninsula is unusual, in that it is mainland Britain's only example of an ophiolite, a section of oceanic crust now found on land.[44] Much of the peninsula consists of the dark green and red Precambrian serpentinite, which forms spectacular cliffs, notably at Kynance Cove, and carved and polished serpentine ornaments are sold in local gift shops. This ultramafic rock also forms a very infertile soil which covers the flat and marshy heaths of the interior of the peninsula. This is home to rare plants, such as the Cornish Heath, which has been adopted as the county flower.[45]


Cornwall has varied habitats including terrestrial and marine ecosystems. One of the lower plant forms in decline locally is the Reindeer lichen, which species has been made a priority for protection under the national UK Biodiversity Action Plan.[46][47]

Red-billed chough: Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax

The birds of the coast are well worth observing: in 1935 an anonymous writer on Tintagel mentions Willapark as the scene of spectacular flocks of seabirds (eight species); inland he describes the crows (including the Cornish chough and the raven) and falcons which frequent the district. 'E.M.S.' contributes: "Within easy reach of Tintagel at least 385 varieties of flowers, 30 kinds of grasses, and 16 of ferns can be found ... a 'happy hunting ground' for botanists" and a list of thirty-nine of the rarest is given.[48] (by the 1950s there were no longer choughs to be seen). This bird is emblematic of Cornwall and is also said to embody the spirit of King Arthur. B. H. Ryves mentions the razorbill as numerous at Tintagel (perhaps the largest colony in the county) and summarises reports from earlier in the century.[49]

Botanists divide Cornwall and Scilly into two vice-counties: West (1) and East (2). The standard flora is by F. H. Davey Flora of Cornwall (1909). Davey was assisted by A. O. Hume and he thanks Hume, his companion on excursions in Cornwall and Devon, and for help in the compilation of that Flora, publication of which was financed by him.


Cornwall is the southernmost part of Britain, and therefore has a relatively warm and sunny climate. Winters are mild, and frost and snow are very rare away from the central upland areas. The average annual temperature for most of Cornwall is 9.8 to 12 degrees Celsius (49.6 to 53.6 °F), with slightly lower temperatures at higher altitude.[50] Cornwall is exposed to mild, moist westerly winds from the Atlantic Ocean and has relatively high rainfall, though less than more northern areas of the west coast of Britain, at 1051 to 1290 mm (41.4 to 50.8 in) per year.[51] Most of Cornwall enjoys over 1541 hours of sunshine per year.[52]

Climate data for Truro, Cornwall
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average high °C (°F) 8
Average low °C (°F) 5
Precipitation mm (inches) 81
Source: Foreca[53] 2008

Politics and administration

With the exception of the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall is now governed by a unitary authority known as the Cornwall Council based in Truro. Cornwall's Courts of Justice are also located in Truro.

The Isles of Scilly form part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall and have, at times, been served by the same county administration. However, since 1890, they have been administered by their own unitary authority, now known as the Council of the Isles of Scilly. They are still grouped with Cornwall for other administrative purposes, such as the National Health Service and Devon and Cornwall Police.[54][55][56]

Prior to reorganisation on 1 April 2009, council functions throughout the rest of Cornwall were organised on a two-tier basis, with a county council and district councils for the six districts of Caradon, Carrick, Kerrier, North Cornwall, Penwith, and Restormel. While projected to streamline services, cut red tape and save around £17 million a year, the reorganisation was met with wide opposition, with a poll in 2008 giving a result of 89% disapproval from Cornish residents.[57][58][59]

The first elections for the new unitary authority were held on 4 June 2009. The new council has 123 seats; the largest party is the Conservative Party with 50, followed by the Liberal Democrats with 38, Independents with 32 and Mebyon Kernow with 3 seats.[60]

Prior to the creation of the new unitary council, the former county council had 82 seats, the majority of which were held by the Liberal Democrats, elected at the 2005 county council elections. The six former districts in Cornwall had a total of 249 council seats, and the numerically largest groups represented on them were Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, and Independents.

Cornwall currently elects five MPs to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, all of whom are Liberal Democrats as from the 2005 general election. A reshuffle of parliamentary boundaries will create a sixth parliamentary constituency in Cornwall which will be fought for the first time at the next British general election due in 2010. Until 1832, Cornwall had 44 MPs-–more than any other county-–reflecting the importance of tin to the Crown.[61] Most of the increase came between 1529 and 1584 after which there was no change until 1832.[62] The chief registered parties contesting elections in Cornwall are Conservatives, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Mebyon Kernow, Liberal Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). In July 2007, Conservative leader David Cameron appointed Mark Prisk to the newly-created post of Shadow Minister for Cornwall.[63]

Cornwall Council's headquarters in Truro

There is a growing call within Cornwall for greater self-rule. Cornwall Council's Feb 2003 MORI poll showed 55% in favour of an elected, fully-devolved regional assembly for Cornwall and 13% against. (Previous result :46% in favour in 2002). However the poll also showed that 72% were in favour of a "South West Regional Assembly.[64] The Cornish Constitutional Convention[12] advocates the creation of a Cornish Assembly, along the lines of those for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in 2001 presented a petition to the then Prime minister, Tony Blair calling for the change. It is claimed that many of the duchy residents are calling for a high degree of autonomy within England, or a split from England, creating a fifth home nation of the United Kingdom.[65] and/or a separate Cornish Development Agency, a result of discontent with the South West Regional Development Agency.

Cornish political parties

Cornish nationalists have organised into two political parties: Mebyon Kernow, formed in 1951, and the Cornish Nationalist Party. In addition to the political parties, there are various interest groups such as the Cornish Stannary Parliament and the Celtic League. In November 2000, the Cornish Constitutional Convention was formed to campaign for a Cornish Assembly. It is a cross-party organisation including representatives from the private, public, and voluntary sectors, of all political parties and none. Between 5 March 2000 and December 2001, the campaign collected the signatures of 41,650 Cornish residents endorsing the declaration for a devolved regional Cornish Assembly, along with 8,896 signatories from outside Cornwall.[12] In 2003 a MORI poll showed 55 per cent of respondents favoured establishing a regional assembly for Cornwall.[66] The campaign also has the support of all five Cornish Lib Dem MPs and Mebyon Kernow.[67]

The question of Cornwall's constitutional status

The question of Cornwall's constitutional status as a county of England, as established by the Local Government Act 1888, a Duchy, i.e. the Duchy of Cornwall established in 1337 by Edward III of England for his son, Edward, Prince of Wales, or another constitutional entity of the United Kingdom is a complex one. In recent years there has been cross-party recognition of the issue at least as far as the calls for a Cornish Assembly are concerned. In addition there are also groups and individuals, including Mebyon Kernow, the Cornish Constitutional Convention,[65] and John Angarrack,[68] who reject the present constitutional status of Cornwall, refuting the legality of Cornwall's current administration as a county of England, and Cornwall's relationship to the Duchy of Cornwall.

Contemporary political parties

In 2007 David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, in a departure from the Conservative Party's traditionally unionist stance, appointed Cornishman Mark Prisk as "Shadow Minister for Cornwall". The Liberal Party recognise Cornwall's claims for greater autonomy, as do the Liberal Democrats.

"The new single council is also the opportunity to gain more control over local issues from regional and national

Government bureaucrats – the first step on our way to a Cornish Assembly." - The Liberal Democrat Manifesto for 2009 [69]

The Cornish civic nationalist party Mebyon Kernow also bases much of its policy on greater civic autonomy for Cornwall.

An additional political issue is the rights of the Cornish people as a minority.[70]

Settlements and communication

Truro, Cornwall's administrative centre

Cornwall's only city, and the home of the council headquarters, is Truro. Nearby Falmouth is notable as a port, while the ports at Penzance, the most westerly town in England, St Ives and Padstow have declined. Newquay on the north coast is famous for its beaches and is a popular surfing destination, as is Bude further north. St Austell is Cornwall's largest town and is larger than the capital Truro, and a centre of the china clay industry. Redruth and Camborne together form the largest urban area in Cornwall, and both towns were significant as centres of the global tin mining industry.

Cornwall borders the county of Devon at the River Tamar. Major road links between Cornwall and the rest of Great Britain are the A38 which crosses the Tamar at Plymouth via the Tamar Bridge and the town of Saltash, the A39 road (Atlantic Highway) from Barnstaple, passing through North Cornwall to end eventually in Falmouth, and the A30 which crosses the border south of Launceston. A car ferry also links Plymouth with the town of Torpoint on the opposite side of the Hamoaze. A rail bridge, the Royal Albert Bridge, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1859) provides the only other major transport link. The major city of Plymouth being the nearest large urban centre to east Cornwall makes it an important location for such services as hospitals, department stores, road and rail transport, and cultural venues.

Newquay Airport provides an airlink to the rest of the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Cardiff and Swansea, across the Bristol Channel, are connected to Cornwall by ferry, usually to Padstow. Swansea in particular has several boat companies who can arrange boat trips to north Cornwall, which allow the traveller to pass by the north Cornish coastline, including Tintagel Castle and Padstow harbour. Very occasionally, the Waverley and Balmoral paddle steamers cruise from Swansea or Bristol to Padstow.

The Isles of Scilly are served by ferry (from Penzance), helicopter (Penzance Heliport) and fixed wing aeroplane (Land's End Airport, near St Just) and from Newquay Airport. Further flights to St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly, are available from Exeter International Airport in Devon.


Souvenir flags outside a Cornish café

Saint Piran's Flag is regarded by many as the national flag of Cornwall,[71][72] and an emblem of the Cornish people; and by others as the county flag. The banner of Saint Piran is a white cross on a black background. Saint Piran is supposed to have adopted these two colours from seeing the white tin in the black coals and ashes during his supposed discovery of tin. Davies Gilbert in 1826 described it as anciently the flag of St Piran and the banner of Cornwall,[73] and another history of 1880 said that: "The white cross of St. Piran was the ancient banner of the Cornish people." The Cornish flag is an exact reverse of the former Breton national flag (black cross) and is known by the same name " Kroaz Du".

There are also claims that the patron saint of Cornwall is Saint Michael or Saint Petroc, but Saint Piran is by far the most popular of the three and his emblem is internationally[74][75] recognised as the flag of Cornwall. St Piran's Day (5 March) is celebrated by the Cornish diaspora around the world.


Falmouth Docks is the major port of Cornwall, and the third-largest natural harbour in the world.
The Eden Project, Cornwall's largest tourist attraction in terms of visitor numbers

Cornwall is one of the poorest areas in the United Kingdom. The GVA per head was 65% of the UK average for 2004.[76] The GDP per head for Cornwall and the Scillies was 79.2 of the EU-27 average for 2004, the UK per head average was 123.0.[77]

Historically tin mining was important in the Cornish economy. The first reference to this appears to be by Pytheas: see above. Julius Caesar was the last classical writer to mention the tin trade, which appears to have declined during the Roman occupation.[78] The tin trade revived in the Middle Ages, and the Cornish Rebellion of 1497 is attributed to tin miners.[79] In the mid-nineteenth century, however, the tin trade again fell into decline.

Cornwall is one of four UK areas that qualify for poverty-related grants from the EU: it was granted Objective 1 status by the European Commission, followed by a further round of funding known as 'Convergence Funding'.


Today, the Cornish economy depends heavily on its successful tourist industry, which makes up around a quarter of the economy. The official measures of deprivation and poverty at district and 'sub-ward' level show that there is great variation in poverty and prosperity in Cornwall with some areas among the poorest in England and others are among the top half in prosperity. For example, the ranking of 32,482 sub-wards in England in the index of multiple deprivation ranges from 819th (part of Penzance East) to 30,899th (part of Saltash Burraton in Caradon), where the lower number represents the greater deprivation.[80]

Cornwall's unique culture, spectacular landscape and mild climate make it a popular tourist destination, despite being somewhat distant from the United Kingdom's main centres of population. Surrounded on three sides by the English Channel and Celtic Sea, Cornwall has many miles of beaches and cliffs. Other tourist attractions include moorland, country gardens, historic and prehistoric sites and wooded valleys. Five million tourists visit Cornwall each year, mostly drawn from within the UK.[81] Visitors to Cornwall are served by airports at Newquay and Plymouth, whilst private jets, charters and helicopters are also served by Perranporth airfield; nightsleeper and daily rail services run between Cornwall, London and other regions of the UK.

Newquay and Porthtowan are popular destinations for surfers. In recent years, the Eden Project near St Austell has been a major financial success, drawing one in eight of Cornwall's visitors.[82]

Other industries

Redruth Mine in 1890

Other industries are fishing, although this has been significantly re-structured by EU fishing policies, (the Southwest Handline Fishermen's Association has started to revive the fishing industry),[83] and agriculture, which has also declined significantly. Mining of tin and copper was also an industry, but today the derelict mine workings survive only as a World Heritage Site[84] However, the Camborne School of Mines, which was relocated to Penryn in 2004, is still a world centre of excellence in the field of mining and applied geology[85] and the grant of World Heritage status has attracted funding for conservation and heritage tourism.[86] China clay extraction has also been an important industry in the St Austell area, but this sector has been in decline, and this, coupled with increased mechanisation, has led to a decrease in employment in this sector.

In recent years Cornwall's creative industries have undergone significant growth, thanks in part to Objective One funding[citation needed], as it is the only British county poor enough to receive such money. There is now a significant creative industry in Cornwall, encompassing areas like graphic design, product design, web design, packaging design, environmental design, architecture, photography, art and crafts.[citation needed]


Graph showing Cornwall's population from 1800 to 2000

Cornwall's population was 513,527 at the last count, and population density 144 people per square kilometre, ranking it 40th and 41st respectively compared with the other 47 counties of England. Cornwall has a relatively high level of population growth, however, at 11.2% in the 1980s and 5.3% in the 1990s, giving it the fifth highest population growth of the English counties.[87] The natural change has been a small population decline, and the population increase is due to immigration into Cornwall.[88] According to the 1991 census, the population was 469,800.

Cornwall has a relatively high retired population, with 22.9% of pensionable age, compared with 20.3% for the United Kingdom.[89] This may be due to a combination of Cornwall's rural and coastal geography increasing its popularity as a retirement location, and the emigration of younger residents to more economically diverse areas. Immigration of pensioners from southern England to Cornwall, and emigration of young Cornish people, are persistent concerns.

Cornwall is the homeland of the Cornish people and diaspora, and is recognised by many people and organisations—alongside Brittany, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland and Wales—as one of the six "Celtic nations", including the Celtic League, Cornish Stannary Parliament, Mebyon Kernow, Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), Celtic Congress and the BBC, and, as one of the eight Celtic nations—the other two being Asturias and Galicia—by the Isle of Man Government and the Welsh Assembly Government.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][90] Cornwall is represented, as one of the Celtic nations, at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, a celebration of Celtic culture held annually in Brittany.[91]

There is some ambiguity over how many of the people living in Cornwall consider themselves to be Cornish, since results from different surveys (including the national census) have given results varying from 7% to 79%.[citation needed] Many people in Cornwall say that this issue would be resolved if a Cornish option became available on the census.[92]

Cornwall has a comprehensive education system, with 31 state and 8 independent secondary schools. There are three FE colleges - Penwith College (a former sixth form college), Cornwall College (occupying the former home of the Camborne School of Mines) and Truro College. The Isles of Scilly only has one school while the former Restormel district has the highest school population, and school year sizes are around 200, with none above 270.

Higher education is provided by University College Falmouth, the University of Exeter (including Camborne School of Mines), the Combined Universities in Cornwall, and by Truro College, Penwith College and Cornwall College.

Languages and dialects

Both the English and Cornish languages are used in Cornwall.

Cornish language

The Cornish language is closely related to Welsh and Breton, and less so to Irish, Scots Gaelic and Manx. The language continued to function as a community language in parts of Cornwall until the late 18th century, and there has been a revival of the language since Henry Jenner's "Handbook of the Cornish Language" was published in 1904. A study in 2000 suggested that there were around 300 people who spoke Cornish fluently.[93] Cornish however had no legal status in the UK until 2002. Nevertheless, the language is taught in about twelve primary schools, and occasionally used in religious and civic ceremonies.[94] In 2002 Cornish was officially recognised as a UK minority language[95] and in 2005 it received limited Government funding.[96] A Standard Written Form was agreed in 2008.[97]

Several Cornish mining words are still in use in English language mining terminology, such as costean, gunnies, and vug.[98]

Two of the current Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, Andrew George, MP for St Ives, and Dan Rogerson, MP for North Cornwall, repeated their Parliamentary oaths in Cornish.[99]

English dialect

See West Country dialects


The Tate Gallery at St Ives

Visual arts

Since the 19th century, Cornwall, with its unspoilt maritime scenery and strong light, has sustained a vibrant visual art scene of international renown. Artistic activity within Cornwall was initially centred on the art-colony of Newlyn, most active at the turn of the 20th century.[100] This Newlyn School is associated with the names: Stanhope Forbes, Elizabeth Forbes,[101] Norman Garstin and Lamorna Birch.[102] Modernist writers such as D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf lived in Cornwall between the wars,[103] and Ben Nicholson, the painter, having visited in the 1920s came to live in St Ives with his then wife, the sculptor Barbara Hepworth, at the outbreak of the second world war.[104] They were later joined by the Russian emigrant Naum Gabo,[105] and other artists. These included Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Bryan Wynter and Roger Hilton. St Ives also houses the Leach Pottery, where Bernard Leach, and his followers championed Japanese inspired studio pottery.[106] Much of this modernist work can be seen in Tate St Ives.[107] The Newlyn Society and Penwith Society of Arts continue to be active, and contemporary visual art is documented in a dedicated online journal.[108]

Music and festivals

Cornwall has a rich and vibrant folk music tradition which has survived into the present and is well-known for its unusual folk survivals such as Mummers Plays, the Furry Dance in Helston played by the famous Helston Town Band, and Obby Oss in Padstow.

As in other former mining districts of Britain, male voice choirs and Brass Bands, e.g. Brass on the Grass concerts during the summer at Constantine, are still very popular in Cornwall: Cornwall also has around 40 brass bands, including the six-times National Champions of Great Britain, Camborne Youth Band, and the bands of Lanner and St Dennis.

Cornish players are regular participants in inter-Celtic festivals, and Cornwall itself has several lively inter-Celtic festivals such as Perranporth's Lowender Peran folk festival.[109]

On a more modern note, contemporary musician Richard D. James (also known as Aphex Twin) grew up in Cornwall, as did Luke Vibert and Alex Parks winner of Fame Academy 2003. Roger Taylor, the drummer from the band Queen was also raised in the county, and currently lives not far from Falmouth. The American singer/songwriter Tori Amos now resides predominantly in North Cornwall not far from Bude with her family.[110]


Daphne du Maurier lived in Fowey, Cornwall and many of her novels had Cornish settings, including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel, and The House on the Strand.[111] She is also noted for writing Vanishing Cornwall. Cornwall provided the inspiration for The Birds, one of her terrifying series of short stories, made famous as a film by Alfred Hitchcock.[112] Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Devil's Foot featuring Sherlock Holmes is set in Cornwall.[113]

Remains of Tintagel Castle, legendary birthplace of mythical King Arthur

Medieval Cornwall is also the setting of the trilogy by Monica Furlong, Wise Child, Juniper, and Colman, as well as part of Charles Kingsley's Hereward the Wake.

Winston Graham's series Poldark, Kate Tremayne's Adam Loveday series, Susan Cooper's novels Over Sea, Under Stone[114] and Greenwitch, and Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn are all set in Cornwall. Writing under the pseudonym of Alexander Kent, Douglas Reeman sets parts of his Richard Bolitho and Adam Bolitho series in the Cornwall of the late 18th and the early 19th centuries, particularly in Falmouth.

Hammond Innes' novel, The Killer Mine;[115] Charles de Lint's novel The Little Country;[116] and Chapters 24 and 25 of J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows take place in Cornwall (the Harry Potter story at Shell Cottage, which is on the beach outside the fictional village of Tinworth in Cornwall).[117]

Novelists resident in Cornwall:- Highly respected spy author John le Carré lives and writes in Cornwall. The Nobel-prizewinning novelist William Golding was born in St Columb Minor in 1911, and returned to live near Truro from 1985 until his death in 1993.[118] D. H. Lawrence spent a short time living in Cornwall. Rosamunde Pilcher grew up in Cornwall, and several of her books take place there.


The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman was famously fond of Cornwall and it featured prominently in his poetry. He is buried in the churchyard at St Enodoc's Church, Trebetherick.[119] Charles Causley, the poet, was born in Launceston and is perhaps the best known of Cornish poets. The Scottish poet W. S. Graham lived in West Cornwall from 1944 until his death in 1986.[120]

The poet Laurence Binyon wrote For the Fallen (first published in 1914) while sitting on the cliffs between Pentire Point and The Rumps and a stone plaque was erected in 2001 to commemorate the fact. The plaque bears the inscription For The Fallen Composed on these cliffs 1914 The plaque also bears the fourth stanza (sometimes referred to as 'The Ode') of the poem:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

Other literary works

Cornwall produced a substantial number of passion plays such as the Ordinalia during the Middle Ages. Many are still extant, and provide valuable information about the Cornish language. See also Cornish literature

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch author of many novels and works of literary criticism lived in Fowey: his novels are mainly set in Cornwall. Prolific writer Colin Wilson, best known for his debut work The Outsider (1956) and for The Mind Parasites (1967), lives in Gorran Haven, a little village on the southern Cornish coast, not far from Mevagissey and St Austell. A. L. Rowse, the historian, was born near St. Austell.

Thomas Hardy's drama The Queen of Cornwall (1923) is a version of the Tristan story; the second act of Richard Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde takes place in Cornwall, as do Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas The Pirates of Penzance and Ruddigore. A level of Tomb Raider: Legend, a game dealing with Arthurian Legend, takes place in Cornwall at a tacky museum above King Arthur's tomb.

The fairy tale Jack the Giant Killer takes place in Cornwall.

Sports and games

With its comparatively small, rural population, major contribution by the Cornish to national sport in the United Kingdom has been limited.[121] There are no teams affiliated to the Cornwall County Football Association that play in the Football League of England and Wales, and the Cornwall County Cricket Club plays as one of the minor counties of English cricket.[121] Viewed as an "important identifier of ethnic affliation", rugby union has become a sport strongly tied with notions of Cornishness,[122] and since the 20th century, rugby union in Cornwall has emerged as one of,the most popular spectator and team sports in Cornwall (perhaps the most popular), with professional Cornish rugby footballers being described as a "formidable force",[121] "naturally independent, both in thought and deed, yet paradoxically staunch English patriots whose top players have represented England with pride and passion".[123] In 1985, sports journalist Alan Gibson made a direct connection between love of rugby in Cornwall and the ancient parish games of hurling and wrestling that existed for centuries before rugby officially began.[123] Among Cornwall's native sports are a distinctive form of Celtic wrestling related to Breton wrestling, and Cornish hurling, a kind of mediaeval football played with a silver ball (distinct from Irish Hurling). Cornish Wrestling is Cornwall's oldest sport and as Cornwall's native tradition it has travelled the world to places like Victoria, Australia and Grass Valley, California following the miners and gold rushes. Hurling now takes place at St. Columb Major and St Ives although hurling of a silver ball is part of the beating the bounds ceremony at Bodmin every five years.

Surfing and other water sports

Surfers in Cornwall.
Cornwall's north coast is known as a centre for surfing

Due to its long coastline, various maritime sports are popular in Cornwall, notably sailing and surfing. International events in both are held in Cornwall. Cornwall hosted the Inter-Celtic Watersports Festival in 2006. Surfing in particular is very popular, as locations such as Bude and Newquay offer some of the best surf in the UK. Pilot gig rowing has been popular for many years and the World championships takes place annually on the Isles of Scilly. On September 2, 2007, 300 surfers arrived at Polzeath beach, Cornwall to set a new world record for the highest number of surfers riding the same wave (as part of the Global Surf Challenge and part of a project called Earthwave to raise awareness about global warming).[124]

Indoor games

Euchre (also known as Five hundred) is a popular card game in Cornwall, it is normally a game for four players consisting of two teams. Its origins are unclear but some claim it is a Cornish game. There are several leagues in Cornwall at present. Whist and pub quizzes are also popular.


Cornwall has a strong culinary heritage. Surrounded on three sides by the sea amid fertile fishing grounds, Cornwall naturally has fresh seafood readily available; Newlyn is the largest fishing port in the UK by value of fish landed.[125] Television chef Rick Stein has long operated a fish restaurant in Padstow for this reason, and Jamie Oliver recently chose to open his second restaurant, Fifteen, in Watergate Bay near Newquay. Masterchef host and founder of Smiths of Smithfield, John Torode, in 2007 purchased Seiners in Perranporth. One famous local fish dish is Stargazy pie, a fish-based pie in which the heads of the fish stick through the piecrust, as though "star-gazing". The pie is cooked as part of traditional celebrations for Tom Bawcock's Eve, but is not generally eaten at any other time.

Cornwall is perhaps best known though for its pasties, a savoury dish made with pastry. Today's pasties usually contain a filling of beef steak, onion, potato and swede with salt and white pepper, but historically pasties had a variety of different fillings. "Turmut, 'tates and mate" (i.e. Turnip, potatoes and meat) describes a filling once very common. For instance, the licky pasty contained mostly leeks, and the herb pasty contained watercress, parsley, and shallots.[126] Pasties are often locally referred to as oggies. Historically, pasties were also often made with sweet fillings such as jam, apple and blackberry, plums or cherries.[127] The wet climate and relatively poor soil of Cornwall make it unsuitable for growing many arable crops. However, it is ideal for growing the rich grass required for dairying, leading to the production of Cornwall's other famous export, clotted cream. This forms the basis for many local specialities including Cornish fudge and Cornish ice cream. Cornish clotted cream is protected under EU law[128] and cannot be made anywhere else. Its principal manufacturer is Rodda's, based at Scorrier.

Local cakes and desserts include Saffron cake, Cornish heavy (hevva) cake, Cornish fairings biscuits, figgy 'obbin, scones (often served with jam and clotted cream) and whortleberry pie.[129][130][131]

There are also many types of beers brewed in Cornwall – those produced by Sharp's Brewery, Skinner's Brewery and St Austell Brewery are the best-known – including stouts, ales and other beer types. There is some small scale production of wine, mead and cider.


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Further reading

  • Balchin, W. G. V. (1954) Cornwall: an illustrated essay on the history of the landscape. (The Making of the English Landscape). London: Hodder and Stoughton
  • Boase, George Clement; Courtney, W. P. (1874–1882) Bibliotheca Cornubiensis: a catalogue of the writings, both manuscript and printed, of Cornishmen, and of works relating to the county of Cornwall, with biographical memoranda and copious literary references. 3 vols. London: Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer
  • du Maurier, Daphne (1967). Vanishing Cornwall. London: Doubleday.  (illustrated edition Published by Victor Gollancz, London, 1981, ISBN 0-5750-2844-0, photographs by Christian Browning)
  • Ellis, Peter Ellis (1974). The Cornish language and its literature. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul Books. ISBN 0-7100-7928-1.  (Available online on Google Books).
  • Graves, Alfred Perceval (1928). The Celtic Song Book: Being Representative Folk Songs of the Six Celtic Nations. London: Ernest Benn.  (Available online on Digital Book Index)
  • Halliday, Frank Ernest (1959). A History of Cornwall. London: Gerald Duckworth. ISBN 0-7551-0817-5.  A 2nd edition was published in 2001 by the House of Stratus, Thirsk: the original text new illustrations and an afterword by Halliday's son
  • Koch, John T. (2006). Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia. London: ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1-8510-9440-7.  (Available online on Google Books).
  • Payton, Philip (1996). Cornwall. Fowey: Alexander Associates. ISBN 1-8995-2660-9.  Revised edition Cornwall: a history, Fowey: Cornwall Editions Ltd, 2004 ISBN 1-9048-8000-2 (Available online on Google Books).
  • Stoyle, Mark (2001). "BBC - History - The Cornish: A Neglected Nation?". BBC History website. BBC. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
  • Stoyle, Mark (2002). West Britons: Cornish Identities and the Early Modern British State. Exeter: University of Exeter Press. ISBN 0-8598-9688-9. 
  • Williams, Michael (ed.) (1973) My Cornwall. St Teath: Bossiney Books (eleven chapters by various hands, including three previously published essays)

External links

Coordinates: 50°18′N 4°54′W / 50.3°N 4.9°W / 50.3; -4.9

1911 encyclopedia

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="">See Cornwall (disambiguation) for articles sharing the title Cornwall.

CORNWALL, the south-westernmost county of England, bounded N. and N.W. by the Atlantic Ocean, E. by Devonshire, and S. and S.W. by the English Channel. The area is 1356.6 sq. m. The most southerly extension is Lizard Point, and the most westerly point of the mainland Land's End, but the county also includes the Scilly Isles, lying 25 m. W. by S. of Land's End. No county in England has a stronger individuality than Cornwall, whether in economic or social conditions, in history, nomenclature, tradition, or even in the physical characteristics of the land. Such individuality is hardly to be compassed within political boundaries, and in some respects it is shared by the neighbouring county of Devon, yet the traveller hardly feels its influence before passing west of the Tamar.

Physically, Cornwall is a great promontory with a direct length of 75 m. from N.N.E. to S.S.W., and an extreme breadth, at the junction with Devonshire, of 45 m. The river Tamar here forms the greater part of the boundary, and its valley divides the high moors of Devonshire and the succession of similar broad-topped hills which form the backbone of the Cornish promontory. The scenery is full of contrast. To the west of Launceston the principal mass of high land rises to 1375 ft. in Brown Willy, the highest point in the county. This district is broken and picturesque, with rough tors or hills and boulders. A remarkable pile of rocks called the Cheese-wring, somewhat resembling an inverted pyramid in form, is seen on the moor north of Liskeard. This district is for the most part a region of furze and heather; but after passing Bodmin, the true Cornish moorland asserts itself, bare, desolate and impracticable, broken and dug into hillocks, which are sometimes due to early mining works, sometimes to more modern search for metals. The seventy miles from Launceston to Mount's Bay have been called not untruly "the dreariest strip of earth traversed by any English high road." There is hardly more cultivation on the higher ground west of Mount's Bay, or in the Meneage or "rocky country," the old Cornish name for the promontory which ends in the Lizard. Long combes and valleys, however, descend from this upper moorland towards the coast on both sides. These are in general well wooded, and, in the luxuriance of their vegetation, strongly characteristic. The small rivers traversing them in several cases enter fine estuaries, which ramify deeply into the land. Such are, on the south coast, the great estuary of the Tamar, and other streams, on which the port of Plymouth is situated (but only the western shore is Cornish), the Looe and Fowey rivers, Falmouth Harbour, the most important of the purely Cornish inlets and accessible for the largest vessels, and the Helford river. On the north are the estuaries of the Camel and the Hayle, debouching into Padstow Bay and St Ives Bay respectively. The Fowey and Camel valleys almost completely break the continuation of the central high ground, and the uplands west of Mount's Bay are similarly parted from the main mass by the low tract between Hayle and Marazion. Except at the mouth of a stream or estuary the coast is almost wholly rock-bound, and the cliff scenery is unsurpassed in England. Three different types are found. On the north coast, from Tintagel Head and Boscastle northward to Hartland Point in Devonshire, the dark slate cliffs, with their narrow and distorted strata, are remarkably rugged of outline, owing to the ease with which the waves fret the loosely-bound rock. On the south, in the beautiful little bays in the neighbourhood of the Lizard Point, the serpentine rock is noted for its exquisite colouring. Between Treryn and Land's End, at the south-west, a majestic barrier of granite is presented to the sea. The beautiful Scilly Isles continue the line of the granite, and the intervening sea is said to have submerged a tract of land named Lyonesse, containing, according to tradition, 140 parish churches, and intimately connected with the Arthurian romances.

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One of the most striking features of Cornwall is the presence of the four great masses of granite which rise up and form as many elevated areas out of a lower-lying region occupied by rocks almost entirely slaty in character, generally known as "Killas." The granite is not the oldest of the Cornish rocks; these are found in the Lizard peninsula and are represented by serpentine, gabbro and metamorphic schists. With the exception of a small tract about Veryan and Gorran, of Ordovician age, all the sedimentary rocks, as far as a line joining Boscastle and South Petherwin, were formerly classed as Devonian; to the north of the line are the Culm measures - slates, grits and limestones - of Carboniferous age. The extensive spread of Killas is not, however, entirely Devonian, as it is shown on most maps. In the northern portion, Lower, Middle and Upper Devonian can be distinguished; the lower beds at Polperro, Looe and Watergate, the higher beds along the line indicated above. Farther south it has been shown that an older set of Palaeozoic rocks constitutes at least a part of the Killas; the Veryan series, with Caradoc fossils, is succeeded in descending order by the Portscatho series, the Falmouth series and the Mylor series; the lowest Devonian beds represented here by the Menaccan series, rest unconformably upon these Ordovician beds. Upper Silurian fossils have been found near Veryan. All these rocks have been subjected to severe thrusting from the south, consequently they are much contorted and folded. After this thrusting and folding had taken place, intrusions of diabase, &c., penetrated the sedimentary strata in numerous places, but it was not until post-Carboniferous times that the granite masses were intruded. The principal granite masses are those of St Just and Land's End, Penryn, St Austell and Bodmin Moor. To the granite Cornwall owes much of its prosperity; it has altered the Killas for some distance around each mass, and the veins of tin and copper ore, though richest in the Killas, are evidently genetically related to the granite. The principal metalliferous districts, Camborne, Redruth, St Just, &c., all lie near the granite margins. The china clay and china stone industry is dependent on the fact that the granite was itself altered in patches during the later phases of eruptive activity by the agency of boric and fluoric vapours which kaolinized the felspar of the granite. Later eruptions produced dykes of quartzporphyry and other varieties, all locally called "elvans," which penetrate both the granite and the Killas. Small patches of Pliocene strata are found at St Erth and St Agnes Beacon. Blown sand is an important feature at St Pirran, Lelant, Gwythian and elsewhere, and raised beaches are frequent round the coast. A characteristic Cornish deposit is the "Head," an old consolidated scree or talus. Many rare minerals have been obtained from the mines and much tin ore has been taken from the river gravels. The river gravel at Carnon has yielded native gold.


The climate of Cornwall is peculiar. Snow seldom lies for more than a few days, and the winters are less severe than in any other part of England, the average temperature for January being 34° F. at Bude and 43.7° at Falmouth. The sea-winds, except in a few sheltered places, prevent timber trees from attaining to any great size, but the air is mild, and the lower vegetation, especially in the Penzance district, is almost southern in its luxuriance. Geraniums, fuchsias, myrtles, hydrangeas and camellias grow to a considerable size, and flourish through the winter at Penzance and round Falmouth; and in the Scilly Isles a great variety of exotics may be seen flourishing in the open air. Stone fruit, and even apples and pears, do not attain the same full flavour as in the neighbouring county, owing to the want of dry heat. The pinaster, the Pinus austriaca, Pinus insignis and other firs succeed well in the western part of the county. All native plants display a perfection of beauty hardly to be seen elsewhere, and the furze, including the double-blossomed variety, and the heaths, among which Erica vagans and ciliaris are characteristic, cover the moorland and the cliff summits with a blaze of the richest colour. On the whole the climate is healthy, though the prevalent westerly and south-westerly winds, bringing with them great bodies of cloud from the Atlantic, render it damp; the mean annual rainfall, though only 32.85 in. at Bude, reaches 44.41 at Falmouth, and 50.57 at Bodmin.


About seven-tenths of the total area is under cultivation, but oats form the only important grain-crop. Turnips, swedes and mangolds make up the bulk of the green crops. The number of cattle (chiefly of the Devonshire breed) is large, and many sheep are kept; nearly 60,000 acres of hill pasture being recorded. As regards agricultural produce, however, Cornwall is chiefly famous for the market-gardening carried on in the neighbourhood of Penzance, where the climate is specially suitable for the growth of early potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. These are despatched in large quantities to the London market; the Scilly Isles sharing in the industry. Fruit and flowers are also grown for the market. In the valleys the soil is frequently rich and deep; there are good arable and pasture farms, and the natural oak-wood of these coombes has been preserved and increased by plantation.


The wealth of Cornwall, however, lies not so much in the soil, as underground and in the surrounding seas. Hence the favourite Cornish toast, "fish, tin and copper." The tin of Cornwall has been known and worked from a period anterior to certain history. There is no direct proof that the Phoenician traders came to Cornwall for tin; though it has been sought to identify the Cassiterides or Tin Islands with the county or the Scilly Isles. By ancient charters the "tinners" were exempt from all jurisdiction (save in cases affecting land, life and limb) other than that of the Stannary Courts, and peculiar laws were enacted in the Stannary parliaments (see Stannaries). For many centuries a tax on the tin, after smelting, was paid to the earls and dukes of Cornwall. The smelted blocks were carried to certain towns to be coined, that is, stamped with the duchy seal before they could be sold. By an act of 1838 the dues payable on the coinage of tin were abolished, and a compensation was awarded to the duchy instead of them. The Cornish miners are an intelligent and independent body, and the assistance of a Cornishman has been found necessary to the successful development of mining in many parts of the world, while many miners have emigrated from Cornwall to more remunerative fields abroad. The industry has suffered from periods of depression, as before the accession of Queen Elizabeth, who introduced miners from Germany to resuscitate it; and in modern times the shallow workings, from which tin could be easily "streamed," have become practically exhausted. The deeper workings to which the miners must needs have recourse naturally render production more costly, and the competition of foreign mines has been detrimental. The result is that the industry is comparatively less prosperous than formerly, and employs far fewer of the inhabitants. However, in the district of Camborne, Carn Brea, Illogan and Redruth, and near St Just in the extreme west, the mines are still active, while there are others of less importance elsewhere, as near Callington in the south-east. And when, as in 1906, circumstances affecting the production of foreign mines cause a rise in the price of tin, the Cornish mines enjoy a period of greater prosperity; the result being the recent reopening of many of the mines which had been closed for twenty years. The largest tin-mine is that of Dolcoath near Camborne. Copper is extracted at St Just and at Carn Brea; but the output has decreased much further than that of tin. As it lies deeper in the earth, and consequently could not be "streamed" for, it was almost unnoticed in the county until the end of the 15th century, and little attention was paid to it until the last years of the 17th. No mine seems to have been worked exclusively for copper before the year 1770; and up to that time the casual produce had been bought by Bristol merchants, to their great gain, at rates from 2: i os. to 4 per ton. In 1718 John Coster gave a great impulse to the trade by draining some of the deeper mines, and instructing the men in an improved method of dressing the ore. The trade thereafter progressively increased, and in 1851 the mines of Devon and Cornwall together were estimated to furnish one-third of the copper raised throughout Europe, including the British Isles. Antimony ores and manganese are found, and some lead occurs, being worked without great result. Iron in lodes, as brown haematite, has been worked near Lostwithiel and elsewhere. In the St Austell district the place of tin and copper mining has been taken by that of the raising and preparation of china clay. Granite is largely quarried in various districts, as at Luxulian (between St Austell and Lostwithiel), and in the neighbourhood of Penryn. This is the material of London and Waterloo Bridges, the Chatham docks, and many other great works. It is for the most part coarse-grained, though differing greatly in different places in this respect. Fine slate is quarried and largely exported, as from the Delabole quarries near Tintagel. These slates were in great repute in the 16th century and earlier. Serpentine is quarried in the Lizard district, and is worked there into small ornamental objects for sale to visitors; it is in favour as a decorative stone. Pitchblende also occurs, and is mined for the extraction of radium.


The fisheries of Cornwall and Devon are the most important on the south-west coasts. The pilchard is in great measure confined to Cornwall, living habitually in deep water not far west of the Scilly Isles, and visiting the coast in great shoals, - one of which is described as having extended from Mevagissey to the Land's End, a distance, including the windings of the coast, of nearly loo m. In summer and autumn pilchards are caught by drift nets; later in the year they are taken off the northern coast by seine nets. Forty thousand hogsheads, or 120 million fish, have been taken in the course of a single season, requiring 20,000 tons of salt to cure them. Twelve millions have been taken in a single day; and the sight of this great army of fish passing the Land's End, and pursued by hordes of dog-fish, hake, and cod, besides vast flocks of sea-birds, is most striking. The principal fishing stations are on Mount's Bay and at St Ives, but boats are employed all along the coast. When brought to shore the pilchards are carried to the cellars to be cured. They are then packed in hogsheads, each containing about 2400 fish. These casks are largely exported to Naples and other Italian ports - whence the fisherman's toast, "Long life to the pope, and death to thousands." Besides pilchards, mackerel and herring are taken in great numbers, and conger eels of great size; mullet and John Dory may be mentioned. There is also a trade in "sardines," young pilchards taking the place of the real Mediterranean fish.


The principal ports are Falmouth and Penzance, but that of Hayle is of some importance, and there are large engineering works here. It lies on the estuary of the Hayle river, which opens into St Ives Bay, the township of Phillack adjoining on the north-east. A brisk coasting trade is maintained at many small ports along the coast. Communications are provided chiefly by the Great Western railway, the main line of which passes through the county and terminates at Penzance. Fowey, Penryn and Falmouth, and Helston on the south, and Bodmin and Wadebridge, Newquay and St Ives, are served by branch lines. A light railway runs from Liskeard to Looe. The north-eastern parts of the county (Launceston, Bude, Wadebridge) are served by the London & South-Western railway. Coaches are run in several districts during the summer, and in some parts, as in the neighbourhood of Penzance, and between Helston and the Lizard, the Great Western company provides a motor-car service to places beyond the reach of the railway. Many of the small seaside towns have become favourite holiday resorts, such as Bude, Newquay and St Ives, and the south-coast ports.

Population and Administration

The area of the ancient county is 868,220 acres, with a population in 1891 of 322,571, and in 1901 of 3 22 ,334. In 1861 the population was 369,390, and had shown an increase up to that census. The area of the adminis trative county is 886,384 acres. The county contains 9 hundreds. The municipal boroughs are Bodmin (pop. 5353), the county town; Falmouth (11,789), Helston (3088), Launceston (4053), Liskeard (4010), Lostwithiel (1331), Penryn (3190), Penzance (13,136), St Ives (6699), Saltash (3357), Truro (11,562), an episcopal city. The other urban districts are Callington (1714), Camborne (14,726), Hayle (1084), Looe (2548), Ludgvan (2274), Madron (3486), Newquay (3115), Padstow (1566), Paul (6332), Phillack (3881), Redruth (10,451), St Austell (3340), St Just (5646), Stratton and Bude (2308), Torpoint (4200), Wadebridge (2186). Small market and other towns, beyond those in the above lists, are numerous. Such are Calstock in the east, St Germans in the south-east near Saltash, St Blazey near St Austell, Camelford, St Columb Major, and Perranzabuloe in the north, with the mining towns of Gwennap and Illogan in the Redruth district and Wendron near Helston, all inland towns; while on the south coast may be mentioned Fowey and Mevagissey, on either side of St Austell Bay, and Marazion on Mount's Bay, close by St Michael's Mount. Cornwall is in the western circuit, and assizes are held at Bodmin. It has one court of quarter sessions, and is divided into 17 petty sessional divisions. The boroughs of Bodmin, Falmouth, Helston, Launceston, Liskeard, Penryn, Penzance, St Ives and Truro have separate commissions of the peace, and Penzance has a separate court of quarter sessions. The Scilly Isles are administered by a separate council, and form one of the petty sessional divisions. There are 239 civil parishes, of which 5 are in the Scilly Isles. Cornwall is in the diocese of Truro, and there are 227 ecclesiastical parishes or districts wholly or in part within the county. The parliamentary divisions are the North-Eastern or Launceston, South-Eastern or Bodmin, Mid or St Austell, Truro, North-Western or Camborne, and Western or St Ives, each returning one member; while the parliamentary borough of Penryn and Falmouth returns one member.


The old Cornish language survives in a few words still in use in the fishing and mining communities, as well as in the names of persons and places, but the last persons who spoke it died towards the end of the 18th century. It belonged to the Cymric division of Celtic, in which Welsh and Armorican are also included. The most important relics of the language known to exist are three dramas or miracle plays, edited and translated by Edwin Norris, Oxford, 1859. A sketch of Cornish grammar is added, and a Cornish vocabulary from a MS. of the 13th century (Cotton MSS. Vespasian A. 14, p. 7a). (See Celt: Language and Literature.) It may be mentioned that the great numbers of saints whose names survive in the topography of the county are largely accounted for by the fact that here, as in Wales, it was the practice to canonize the founder of a church. The natives have many traits in common with the Welsh, such as their love of oratory and their strong tribal attachment to the county.


Cornwall was the last portion of British territory in the south to submit to the Saxon invader. Viewed from its eastern boundary it doubtless appeared less attractive than the rich, well-wooded lands of Wessex, while it unquestionably afforded greater obstacles in the way of conquest. In 815 Ecgbert directed his efforts towards the subjugation of the West-Welsh of Cornwall, and after eight years' fighting compelled the whole of Dyvnaint to acknowledge his supremacy. Assisted by the Danes the Cornish revolted but were again defeated, probably in 836, at the battle of Hengestesdun, Hingston Down in Stoke-Climsland. Ninety years later Aethelstan banished the West-Welsh from Exeter and made the Tamar the boundary of their territory. The thoroughness of the Saxon conquest is evident from the fact that in the days of the Confessor nearly the whole of the land in Cornwall was held by men bearing English names. As the result of the Norman conquest less than one-twelfth of the land (exclusive of that held by the Church) remained in English hands. Six-sevenths of the manors were assigned to Robert, count of Mortain, and became the foundation of the territorial possessions and revenues of the earldom which was held until 1337, usually by special grant, by the sons or near relatives of the kings of England. On the death of John of Eltham the last earl, in 1337, Edward the Black Prince was created duke of Cornwall. By the terms of the statute under which the dukedom was created the succession was restricted to the eldest son of the king, but in 1613, on the death of Prince Henry, an extended interpretation, given by the king's advisers, enabled his brother Charles (afterwards Charles I.) to succeed as son of the king and next heir to the realm of England.

Traces of jurisdictional differentiation anterior to Domesday survive in the names of at least five of the hundreds, although these names do not appear in the Survey itself. The hundreds into which the county was divided at the time of the Inquisitio Geldi were as follows: - Straton, which embraced the present hundreds of Stratton, Lesnewth and Trigg; Fawiton, approximately conterminous with West; Panton, now included in Pydasr, Tibeste, Wineton, Conarditon and Rileston, very nearly identical with Powder, Kerrier, Penwith and East. The shire court was held at Launceston except from about 1260 to 1386, when it was held at Lostwithiel. In 1716 the summer assize was transferred to Bodmin. Since 1836 both assizes have been held at Bodmin. The jurisdiction of the hundred courts became early attached to various manors, and their bailiwicks and bedellaries descended with the real estate of their owners. There is much obscurity concerning the early ecclesiastical organization. It is certain, however, that Cornwall had its own bishops from the middle of the 9th century until the year 1018, when the see was removed to Crediton. During the interval the see had been placed sometimes at Bodmin and sometimes at St Germans. In 1049 the see of the united dioceses of Devon and Cornwall was fixed at Exeter. Cornwall was formed into an archdeaconry soon after, and, as such, continued until 1876, when it was reconstituted a diocese with its see at Truro. The parishes of St Giles-on-the-Heath, North Petherwin and Werrington, wholly in Devon, and Boyton, partly in Devon and partly in Cornwall, which were portions of the ancient archdeaconry, and also the parishes of Broadwoodwidger and Virginstowe, both in Devon, which had been added to it in 1875, thus came to be included in the Truro diocese. The present archdeaconries of Bodmin embracing the eastern, and of Cornwall embracing the western portion of the newly constituted diocese were formed, by order in council, in 1878. Aethelstan's enactment had doubtless roughly determined the civil boundary of the Celtic-speaking county. In 1386 disputes having arisen, a commission was appointed to determine the Cornish border between North Tamerton and Hornacot.

For the first four centuries after the Norman conquest the part played by Cornwall in England's political history was comparatively unimportant. In her final attempt in 1471 to restore the fortunes of the house of Lancaster, Queen Margaret received the active support of the Cornish, who, under Sir Hugh Courtenay and Sir John Arundell, accompanied her to the fatal field of Tewkesbury, and in 1473 John de Vere, earl of Oxford, held St Michael's Mount in her behalf until the following February, when he surrendered to John Fortescue. A rising of considerable magnitude in 1497 at the instigation of Thomas Flamank, occasioned by the levy of a tax for the Scottish war, was only repelled after the arrival of the insurgents at Blackheath in Kent. Perkin Warbeck, who landed at Whitsand Bay in the parish of Sennen, obtained general support in the same year. The imposition of the Book of Common Prayer and the abrogation of various religious ceremonies led to a rebellion in 1549 under Sir Humphry Arundell of Lanherne, the rebels, who knew little English, demanding the restoration of the Latin service, but a fatal delay under the walls of Exeter led to their early defeat and the execution of their leaders. During the Civil War of the 17th century Cornwall won much glory in the royal cause. In 1643 Sir Ralph Hopton, who commanded the king's Cornish troops, defeated General Ruthen on Bradoc Down, while General Chudleigh, another parliamentary general, was repulsed near Launceston, and the earl of Stamford at Stratton. The whole county was thereby secured to the king. Led by Sir Beville Grenville of Stow the Cornish troops now marched into Somerset shire, where in the indecisive battle of Lansdowne they greatly distinguished themselves, but lost their brave leader. In July 1644 the earl of Essex marched into Cornwall and was followed soon afterwards by the king's troops in pursuit. Numerous engagements were fought, in which the latter were uniformly successful. The troops of Essex were surrounded and their leader escaped in a boat from Fowey to Plymouth. In 1646, owing to dissensions amongst the king's officers, and in particular to the refusal of Sir Richard Grenville to serve under Lord Hopton, and to the defection of Colonel Edgcumbe, the royal cause declined and became desperate. On the 16th of August 1646 articles of capitulation were signed by the defenders of Pendennis Castle.

Two members for the county were summoned by Edward I. to the parliament of 1295, and two continued to be the number of county members until 1832. Six boroughs - Launceston, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, Bodmin, Truro and Helston - were granted the like privilege by the same sovereign. To strengthen and augment the power of the crown as against theHouseof Commons, between 1547 and 1584, fifteen additional towns and villages received the franchise, with the result that, between the latter date and 1821, Cornwall sent no less than forty-four members to parliament. In 1821 Grampound lost both its members, and by the Reform Act in 1832 fourteen other Cornish boroughs shared the same fate. Cornwall was, in fact, notorious for the number of its rotten boroughs. In the vicinity of Liskeard "within an area, which since 1885. .. is represented by only one member, there were until 1832 nine parliamentary boroughs returning eighteen members. In this area, on the eve of the Reform Act, there was a population of only 14,224" (Porrit, Unreformed House of Commons, vol. i. p. 92). Bossiney, a village near Camelford, Camelford itself, Lostwithiel, East Looe, West Looe, Fowey and several others were disfranchised in 1832, but even until the act of 1885 Bodmin, Helston, Launceston, Liskeard and St Ives were separately represented, whereas Penzance was not. Until this act was passed Truro, and Penryn with Falmouth, returned two members each.


No part of England is so rich as Cornwall in prehistoric antiquities. These chiefly abound in the district between Penzance and the Land's End, but they occur in all the wilder parts of the county. They may be classed as follows. (1) Cromlechs. These in the west of Cornwall are called "quoits," with reference to their broad and flat covering stones. The largest and most important are those known as Lanyon, Mulfra, China and Zennor quoits, all in the Land's End district. Of these Chin is the only one which has not been thrown down. Zennor is said to be the largest in Europe, while Lanyon, when perfect, was of sufficient height for a man on horseback to ride under. Of those in the eastern part of Cornwall, Trevethy near Liskeard and Pawton in the parish of St Breock are the finest. (2) Rude uninscribed monoliths are common to all parts of Cornwall. Those at Boleigh or Boleit, in the parish of St Buryan, S.W. of Penzance, called the Pipers, are the most important. (3) Circles, none of which is of great dimensions. The principal are the Hurlers, near Liskeard; the Boskednan, Boscawen-iln, and Tregeseal circles; and that called the Dawns-in, or Merry Maidens, at Boleigh. All of these, except the Hurlers, are in the Land's End district. Other circles that may be mentioned are the Trippet Stones, in the parish of Blisland, near Bodmin, and one at Duloe, near Liskeard. (4) Long alignments or avenues of stones, resembling those on Dartmoor, but not so perfect, are to be found on the moors near Rough Tor and Brown Willy. A very remarkable monument of this kind exists in the neighbourhood of St Columb Major, called the Nine Maidens. It consists of nine rude pillars placed in a line, but now imperfect, while near them is a single stone known as the Old Man. (5) Hut dwellings. Of these there are at least two kinds, those in the eastern part of the county resembling the beehive structures and enclosures of Dartmoor, and those in the west comprising "hut-clusters," having a central court, and a surrounding wall sometimes of considerable height and thickness. The beehive masonry is also found in connexion with these, as are also (6) Caves, or subterraneous structures, resembling those of Scotland and Ireland. (7) Cliff castles are a characteristic feature of the Cornish coast, especially in the west, such as Treryn, Men, Kenedjack, Bosigran and others. These are all fortified on the landward side. At Treryn Castle is the Logan Stone, a mass of granite so balanced as to rock upon its support. (8) Hill castles, or camps, are very numerous. Castelan-Dinas, near St Columb, is the best example of the earthwork camp, and Chilli Castle, near Penzance, of the stone.

Early Christian remains in Cornwall include crosses, which occur all over the country and are of various dates from the 6th century onward; inscribed sepulchral stones, generally of the 7th and 8th centuries; and oratories. These last have their Parallels in Ireland, which is natural, since from that country and Wales Cornwall was christianized. The buildings (also called baptisteries) are very small and rude, a simple parallelogram in form, always placed near a spring. The best example is St Piran's near Perranzabuloe, which long lay buried in sand dunes. St Piran was one of the missionaries sent from Ireland by St Patrick in the 5th century, and became the patron saint of the tin-miners.

The individuality of Cornwall is reflected in its ecclesiastical architecture. The churches are generally massive, plain structures of granite, built as it were to resist the storms which sweep up from the sea, low in the body, but with high unadorned towers. Within, a common feature is the absence of a chancel arch. In a few cases, of which Gwennap church is an illustration, where the body of the church lies low in a valley, there is a detached campanile at a higher level. The prevalent style is Perpendicular, much rebuilding having taken place in this period, but there are fine examples of the earlier styles. The west front and part of the towers of the church of St Germanus of Auxerre at St Germans form the best survival of Norman work in the county; there are good Norman doorways at Manaccan and Kilkhampton churches, and the church of Morwenstow, near the coast north of Bude, is a remarkable illustration of the same style. This church has the further interest of having had as its rector the Cornish poet Robert Stephen Hawker (1803-1875). The Early English style is not commonly seen, but the small church of St Anthony in Roseland, near the east shore of Falmouth harbour (with an ornate Norman door), and portions of the churches of Camelford and Manaccan, are instances of this period. Decorated work is similarly scanty, but the churches of Sheviock, in the south-east, and St Columb Major have much that is good, and that of St Bartholomew, Lostwithiel, has a beautiful and rich lantern and spire in this style surmounting an Early English tower, while the body of the church is also largely Decorated. Perpendicular churches are so numerous that it is only needful to mention those possessing some peculiar characteristic. Thus, the high ornamentation of Launceston and St Austell churches is unusual in Cornwall, as is the rich and graceful tower of Probus church. St Neot's church, near Liskeard, has magnificent stained glass of the 15th and 6th centuries.

The ruined castles of Launceston, Trematon near Saltash, Restormel near Lostwithiel, and Tintagel, date, at least in part, from Norman times. St Michael's Mount was at once a fortress and an ecclesiastical foundation. Pendennis Castle, Falmouth, is of the time of Henry VIII. The mansions of Cornwall are generally remarkable rather for their position than for architectural interest, but Trelawne, partly of the 15th century, near Looe, and Place House, a Tudor building, at Fowey, may be noted.

Authorities. - See Richard Carew, Survey of Cornwall (London, 1602); W. Borlase, Antiquities of Cornwall (Oxford, 1754 and 1769); D. Gilbert, Parochial History of Cornwall (London, 1837-1838), incorporating collections of W. Hals and Tonkin; J. T. Blight, Ancient Crosses in the East of Cornwall (London, 1858), and Churches of West Cornwall (London, 1865); G. C. Boase and W. P. Courtney, Bibliotheca Cornubiensis, a catalogue of the writings, both MS. and printed, of Cornishmen, and of works relating to Cornwall (Truro and London, 1864-1881); R. Hunt, Popular Romances and Drolls of the West of England (London, 1865); W. Bottrell, Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall (Penzance, 1870-1873); J. H. Collins, Handbook to the Mineralogy of Cornwall and Devon (Truro, 1871); W. C. Borlase, Naenia Cornubiae (1872); Early Christianity in Cornwall (London, 1893); J. Bannister, Glossary of Cornish Names (London, 1878); W. P. Courtney, Parliamentary Representation of Cornwall to 1832 (London, 1889); G. C. Boase, Collectanea Cornubiensia (Truro, 1890); J. R. Allen, Old Cornish Crosses (Truro, 1896); A. H. Norway, Highways and Byways in Cornwall (1904); Lewis Hind, Days Cornwall (1907); Victoria County History, Cornwall.

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