St Piran's Flag (as seen at the top of the home page)
Saint Piran's Flag is the flag of Cornwall. It was first described as the Standard of Cornwall in 1838. It has since been used by Cornish people as a symbol of identity. The banner of Saint Piran is a vertical white cross on a black background. Saint Piran is supposed to have adopted these two colours after seeing the molten tin spilling out of the black ore in his fire. This occurred during his supposed discovery of tin in the 6th century, thus becoming the patron saint of tin miners. One of the oldest depictions of the flag can be seen in a stained glass window at Westminster Abbey. It was unveiled in 1888 in memory of the famous Cornish inventor and engineer Richard Trevithick. The window depicts St Michael at the top and nine Cornish saints, Piran, Petroc, Pinnock, Germanus, Julian, Cyriacus, Constantin, Nonna and Geraint in tiers below. The head of St Piran appears to be a portrait of Trevithick himself and the figure carries the banner of Cornwall.
The flag is now widely displayed on cars and buildings and is flown at most Cornish gatherings such as St Piran's Day on 5th March, Padstow Obby Oss, Helston Flora Day, Camborne Trevithick Day and at Cornish rugby matches. It is regularly seen around Cornwall on car stickers with the word 'Kernow' - Cornish for Cornwall. It is seen on the design of the Cornish All Blacks rugby shirt as well as the Cornish Pirates rugby logo.
Cornwall Coat of Arms
The Coat of Arms of the Duke of Cornwall is a Crusader shield on which are displayed 15 gold bezants (gold coins) in the shape of a triangle with the motto "One and All". The story of the 15 bezants occurs during the Crusades when the Duke of Cornwall was captured by the Saracens. A ransom of 15 bezants (bezants being gold coins named after Byzantium) was demanded. The people of Cornwall raised the money for the ransom. It was paid and the Duke was free. The inhabitants had all helped together One and All to raise the money - hence the motto. However, it is difficult to verify this as Richard joined the Sixth Crusade and went to the Holy Land. He fought in no battles but managed to negotiate for the release of prisoners and the burials of Crusaders killed at a battle in Gaza in 1239. He also refortified Ascalon, which had been demolished by Saladin. The gold bezants on sable were apparently already present as border of the shield of Richard, made Count of Cornwall, by his brother Henry III of England in 1227. The arms might be dated 1337, when Edward 'the Black Prince, son of King of England Edward III, was made Duke of Cornwall.
A Short History of Cornwall
The name "Cornwall" comes from Cornovii, meaning hill dwellers, and Waelas, meaning strangers. There were not many people here in the early Stone Age, but a drift across the land bridge from Europe brought settlers to Cornwall. The first stone tools found date from about 4500BC. There is the remains of a stone age settlement at Carn Brea near Redruth. There also exists many burial chambers from this period. Most of these have been damaged by weather or by man but you can still see good examples at Trethevy Quoit near St Cleer, Liskeard and at Chun Cromlech near Land's End.
Around 2500BC a trade started growing in tin and copper to foreign shores. The traders brought Bronze tools and gold ornaments to exchange for the minerals. The remains of such Bronze Age villages can still be seen on Bodmin Moor and the West Penwith Uplands. Excavations have shown these peoples to be well organised, living in villages and practising farming and metalworking.
Around 1000BC a near group of warrior like settlers arrived in Cornwall from Europe, these were the Celts. They brought with them knowledge of forging iron into weapons. These Celts are the ancestors of modern Cornwall. They lived in villages, farmed, mined for tin, copper, bronze and iron, smelted and worked the metals. The best known of their Iron Age settlements is at Chysauster, near Penzance, Here the low stone walls, the grinding stones and the fireplaces still remain. Most of their settlements were fortified against attack - hence many were on hilltops or on promontories that could be easily defended. Hence the word "Car" or "Caer" in Cornish place names from the Celtic "ker" meaning fort, and "Dinas" meaning hill.
The Romans landed in Britain in 55BC but they had very little influence in Cornwall. The last major Roman settlement in the West was at Exeter. The Tamar, the wild moors of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor, plus the lack of safe ports effectively kept the Romans at bay. The Cornish Celts were left much to themselves.
When the Romans abandoned Britain, Cornwall came under Saxon influence and following the Norman Conquest, the first real integration of Cornwall into Britain took place. The whole of Cornwall was given to William's half brother Robert. He made his headquarters at Launceston where he built the castle to enforce his rule. Then for the next few hundred years Cornwall was ruled by a succession of relatives of the Norman and Plantageneet Kings.
The first Duke of Cornwall was Edward, the Black Prince, son of Edward III. Then there was a succession of rebellions through the Middle Ages. In 1497 Perkin Warbeck landed near Sennan, claiming to be one of the Princes murdered in the tower. He was defeated in battle at Exeter. The Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 against the imposition of the English Prayer Book, saw many Cornishment executed. There was the Spanish invasion at Mounts Bay in 1595. The Civil War between 1642-1649 led to a number of battles and sieges in Cornwall. In 1685 there was the Monmouth Rebellion with its bloody aftermath.
The invention of the steam engine in the 18th century and its rapid development in the 19th led to revolutional advances in mining. Engines could pump dry mines at a great depth and they could haul up ore and on the surface perform many of the jobs that previously had to be done by hand. The Cornishman, Richard Trevithick, was one of the leaders in steam engine development. But by the middle of the 19th century vast deposits of tin and copper ore were found abroad and deep expensive Cornish mines became uncompetitive. Cornish mines started a long downhill decline and the last mines have now closed.
The permanent legacy are the Cornish communities that prospered in other countries, as many Cornish miners emigrated to take their mining skills to Australia, North and South America and South Africa. In Cornwall all that remains are the ruined engine houses with their massive granite walls and high brick chimneys which can be seen on the skyline in many parts of Cornwall particularly in the areas of Camborne, Redruth, St Day and Botallack.
Methodism was introduced to Cornwall by the Wesleys and their helpers in 1743. It rapidly took root in the County and entered every Parish from Morwenstow to Sennan, thus becoming a major factor in shaping the life of the community. Methodists were also known as ' Wezleeans', 'Methodies' and 'Bryanites' alike, as the old people called them. It's chief strength lay in the mining areas and in the fishing coves of its rock-bound coasts. Although a brand of Methodism native to Cornwall, it was successfully transplanted by emigrant miners to America and Australia and by its missionaries to the Canadian Rockies and the villages of South West China.
The anthem that Cornwall has adopted is "Song of the Western Men" by Rev Hawker. The Trelawny referred to in this song was Jonathan Trelawney (1650-1721) who was one of the seven bishops imprisoned in the Tower of London by James II in 1688. Born at Pelynt into an old Cornish family, his father, the 2nd Baronet of Trelawne, was a supporter of the Royal cause during the English Civil War
A good sword and a trusty hand, A merry heart and true! King James's men shall understand, What cornish lads can do!
And have they fixed the where and when? And shall Trelawny die? Here's twenty thousand Cornish men; Will know the reason why!
Out spake their Captain brave and bold: A merry wight was he: 'If London Tower were Michael's hold, We'd set Trelawny free!
We'll cross the Tamar, land to land: The Severn is no stay: With "one and all" and hand in hand; And who shall bid us nay?
And when we come to London Wall, A pleasant sight to view, Come forth! come forth! ye cowards all: Here's men as good as you
Trelawny he's in keep and hold; Trelawny he may die: But here's twenty thousand Cornish bold, Will know the reason why!
The Cornish Language (Kernewek) is the direct descendant of the ancient language spoken by the Celtic settlers who inhabited Cornwall (Kernow) and most the the British Isles long before the Roman conquest. Cornish is a member of the Celtic family of languages comprising Irish, Scots and Manx Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. Even today the similarities with Welsh and Breton are very striking indeed. In 1967 the Gorsedd of Cornwall (Gorsedh Kernow) and the Federation of Old Cornwall Societies established Kesva an Taves Kernewek (The Cornish Language Board) whose aim was to promote the study and use of Cornish. In 1979 Kevsa an Taves Kernewek launched Kowethas an Yeth Kernewek (The Cornish Language Fellowship) to further the development of the language and to promote activities in Cornish for the benefit of the ever increasing number of people who wished to learn it and in particular who wished to use Cornish in everyday life. Following the successful growth of Kowethas, in 1985 the two bodies formally separated but continue to work in close harmony for the benefit of the Cornish Language.
Cornish is from the 'P' Celtic family. The P and the Q is used to differentiate between British (Brythonic) and Gaelic because of words like 'Penn' in Cornish would become 'Ceann' in Gaelic. A placename example would be Kintyre in Scotland being essentially the same name as Pentire in Cornwall. The other name for the 'P' Celtic languages is British or Brythonic.
In the year 1200, Cornish was spoken by most people over most of Cornwall. By 1600 it had been pushed west to Bodmin by Anglicisation. A hundred years later it was not found very much east of Truro and by 1777, when the last monoglot speaker (Dolly Pentreath) died, it was confined to West Penwith and areas of the Lizard peninsula. Speakers of Cornish with native knowledge of the tongue could still be found up until the late nineteenth century.
Now in the 21st century, Cornish is used in a wide range of places with more bilingual signs appearing all the time, for example in town welcome signs.
The Cornish word for 'Cornish' is Kernewek
The Cornish word for 'Cornwall' is Kernow
Cornish Folk Lore & Legend
Cornwall has always been rich in folklore and legends. Cornish legends centre on Giants and Piskies. It is thought that the tales evolved from the meeting of the tall Celts (the Giants) with the small Bronze Age peoples (the Piskies). St Michael's Mount is said to have been constructed by a Giant. Another fabulous Giant was Bolster whose stride spanned six miles and who fell in love with the beautiful St Agnes only to be betrayed and fooled into killing himself. He was a bad tempered man, who terrorised the countryside. She asked him to prove his love for her by filling up a hole in the cliff at Chapel Porth with his own blood. She knew the hole was bottomless, he did not. He died of the loss of blood. Every year, the village of St Agnes still celebrates Bolster Day.
Mermaids form another cornerstone of folklore, as you might suspect for a seafaring people. The Mermaid of Padstow is said to be responsible for the Doom Bar outside the port, upon which hundreds of ships have foundered. Another famous mermaid is from Zennor. Matthew Trewella, the son of the local squire at Zennor. The Piskies were all identical little old men, no higher than an inch tall. They were good people who helped the old, but they were mischievous and played pranks on people. The Spriggans were ugly and were feared. They had large heads on small bodies and stole babies and terried the lone traveller. The Knockers were elfin creatures that lived in the mines. The miners treated them with respect and left food out for them. It was believed that anyone who was disrespectful to Knockers would suffer bad luck.
Cornwall is also known for its Saints. St Piran is responsible for the Cornish flag and perhaps the greatest of the Cornish Saints was St Petroc who both converted the populace to Christianity and also slew the last dragon in Cornwall. He created monasteries in Padstow and in Bodmin
The Legend of King Arthur is perhaps the most fascinating and well known of all the Cornish legends. It is believed here that Arthur was a Cornishman, who defeated the Saxons in twelve successive battles. Arthur's last battle is said to have been fought at Slaughterbridge near Camelford, against his treacherous nephew Mordred. Sir Bedivere was sent to return Excalibur to the Lady of the Lake at Dosmary Pool six miles away. Tintagel Castle is believed to have been the birthplace of Arthur. Undoubtedly fact and fiction have become merged and the myth lives on. Arthur Mee wrote "In the evening, when the sun is sinking into the Atlantic from something like a flaming battlefield we can think that it is true about Arthur and his knights. A deep sense of something mysterious comes upon us". The symbolism of Arthur and what he stood for is as valid today as it has been down the ages. Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem has Arthur being carried down to the narrow harbour at Boscastle, to be carried onto the barge that was to take him to Avalon. It became a Cornish belief that one day Arthur would rturn to rescue them from bondage.
You may wonder why Cornwall had the mineral mines that the rest of Britain missed out on. There is a simple geological explanation. During the late stages of the cooling of the mass of granite that makes up a lot of Cornwall, fissures opened up in the granite when it was still molten, and more hot molten rocks bubbled up through the granite from the earth's interior. These new rocks contained many minerals, and as they crystallized they formed mineral lodes - tin, copper, zinc, lead and iron with some silver. Because the ore bearing rocks formed in this way, rather than being sedimentary rocks like coal (hence coal is laid down in great flat plates) they have be be mined vertically rather than horizontally. Each fissure has to be mined straight down into the earth. Each fissure needed a separate mine. Therefore a great many vertical shafts were needed, rather than the one shaft that was used in coal mining.
Inevitably the mine shafts dropped below the level of the water table, and the water had to be pumped out if mining was to continue any deeper. Hence pumps and the houses for the engines that drove the pumps were a necessary part of mining. These engine houses were the sturdiest buildings in the mines, as they had both to house the machinery and support the massive beams that worked the pumps. It is not surprising that it is the engine houses that survive in Cornwall. In addition the closer to sea level the engine was sited, the less the height the water needed to be pumped to remove it from the mine. Therefore we find today some of these engine houses perched on the sea cliffs.
There were no other substantial buildings in a typical mine. Given that many of the mines were small and vertical they did not invest in cages to haul the miners up and down, instead access to the mine was by ladder, a tiring part of the daily toil of the miners. And of course, the Cornish Pasty was used originally by the miners as their food underground. It was easy to carry and could have savoury in one end and sweet in the other.
Mining reached its zenith in the 19th century before foreign competition depressed the price of copper and later tin to a level that made Cornish ore unprofitable. At its height, the Cornish Tin Mining Industry had around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines. During the 20th century various ores became briefly profitable and mines were reopened but today none remain. The collapse of the world tin cartel in 1986 being the last nail in the coffin of tin mining
China Clay Mining
The china clay deposits in Cornwall are the largest in the world and have been worked since William Cookworthy first discovered it at Tregonning Hill in 1746. 120 million tons of china clay have been extracted, but reserves in the ground will last at least another 100 years.
China clay was used over 1,000 years ago by the Chinese to make a pure white porcelain. In 1746 William Cookworthy, a Quaker apothecary-cum-potter, discovered this clay, or kaolin, in Cornwall and it was of a much finer quality than elsewhere in Europe. By 1768 he had patented a way to use the clay and developed his own Plymouth Porcelain Factory. English pottery had previously been of coarse earthenware and stoneware. Other potteries started to use the china clay from Cornwall and by the early nineteenth century the kaolin industry had become a big business. In addition to pottery, kaolin was starting to be used as a whitener by the paper industry. By 1910 production was nearly one million tons a year and paper was using more than ceramics. 75% of output was exported mainly to North America and Europe and Cornwall held a virtual monopoly on world supply.
The three largest producers amalgamated in 1919 forming English China Clays Limited. They were acquired by Imetal of France in 1999 but continued to be run as ECC
Today around 80% of the china clay produced is used in paper. Of the rest 12% is used by the ceramics industry and the balance is in products such as paint, rubber, plastics, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, cork and agricultural products.
Believe it or not there's more to surfing in Cornwall than Newquay and Fistral Beach
Cornwall's location, jutting straight out into the Atlantic Ocean, makes it a magnet for swell. Combine this with its milder climate and a plethora of excellent beaches and you have the UK's premier surf destination. Until very recently Cornwall was pretty much unchallenged by anywhere in the British Isles for the quality of surfers it has produced over the years. This is gradually changing as spots in the North East, Northern Ireland, South Wales and Scotland gain in reputation, but it is hard to imagine any of these places have the unique combination that makes Cornwall the surf capitol of the UK.
To further cement the county's reputation it is the location for one of the biggest pro-surf competitions in Europe. The Fistral Boardmasters (as it is currently known) has been running under various names for over 10 years, attracting some of the biggest names in the surfing world.
Home of British Surfing. Home of the British Surfing Association. It has achieved its renown because there are beaches facing in all directions, because there is a good spread of types of surf for all abilities, and because, with the right conditions it has some really excellent breaks
Surfing is the act of riding down a breaking wave, gathering speed from the downward and forward movement. The main use of the word "surfing" is for riding waves using a board on which the surfer stands. This is sometimes called "stand-up surfing", to distinguish it from bodyboard in which the individual riding the wave only partly raises his upper body from the board surface, and from bodysurfing where no board at all is used.
Cornwall has a strong culinary heritage, surrounded on three sides by the sea amid fertile fishing grounds. Newlyn is the largest fishing port in the UK by value of fish landed. Television Chef Rick Stein has long operated a very popular fish restaurant in Padstow and Jamie Oliver opened his second restaurant Fifteen in Watergate Bay near Newquay. One famous local fish dish is Stargazy Pie, in which the heads of the fish stick through the piecrust as though "star-gazing".
Our most famous export, started life as the working lunch for the tin miners to take underground with them. The pasty was easy to carry, could be eaten with dirty fingers and was nourishing. They could have savoury at one end and sweet at the other. The underground miner would not return to the surface or be able to clean his hands when he paused for a lunch break. They could hold the folded crust, eat the filling and then throw away the dirty pastry. When the pasties were being made each member of the family had his or hers marked at one corner with the intial of the prospective owner. In this way each person's tastes could be catered for. The true Cornish way to eat a pasty was to hold it in the hand and begin to bite it from the opposite end to the initial. so that, should any of it be uneaten, it could be consumed later by its rightful owner. "And woe betide anyone who takes another person's "corner!"
Pastry rolled outlike a plate, Piled with "turmut, tates, and mate", Doubled up and baked like fate, That's a "Cornish Pasty" - (Original - Breage)
What is a genuine cornish pasty?
A wealth of historical evidence confirms the importance of the Cornish pasty as part of the county's culinary heritage, with some of the first references appearing during the 13th Century, during the reign of Henry III. The Oxford English Dictionary suggests that pasty was identified in around 1300. The pasty became commonplace in the 16th and 17th centuries and really attained its true Cornish identity during the last 200 years. By the 18th century it was firmly established as a Cornish food eaten by poorer working families who could only afford cheap ingredients such as potatoes, turnip (swede) and onion. Meat was added later.
Evidence of the Cornish pasty as a traditional Cornish food is found in Worgan's agricultural survey of Cornwall of 1808. In the 1860s records show that children employed in mines also took pasties with them as part of their crib or croust (local dialect for snack or lunch).
By the end of the 18th century it was the staple diet of working men across Cornwall. Miners and farm workers took this portable and easy to eat convenience food with them to work because it was so well suited to the purpose. Its size and shape made it easy to carry, its pastry case insulated the contents and was durable enough to survive, while its wholesome ingredients provided enough sustenance to see the workers through their long and arduous working days.
By the early 20th century the Cornish Pasty was produced on a large scale throughout the county as a basic food for farm workers and miners.
Cornish pasty - Shape and recipe
There are hundreds of stories about the evolution of the pasty's shape, with the most popular being that the D-shape enabled tin miners to re-heat them underground as well as eat them safely. The crust (crimped edge) was used as a handle which was then discarded due to the high levels of arsenic in many of the tin mines.
The Cornish pasty's recipe has a 200 year continuity that is unique. Recipes were handed down from generation to generation, often by word of mouth and rarely written down because they were made almost every day. Pasties formed a key part of Cornish local life and tradition. Young girls were often made to practice crimping techniques using plasticine before being allowed to work with pastry. Even allowing for minor variations across the county from Parish to Parish, it is the concept and the cultural ideal that epitomise the importance of the Cornish pasty and its enduring links to Cornwall.
A genuine Cornish pasty has a distinctive 'D' shape and is crimped on one side, never on top. The texture of the filling for the pasty is chunky, made up of uncooked minced or roughly cut chunks of beef (not less than 12.5%), swede or turnip, potato and onion and a light peppery seasoning.
The pastry casing is golden in colour, savoury, glazed with milk or egg and robust enough to retain its shape throughout the cooking and cooling process without splitting or cracking. The whole pasty is slow-baked to ensure that flavours from the raw ingredients are maximised. No flavourings or additives must be used. And, perhaps most importantly, it must also be made in Cornwall.
Cornwall's other famous export is clotted cream. This forms the basis for many local specialities including fudge and ice cream. Local cakes and desserts include Saffron cake, Cornish Heavy (Hevva) cake, Cornish Fairings biscuits. There are also many types of beers brewed in Cornwall
Daphne du Maurier lived in Fowey and many of her novels had Cornish settings including Rebecca, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Creek, My Cousin Rachel and The House of the Strand. She is also noted for writing Vanishing Cornwall. Cornwall provided the inspiration for The Birds, one of her series of short stories made famous as a film by Alfred Hitchcock. Conan Doyle's The Adventure of the Devil's Foot featuring Sherlock Holmes is set in Cornwall.
Winston Graham's Poldark series of books are set in Cornwall as are Mary Wesley's The Camomile Lawn, Kate Tremayne's Adam Loveday series, Susan Cooper's novels Over Sea, Under stone and Greenwitch. Writing under the pseudonym of Alexander Kent, Douglas Reeman sets parts of his Richard Bolitho ad Adam Bolitho series in the Cornwall of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, particularly in Falmouth.
Novelists of Cornwall : Spy author John le Carre lives and writes in Cornwall. 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. D H Lawrence spent a short time living in Cornwall. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch lived in Fowey, his novels are mainly set in Cornwall. Colin Wilson best known for his debut work The Outsider and for The Mind Parasites lives in Cornwall and A L Rowse, the historian, was born near St Austell.
Artistic activity within Cornwall was initially centred on the art-colony of Newlyn and associated with the names Stanhope Forbes and Lamorna Birch. Ben Nicholson having visited in the 1920s came to live in St Ives with his then wife Barbara Hepworth at the outbreak of the Second World War. They were later joined by the Russian emigrant Naum Gabo, Peter Lanyon, Terry Frost, Patrick Heron, Bryan Wynter ad Roger Hilton. St Ives also houses the Leach Pottery where Bernard Leach and his followers championed Japanese inspired studio pottery and much of this modernist work can be seen in Tate St Ives.
Troika Pottery operated from 1963-1983 and was set up by Leslie Illsley, Benny Sirota and Jan Thompson who each put up £1,000 to take over the Wells Pottery at Wheal Dream, on the sea front at St Ives. They wanted to pursue their vision of pottery as an art without regard to function which was the opposite of the Studio Pottery movement at the time epitomised by the work of Bernard Leach, and so Troika were something of a shock to the establishment. In 1970 it moved to Newlyn where it remained until its closure in 1983. Today it is highly sought after and the price has rocketed.
The late Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman was famously fond of Cornwall and it featured prominently in his poetry. He is buried at St Enodoc's Church, Trebetherick. Charles Causley, the poet was born in Launceston and the Scottish poet W S Graham lived in West Cornwall from 1944 until his death in 1986 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 this. The plaque bears the inscription "For the Fallen Composed on these cliffs 1914" and 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"
Rugby is the most popular sport in Cornwall with the Cornish Rugby team dubbed Trelawny's Army. The biggest clubs are The Cornish Pirates who at present sadly do not have a ground of their own, and Redruth and Launceston, who both play in National League Division Two. Launceston are also known as the Cornish All Blacks. Association Football has recently increased in popularity with Truro City FC having the largest following. They became the first ever Cornish football club to win a national competition when in 2007 they won the FA Vase defeating AFC Totton 3-1 in the final. Last season they played in the Western League Premier Division. They were the Southern League South and West Champions for 2008/9 and are now in the Zameretto Premier Division League.
Results of Cornwall County Council Elections 5th June 2009
Conservatives - 50 seats with 34% of the vote ; Lib Dems - 38 seats with 28% of the vote ; Independent candidates - 32 seats with 23% of the vote ; Mebyon Kernow - 3 seats with 4% of the vote. Total turnout 41%
The economy of Cornwall is largely dependent upon Agriculture followed by Tourism. Cornwall is one of the poorest areas in the UK with a GDP of 62% of the National Average.
With the Isles of Scilly the population is 531,600 and covers an area of 1,376 sq m. The administrative centre is Truro
Isles of Scilly
Legend : It is said that there was a vast area to the west of Lands End and that a huge storm on 11th November 1099 flooded it all. This land was Lyonesse, said to contain 140 churches and some fine cities. Only the mountain peaks of Lyoness are now visible - these are the Isles of Scilly. Only one man survived the flood, he was called Trevilian, and he managed to ride a white horse to the high ground at Perranuthnoe.
The Isles of Scilly (Cornish : Ynysek Syllan) form an archipelago off the southwestern tip of the Cornish Peninisula of the British Isles. Traditionally administered as part of the county of Cornwall, the islands have had a unitary authority council since 1889 and is the smallest in the UK. .
The correct name for the islands is the Isles of Scilly, or simply Scilly, the people of Scilly consider the terms "Scillies" and "Scilly Isles" to be incorrect. The adjective "Scillonian" is sometimes used for people or things related to the archipelago
The confused and confusing history of these islands is reflected in the supposed origins of the archipelago's name. The etymology of Scilly, pronounced to non-islanders' eternal delight 'silly', is a conundrum. Several potential solutions present themselves, of which the following seem the most reasonable.
- Scilly could come from Sulis (Roman Sun God)
- Scilly could be derived from sillina a Roman word meaning 'place-of' or 'island-of'. Roman Scilly appears to have been a pilgrimage centre, dominated by a marine goddess.
- On old maps the islands were called Sorlingus, this could be a corruption of salt ling (fish). The islands are Les Sorlingues in French, Las Sorlingas in Spanish.
Silumnus, Silimnus, Silura , Sillinas, Syllorga, Silli, Islettes of Scylley, Silley or Sulley: history provides a wealth of variations on this theme! The adjective Scillonian (the 'c' is silent) is of much more recent ancestry. Until the 18th century the residents of the Isles of Scilly were called 'islanders' or 'people of the islands'. The author of the first book about Scilly, Army officer, Robert Heath, wrote the following lines in a poem in 1750:
"O blest SCILLONIANS! Favourites of Heav'n!
To whom so wise a Governor is given.'
Around the outer rim of the islands there are many place names of Celtic derivation, although the Cornish language has never been recorded here, but within the sheltered, residential areas English place-names dominate.
The Commander-in-Chief of the British fleets was Admiral Shovell. In 1707 when returning with the fleet to England his ship, HMS Asociation struck on the rocks of the Isles of Scilly along with several other ships, and was seen by those on board HMS St George to go down in three or four minutes' time, not a soul being saved of 800 men that were on board. In total almost 2000 sailors were lost .
The body of Sir Cloudesley Shovell was cast ashore next day, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The Council of the Scilly Isles commemorated the three-hundredth anniversary of the disaster in 2007.
Archaeological evidence suggests human presence in these islands for at least the past three thousand years. The early landscape of Scilly would have looked rather different to that of today. The archipelago in circa 3000BC comprised three landmasses: the first and largest of which would have been densely wooded, covering the area we know as St Mary's, St Martin's, Tresco and Bryher; the second area in size covered Agnes and Gugh; and the third area approximated to the Western Rocks. Nomadic Mesolithic hunter-gatherers eked out a rigorous existence using rough flint tools, some of which can still be found on the beaches and in the fields of Scilly.
Gradually, the Neolithic and Bronze Age islanders cleared the land and settled in the islands, forming a well-populated, self-sufficient community.
Archaeology is still the main source of knowledge about Scilly in the early medieval period. Settlements of the fifth-sixth centuries AD have been identified on Tean and Samson, and the presence of grass-marked pottery shows that occupation continued on Halangy
There is still much to learn about the early history and ecology of Scilly and apart from organised investigations, new knowledge can result from chance. Objects, whole or fragmentary, appear from time to time as the result of erosion