Kernow/Cornwall’s identity ‘gagged’ under a political cloak of an English administration

Cornish voices effectively ‘gagged’ by the assimilating English administration


The Cornish have their own recognised language and the Cornish people themselves are a recognised minority group in the UK.  Cornwall has its own patron Saint, St Piran, who is celebrated on March 5th where Cornwall’s National flag is flown throughout Cornwall and areas of England. It has its very own National anthem  ‘Trelawny’.  Cornish place-names (an estimated 80% are of the Cornish language) provides visible evidence of Cornwall’s Cornish/Celtic identity.

Yet this identity remains hidden under a political cloak of an English administration.  The voices of the Cornish minority are effectively ‘gagged’ as they continue to suffer the ignominy of English assimilation that forces Cornwall – the homeland of the Cornish – to be identified as nothing more than an ‘English county’ and the Cornish cry of ‘Kernow bys Vyken!’ (Cornwall for ever!) rendered meaningless.

An example of Cornish voices being ignored appeared on Wednesday 12th, December 2001, when a delegation from Cornwall presented a declaration consisting of over 50,000 signatures for a Cornish Assembly.  The Labour government at that time chose not to respond.

While England imposes its own identity upon Cornwall, it demands that other cultures assimilate to an English identity also.  This hypocrisy highlighted in the article ‘A land built on blood’ by Hywel Williams.

This assumed English superiority, so prevalent throughout the decades of colonising other countries, remains the case in Cornwall today, and upheld further by an Anglo-centric mentality that exists at Cornwall Council that calls for English devolution, rather than Cornwall having its own self-defining Cornish Assembly.

Cornwall’s assimilation is further assured by the imposed English school curriculum in Cornish schools.  Failing as it does to include Cornwall’s history and its progress leading up to the Roman occupation and departure, its wars with invading Anglo-Saxons (English ancestors), it serves to define the ethnicity of Cornish children as ‘English’.  With a curriculum that also excludes even a basic understanding of the Cornish language, its inevitable that sections of Cornish schoolchildren reject any pride in Cornish identity and instead become ‘English Wannabees’. Their assimilation complete.
















The Cornish ‘English Wannabees’

‘When Cornishmen cease to recognize the existence of their Celtic heritage then only will their Cornish and therefore Celtic nationality cease’.

Henry Jenner


Although not requiring ‘official recognition’ to prove the existence of Cornish ethnicity, after centuries of English erosion, the Cornish were finally afforded recognition by the UK government in 2014.

But if this act had the potential for a demand that Cornwall itself should be afforded the same recognition, it didn’t materialise.  It seems the Cornish, or at least some of them, remain happy to have their homeland remain under an English administration that allows further assimilation of Cornwall.


Proud to be Cornish

Throughout history, Cornish pride has been reflected in their battles with the English that included taxation, the imposed English language and more recently, Cornish people could be seen protesting against London’s ‘Devonwall’ agenda.

They have also campaigned tirelessly to reclaim their language that won official recognition in 2003 and, as mentioned earlier, campaigned for the recognition of their Cornish ethnicity that was in danger of being completely assimilated into an English identity.  These people  are ‘proud to be Cornish’ many of whom are invited to become Bards of Gorsedh Kernow, and declare that pride by writing ‘Cornish’ on the UK Census that provides statistical evidence on the proportion of the Cornish population.


The not so proud to be Cornish

However, this pride of being Cornish is not reflected throughout Cornish people. Indeed, Cornish identity may be described as a paradox; a minority within a minority.  As already said, there are those who remain passionately Cornish, retaining their Celtic spirit similar to that of their kinfolk in Wales and Scotland, but with others it is more superficial, only appearing at certain times such as Cornwall’s ‘St Piran’s Day’ and rugby matches, then to be to be put away and reverting to an ‘English’ identity.

These so-called ‘English wannabees’ have either knowingly or unknowingly (an English school curriculum fails to include Cornish history) have chosen not to acknowledge their Cornish ethnicity. When speaking of ‘us’ and ‘we’ they are referring not to their fellow Cornish people, but rather to their adopted English neighbours.  Having no use for their Cornish identity, no pride in being Cornish, their assimilation into ‘English’ has been complete.

Cornish people who cast aside their identity are effectively making the Cornish minority an even lesser minority, and risk Cornish identity being wiped out altogether.

Our Cornishness must not be treated like a suit or dress to be worn on special occasions.  It should a matter of pride and also a personal responsibility that ensures Cornish nationality will survive for future generations.

BBC Kernow (Cornwall) should sit in it’s rightful place alongside BBC Cymru and BBC Alba on the iPlayer

Enable a BBC KERNOW and sign the petition today!

BBC Kernow

To: Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Give Cornish language and culture the equal status, recognition, respect and prominence in public service broadcasting that it deserves.

We believe the Cornish should have equal status with the other indigenous languages and cultures of Britain.

We want BBC Kernow (Cornwall) to sit in it’s rightful place alongside BBC Cymru and BBC Alba on the iPlayer.

We want appropriate commissioning and editorial processes to be established within the remit of the BBC Royal Charter from 2017 to develop and grow Cornish language and cultural programming.

Why is this important?

Every culture should have their own voice represented in the world’s media, particularly in public service broadcasting.

In 2003 the Cornish language (Kernewek) received official recognition under the European Charter for the Protection of Regional or Minority Languages.

In 2014 the Cornish were granted protected national minority status under the Council of Europe Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.

This means the Cornish have the same recognition as the Welsh, Scots and Northern Irish.

See Cornwall Council’s BBC Charter Review Consultation Response from the Members Working Group on Cornish Minority Status here / Gwel an Konsel Kernow Keskussulyans Daswel Chartour an Kortyb Gorthyp dhyworth Bagas Oberi an Eseli war Savla Minoryta Kernewek omma:

Tweet: #BBCKernow #yourBBC

Please sign this petition to pledge your support for the establishment of BBC Kernow.

How it will be delivered

This petition will be delivered in person to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport


Further reading:

Who do the Cornish think they are?


Can the Cornish minority survive alongside an English majority?

“The uniqueness of Cornwall rests on the survival of a distinct people – the Cornish people.”


That is a quote taken from Bernard Deacon’s excellent book, ‘The land’s end? The great sale of Cornwall’ and the ‘survival’ of the Cornish people is no exaggeration.  In 2011, a Duchy-wide campaign aimed at those people who identify as Cornish were urged to write ’Cornish’ on the 2011 Census. The result was 73,200 people from 532, 273 of Cornwall’s population (14%) recorded their ethnicity as Cornish.  The Cornish are a minority group in their own homeland of Cornwall.

The remaining 459,073 people, of which most will be the English who, during earlier centuries of their inward migration to Cornwall, learned the Cornish language and continue promote Cornwall’s history and culture that  has ensured the Cornish will never be in a state of mere ‘survival’.

Of course the last paragraph isn’t what really happened .  Assimilation has always been demanded from the English.  All is fine just so long as immigrants arriving into English communities become ‘English’ but this is contrary to their arrival in Britain and their own failure to assimilate.   In Cornwall during 1549,  an English language prayer book was forced upon a predominately Cornish speaking nation.  The Cornish, fighting against a professional army were eventually put down, but the ensuing slaughter of hundreds of bound & gagged prisoners ensured the Cornish were effectively subdued, or at least enough to prevent further uprisings.  Cornwall was to become a place where all things English were deemed ‘superior’ while all things Cornish were branded ‘inferior’ – particularly their language.

This assimilation remains today and becomes apparent when the Cornish face derision from all quarters (including Cornwall’s tabloids) when having the temerity to ask that their history and language be taught in Cornish schools.  ‘It’s a dead language’ is the cry from those who killed it.  ‘Ancient history’ is the term used to negate Cornwall’s early charters that state Cornwall is ‘extra-territorial’ to England, while the English feel entitled to promote an ‘ancient’ 13th century Magna Carta as a ‘symbol from oppression’.  They should have shown that document to the Cornish people of 1549.


Cornish schools are ‘classed’ as English schools and the Anglo-centric curriculum takes precedence over all things Cornish.  The history of Cornish people is ignored until an English presence has been firmly established, ensuring Cornwall’s school children have little choice but to ascribe to an English identity.  The Royal Cornwall Museum doesn’t allow for the appearance of the Cornish in its timeline until a reference is made to the inventor Richard Trevithick in 1804.

There are English people, particularly those that have moved to Cornwall, that have the intellect and a shared empathy with Cornwall and the Cornish who do much for Cornwall’s identity.  Sadly, and similar to the Cornish, they are in the minority.  An early article by Hywel Williams could explain why most English people, or those described by Williams as ‘Anglo-celtic Uncle Toms’  have a sneering, belligerent attitude towards Cornwall as being anything other than ‘English’.

The Enemy Within?


Cornwall’s Tory MPs see a Cornish Assembly as a ‘nationalist’ agenda rather than being a positive mechanism that will enshrine Cornwall’s identity as Cornish in a similar fashion as the Framework Convention enshrined the identity of the Cornish themselves.  Instead, they prefer the current ‘English’ administration that serves to further assimilate Cornwall’s identity into an ‘English’ entity.

bloody nationalistsCornish MP, Scott Mann says “There have long been calls in Cornwall to pull up the hypothetical drawbridge over the Tamar and to cut ourselves off from Plymouth and the rest of Britain”. He goes on to say that while he’s “rightly proud of our heritage, traditions and culture, but we do ourselves a disservice if we continue to naval-gaze. Our young people deserve better than that.”

Maybe Mr Mann would have directed derogatory accusations of ‘naval-gazing’ against India when it claimed independence, or indeed any other former colony that required their independence  be returned.  In this case he has has contrived to conflate aspirations of a Cornish Assembly with independence when it’s NOT about independence.

Westminster’s Plans are EVEL

Some people remain unaware that on Wednesday 12th, December 2001, a delegation from Cornwall presented a declaration consisting of over 50,000 signatures for a Cornish Assembly.  The Labour Government at that time did not respond to the petition but continued with its aims of placing Cornwall within a ‘South West region’ that is indicative of a Westminster determined to keep Cornwall ‘English’.

The government has now pushed through plans for ‘English votes for English laws’ (EVEL).  Wales has its own government with devolved powers,  Scotland is knocking on the door of independence, and an overwhelming majority of MP’s represent England, Westminster is now virtually an English parliament and unlikely to acceed to aspirations of a Cornish Assembly.

Cornwall Council is invariably held responsible for making cuts, but in reality the blame lies firmly with Westminster’s austerity measures. Cornwall Council is forced into making the savings in areas that helps to ensure  the funding of Cornwall’s essential services can continure.

  With the full effects of austerity still emerging in Cornwall,  maybe those who are feeling those effects more keenly will be encouraged to offer their support for Mebyon Kernow.

An upsurge of Cornish support for Mebyon Kernow would at least serve to make Westminster more respectful of Cornish aspirations.

Cornish Hevva Cake – NOT ‘Heavy’ Cake!

Hevva! Hevva! Hevva!

‘Hevva’ is the Cornish language word for ‘shoaling’ ‘swarming’ or ‘flocking’ that is also used to describe Cornish Hevva cake (not ‘heavy’ as sometimes heard).  It was the shout made by Cornish heuers that kept watch at various points around the Cornish Coast when they sighted the dark shoals of pilchards off the coast, and the call for the Cornish seine netters to put to sea.

Cornish Hevva Cake

1lb of self-raising flour (453.59g)

Pinch of salt

4oz Margerine (113.4g)

4oz Lard (113.4g)

4-6oz sugar 5oz = (141.75g)
6 – 8oz of mixed dried fruit (7oz = 198.45g)
Pinch of Nutmeg (or according to taste)


Cut the margarine and lard into smaller pieces and add to the flour. Very gently, using finger tips, rub the ingredients together until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. If rubbed together too heavy handedly you will end up with a dough!  This process can take half an hour, so be patient.


Then add the sugar, nutmeg, salt and mix together.  Add the mixed dried fruit, mix again, then gradually add water, mixing until a firm, dough-like consistency forms .


Let it stand for about 5 minutes.


Roll out to about 3/4 of an inch thick, brush with milk and make criss-cross marks on the top.


Bake at 180c (fan oven) in the middle of the oven for about 35 – 40 minutes.


The result should be a light texture – not heavy.  A heavy texture can be the result of over-kneeding the dough, or adding too little / too much water.

Cornish Hevva Cake

Hevva cake, along with *Cornish splits, forms part of the traditional Cornish cream tea and delicious either eaten on its own or spread with jam topped off with Cornish clotted cream. 

*Scones appeared from another place and not traditionally Cornish.

Note: English people are known to hide their cream under the jam but the Cornish, so proud of their Cornish clotted cream, give it pride of place – on the top!

The Royal Cornwall Museum has it all – apart from the Cornish

There is no doubt the RCM has a fine collection of minerals and artefacts along with various sections about tin mining, but a visitor was heard to remark, ‘the museum has it all – apart from the Cornish’.

RCM Sign photo

While that may be a slight exaggeration, it’s not straying too far from the truth and promotes accusations of negativity towards Cornish people by a museum which, after all, is supposedly a Cornish museum that should represent the Cornish people.

Upon entering the ground floor, there are glass display cabinets that start with collections of early Britain and house the collections of that time. These cabinets that continue around the perimeter of the hall have timelines (thematic labels) across the top that have references and dates of a particular era.

Walking around the hall in a clockwise direction, visitors reading the timelines will note there is no mention of the Cornish until 1834. Although there is a reference to Richard Trevithick in 1804, there’s no explanation that the inventor was a Cornishman. The English are included, but are placed in a period of time  before the Cornish, which does not consider the contextural timeline, and gives the viewer a false impression of an earlier English presence.  Also noticed by a Cornish couple was the exclusion of the Cornish uprising against the imposition of an English Language Prayer Book; the book that ensured the demise of the Cornish language.


Rather than subsuming the Cornish under a ‘British’ identity, the RCM should be at the forefront of Cornish culture and consult widely with that aim. The Cornish (eventually recognised as a minority group, included within the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities) should have their progression reflected within the timelines/thematic labels that will serve to inform of their continuity, in context, throughout British history, rather than making a sudden appearance during 17th century.

Romano - British PeriodThe book ‘Cornwall – A History’ by Professor Philip Payton, has late Roman, and putatively in early Roman times, that the lands west of the Tamar were those of the Cornovii – the early Cornish.  Yet the label ‘Romano-British Period’ gives visitors no information about the early Cornovii/Cornish presence, giving the unsuspecting reader the idea that a Roman Britain somehow gives way to an Anglo-Saxon England. Exclusion of the Cornish gives the museum a lack of credibility – not least in the minds of Cornish people.  The  museum seems to be affording more credibility to Winston Graham’s fictitious “Poldark” character that had a section on the first floor.

The RCM is a charitable institution and is in receipt of grant funding that includes Cornwall Council. The Council  also understands the Cornish are a minority group and continues to support the Cornish Language and the Cornish indigenous culture.  It is hoped that Kavita Winn, the marketing manager, will have Cornish identity as the main focus of the museum.

It must be realised that without the Cornish, there wouldn’t be a Cornwall.

Kernow/Cornwall: A country in its own right

Country –  definition: A territory distinguished by its people, history and language.

Kernow/Cornwall is such a territory, but became the victim of English ‘mission creep’.


The arrival of the first Celtics in Britain was between c1000 – 600 BC and according to some scholars, possibly as early as 2000 BC.

South west Britain was inhabited by a celtc tribe known as the Dumnonii, who held the area for centuries.  The later occupation of Britain by Rome (circa 45 AD) had little presence west of the Tamar and therefore little influence.

The emergence of territorial Dumnonii sub-groupings, and what is now Cornwall, is identified by its Late British name, Cornouia, the land of the Cornovii. The Welsh describe a succession of Dumnonian Kings through the 9th century, and a 10th century memorial to King Ricatus that today stands in the grounds of Penlee House, Penzance, Cornwall.

At this stage, Cornouia has become Cornubia (Latin), the Cernyw (Welsh) and the Kernow (Cornish) with the language of Dumnonia evolving into what becomes Cornish.

The departure of the Roman legions from Britain sees the arrival of the invading tribes from Angeln and Saxony (c500 AD), from which the English identity eventually evolved, to the shores of eastern Britain.

As the centuries pass, we see the Anglo-Saxon’s continuing advances into west Britain and in c577 AD, a battle of Deorham Down near Bristol, effectively divides what the Anglo-Saxons referred too as the ‘West Welsh’ (the Cornish) from the Welsh.  (‘Welsh’ or ‘wealhas’ being the Saxon word for stranger or foreigner.) Cornish historian, Craig Weatherhill (Cornish Place Names & Language) has the modern name, Cornwall, first recorded as Cornwalas in 891.

Weatherhill explains that, despite claims by some history books that Cornwall was conquered by the English King Ecgbert, in fact the English neither conquered nor subjugated it.

Although Ecgbert crossed the Tamar to “face a combined Cornish – Viking army that resulted in victory for Ecgbert, he could not follow it up with outright conquest. Renewed Viking activity on Britain’s east coast called his forces away from Cornwall and within a year Ecgbert was dead. This was the last known battle on Cornish soil between Cornwall and the English.”

Cornish independent spirit

The Kernewek/Cornish language that hundreds of Cornish people died to preserve, is also reflected in Cornish place-names (over 80%) that are derived from the same Cornish language (its development suppressed, which enabled its decline by the imposition of an English Language Prayer Book in 1549) which is now officially recognised.

Even further testament to the proud, independent spirit that overcame the centuries of attempted assimilaiton, this Cornish nation, these people bound by a common descent, language and history, have retained their identity which has also become officially recognised.

But it’s not over.  Cornwall has little influence in how it is governed.  Policies made in Westminster, carried out by Cornwall Council, ensures Cornwall remains relegated to the backyard of someone else’s region.

Policies such as the National Planning  Policy Framework (NPPF) allows Cornwall to be at the mercy of developers who have been given the right to build in numbers to suit MORE inward migration, rather than the natural progression of the Cornish population, which will effectively dilute the very Cornish identity the UK Government recognised.

Dr Bernard Deacon:

“ . . . as Cornwall is subjected to a process of de-Cornishization, its communities re-engineered and its countryside ransacked in the drive for profit, a growing number of voices are being raised in protest. Change is in the air, anger mounts. The issue now becomes the best strategy for the future for those who have concluded that we cannot afford to continue this insane and unsustainable growth project. How might we channel the righteous anger of the people at what is going on around them into effective action?”

Cornish votes for Cornish laws

The Cornish spirit that has served so well down the centuries must now reassert itself – onen hag oll.

Craig Weatherhill:

“The councillors and officers who claim to represent Cornish residents need to have it hammered home to them that, if they do not change tack, show real courage and leadership for the good of Cornwall, and not for the good of developers, then history will revile them for all time. They will become pariahs, their names a hissing in the street, their reputations – like the duchy itself – ruined forever”.


Cornwall Council and its ‘Case for Cornwall’ aimed at delivering  devolution to Cornwall,  (already being treated with disdain) and the Cornish, after the centuries of fighting assimilation, must not now allow themselves to remain the puppets of Westminster and demands should be made similar to the call for ‘English votes for English laws’.  In Cornwall, that would become ’Cornish votes for Cornish laws.’

Cornwall Council must ensure that a minority group shouldn’t be allowed to suffer at the expense of the majority, which is why the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities came into being,  and why the UK government applied its signature in recognition of Cornish identity.  After all, what’s the point of recognising the Cornish minority only to reduce that minority even further?

Related resources:

Kernow Bys Vyken! – Cornwall Forever!
Cornish History Timeline
Cornish Place Names and Language
The Cornish Language Partnership
Cornwall: A developers’ paradise? Don’t moan, organise 1: the problem re-stated
‘Stand up for Cornwall’ a spectacular flop
Our Future is History
Cornwall Information: What makes Cornwall unique
Cornwall Information: The Anglo-Cornish War of June – August 1549