Kernow/Cornwall: A country in its own right

Country: A territory distinguished by its people, history and language.
Kernow/
Cornwall is such a territory.

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”.

Indeed.

Cornwall Council ( its ‘Case for Cornwall’ aimed at delivering  devolution to Cornwall, is 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:

Cornish History Timeline
Cornish Place Names and Language
The Cornish Language Partnership
We need leaders with backbone as Cornwall faces most serious threat
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