A brief history of Cornwall

Stone Age

Men – an – Tol

In the early Stone Age, there weren’t many residents here, but inhabitants from Europe arrived in Cornwall after drifting across the land bridge. The first stone tools were discovered about 4500 BC. Near Redruth, in Carn Brea, are the remnants of a stone age village.

The words “Cornovii” and “Waelas,” which both refer to hill inhabitants, are the origins of the term “Cornwall.” Numerous burial chambers from this time period still exist. The majority of them have been harmed by the elements or by humans, although there are still some excellent examples, such as Trethevy Quoit near St. Cleer in Liskeard and Chun Cromlech at Land’s End.

Bronze Age

Rillaton Gold Cup, found in Cornwall

From around 2400 BCE to 800 BCE, Cornwall experienced what is known as the Cornish Bronze Age. The Cornish Neolithic came before it and the Cornish Iron Age came after it. It is distinguished by the invention and widespread usage of tools and weapons made of copper and copper-alloy (bronze).

Tin and copper trade to distant lands began to expand from 2500 BC. To trade for the minerals, the traders brought bronze tools and gold jewellery. On Bodmin Moor and the West Penwith Uplands, you may still see the ruins of such Bronze Age settlements. These peoples were well organized, lived in communities, and engaged in farming and metallurgy, according to excavations.

The Celts

The Celts were a group of warrior-like immigrants from Europe who came in Cornwall in 1000 BC. They took their expertise in forging iron into weapons with them. These people are the forerunners of contemporary Cornwall. They worked the metal while living in communities, farming, and mining for tin, copper, bronze, and iron. Near Penzance, at Chysauster, is where their Iron Age villages are most known. The fires, grinding stones, and low stone walls are still present here. Many of their villages were on hilltops or on promontories that could be readily defended because the majority of them were fortified against invasion. As a result, the Celtic words “ker” for fort and “Dinas” for hill were combined to form the Cornish place name “Car” or “Caer.”

Roman Times

Roman coin hoard found by DCDD members on a group dig at Sithney near Helston

In 55 BC, the Romans arrived in Britain, although Cornwall saw relatively little of their impact. Exeter served as the westernmost significant Roman colony. The Tamar, the untamed moors of Dartmoor, Exmoor, and Bodmin Moor, as well as the absence of secure ports, successfully kept the Romans at bay. And the Roman presence deterred other raiders. The Cornish Celts were mostly left to their own devices.

Middle Ages

Restormal castle, Lostwithiel

Cornwall fell under Saxon influence when the Romans left Britain, and after the Norman conquest, Cornwall began to truly integrate into Britain. Robert, William’s half-brother, was handed complete ownership of Cornwall. He established Launceston as his base of operations and constructed the castle there to impose his power. Then, during the following few hundred years, a line of Norman and Plantagenet rulers’ ancestors ruled Cornwall.

Edward, the Black Prince, was Edward III’s first duke of Cornwall. Following it, there were a series of uprisings throughout the middle ages. Perkin Warbeck, who claimed to be one of the Princes killed in the tower and who arrived close to Sennan in 1497, was beaten in combat at Exeter. Many Cornishmen were put to death during the 1549 Prayer Book Rebellion against the imposition of the English Prayer Book. Invasion by the Spanish occurred at Mounts Bay in 1595. Cornwall had a number of engagements and sieges during the English Civil War (1642–1649). Additionally, the Monmouth Rebellion and its terrible aftermath occurred in 1685.

Georgian & Victorian Age

Mining experienced revolutionary advancements as a result of the steam engine’s introduction in the 18th century and its quick development in the 19th. Engines made it possible to pump dry mines to deep depths, pull ore up, and carry out various tasks that were previously done by hand on the surface. Richard Trevithick, a Cornishman, was a pioneer in the construction of steam engines. Deeper mines had to be dug, ports had to be built to transport the ore, and there were plenty of jobs in the mines. However, by the middle of the 19th century, huge amounts of tin and copper ore had been discovered elsewhere, making deep, expensive Cornish mines uncompetitive. The final mines in Cornwall have now closed after a protracted decline.

Modern Cornwall

Fish stocks are down, there is little industry in Cornwall, and mining has ended, yet the region still possesses some of the most beautiful landscapes and the greatest weather in all of Britain. There are many miles of sandy beaches, coastal walks, open moorland, and a mild climate where spring comes early and fall lasts longer. As a result, tourism is the Cornish economy’s basis. Cornwall works hard to take advantage of its location by trying to draw tourists all year round.


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