Cornwall first comes to our attention in the Neolithic period. Otherwise known as the New Stone Age, what we now term as the Neolithic dates from between 4500BC and 2200BC. Prior to this the Mesolithic, the 'Middle Stone Age', stretches back into the mists of human habitation in the period between 8000BC to 4500BC.
By the very fact that Cornwall has remains dating from at least the Neolithic, this clearly shows that the region was populated. Although the actual population figures are hotly debated by the archaeologists, the very number of Neolithic sites indicate a sizeable number of inhabitants. Furthermore, the number of ancient megaliths continue right through to what we would term the relatively recent past - the arrival of the Romans in 43AD. Obviously as cultures grew and evolved and their beliefs changed so the type of ancient monument altered to reflect this. Explore Cornwall through prehistory via its ancient sites.
By about 550 B.C., at the junction of the Bronze Age and Iron Age, the culture we formerly termed 'Celts'' grew to prominence. They had knowledge of Metal Working. Compared to the scattered Bronze Age residents, the Celts had an highly organised structure, they were civilised and well trained in battle. Left largely untouched by the Romans until their departure in c.410 A.D., Cornwall retained the majority of this Celtic influence for almost the next 900 years. When the Jutes, Angles and Saxons invaded from across the North Sea in about 450 A.D. and established 7 states: Kent (Jutes); Northumbria; Mercia; East Anglia (Angles); Wessex; Sussex and Essex (Saxons), the Celts (Ancient Britons) were squeezed into the extremities of the island of Britain. Dumnonia and Cerniw became Devon and Cornwall, the 'strangers' (Saxon - Wealas) formed Wales with other tribes forming lowland Scotland and Armorica (present-day Brittany). This relocation of the Celts only strengthened their language and culture in these lands.
The ancient sites of Cornwall can be organised into THREE main groupings:
- Stone Age Henges and Megaliths
- Bronze Age Barrows and Stone Circles
- Iron Age Forts; Fogous and Cliff Castles
Tour of the Sites of the Far West - The Land's End Peninsula
The main sites of Penwith form a crescent across the whole of the Land's End Peninsula, some of the main sites were visited as part of three tours of the area:
- Tour One features information on Pendeen Vau, Ballowall Barrow, Sperris Quoit, Zennor Quoit, Mulfra Quoit, Bodrifty Iron Age Village, Bosporthennis and the Nine Maidens of Boskednan.
- Tour Two features information on Mên Scryfa, Mên an Tol, Lanyon Quoit, Chûn Quoit, Tregeseal Dancing Stones.
- Tour Three meanwhile features Chapel Carn Brea, Carn Euny, Brane, Boscawen Ün, Boleigh and Chysauster Iron Age Village.
There are several ancient sites to visit in the north and east of the county also. These include the Hurlers, The Pipers, Rillaton Barrow, Stowe's Pound, the Stripple Stones and Trevethy Quoit on Bodmin Moor, whilst Duloe Stone Circle lies just north of Looe. The impressive Rumps Iron Age Cliff Castle lies just east of Padstow above Polzeath. Castle Dore Iron Age Hill Fort lies just north of Fowey.
Prior to the end of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago. when the sea level was so much lower, the Isles of Scilly were one large island. This island formerly called 'Ennor' would have been settled from nearby Cornwall with the early inhabitants bringing their culture and beliefs with them. There are remains of several ancient sites on the islands including Bant's Carn, Innisidgen, Halangy Down, Porth Hellick as well as The Old Man of Gugh and Obadiah's Barrow.
Cornwall was the last part of Britain to accede to the Saxons in 838 AD. Cornwall became federated but very much apart from Wessex when the borders between Cornwall and Wessex were set in about 927AD by Athelstan.
Indeed, much more recently than that, legislation refers to Anglia, Cornubia etc. and so Cornwall always maintained its distinctive identity and rulership under the Duke of Cornwall who held in Cornwall identical powers to the ruling Monarch of England. For more information CLICK HERE.
Read more about the hundreds of Cornish Shipwrecks...
'Oh I didn't realise he was from Cornwall...' Cornwall has provided some notable people over the years. Read more about them here.