Death in Arizona – how a Cornish miner came to die in the desert

Standing in the oppressive heat of the desert between Tucson and Phoenix I feel a very long way from the green, rain-soaked valleys of Cornwall. It is a vast and untamed landscape like nothing I have ever experienced before in all my travels, yet thousands of Cornish found themselves drawn here in the 19th century. […]

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Wife Selling in Cornwall

Would it surprise you to learn that the practice of wife selling was particularly popular in the 17th century? Divorce was almost impossible for anyone but the very rich and as a consequence some husbands sort rather a interesting alternative solution. This bizarre practice was apparently more common in rural counties such as Cornwall and […]

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The Cup-Marked Stones of Stithians

Something is hiding beneath the waters of Stithians Lake. And at certain times of the year, when the level drops low enough, these wonderful artefacts, carved more than 4000 years old, reveal themselves. When Stithians Dam was completed in 1967 the shallow valley behind it was completely flooded. Nearly 300 acres of farmland and three […]

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The Trippet Stones

“These simple but powerful relics of the past will turn anyone into a romantic.” E. C. Axford, 1975 The moors are my escape. I find contentment there whatever the season, even on the wettest and wildest of days. A few days ago it was one of those sunny days when the fluffy white clouds seem […]

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Hangman’s Barrow, Crowan

Some place names can really create an atmosphere and evoke a feeling. They can be signpost to a place’s past. A waving flag that acknowledges some event or episode in our cultural history. Names are, after all given, given by us. And because of this for me Hangman’s Barrow near Crowan has its own particular […]

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The ruin of Old Kea Church

A while back I wrote a series of posts about ruined places. Ruined churches, cottages and farms. There is something endlessly interesting, something that sparks my imagination, about broken down, forgotten buildings. How they came to be there. How they once looked. Who touched their walls, walked their halls. How they fell into disrepair. Old […]

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The history of Carn Brea Castle

There are a handful of man-made landmarks in Cornwall that are unmistakable and unforgettable. Carn Brea Castle is one of these. A tiny fortress perched high on one of our most enigmatic hills it is pretty magical. Carn Brea Castle stands on the eastern summit of Carn Brea hill, one of the highest points in […]

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Copplestone Cross & his Packhorse Bridge, Porthcothan

One way or another we would all like to leave a legacy. For some people that might be their children. For me perhaps it will be my writing, and for my father, well, one of his legacies will be a large piece of granite. Whatever the case, I believe that most of us would like […]

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Cavalla Bianca – an unusual wreck in Penzance

We are very used to hearing about the Cornish taking advantage of bounty brought to its shores by the ferocious sea. Tales of crowds of the opportunistic, greedy, and probably at times desperate, inhabitants swarming over a beached vessel and plundering all they can. Stripping a ship, and sometimes its crew bare, before the arrival […]

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The Mawgan Cross – an Inscribed Stone in Meneage

At one time the area now known as Goonhilly Downs, and indeed most of the Lizard, was called the Meneage. How exactly the area came by this name is the subject of some debate. Folliott-Stokes writes in 1928: In olden days it [the Lizard] was called Meneage from the Cornish word ‘maenic’ (rocky) though certain […]

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