A Brief History of Cornwall
The southernmost stretch of ancient England has a rich history spanning thousands of years. Steeped in captivating beauty and dramatic coastline, Cornwall’s history echoes through the ages. The first evidence of human inhabitation dates back 10,000 years. Today, 4,000 year old stone sites continue to dot the landscape, an echo of a way of life lost to time.
The Romans invaded Britain in the 40s BC. One of the greatest empires seen in the history of the Western world, there is surprisingly scarce evidence of their might in Cornwall. Occupied by native tribes, there is limited archaeological evidence of the Romans. One of these tribes, the Dumnonii, may have given its name to neighbouring Devon, while the Cornovii likely gave its name to Cornwall. However, both tribes were ultimately absorbed by the mighty kingdom of Wessex around 800 AD.
In the 1100s, a cleric, Geoffrey of Monmouth, published the popular Historia Regum Britanniae, or History of the Kings of Britain. Part fact, part fiction, the book cited Tintagel Castle as the conception site of the legendary King Arthur. Later sources built on the Historia, crediting Tintagel as the birthplace of Arthur, the home of the Pendragons, and even the site of Camelot. In the 1330s, Edward III appointed his son, Edward, the Duke of Cornwall. The Duchy of Cornwall continues to be bestowed upon the eldest son of the sovereign to this day. It was also the Black Prince who, in the early 1300s, resurrected the site of Tintagel Castle.
Cornwall is closely associated with a strong mining history, and tin has been mined in the region for centuries. The remnants of pre-1700 mining in Cornwall are some of the most extensive in the country. By the 1700s, the mining boom was copper. A century later, Cornwall emerged as one of the largest copper producers in the world. The mining industry played a significant role in shaping Cornwall’s economy and landscape throughout history. The remnants of this history can still be found across the countryside.