Golowan 2007
Penzance Coat of Arms

 
 

A Time-Line for Cornwall

(From Pre-History to the Norman Conquest)

750,000-10,000 BC: Lower and Upper PALAEOLITHIC Periods (Early Stone Age)
Palaeolithic Britain is the period from almost 750,000 years ago until around 10,000 years ago. This huge length of time saw many changes in the environment, encompassing several glacial and interglacial periods which greatly affected human settlement in the region. The inhabitants of the region at this time were bands of hunter-gatherers who roamed all over northern Europe following herds of animals. Humans populated and de-populated the area many times until the end of this period depending on how cold the area was. From 400,000 BC: to 200,000 BC, the archaeological record (ie. flint axes and blades) shows us that people, that were probably settled in Devon, were beginning to make periodic visits into Cornwall. By 40,000 BC: these modern humans (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) have spread throughout the South West. There were not many people in Cornwall in the early Stone Age.
10,000-4,000 BC: MESOLITHIC Period (Middle Stone Age)
This period begins at the end of the last glacial period, when the temperature levels improved and water levels began to rise, and hunter-gatherer bands begin to settle around the coastlines of Cornwall, around the Lizard, for example, and have working sites on upland areas, such as Bodmin Moor. By 8,500 years ago, the rising sea levels caused by the melting glaciers cut Britain off from continental Europe for the last time. Woodworking tools such as adzes appear in the archaeological record, although some flint blade types remained similar to their Palaeolithic predecessors. A drift across the land bridge from Europe brought settlers to Cornwall. The first stone tools found date from about 4500BC. There is the remains of a stone age settlement at Carn Brea near Redruth. The name "Cornwall" comes from Cornovii, meaning hill dwellers, and Waelas, meaning strangers There also exists many burial chambers from this period. Most of these have been damaged by weather or by man, but you can still see a good example at Trethevy Quoit near St Cleer, Liskeard, and another at Chun Cromlech near Land's End
4,000-2,400 BC: NEOLITHIC Period (New Stone Age)
The Neolithic period is a time of great social and agricultural development. This can be seen through the adoption of farming and increased monument construction, brought about largely by an increasing population. Settlements begin to be fortified such as the one on top of Carn Brea. The Neolithic Revolution, as it is called, introduced a more settled way of life and ultimately led to societies becoming divided into differing groups of farmers, artisans and leaders. Forest clearances were undertaken to provide room for cereal cultivation and animal herds. Native cattle and pigs were reared whilst sheep and goats were later introduced from the continent as were the wheats and barleys grown in Britain. The first Cornish hedges enclosed land for cereal crops during the Neolothic Age. The Middle Neolithic (c.3300-2900 BC) saw the development of cursus monuments close to earlier barrows and the growth and abandonment of causewayed enclosures as well as the building of impressive chamber tombs such as the Maeshowe types. The earliest stone circles and individual burials also appear. Different pottery types such as Grooved ware appear during the later Neolithic (c.2900-2200 BC) whilst new enclosures, called henges were built, along with stone rows and the famous sites of Stonehenge and Silbury Hill reached their peak.
2,400-1,500 BC: Early Bronze Age
Around 2500 BC a trade started growing in tin and copper to foreign shores. The traders brought Bronze tools and gold ornaments to exchange for the minerals. The remains of such Bronze Age villages can still be seen on Bodmin Moor and the West Penwith Uplands. These sources are found by tin-streaming and open-cast mining for copper. Around 1800 BC the "beaker" folk arrived and spread through the British Isles. They were so-called because of the distinctive beaker-shaped pottery they made. Some define them as being early or proto-celts. There is some debate amongst archaeologists as to whether the 'Beaker people' were a race of people who migrated to Britain en masse from the continent, or whether a prestigious Beaker cultural "package" of goods and behaviours diffused to Britain's existing inhabitants through trade across tribal boundaries. Tin is necessary to make bronze from copper, and by about 1600 BCE southwestern Britain was experiencing a trade boom driven by the export of tin across Europe. This prosperity helped feed the skilfully wrought gold ornaments recovered from Wessex culture sites. The period is also characterised by its ceremonial and burial monuments: the stone circles, rows and standing stones or menhirs, and the barrows with their kist graves. Some experts claim that the Phoenician tin trade with Cornwall started around the end of this period.
1,500-750 BC: Late Bronze Age
The climate begins to get wetter during this period which causes settlement movement to lowland sites such as Trethellan, Newquay, and a move to more seasonal and less intensive grazing on the uplands. Population pressure, as a result, creates a more warlike society which often sacrifices weapons to their gods. Arrival of the first true Celts by 600BC. These new settlers were skilled in metal-working and possibly were instrumental the start of Cornish Mining - mainly from alluvial deposits at this time. A period of great defensive building of 'Cliff Castles' all along the Cornish coast as well as Barrows. The Start of Trade between peoples. The Dead were buried singly or cremated.
750-400 BC: Early Pre-Roman Iron Age
Somewhere between 1000 and 500 BC [The jury is still out - ed.] tribes of warrior like settlers arrived in the British Isles from Central Europe (The La Tène & Hallstatt cultures) , these were the Celts. They brought with them knowledge of forging iron into weapons and so iron gradually replaces bronze for weapons and farming tools. Compared to the scattered Bronze Age residents, they had a highly organised society, they were civilised and well trained in battle. As Julius Caesar later recorded in his 'Gallic Wars' - "they seemed to have no fear of Death". These Celts then, are the antecedents of the modern Cornish (Along with the Bretons, Irish, Manx, Scots and Welsh). They lived in in defended settlements called rounds which are bank-and-ditch enclosures protecting a number of round-houses within, they farmed, mined for tin, copper, and iron, smelted and worked the metals. There are also economic and social centres, where manufacturing and trading occur, establishing on hill-tops and headlands, such as Trevelgue Head, near Newquay. The best known of their Iron Age settlements is at Chysauster, near Penzance. Here the low stone walls, the grinding stones and the fireplaces still remain. Iron was stronger and more plentiful than bronze, and its introduction marks the beginning of the Iron Age. Iron working revolutionised many aspects of life, most importantly agriculture. Iron tipped ploughs could churn up land far more quickly and deeply than older wooden or bronze ones, and iron axes could clear forest land far more efficiently for agriculture. This Celtic culture had, by 500 BC, covered most of the British Isles. The Celts were highly skilled craftsmen and produced intricately patterned gold jewellery and weapons in bronze and iron. Iron Age Cornish lived in organised tribal groups, ruled by a chieftain. As people became more numerous, fights broke out between opposing tribes. This led to the building of hill forts. Although the first had been built about 1,500 BC, hillfort building such as those at Castle an Dinas, Gurnard's Head, Kelly Rounds and The Rumps peaked during the later Iron Age. Most of their settlements were fortified against attack and many were on hilltops or on promontories that could be easily defended. Hence the word "Car" or "Caer" in Cornish place name from the Celtic "ker" meaning fort, and "Dinas" meaning hill. Large farmsteads produced food in industrial quantities and Roman sources note that Britain exported hunting dogs, animal skins and slaves.
400-54 BC: Late pre-Roman Iron Age
The last centuries before the Roman invasion saw an influx of refugees from Gaul (modern day France and Belgium) known as the Belgae, who were displaced as the Roman Empire expanded. The last centuries before the Roman invasion saw increasing sophistication in British life. About 100 BC, iron bars began to be used as currency, while internal trade and trade with continental Europe flourished, largely due to Britain's extensive mineral reserves. Coinage was developed, based on continental types but bearing the names of local chieftains. As the Roman Empire expanded northwards, it is now thought that Rome began to trade with Britain, for as long as 150yrs before Caesar's first attempts at conquest. The first classical account of Cornwall comes from the Greco-Sicilian historian Diodorus Siculus (c.90-30 BC), supposedly quoting or paraphrasing the fourth-century BC geographer Pytheas, who claimed to have sailed to Britain. "The inhabitants of that part of Britain called Belerion or the Land's End, from their intercourse with foreign merchants, are civilised in their manner of life. They prepare tin, working very carefully the earth in which it is produced. Here the merchants buy the tin from the natives and sail it over to Gaul, and after travelling overland for about thirty days, they finally bring their loads on horses to the mouth of the Rhône."
55-54 BC:
Julius Julius Caesar's raids on south-east Britain The Romans under Julius Caesar invaded and conquered Gaul in 56 BC, and then landed in Britain in 55 BC, but internal Roman Politics back home in Italy give the British a brief interlude of almost a century.

8 AD:
Diodorus Siculus named Cornwall 'Belerion' (The Shining Land), the first recorded place named in the British Isles.
19 AD:
(June 21st) A total eclipse of the sun is visible in Cornwall.
33-37 AD:
Tiberius Christianity is said, by Gildas, to have come to Britain sometime during the latter part of the reign of Tiberius Caesar who ruled from 14-37 AD. Meanwhile these islands, stiff with cold and frost, and in a distant region of the world, remote from the visible sun, received this we know, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, by whom his religion was propagated without impediment, and death threatened to those who interfered with its professors. And, since Joseph of Arimathea is often credited with being the one who first introduced Christianity to Britain, then it is not too far-fetched to assume that the two must've arrived together. Christ is believed to have been crucified in 32 AD and allowing a year as a minimum time to organize and launch a mission, then Joseph could have come to Britain, at the very earliest, in 33 AD or at the latest, 37 AD. This assumes, of course, that Gildas can be trusted on this point.
c.50 AD:
Ptolemy's Map Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy) writes his monumental work "Geography". In this remarkable publication, a work of seven volumes, which became the standard textbook on the subject until the 15th century. In the opening chapters of the second book of the Geography, we find information on the British Isles: Chapter 1 is entitled Hibernia island of Britannia, and deals primarily with Ireland, including the islands of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Man, and curiously, Anglesey. Chapter 2 is entitled Albion island of Britannia, and deals with mainland Britain (England, Wales and Scotland), giving lists of the prominent coastal landmarks, river mouths and estuaries, as well as the names of the British tribes including, specficaly, the Dumnonii (from where we eventually get Dumnonia) and their principal towns.
54 AD:
Claudius Commanded by the emperor Cladius, the Romans returned in earnest.

[During the time of Roman dominance in Britain, Cornwall was rather remote from the main centres of Romanization. Major Roman roads extended no further west than Isca Dumnoniorum (Exeter). Furthermore, the British tin trade had been largely eclipsed by the more convenient supply from Iberia. According to Léon Fleuriot, however, Cornwall remained closely integrated with neighbouring territories by well-travelled sea routes. Fleuriot suggests that an overland route connecting Padstow with Fowey and Lostwithiel served, in Roman times, as a convenient conduit for trade between Gaul (especially Armorica) and the western parts of the British Isles. (Fleuriot 1982:18) The late 1st century ostensibly brings Roman military occupation, but no noteworthy civil presence. The Britain annexed by Rome is divided among various tribes. The south west is occupied by the Dumnonii, Iron Age Celts who had held a large area for centuries. The rural society of the previous period continues, largely unchanged by the Roman influence in the rest of Britain. In Cornwall, one fort is established, at Nanstallon on the River Camel, but it is occupied for 20 years; and one villa, at Magor, Camborne, which coincides with the increased trade in tin, during the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, not only for bronze, but also to alloy with lead for pewter objects. New trading posts are set up such as the one at Carvossa, Probus, and a new style of housing is introduced in Penwith, the courtyard house, at villages like Chysauster. The Celts of the region - 'The Dumnonii ' were left largely to their own devices. The Second Legion Augusta were stationed at the capital of the Celtic capital: Isca Dumnoniiorum (present-day Exeter)]

c.55-60 AD:
The construction of the Roman fort at Nanstallion (near Bodmin) The fort was constructed to guard the main communication and trade route linking the south coast (Fowey) to the north coast (Camel)
80 AD:
The new Roman governor Agricola reformed the administration where each tribe became a self-governing region (cervitas). Cornwall was part of the southwest region with its headquarters at Exeter, Isca Dumnoniorum (possibly based on 'Worshippers of the God Dumnonos')
82-83 AD:
The years when the ninth Legion was supposedly lost while on pacification duties in Scotland. Modern research shows that while they received horrenduous casualties (around 50%) they did, in fact, survive.
184 AD:
Lucius Artorius Castus, commander of a detachment of Sarmatian conscripts stationed in Britain, led his troops to Gaul to quell a rebellion. This is the first appearance of the name, Artorius, in history and some believe that this Roman military man is the original, or basis, for the Arthurian legend. The theory says that Castus' exploits in Gaul, at the head of a contingent of mounted troops, are the basis for later, similar traditions about "King Arthur," and, further, that the name "Artorius" became a title, or honorific, which was ascribed to a famous warrior in the fifth century.
238-244 AD:
Gordian The reign of Gordian III. A milestone inscribed with the Roman's name is found at Menheer, Gwennap, in 1942. It is the earliest example in Cornwall.

c.250 AD:
Romans start to exploit the Cornish tin region whose base was possibly Castle Dore. Around this time the Saints started arriving in Cornwall
c.312 AD:
Constantine Constantine makes Christianity the Imperial religion.

383 AD:
Magnus Maximus (Macsen Wledig), a Spaniard, was proclaimed Emperor in Britain by the island's Roman garrison. With an army of British volunteers, he quickly conquered Gaul, Spain and Italy.
388 AD:
Maximus occupied Rome itself. Theodosius, the eastern Emperor, defeated him in battle and beheaded him in July, with many of the remnant of Maximus' troops settling in Armorica. The net result to Britain was the loss of many valuable troops needed for the island's defense (the "first migration").
395 AD:
Theodosius, the last emperor to rule an undivided empire, died, leaving his one son, Arcadius, emperor in the East and his other son, the young Honorius, emperor in the West. At this point the office of Roman Emperor changed from a position of absolute power to one of being merely a head of state.
396 AD:
The Roman general, Stilicho, acting as regent in the western empire during Honorius' minority, reorganized British defenses decimated by the Magnus Maximus debacle. Began transfer of military authority from Roman commanders to local British chieftains.
397 AD:
The Roman commander, Stilicho, comes to Britain and repels an attack by Picts, Irish and Saxons.
402 AD:
Events on the continent force Stilicho to recall one of the two British legions to assist with the defense of Italy against Alaric and the Visigoths. The recalled legion, known as the Sixth Victrix, was said by Claudian (in "De Bello Gallico," 416) to be "that legion which is stretched before the remoter Britons, which curbs the Scot, and gazes on the tattoo-marks on the pale face of the dying Pict." The barbarians were defeated, this time, at battle of Pollentia.
403 AD:
Victricius, Bishop of Rouen, visited Britain for the purpose of bringing peace to the island's clergy, who were in the midst of a dispute, possibly over the Pelagian heresy.
405 AD:
The British troops, which had been recalled to assist Stilicho, were never returned to Britain as they had to stay in Italy to fight off another, deeper penetration by the barbarian chieftain, Radagaisus.
406 AD:
In early January, 406, a combined barbarian force (Suevi, Alans, Vandals & Burgundians) swept into central Gaul, severing contact between Rome and Britain. In autumn 406, the remaining Roman army in Britain decided to mutiny. One Marcus was proclaimed emperor in Britain, but was immediately assassinated.
407 AD:
In place of the assassinated Marcus, Gratian was elevated "to the purple," but lasted only four months. Constantine III was hailed as the new emperor by Roman garrison in Britian. He proceeded to follow the example of Magnus Maximus by withdrawing the remaining Roman legion, the Second Augusta, and crossing over into Gaul to rally support for his cause. Constantine's departure could be what Nennius called "the end of the Roman Empire in Britain".
408 AD:
With both Roman legions withdrawn, Britain endures devastating attacks by the Picts, Scots and Saxons.
409 AD:
Prosper, in his chronicle, says, "in the fifteenth year of Honorius and Arcadius (409), on account of the languishing state of the Romans, the strength of the Britons was brought to a desperate pass." Under enormous pressure, Britons take matters into their own hands, expelling weak Roman officials and fighting for themselves.
410 AD:
The Fall of Rome The Goths, under Alaric, started attacking Rome in about 238 AD. Gradually the barbarian tribes wore down the Roman Empire over the next 150 years or so. In 410 AD, the Visigoths invaded Spain and Italy and sacked Rome. This caused Rome to recall her legions from Britain, stating that Britain should ' look to its own defence' and so Britain gains "independence" from Rome.
410-1000 AD: The 'Dark Ages'
A time of mystery and legend. Little is known of this period. After the fall of the 'enlightened and civilised' Romans and their supported regimes it is thought this period was a time of incessant war and revolt. Fact gets superceded by myth. The time of King Arthur , The Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot, Merlin & Vortigern, Tristan & Isolde.

[Left largely untouched by the Romans until their departure in c.410 AD, 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 AD 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 AD 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.

Later Roman geography indicates that there are territorial sub-groupings, and what is now Cornwall AD distinguished by its Late British name, Cornouia, the land of the Cornovii AD may survive as one such subdivision. Welsh sources point to a succession of Dumnonian Kings right through to the 9th century, and a 10th century memorial to King Ricatus stands in the grounds of Penlee House, Penzance. By this time, Cornouia has become Cornubia (Latin), Cernyw (Welsh) and Kernow (Cornish). The British language evolves in Dumnonia into what becomes Cornish. Cornwall, however, remained under the rule of local Romano-British and Celtic élites. It appears that Cornwall was either a division of the Dumnonii tribe - whose tribal centre was in the modern county of Devon AD or they were a separate tribal entity subordinate to them. During the sub-Roman historic period there is no distinction made between Cornwall and Dumnonia. Indeed the names were largely interchangeable; with Dumnonia being the Latin name for the region and "Cornwall", or rather Cornu-Wealha, being the common Anglo-Saxon name for them meaning, literally "Cornish Welsh". The root of the prefix "Corn" is thought to come from Brythonic kern meaning "horn" referring to their geographical location and possibly also to the proposed pre-Roman Cornavii tribe (see above). For most of its history, at least until the mid-8th century, the rulers of Dumnonia were probably also the rulers of Cornwall. In Arthurian legend Gorlois (Gwrlais in Welsh) is attributed the title "Duke of Cornwall" but evidence of his existence is scant. He could have been a sub-king in Cornwall because of place names such as Carhurles (Caer-Wrlais) and Treworlas (Tre-Wrlais). There was almost certainly a King Mark of Cornwall. After the loss of the territory today called Devon, the British rulers are referred to either as the kings of Cornwall or the kings of the "West Welsh". This is also the period known as the 'age of the saints', as Celtic Christianity and a revival of Celtic art spread from Ireland and Scotland into Great Britain, Brittany, and beyond. Cornish saints such as Piran, Meriasek, or Geraint exercised a religious and arguably political influence; their activities also connected Cornwall strongly with Ireland, Brittany, Scotland, and Wales, where many of these saints were trained or formed monasteries. The Cornish saints were often closely connected to the local civil rulers; in a number of cases, the saints were also kings. A Kingdom of Cornwall emerged around the 6th century; its kings were at first sub-kings and then successors of the Brythonic Celtic Kingdom of Dumnonia. The political situation was much in flux, and several kings or polities appear to have exercised sovereignty across the Channel in Brittany.]

413 AD:
Pelagian heresy said to have begun, by Prosper (Tiro) of Aquitaine in his "Chronicle."

[The Pelagian Heresy. Pelagius was a British monk who came to Rome to teach early in the fifth century. In 409 AD or so after German General Alaric's sack of Rome, he moved to Carthage in North Africa, where his views on human nature, sin, and grace brought him into conflict with Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo in North Africa. Pelagius' Teachings were that any imperfection in man would reflect poorly on God. Humanity therefore had an unflawed freedom of will that was not compromised by any "diseased" tendency to sin. God knows exactly what we are capable of and requires of us no more or less. We are fully capable of obeying all commands from God, therefore "since perfection is possible for humanity, it is obligatory." Not obeying God's commands is sin, a willful act for which there is no excuse. Grace is God's gift of human reason, which allows us to recognize what is sin, and human will, which allows us to choose not to sin. Human reason and will are gifts of God and therefore good – not compromised or corrupted in any way God's external enlightenment is there to guide our actions, examples of which are the Ten Commandments, the moral example of Jesus and humanity is justified by its merits. Our good works are the product of our autonomous, independent free wills choosing to do what God has commanded us.]

420-430 AD:
Pelagian heresy outlawed in Rome (418), but in Britain, enjoys much support from "pro-Celtic" faction. Traditionalists (pro-Romans) support Roman church. During this time, according to Prosper, Britain is ruled by petty "tyrants."
429 AD:
At the request of Palladius, a British deacon, Pope Celestine I dispatches bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes to Britain to combat Pelagian heresy. While in Britain, Germanus, a former military man, leads Britons to "Hallelujah" victory in Wales.
c.438 AD:
Probable birth of Ambrosius Aurelianus, scion of the leading Romano-British family on the island.
440 AD:
The Anglo-Saxon Invasion Jutes, Angles and Saxons were at first invited to Britain to act as mercenaries against the raids of the Picts and Irish. They rebel and the Saxons under Hengist and Horsa capture Kent (Ceint) initially. The Saxon armies fan out over the next 200 years to capture and control large swathes of South and East Britain. They press ever westward winning several major battles along the way...except Mount Badon. It was a period of civil war and famine in Britain, caused by ruling council's weakness and inability to deal with Pictish and Saxon invasions; situation aggravated by tensions between Pelagian/Roman factions. Vacated towns and cities in ruin. Migration of pro-Roman citizens toward west. Country beginning to be divided, geographically, along factional lines.
c.441 AD:
Gallic Chronicle records, prematurely, that "Britain, abandoned by the Romans, passed into the power of the Saxons."
c.445 AD:
Vortigern Vortigern comes to power in Britain.
c.446 AD:
Britons (probably the pro-Roman party) appeal to Aetius, Roman governor of Gaul, for military assistance in their struggle against the Picts and the Irish (Scots). No help could be sent, at this time, as Aetius had his hands full with Attila the Hun. Vortigern authorizes the use of Saxon mercenaries, known as foederati, for the defense of the northern parts against barbarian attack. To guard against further Irish incursions, Cunedda and his sons are moved from Manau Gododdin in northern Britain to northwest Wales.
c.447 AD:
Second visit of St. Germanus (this time accompanied by Severus, Bishop of Trier) to Britain. Was this visit spiritually motivated, to combat a revived Pelagian threat or was Germanus sent in Aetius' stead, to do whatever he could to help the desperate Britons? Britons, aroused to heroic effort, "inflicted a massacre" on their enemies, the Picts and Irish, and were left in peace, for a brief time. Could this heroic effort have been led, again, by St. Germanus?
c.448 AD:
Death of St. Germanus in Ravenna. Civil war and plague ravage Britain.
c.450 AD:
Byzantine Jar In the first year of Marcian and Valentinian, Hengest arrives on shores of Britain with "3 keels" of warriors, and are welcomed by Vortigern. This event is known in Latin as the "adventus Saxonum," the coming of the Saxons.

[Quantities of 5th and 6th century Mediterranean pottery found amongst the ruins dark ages Tintagel castle site, (The ruins of Tintagel Castle seen nowadays are those of the castle built by Prince Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in the 1230s) dating from around now through to the 6th century. There was more pottery found here than the total haul from all other Dark Age sites in Britain: huge Tunisian oil jars, Carthaginian dishes, Aegean amphorae and distinctive Byzantine jars.]
c.452 AD:
Increasing Saxon settlement in Britain. Hengest invites his son, Octha, from Germany with "16 keels" of warriors, who occupy the northern lands, to defend against the Picts. Picts never heard from, again.
c.453 AD:
Increasing Saxon unrest. Raids on British towns and cities becoming more frequent.
c.456 AD:
Geoffrey of Monmouth tells us of a probably fictitious, but entirely believable event in which Saxons massacre 300 leading British noblemen at phony "peace" conference. Ambrosius' father, possibly the leader of the pro-Roman faction, may have been killed either during the Saxon uprising or this massacre.
c.457 AD:
Death of Vortigern. Vitalinus (Guitolinus) new leader of pro-Celtic Pelagian faction. Battle of Aylesford (Kent) in which Ambrosius, along with sons of Vortigern, Vortimer and Cateyrn, defeat Hengest for the first time.
c.458 AD:
Saxon uprising in full-swing. Hengest finally conquers Kent, in southeastern Britain.
c.458-60 AD:
Full-scale migration of British aristocrats and city-dwellers across the English Channel to Brittany, in northwestern Gaul (the "second migration"). British contingent led by Riothamus (perhaps a title, not a name), thought by some to be the original figure behind the legends of Arthur.
c.460-70 AD:
Ambrosius Aurelianus takes full control of pro-Roman faction and British resistance effort; leads Britons in years of back-and-forth fighting with Saxons. British strategy seems to have been to allow Saxon landings and to then contain them, there.
c.465 AD:
Arthur probably born around this time.
c.466 AD:
Battle of Wippedesfleot, in which Saxons defeat Britons, but with great slaughter on both sides. Mutual "disgust and sorrow" results in a respite from fighting "for a long time."
c.466-473 AD:
Period of minimal Saxon activity. Refortification of ancient hillforts and construction of the Wansdyke possibly takes place during this time.
c.469 AD:
Roman emperor, Anthemius, appeals to Britons for military help against the Visigoths. Reliable accounts by Sidonius Apolonaris and Jordanes name the leader of the 12,000 man British force, Riothamus. The bulk of the British force was wiped out in battle against Euric, the Visigothic king, and the survivors, including Riothamus, vanished and were never heard from, again.
c.470 AD:
Battle of Wallop (Hampshire) where Ambrosius defeats Vitalinus, head of the opposing faction. Ambrosius assumes High-kingship of Britain.
473 AD:
Men of Kent, under Hengest, move westward, driving Britons back before them "as one flees fire."
477 AD:
Saxon chieftain, Aelle, lands on Sussex coast with his sons. Britons engage him upon landing but his superior force drives them into the forest (Weald). Over next nine years, Saxon coastal holdings are gradually expanded in Sussex.
c.480 AD:
Supposed birthdate of Mark, King of Cornwall (Cerniw), & Prince of Poher. "Vita Germani," the Life of St. Germanus, written by a continental biographer, Constantius.
c.485-96 AD:
Period of Arthur's "twelve battles" during which he gains reputation for invincibility.
486 AD:
Aelle and his sons overreach their normal territory and are engaged by Britons at battle of Mercredesburne. Battle is bloody, but indecisive, and ends with both sides pledging friendship.
c.490 AD:
Hengest dies. His son, Aesc, takes over and rules for 34 years.
c.495 AD:
Cerdic and Cynric, his son, land somewhere on the south coast, probably near the Hampshire-Dorset border.
c.496 AD:
Britons, under overall command of Ambrosius and battlefield command of the "war leader" Arthur, defeat Saxons at the Siege of Mount Badon.
c.496-550 AD:
Following the victory at Mt. Badon, the Saxon advance is halted with the invaders returning to their own enclaves. A generation of peace ensues. Corrupt leadership, more civil turmoil, public forgetfulness and individual apathy further erode Romano-British culture over next fifty years, making Britain ripe for final Saxon "picking."
c.500 AD:
Ambrosius Aurelianus defeats Saxons at Badon Hill Period of King Arthur and King Mark, of Irish raids and the coming of the Saints.
c.501 AD:
The Battle of Llongborth (probably Portsmouth), where a great British chieftain, Geraint, King of Dumnonia, was killed. Arthur is mentioned in a Welsh poem commemorating the battle.
508 AD:
Cerdic begins to move inland and defeats British king Natanleod near present-day Southampton.
c.515 AD:
Death of Aelle. Kingdom of Sussex passed to his son, Cissa and his descendents, but over time, diminished into insignificance.
519 AD:
Kingdom of the West Saxons (Wessex) founded with Cerdic its first ruler.
c.530-40 AD:
Mass migration of Celtic monks to Brittany (the "third migration").
534 AD:
Death of Cerdic. Cynric takes kingship of Wessex.
c.540 AD:
Probable writing of Gildas' "De Excidio Britanniae."
c.542 AD:
Battle of Camlann, according to Annales Cambriae. Death (or unspecified other demise) of Arthur (according to Geoffrey of Monmouth).
c.547 AD:
"Yellow" Plague hits British territories, causing many deaths. Ireland also affected. Saxons, for whatever reason, are unaffected by it.
c.570 AD:
Probable death of Gildas.
577 AD:
Battle of Deorham Down near Bristol results in the separation of the West Welsh (the Cornish) from the Welsh by the advance of the Saxons.
597 AD:
St. Augustine lands in Kent.
c.600 AD:
Celtic Cross St. Petroc arrives back in Cornwall having spent 20yrs in Ireland. He arrived at the mouth of the river Camel, near Trebetherick. Trebetherick is but a stone's throw from Padstow and it was to this ancient seaport that St. Petroc and his monks came. There, St. Petroc and his followers established themselves in the Celtic Monastery of Lanwethinoc, which was founded by the Bishop Wethinoc. The monastery became known as Petrocstow, Petroc's Church. By now, the Saxons, have destroyed the remains of Roman civilisation in eastern England, and in the west it is almost forgotten. The Saxons are established as the most important tribe of invaders and they are converting to Roman Christianity. Welsh bard, Aneirin, writes poem, Y Gododdin, alluding to Arthur's prowess as a warrior.
c.600-700 AD:
Original Welsh triads probably composed; only later, medieval collections survive.
664 AD:
The Synod of Whitby determines that England is again an ecclesiastical province of Rome, with its formal structure of dioceses and parishes. The Celtic Church of Dumnonia is not party to the decision and the Cornish Church remains monastic in nature.
682 AD:
The Cornish under their chieftain, Centwine,' drove the Britons as far as the sea ' probably this was to the north-eastern part of Cornwall. This established the frontier around the Ottery-Tamar line.
c.700 AD:
English reach Bristol Channel: Celts of Cornwall cut off from Celts of Wales Cornwall had began to be recorded as Cornubia by the Romans, and its people as Cornovii or Cornavii.
705 AD:
Saxon westward advance is renewed and by 710 Exeter is occupied.
c.710-711 AD:
Ina, King of the West Saxons, attempts to destroy the kingdom of Dumnonia. Until 766 several battles took place, with the Saxons mainly victorious, except in 722 when Roderic, King of the Britons in Wales and Cornwall, repels Adelred, King of Wessex. Cornwall remained independent for a time largely due to the fact that King Roderic of the Britons (Wales & Cornwall) won a great victory over his Saxon counterpart Adelred in 722 AD. Saxons take Exeter under Ine of Wessex, defeating Geraint of Dumnonia, and advance across the River Tamar to the River Lynher. Subsequently the lands between the two rivers were granted to Glastonbury by royal charter. Meanwhile the Saxons of Wessex were rapidly approaching from the east and crushing the kingdom of Dumnonia. In 721 the Britons defeated the West Saxons at "Hehil" (Annales Cambriae) but were soon to lose more territory in the years that followed it.
722 AD:
The Cornish with their Danish allies defeat the 'english' at 'Hehil ' possibly at the key area surrounding the Camel estuary.

[Cornwall was, in fact, the last part of Britain to accede to the Saxons in 838 AD. Cornwall (Kernow) 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. In 1066 William the Conqueror made Cornwall an earldom and in 1337 Edward, the 'Black Prince' was named as Duke of Cornwall by his father King Edward III. A title held by the monarch's eldest son to this day. From the Dark Ages to the industrial revolution Cornwall retained most of its Celtic identity.]

787-814 AD:
The Cornish-Danish Alliance The Christianized Vikings (Danes) land on the Cornish coast in about 807AD and form an Alliance with the Cornish to fight against the 'heathen' West Saxons. Saxon King Ecgbert of Wessex first conquers Cornwall in 814 AD. He does not succeed in totally subjugating the population. The Alliance 'holds its own' in battles for the next 25 years or so.
787 AD:
Viking Danes visit the coasts of Wessex, and form an alliance with the Cornish against the Saxons in 807.
814 AD:
The Saxon Ecgberht of Wessex conquers Cornwall but is unsuccessful in subjugating the Cornish people despite having "laid waste the land from east to west".
825 AD:
Cornish send army into Wessex (under attack from Mercians) but to no effect The Cornish rise against Ecgberht only to be defeated at Gafulford (Galford on the River Lew, West Devon).
c.830 AD:
Nennius compiles Historia Brittonum.
838 AD:
The Cornish join forces with the Vikings and advance against King Ecgberht of Wessex. (Reported in later years in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles) They are initially successful in a number of skirmishes, but are eventually defeated in a pitched battle at Hingston Down, near Callington, the last against the Saxons.
875 AD:
The Annales Cambriae records that king Dungarth of Cerniu (i.e Cornubiae or Cornwall) drowns. A remarkable quote is attributed to the last independent king of Cornwall; "Sorrow comes from a world upturned".
878 AD:
Dumgarth, (identified as Doniert in Saxon records), king of the Cornish, is drowned. Doniert's Stone stands in St. Cleer parish.
c.890 AD:
Compilation of Anglo Saxon Chronicle is begun, perhaps at the direction of Alfred the Great.
927 AD:
Athelstan, eldest son of Edward the Elder and grandson of Alfred, attacks the south western Celts, forcing their withdrawal from Exeter. There is no record of him taking his campaigns into Cornwall. It seems probable that Hywel, King of the Cornish, agreed to pay tribute to Athelstan, as did Alfred the Great, and thus avoided more attacks and maintained a high degree of autonomy. All Celts told to leave the city or be removed by force... an early form of 'ethnic cleansing'?
931 AD:
King Athelstan sets up a bishopric at St. Germans. It lasts until 1042 when the see is united with Credition and is later removed to Exeter, after which Cornwall remains an archdeaconry until 1876. The church of St. Germanus is finally consecrated in 1261 after its reorganisation by Bishop Bartholomew as an Augustinian priory (1161-84). Eight centuries on, St. Germans displays more of Norman planning than any other Cornish church, although two thirds of them have some Norman traces.
936 AD:
Athelstan's settlement fixes the River Tamar as the border between Cornwall and England. The east bank is Anglo-Saxon England, the west bank is Celtic Cornwall. The 'english' practice genocide against the Cornish at Exeter (William of Malmesbury - 'cleansed of its defilement by wiping out that filthy race').
944 AD:
Edmund,successor to Athlestan, styles himself 'King of the English and ruler of this province of the Britons', referring to Cornwall, thus making it clear that Cornwall was not and never has been formally incorporated into the english state.
c.970 AD:
Annales Cambriae compiled.
c.1050 AD:
Diocese of Cornwall combine with Devon with see at Exeter for internal English political reasons.
1066 AD:
Norman Conquest of England. However the authority of William The Bastard - "Guillaume le Bâtard" - does not initially reach to the south-west. (William the Conqueror - "Guillaume le Conquérant" - was actually known as "the bastard", by his contemporaries during his life, because he was the illegitimate son of Duke Robert I of Normandy, and Herleve, also known as Arlette, daughter of a humble tanner in Falaise.)
1068 AD:
A revolt based at Exeter forces William the Conqueror to march into Cornwall and he grants most of Cornwall to Count Brian of Brittany who was with him in this campaign and at Hastings.
1075 AD:
Following a revolt by some of his barons, William makes Count Brian's lands forfeit and bestows them on Robert, Count of Mortain (Robert is supposed to have donated 120 ships to the invasion of england, he also fought at Hastings and is depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry seated on the left of William with his sword half-drawn). He made his headquarters at Launceston, where he built the castle to enforce his rule.
1086 AD:
The Domesday Book records that the cream of the Cornish estates, 227 (of 350) in number valued at £424 were in the hands of Robert. Of the remainder 67 were held by Anglo-Saxons and the rest by Bretons and Fleming's. For the first time Cornwall was devided into 7 (subsequently 9) administrative arrears known as 'hundreds'. The original hundreds were Penwith, Kerrier, Pydar, Powder, East and West Wivel and Trigg. Trigg was tri-devided to produce an additional two hundreds of Lesnewth and Stratton. Bodmin was recorded as the largest town in Cornwall with 68 houses!!!

[Following the Norman conquest, the first real integration of Cornwall into Britain took place. Then for the next few hundred years Cornwall was rule by a succession of relatives of the Norman and Plantagenet kings. The first Duke of Cornwall was Edward, the Black Prince, son of Edward III. Then there was a succession of rebellions through the middle ages. 1497, Perkin Warbeck landed near Sennan, claiming to be one of the Princes murdered in the tower, he was defeated in battle at Exeter. The Prayer Book Rebellion of 1549 against the imposition of the English Prayer book, saw many Cornishmen executed. There was the Spanish invasion at Mounts Bay in 1595. The Civil War between 1642-1649 led to a number of battles and sieges in Cornwall. And in 1685 there was the Monmouth Rebellion with its bloody aftermath.


(From the Norman Conquest onwards at the Cornwall County Council Site)



Crofty: The last Cornish tin mine
Crofty: The last Cornish tin mine
The famed Cornish tin industry finally hobbled into extinction in 1995 with the closure of the Crofty mine. This, along with the politically enforced reduction in fishing prompted someone to spray paint "Cornish lads are fishermen and Cornish lads are miners too. But when the fish and tin are gone, what are the Cornish boys to do?" on one of the Crofty walls. You might like to know that one of Cornwall's better song writers, one Roger Bryant, wrote a rather excellent song called "Cornish Lads" concerning the loss of these two industries.



Launceston Castle
Launceston Castle
Tow An Roath
Tow An Roath


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