For more information about the history and landscape of Cornwall please read the articles below.


A brief history of Cornwall

Cornwall is the most south westerly point of the UK mainland, it is commonly referred to as the County of Cornwall, however there are half a million Cornish residents who may say differently!

There is still a long running debate about the constitutional status of Cornwall, the British government claim that it is a county of England to make it easier to manage the country's administration, however Cornwall is actually a Duchy. A territorial Duchy would usually entitle more autonomy from the British government, creating more of an independent kingdom, where issues concerning the laws of Cornwall should not be decided by the government of England.

The Duchy itself was introduced around 1337 by Edward III for his son and heir Edward prince of Wales (The Black Prince), the main function of this role was to create an income for the prince from the taxes of the tenants of the land, which was not governable by the newly formed (albeit restricted) model Parliament of 1265. After years of campaign fighting between the English and the Scottish (1497), King Henry VII needed to increase the size of his war budget through increase taxation, this increase in taxation, was questioned by the Cornish who felt it to be in contradiction to the consensus that a tax must be just and to the benefit of that community. The resulting fall out was a Cornish rebellion against the king.

In 1508 King Henry VII issued a pardon and granted Cornwall the right to its own Parliament and the right to choose whether to implement which, if any, laws, statutes or acts implemented by British Government to the rest of the UK. This right also extended to the right to form its own statutes, laws and acts. Despite there being no independent Cornish Parliament, the rights afforded to them by King Henry VII have never been rescinded, nor have the many other conditions imposed on the British Government. There is no reason for this situation to change and whilst the British parliament does pass laws regarding issues in Cornwall they do so only with the blessing of the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales, who is the Duke of Cornwall, responsible for both the Duchy and the consequent responsibilities in both maintaining and improving the estate as well as protecting the Duchy's historical heritage.


The Geography of Cornwall

Cornwall is arguably one the most beautiful parts of the British Isles. Cornwall covers around 1400 square miles surrounded almost completely by water with some 300 miles of stunning coastline. The north of Cornwall is perfect for surfboarding due to the swells created by the Atlantic Ocean's first contact with land, which then forms the Celtic sea.

The south of Cornwall usually boasts much calmer seas warmed by the smaller surface area of the English Channel which, set against the many sandy beaches is ideal for families with small children or sunbathers who like to take the occasional dip to cool off in the crystal clear waters. There are many beautiful and idyllic places close to Cardwen in which to explore or simply view from afar.

From the begining

Over 400 million years ago the UK lay some 10 degrees below the equator joined with Europe and North America as a single land mass. It took a further 100 millions years to produce Cornwall and its unique geology. Cornwall's geology consists of the remains of volcanic activities from over 300 million years, during this period mud rock was formed from fine grained mud and clay, together with limestone and sandstone and was deposited on the sea bed, subsequent movements of the earths crust caused larges volumes of granite to compress and heat up the bed rock resulting in the formation of Cornwall and it's unique and stunning landscape.

The collision of continental plates cause liquid to escape from the earth's core, this liquid escaped through fractures within the granite, and deposited a large number of ores and minerals, including tin and copper. The resulting landscape is that is of ore and mineral rich granite outcrops, mixed in with clay, limestone and mud rock, giving the landscape a beautiful and unique contrast of rocks, moor land, peat bogs, lush grasslands and sandy beaches and created a thriving habitat for rare plants and wildlife.

Cornwall has had a long tradition of mining and quarrying for copper, tin, lead and even arsenic originally panned from river sediment, the process of mining for minerals started around the 16th century. The Cornish rocks also contain natural radioactive isotopes, as these isotopes decay they release heat. This heat supply has proved to be an effective source of geothermal energy. Kaolin is also mined from these granite rocks and is produce from the chemical weathering of feldspar, feldspa is produced in the cracks found in the granite. Kaolin is a principal component of china clay, of which Cornwall is one of the world largest producers.


Cornish mining

The geography of the Cornish landscape provided Cornwall with the unique opportunity of mining for minerals and ore. The Cornish geological structure is made up of a plentiful supply of tin, copper, lead, iron, zinc and even a small amount of silver.

Often when people visualise mines they think of long tunnels dug horizontally into rock but ore mining is very different, unlike many mined substances, ore is formed from the expulsion of liquids from the earth's core and concentrates its deposits along its vertical assent towards the earth's surface through the fissures. This pattern of depositing means that the mines where dug vertically down into the ground and unlike horizontal mining techniques, such as coal mining, each fissure needed a new mine.

As with many types of mining the level of the water table plays a significant part in the safety and accessibility of deposits, unsurprisingly these vertical tunnels, often fell far below the water table and needed to be pumped out continually using large engines housed in distinctive buildings, these building often found perching at the top of cliffs are usually all that that remains of this once flourishing industry. The engines houses are typically the only buildings ever needed around the mine, the mines themselves whilst plentiful where not overly deep or wide and surprisingly almost always accessed by simple ladders.

Whilst much of the early ore extraction was undertaken as panning in stream beds it wasn't until the 16th century that mining was undertaken, it took a further 300 years for Cornwall to become a leading global supplier, unfortunately over time the price of these exports reduced to the point that the industry was no longer viable and there are no longer any mines operating in Cornwall.