INDEX OF SUB-HEADINGS ON THIS PAGE:
Myself And Daniel Gumb
The Cheesewring And Daniel Gumb
Daniel Gumb And The Early Inhabitants
Daniel Gumb And The Celts
Daniel Gumb And The Holy Roman Empire
Daniel Gumb And The Celtic Saints
Daniel And The Anglo-Saxons
The Rebels And Daniel Gumb
Welcome to my book and welcome to the most beautiful and mysterious part of Cornwall, in my mind at least. I will bring to your notice some facts and observations that will bring the Celtic spirit alive and help us stride across the landscape, as the new wind farms, majestic on the moors appear to do today. It will guide you comfortably through the old and new, showing how many different things and people can exist hand in hand amid the Bodmin landscape, regardless of origin or age. In this place you can be at peace with the world, if only momentarily. Daniel, my ancestor has given me an insight to the Cornish inheritance, my family ancestry and my life as a whole.
I first became aware of this fascinating area as a small child, there was a times talk of this far flung moorland area as remote to me in a Devon farming village as the surface of the moon. Perhaps I should say Mars or any far away planet as at least I had seen the lunar landings on the television at this time.
I knew I had a famous ancestor, one Daniel Gumb. An ancient cave man from Cheesewring on Bodmin moor. This individual's name and the location was always a source of amusement to a young schoolgirl. I remember Sunday mornings, after Sunday School, being dragged mercilessly around graveyards and suchlike, armed with a coin or other sharp implement, in order to scrape away the lichen from old gravestones for my father, in order that he could follow up his enquiries about our family tree.
Much time was spent following up my fathers paternal family tree but I was far more interest in the family of my paternal grandmother, Eva, and the Beers of Moretonhampstead. The Beers descended from the Gumbs of Linkenhorne in East Cornwall, the family of Daniel. Eva was still alive in the days of this youthful exploration and she can remember her mother Eliza visiting Linkenhorne to see her relatives. In retrospect my interest could have been for one of many reasons: the constant reminder that I physically and temperamentally resembled this side of my family, my genuine interest in history and all things academic, plus the mystery of this place they call Cheesewring and my caveman ancestor.
My adolescent years passed and very little thought was given to Daniel and his unusual life, also I had never visited the place, family outings not appealing to a young girl like me. My twenties came and went with the untimely death of my father and my subsequent inheritance of a pile of confusing and meaningless papers. Fortunately I elected to retain these with the idea that one day I would be the literary genius to which I aspired. Recently I have read them, studied them, enlisted the help of friends and relations to search for more information to increase my collected knowledge. It was time to visit.
A friend took me. It was a beautiful day in the summer of 1993. We made the ascent to the village of Minions, gave the Cheesewring Hotel a miss and endeavoured to climb to the group of granite rocks called Cheesewring. We took a path through the moors, past the old mines and engine houses of the eighteenth century and cutting through the old granite railway track. I was seeing for the first time the past of the old mining village of Minions, created for the miners of the last century and their hard bitten families. Higher we went and Cheesewring came into sight. It had a dark feeling of mystery to it even on a hot summers day. The layers of the past were rapidly being peeled away never to block my judgment again. I had never felt so akin to anything or anywhere in my life. I didn't find the cave purported to be Daniel's home. I had dawned on me sometime earlier that Daniel was not some sort of prehistoric troglodyte but an eighteenth century poll tax evader, as it has been so eloquently put in the past, that lived in a house he constructed of stone near Stowes quarry beneath Cheesewring. The original house was destroyed by extensive quarrying in the reign of Queen Victoria but a bit of the original fabric has been placed on a site nearby and reconstructed to resemble the original from the outside.
Apparently the expansion of the workings of Stowes silver granite quarry and consequent destruction of Daniel's home caused such outcry from the members of the public and several influential persons that the stones were rescued by royal decree. In fact two carved stones form the original cave were used in the reconstruction. The smaller of the two reads DG 1735, probably commemorating the date of his second marriage and the second, a complicated diagram of Pythagoras theorem, this stone said to be the roof stone of the original homestead. As we will see in later chapters both stones tell us of the things that Daniel considered important, family and learning.
The story could not be left there. I was so overwhelmed by the wildness and the sheer height of the whole area, I felt compelled to make a study I my own words and thoughts, plus hopefully a few pictures and drawings. I really have tried to get into the mind of Daniel and his beliefs. To do this I have coined all the events prior to his own life time, some of which he would have been aware, some almost certainly not. What did he make of the Hurlers, the stone rings nearby, did he believe in the old Cornish stories, promulgated by the puritan elements that rocked the county a a whole or was he more enlightened. It is these questions to which I am searching an answer.
I have studied the area, its formation and the make up, in order to trace the course of events after his time, events that have more recently shaped the landscape as it is today. I see Daniel as a middle character connecting us with the dim and distant past continuing right up to modern times with the coming of new technology such as Caradon mast high up on Caradon hill.
As I sit in my study now, using the most advanced form of computer technology with my two black cats vying for the keyboard or my attention I cast my mind back to standing on Cheesewring. I see the same hills as Daniel and the warlike Celts that are our undisputed ancestors These brave men of King Arthur's time kept all comers the other side of the river Tamar for a period of time at least and protected their homeland and ways of life with their lives. Cornish men that lived off the soil and the sea and still do. It is also the same hills that the royalist soldiers would have seen as they were mustered up here to bravely fight for their king and country in the Cornish engagements of the British civil war in the seventeenth century. These and many other things I intend to piece together in my own jigsaw of time.
I am not alone in my fascination, while searching for Daniel's makeshift home, I by chance stopped and asked other walkers for directions. They actually knew the location and confessed to being visitors from Canada. They also treat Cheesewring as a shrine and visit whenever they cross the Atlantic. On reading cuttings from the Western Morning News over the years it becomes apparent that Daniel and his progeny have left descendants from not just throughout the west country, but from around the world.
We have many writings about Daniel, and I intend to collate all the information I can lay my hands on. He was known as the mountain philosopher. Much has been written about his idyllic life as a hermit and conversely about his romantic marriages and life amongst the stones of Bodmin moor. Much fantasy has been written, of course I shall include all this as this makes the legend but intend to let the truth as I see it become apparent. The main facts are that Daniel was born in Linkenhorne village on the 27th day of April 1703 and he did live on Cheesewring. The rest will unfold as we read on.
To start the story I will give you some idea of Cheesewring and how it came to exist. Cheesewring is a fascinating and unusual natural stone formation of the side of Stowes Hill. Stowes Hill is situated about five miles from Liskeard, an old stannary town in East Cornwall on the edge of Bodmin moor. Cheesewring consists of a pile of granite boulders, some larger than others, standing on the side of a hill. The hill itself is covered in clitters or stones washed down or exposed by the weather over millions of years. Melting ice and frost cracking the stones open would have caused the breaking up of the granite pile and later the activities of the quarrymen and the tin streamers would further alter the landscape. Cheesewring itself was probably bubbles of molten rock striving to reach the surface of the earth and like all the rock of Bodmin moor turned to granite and was surrounded by slate. The slate wore away more quickly than the granite, leaving the beginnings of the tors we see today. It has been said that Cheesewring was a manmade monument but it is a natural formation with the appearance of a logan stone as the pile has larger stones standing precariously towards the top of the pile, but none are actually pivotal. This mass of rock stands about twenty two feet high, the broadest place near the top is about thirty four feet in diameter as compared with about a seventeen feet diameter of the lower stones.
Granite comes in many different grades and colours but Stowes Common granite is silver granite, much prized by monumental stone masons to work with. It was this granite that Daniel would extract from the hills and in his day would have been put to more practical uses. Gateposts and kerb stones would have all been in great demand and were sent far and wide from this remote hill.
The view from here is breath taking to say the least, it stretches beyond Kit Hill over to the hills and tors of Devon in the East. The Tamar valley stretches out far below, creating a dividing line between Cornwall and country that lies beyond. On a clear day Exmoor can be seen by the keen observer. The whole atmosphere is one of mystery and solitude, no wonder the ancient people chose this spot for their ceremonial rites and burials.
No wonder Daniel chose this spot, so close to his work we know but living here must have been a spiritual aid to his thinking and ideas. Just try to imagine how old this strange landscape is and how little it has changed in many a millennium. This all adds to the strangeness and uniqueness and the feeling it inspires in me. Could this be because I have descended from its most famous inhabitant.
Cheesewring took its name from an old fashioned press that housewives would have used to wring the milk for the cheese and now it stands as a sentinel above Stowes quarry, looking fragile enough to be blown away by the next strong winds. From a distance the stone pile looks small amongst all the other outcrops but once you get closer, even underneath all the overhanging boulders it is quite remarkable. The dark granite stones are strange to behold to say the least.
The moor around Cheesewring has been inhabited by many different peoples since the stone age. This is the time in prehistory when stones were used for weapons and tools. Wood and bone would also be used at this time but man had yet to find the secret of extracting metals from the soil.
In the paleolithic or old stone age man does not appear to have inhabited the sparse and remote areas of Cornwall. Cornwall had to wait until 6000 BC, a space of 9000 years, for inhabitation and this was then mainly in west Cornwall. This was Mesolithic man or the men of the middle stone age. Similar remains have been found in western France and Brittany. Flint seemed to be their main material for making weapons and tools and would have been nomad hunters. With the arrival of Neolithic man in the new stone age dating from about 3000 BC we find the remains of the first farmers. These were a taller fairer race of people who had developed the necessary implements and axes to clear the dense woodland valleys for tilling the land. It would appear that these people mainly lived on hilltops and remains have been found in Cornwall. We have also found remains of pots, so new skills were being learnt or brought from over the sea.
Life carried on much the same until 2000 BC when the Beaker folk were thought to have landed on our shores. These new people where not invaders in the true sense but came peacefully and mixed in with the local population. It is becoming popular belief that it was with this group of people or even before, that the druids arrived with their traditions and hierarchy, the proto Celts as this group of people are known is some circles. These people were powerful short people with prominent brow ridges. They originated probably from Spain or the Pyrenees.
What distinguished these people from their predecessors was the way they buried their dead, underground instead of in barrows, in the prenatal position, known as trussed burials and in relation to their collective name they always buried little beakers or pots in the graves. Remains of the Beaker folk have been found in Cornwall. This seems to confirm their presence along with the finds of copper knives which would seem to lead to the advent of the bronze age.
To sum up the stone age, Cornwall saw a very sparse population of man, mainly a nomadic people, but being replaced by farming people, bringing new knowledge and skills enabling them to survive. The climate on the high Bodmin moors would have been much more hospitable in those times than we experience now. At the same time as the arrival of the beaker folk in 2000 BC the period is now known as the megalithic period, which lasted until approximately 1500bc. People came to Cornwall from Portugal, southern France and Spain during this time and started a period of tomb building and usage of large stones hence mega -large, lith - stone.
At the dawning of the bronze age one can imagine the different tribes living side by side on Bodmin Moor but a new discovery was about to change the development of human history for ever. This was the extraction of metals from the soil. This knowledge could well have be brought from overseas by the new tribes descending on our shores. The bronze age arrived during the Megalithic age and it was during this time that the stone circles now known as the Hurlers were erected around 1500bc.
The Hurlers consist of three rings of stones, they stand on the open moor one and a half miles west of Upton Cross, just west of Minions. The stone circles are set on a line north east, south west and if we work north to south the dimensions are as follows diameter 110ft with 13 standing stones, 135 ft with 17 standing stones and 105 ft with 9 standing stones. The rings can be studied carefully and it can be seen that each ring would have had many more stones at one time, probably between twenty five and thirty five each. The group lies on a route way between the rivers Lyhner and Fowey and are aligned with a number of monuments close by, the cairns on Caradon and stone rows on one axis and long toms cross and Rillaton barrow on the opposite axis. It has been confirmed that the stones had been placed in pits with stones packed around them. They had been hammered smooth and the chippings strewn over the interior. Little was found in the stone circles. The central circle contained an upright stone placed off centre and the northern circle had been paved with granite blocks. Between the central and southern circle lay another patch of paving and a small pit. To the south west, 120 metres away are two more standing stones. known as The Pipers, possibly the remains of another circular monument or an alignment running down to the river Fowey. It is highly likely that the circles were built over a lengthy time span and a single site might retain its significance for centuries. Perhaps the central circle was at the nucleus of a monument collection of different dates.
The stones were erected with care and it was ensured that each stone top was at roughly the same level. No one knows what the stone circles, found in many other places in Cornwall were used for or indeed what they were constructed for . The most probable suggestion would be for religious or ceremonial purposes. Like many other unexplained constructions of ancient times, legend and the puritanical dictum has lent a hand. In the case of the Hurlers, it was said that the stones were men, petrified to stone after hurling on the Sabbath. Hurling is an old Cornish game involving the throwing of a silver ball. This could go on for miles as a type of race and is still played in St Columb on Shrove Tuesday. The pipers where also victims of gods wrath as they too were enjoying themselves on the Sabbath, making music for the games.
This ancient monument is just another of the amazing and questionable artifacts that litter the area of Stowes Common. They add to the mystical appeal of the area. One wonders what Daniel thought of these if anything and what conclusions he reached. Perhaps the people of the eighteenth century did have a more practical view of this ready made granite store as was frequently the case or did Daniel draw other conclusions. Over the years these stones would have been used by moorland inhabitants for other purposes.. They would have been ready made gateposts and stream crossings. Building blocks for the future generations. I wonder if Daniel used some of this material for his lonely house or did he hold these stones in some kind of reverence.
Monuments like the Hurlers along with other more elaborate standing monuments seem to dispel the image of heathen bronze age people inhabiting the moor. If the people had the resources to put manpower into building that seems to have little to do with comfort, health or feeding the populace they must have had a definite system of government, not just a free for all. These people must have had a developed and purposeful political system with someone in charge. This leads me to think that the Druids were already here.
The Druids were an ancient order of priestly officials in pre roman Gaul, Britain and Ireland. They seemed to have combined priestly judicial and political functions. The Druidic cult presents many obscurities and out main sources of information are Pliny and the commentaries of Caesar. We are told that their rites were conducted in oak groves, that human sacrifices, took place, mainly criminals on behalf of those near to death. They regarded the oak and mistletoe with particular veneration. It is now suggested that the name Druid is derived from some oak word. They practiced divination and astrology and taught that the soul at death was transferred to another body. Another popular name for standing stones is Druid circles and Stonehenge is a popular example. There has been a recent revival of interest in druidism and a new romantic and unhistorical cult set up in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. This is termed as neo druidism and for the purposes of my enquiries can largely be ignored. The Ancient Order of Druids, founded in London in 1781 was a secret benefit society akin to freemasonry and plays little part in the ancient orders.
Daniel and thousands of Cornishmen have worshipped nature in the way of the ancient Druids and have made what they can of life from the soil and the sea. I feel that the Druids were here before the main body of the Celts arrived from Gaul to join their kinsfolk and were all re integrated as an advanced society. In Gaul and Britain the Druids were wiped out by the romans, their last stand was at Anglesey in 61 ad but in Ireland they survived until the arrival of the Christian missionaries. The stone basin on Cheesewring has been referred to as Druid sacrificial basins for the collection of blood of the human sacrifices, most unexplainable things in old times are accredited to either King Arthur or the Druids.
Whilst trying to get into the soul of Daniel I have thought of many ways I can associate the Druid thinking with him. His closeness to nature and his philosophical mind. No one summed this up better than Caesar.
They, have many discussions as touching the stars and their movement, the size of the universe and the earth, the order of nature, the strengths and powers of the immortal gods, and handed down their lore to young men.
In order to reinforce my views of the origins of standing stones I will talk for a minute of Stonehenge, the most famous prehistoric monumemt in Britain, although covering a smaller area than Avebury. The name is taken from OE hengen in reference to something hung up. In this case horizontal lintel stone. It is regarded as being of neolithic construction and was later reconstructed by the beaker folk which would make it roughly contemporary to the Hurlers and other Cornish standing stones. It is certain that Stonehenge was a centre of worship and the hele stone, over which the sun rises on midsummer's day stands in isolation outside the circles, and was probably connected with the sun. It has recently been suggested that it was a massive kind of astronomical clock. I can see the similarities immediately to our stones at Minions.
The beaker people that arrived during the megalithic period arrived from 2000 BC onward. This really heralded the end of the stone age. It was they who brought to these islands the knowledge of tool making with copper and modified our ancient ways of farming. Bodmin and Dartmoor were cleared of forestation and divided into fields by stone walls called reaves. Some of these remain today, especially locally at Grimspound on Dartmoor. These people would have been welcomed by a wetter and warmer climate than that of today and they cleared the trees from upland pastures. The grazing helped erode these areas, so as the weather got colder and wetter again by 1200bc, moss blanketed the sodden soil and turned the place into the empty lonely place we know today.
By now the people had discovered that by mixing tin with copper a harder metal, bronze was formed. This more than served the purpose of making implements and weapons. The discovery of copper and tin probably happened when stone age man was baking pots under extreme heat, he would have noticed the metal bleeding from the rocks. The bronze age is generally known to be between 1800 and 900bc and during this time it would seem that all the tribes lived side by side on the bleak moors and were in the grip of a revolutionary discovery.
It was about this time that Stonehenge was rebuilt since its first time by neolithic man. These men and women were still using stone for weapons and tools but must have noticed which rocks were bleeding metal.. This was an exciting time as metal could be worked more easily and efficiently. The moors about were loaded with metal bearing ores, not just tin and copper but silver, lead, iron and tungsten. Some of these seams running through the moorstone were exposed and weathered enough for the stones and grit to stream down the valley. The people would be able to see which rock yielded which metal and they would be placed in furnaces. The molten metal smelted out of the rock was worked on and the alloy of tin and copper formed bronze, thus giving the period it's name. I have covered the history of this in a later chapter.
During this period we see a deterioration of the climate and depopulation of the moors. New ideas and the tools of the next era, the iron age were better equipped to clear the forested valleys where life would be more comfortable and attractive to man.
Early bronze age men were already an organised society with chieftains and trade links with Ireland and the Mediterranean. Many objects have been found in the barrows in which they had buried their important dead. Barrows are spread the length and breadth of Cornwall, the round barrows. Burial cists or stone boxes were built into the ground with the top stone at ground level. A cairn of stone would be built over this and the whole thing would be covered with stones, turf and earth. During the middle bronze age, dead were cremated and the burnt remains collected at the centre of the barrow and covered as above.
Items have been found in the barrows over the years, either by vandalism in the past or by properly conducted digs of later years, pins, daggers, bead , axes and even gold artifacts have been found.
In the later bronze age, people came again from Europe in search of metal, they were thought to have originated from the Pyrenees. Burial barrows and their contents were now less elegant that those of the previous period. Areas have been excavated which suggest manufactories and many examples of the socketed celt, a special tool, have been found. This was a small axe head and was hollow at the rear end to take a shaft. Swords were coming into use also. Gold was again coming into Cornwall and as in earlier times it originated from Ireland. Most remains of the late bronze age are in West Cornwall. Tin was available there and it was on the main shipping route. Trade was either reinstated or lingered on here and all the finds were rich ones as before.
It is strange to think that these people lived in round stone huts, much has disappeared due to the natural rising of the land.We can assume that a tribe with an important chieftain resided in the area as a large barrow stands at Rillaton on Stowes Common, just a quarter of a mile north east of The Hurlers, on a track between Minions and Cheesewring. Could it be significantly close to the stone circles as it has been dated between 1700 and 1400bc and could have been erected at the same time. The barrow is circular as most Cornish barrows are, about 120 feet in diameter and eight feet high. It was mutilated at one time in the centre and west of centre. East of centre a stone cist survives. The barrow was opened in 1818 and a human skeleton was found. A wessex type dagger made of bronze, beads thought to be from Egypt and an urn containing a superb copy in sheet gold of a bell beaker fitted with a flat handle, with corrugated sides. This is known as the Rillaton cup. The technique used in making this cup would indicate that it came from Mycenae in Greece or at least copied by a craftsman who saw the cups interred in graves there. Specimens like this have been found in Germany and Switzerland. The cist was rebuilt in 1890, but probably was originally located in the centre as opposed to it's easterly position now.
It is said that the barrow was opened in 1837 by a group of miners looking for stone but this is highly unlikely in an area so rich in clitters of granite. It was they who found the skeleton and the cup. The cup was given to the royal family, and after being in their custody for may years, supposedly serving as a shaving mug for William the fourth, Silly Billy as he was known. On his death it was searched for and it found its way to the British Museum. There is an electroplate copy of the Rillaton cup in the County Museum at Truro. The grave itself can be seen, exposed in the side of the barrow.
The men that buried their leader here would have worked the seams of the ore giving stone and tinned the streams just as men did in Daniel's time and to a greater degree, long after. The whole area is an industrial and archeological graveyard with the call of the neolithic and bronze age miners mingling with the forty niners of the last century. the area is scarred with the wounds of man extracting metals from the earth's crust. The richness of granite, God's gift to the Cornish landscape and it's inhabitants is apparent for all to see. The important man from Rillaton was probably a metal working man with trade links that made him rich.
From this find alone we can see that these early bronze age people were organised with a chieftain worthy of a burial such as this one. They were craftsman of metal and traded far afield, bringing in other metals including gold from Ireland. They would have been a very forward society and again we wonder if the Druids were present as their political leaders and spiritual guides.
The iron age came upon us with three waves of invasion. It was the second wave of probably unwelcome visitors that were responsible for the many hill and cliff forts, scattered about the country. Stowes Hill fort is a good example near Cheesewring.
The first invasion of Celts or iron age people took place around 550 BC. The weather was getting cooler and bogs started to form on Bodmin moor. These people brought the Goidelic or Gaelic dialect that still survives in Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man. Some of these people settled in Cornwall but they made little impact.
The second influx of Celtic invaders brought the Brythonic or British dialect which still remains in Wales, Brittany and until the late eighteenth century, Cornwall. There seems no record of Daniel speaking his native language, but this could be as he was largely self educated with access to English and Latin text books.
There is a renewed interest in the revival of the Cornish language, by the Cornish bards and an O level exam in the subject. Only five people sat the exam in 1995 I am told but one hopes the revival will continue apace.
The second group of marauding Celts did not seem to be welcome, so in order to defend themselves they built the forts in prominent positions to protect them from enemies from both across sea and land. The remains of an iron age fort wall surrounding the top of Stowes Hill can still be made out, but has never been fully investigated. The whole of Stowes Common is scattered with prehistoric remains and when standing on this marvellous vantage point one can imagine why they chose here. Once the armies were inside the fort, any invaders from the valleys below, across the moors or from the sea would be seen and scared off. If they persisted to invade they could be easily defeated in a rather one sided battle against the present incumbents. These new men, reputed to be very aggressive and warlike, are the ancestors Cornish men seem most able to relate.
I often feel the presence of these tribes , the Celtic man seems to be in the air on these hills and it is comforting to know how little has changed since those long gone days. You can still see a true Cornish feature, here and there if you look carefully, short, dark and usually stocky in build, working in the mines, on the sea and the land in Cornwall today.
These ancient folk lived in round huts as the bronze age people before them, but they made for the lower hills as the weather changed and they acquired better tools to clear the undergrowth. These people had a hierarchy and the tribes were organised under local chieftains known as kings on the higher side of the scale. They where skilful and industrious potters, weavers, spinners and leather workers to name but a few. These traits were to be begrudgingly admired by the next wave of invaders, the holy Roman Empire and local craftsmen were quick to use their skills to emulate their grand superiors. Their dead were buried in cemeteries and consequently few have been discovered, unless disturbed by accident. The main occupation was the extraction of iron from its ore and its working, we have little work of this nature to be seen as iron, unlike bronze examples corroded so quickly in the rich acid soil of Cornwall. Iron was much easier to work than bronze, but bronze was much more fashionable in the Mediterranean, so men still supplied the tin for the essential trading. Due to Cornwall's geographical position, more trading with southern shores took place here, making this area more cosmopolitan and richer as a result. The local people would have had more contact then most of the British people with foreigners and would have heard amazing stories of the great land mass now known as Europe across the sea.
Towards the end of the iron age many tribes of Dumnonii occupied the South West of England before the romans came. Dumnonii was the name given to these tribes. Exeter in Devon, later to be the administrative centre of the peninsula, was named Isca Dumnoniorum, after its native people. The Devonian pronunciation of its county bears an uncanny resemblance to the original name . Listen to a true Devonian say Devon, debm, before he remembers to speak properly and correctly, withholding his natural accent. It sounds decidedly familiar.
This was the beginning of a new age, the romans were coming, Julius Caesar had sent a few exploratory legions to the island. Change was in the air. Stories would reach the ears of the local people, trading with the people of Gaul and the iberian peninsula. The people of the higher moors were still worshipping the elements, and the Celtic people going down to the valleys worshipped nature itself, the trees, plants and rivers abound. Springs were held up as shrines, bringing live and sustenance to all things. These men and women built their forts on the moor but it is highly unlikely anyone except lonely monks and traversing saints lived there afterwards. We have to wait for Daniel to be the next true inhabitants of the upland moors. This is the fitting backdrop to these fine folk that gave birth to a race apart.
At this point I will include the observations of Pytheas the Greek in 300 BC, describing Cornwall. "A stormy strait separates the shores of Britain, which the Dumnonii hold from the Silurian island (Silures, a tribe dwelling east of South Wales). These people still retain their ancient customs, they refuse to accept coin and insist on barter, preferring to exchange necessities rather than fix prices". Obviously trading was going on but no coinage used as yet.
This second group of invaders are the ancestors of the bellicose men of history, the men who were to involve themselves in many of the national events that litter our history as a nation. The played their part in the prayer book rebellion, when the sacred Latin prayer book was taken away and replaced by an Anglicised version that Cornish men could not understand in the sixteenth century. Latin was part if their religious teaching and available to most. There was Trelawney's army, during the reign of James 11, that misguided king whose lack of understanding of his own subjects, that was to be his downfall. The king dared imprison Bishop Trelawney in the tower of London along with other bishops for mainly political reasons covered later in the book. The men of Cornwall marched on London on behalf of their country man from Pelynt near Looe, even though at this time Trelawney himself had taken the bishopric of Bristol to obtain greater riches and further his own career.
Finally on this subject, we must not forget the other Trelawney's army, that army that empties Cornwall from time to time on a sortie to Twickenham to support the County rugby team, banging the drum and singing Reverand Hawker's 'Song of the Western Man', written in the eighteenth century. On these occasions, all the motor coaches from the county can be seen on the M5 displaying signs such as" └will the last man out of Cornwall switch off the lights!
Somewhere in between all these events came Daniel and his family, Daniel was born in the reign of the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne and lived through troubled times, when the young pretender Bonny Prince Charlie was making noises over the water and was finally defeated at the other end of this island at Culloden.
Rumblings were heard from across the channel, The roman empire was expanding. By 47 AD the second Augustian Legion under the command of the future Emperor Vespasian had defeated the Durotriges, tribes on the south coast of Dorset. They were heading apace towards Exeter. They has stormed upwards of twenty hill forts on the coast and nothing was going to stop them, they bribed local chieftains with promises of roman citizenship and a with glimpses of what life under their civilisation could be like. Those they could not bribe they destroyed. The romans needed to defeat and take over the lands of the Dumnonii, in order that they may be safe to move north east into the lands known as Somerset and Avon today. This was deemed necessary in order to watch over the rebellious Silures and to prevent an attack on the North Coast through the back door of the expanding empire. The Silures would finally be subdued twenty years later by Julius Frontinus, the governor in 74 to 75 AD. Forts were built on either side of Lynmouth which commanded extensive views over the channel. These isolated garrisons would have to gain the friendship of the native people in their local hill forts dotted around the countryside.
Vespasian occupied Exeter, known as Isca Dumnoniorum and made it the administrative centre of the whole of the peninsula, the Canton of the Dumnonii. The second augustian legion moved into Isca and built baths of the finest quality, thus signifying its importance. They built the Fosse way between 47 and 48 AD linking the canton with the rest of the occupied territories, through Leicester and Lincoln, to reach the Humber. Local craftsman and builders were full of wonder at these ridgeway roads, set straight as far as the eye could see and metalled for the legions to march with greater ease. Many local men learnt new trades, building the bath houses and these magnificent roads. Whilst the rest of the island was either overawed with wonder or impoverished by the imperial taxes on pain of destruction, Cornwall had to largely rely on stories from over the Tamar.
Finally the romans advanced into mid Cornwall and established a fort at Nanstallon on the river Camel, just east of Daniel's Bodmin moor. On excavation of Nanstallon it would seem that it was not legionary. It would have been an auxiliary unit containing about 500 men. The commander had his own large house with dining rooms for entertaining and pacifying local chieftains in order to keep the balance of power and ensure friendly relations.
It is supposed that the legions avoided the high ground and took routes to the north and south of the area. This was during the reign of the unstable Nero. Perhaps the romans felt that the Cornish had to be subdued for some reason, perhaps they became aware of the rebellion of the Iceni and Boudicca in AD60. The other theory is that the romans had got wind of the mineral riches on the peninsula and wanted to find out for themselves. It would appear that the local populace could only point them in the direction of a few tin streams in mid and West Cornwall and this seemed to be of no interest compared with the wealth of tin from the Iberian peninsula at present supplying the needs of the empire sufficiently. They seemed to have missed the riches in the area of Cheesewring.
Other possible sites of forts are at Broadbury in Cornwall and at North Tawton in Devon, both on a ridge road crossing the Tamar above Launceston. These sites indicate that the route from Exeter ran north of Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor, running very close to the home of our ancestors probably living the the wooded valleys near Stoke Climsland and Kelly Bray as we know them now. I wonder at their reactions to the news that must have reached them from travellers and fishermen returning from the northern coast. They either marvelled at this news from afar getting closer and closer or were frightened for their lives.
No constructed roads have been definitely identified in Cornwall, but five mile stones of the third and forth century show that it was part of the system. Two are situated on the north coast near Tintagel, two on the south coast near St Hilary and on at the Gwennap pit near Redruth. This would indicate two short roadways on either coast and a route down the spine of the peninsula. Most of the traffic at this time would have been seaborne as in prehistoric times.
The only roman style building remote from Isca is a house at Magor, near Cambourne, possibly on the spinal route. It was erected in the second century and possessed most of the novelties of roman architecture at the time. Its crude form, however, betrays it by the fact that none of the angles are true and its lack of symmetry. The local work force still had a lot to learn from Pythagoras, the very same that Daniel mastered with great ease centuries later. The dwelling was owned by a native, having travelled further east, either to serve on the councils in Isca or in the army. He would have wanted to build his house on the style of those he had seen in the civilised roman towns such as those in the east of the roman canton and on the lands of Dorotriges now occupied.
The Emperor was vested in the right to mine precious metals in Roman times. Mines were run as state concerns or by private adventurers. Profits went to central government and only benefited the local community indirectly. As we mentioned earlier the first inspection of the mineral wealth held little interest in the decade following AD 60. The Callington deposits of silver did not seem to have been worked. Trouble was brewing as the Spanish mines were exhausted and the roman prospectors turned to look west in the third century. Much coinage was by now being produced and the empire needed tin in increasing amounts. We can assume that many of the tin streams on the central spine of the peninsula were worked as many roman finds have been found here over the centuries. This would indicate that mining brought money to Cornwall. Tin was used in the third and forth century chiefly for table ware, principally pewter items were desired as they were a good substitute for the silver used by the wealthy. This trade was seaborne, judging by the coastal location of many finds.
The military occupation of the canton of the Dumnonii lasted until the end of the reign of Vespasian in AD 79. The second augustian legion was moved from Exeter to Gloucester. Isca's baths were reduced in size, surely indicating a less powerful garrison. By AD 80 the military situation had changed, the troops were needed to garrison Wales and other northern campaigns. The territories of the Dumnonii were evacuated and Isca grew into a self governing roman town. The governor, Agricola declared a policy of encouraging native urbanization and Romanization. Exeter, Isca Dumnoniorum, with it's tribal suffix had now attained its position as administrative centre of the canton. The council comprised of decurions and their elected magistrates, drawn firstly from the tribal chieftains, possibly one was our man from Nanstallon. They would discuss matters that concerned the whole peninsula. They assessed and collected the taxes throughout the area, both national and local dues. The national taxes were levied by the imperial procurator on behalf of the central government. There are inscriptions on Hadrian's wall, attesting the aid, either in money or men from the canton, contributing to rebuild the northern frontier.
The cantonal organisation probably survived, just, until the fifth century but there is evidence of decay. When Emperor Honorius wrote to the civitates of Britain in AD 410, to inform them that they must fend for themselves, the local institution was already breaking down.
Nothing much changed in Cornwall, virtually unscathed by the invasion. Now though, they didn't have to pay taxes or serve at the fortifications. They were backward compared to the rest of the land, unlike before, and resistant to change. Perhaps they missed out, with the relatively small gains they made with the revival of the tin trade, when compared to the richness of the Durotriges in Dorset in the east and all their riches. On the other hand was it this resistance that saved the Cornish race as we know it now.
For the main part, life went on as normal. They lived in small groups in round stone huts. The only signs of contact with the new order, would have been the improved pots and dishes and the occasional trinket. The tribes had, however, had a taste of how things could be and tried to build roads in the roman style in places like Probus and Carosse. Without the skills needed they did not do very well.
Hot on the heels of the Irish gold came Irish saints, along with visiting holy men from other Celtic extremities. We know relatively little about Celtic beliefs, we know however that the woodlands and scenery of Cornwall were a subject of mystery and worship 2000 years ago. The Druids had no trouble putting fear into the hearts of the people in order to rule them by the awe of nature, breeding superstition into their beliefs. Caesar was shocked by this paganism and tried to eliminate it.
Something happened along the way, the birth of Jesus Christ. It was this event that was to shape the age of the saints, between 450 and 600 AD. St Augustine of Canterbury arrived in 597 AD to evangelise Anglo Saxon England but the Christian message was already spreading through the unconquered lands of western Britain.
The romans had already known Christianity, through expeditions to the holy land and from the fanatical slaves they brought back with them. Christianity became common in the fourth century, amongst the more civilized people in the late empire. By the sixth century it had spread to the Celtic population, but this was due mainly from missionary monks coming from other Celtic lands. Wales was the chief supplier of these holy men but they came from Ireland and Brittany also. We can see today, unlike true English tradition, the large majority of parishes are dedicated to a western saint, the person who converted the district, rather than an apostle from the bible.
The purpose of the saints was to wipe out paganism and let people see the true way. Most of the Welsh dedications are in East Cornwall and North Devon. A fine example is St Petroc, who landed at Padstow, founding his first monastery there and leaving his legacy on the town's name as we know it today. He then progressed to Bodmin to settle and further his career, he was given lands by the local rulers there. The Irish missionaries tended to concentrate on West Cornwall, a good example is St Hya, who landed at St Ives and also gave her name to the town.
Within the Celtic church there was a strong desire to withdraw from the world, into the wilderness. The best example of this is the site chosen at Tintagel for a monastery. The monks lived in cells on the exposed coast line 250 feet above the Atlantic. In the main the church was in touch with the local populace, as in Bodmin where we find St Petroc's monastery placed at the head of a valley on the most fertile of lands. These early Christian buildings have not survived, possibly because they were made of wood, but they were replaced by stone buildings in the eighth or ninth century. The only evidence we have of the saints now are the names of the parishes and the 400 or so stone crosses, most of which are in Cornwall, bearing Ogham lettering along with Latin inscriptions.
The holy saints, both men and women, amongst swarms of pagans, carried their message of the resurrected Christ to the people. It was full of wonder, involving miracles and plague. This was all happening here in Cornwall before the arrival of St Augustine, dedicated to converting the Angles into angels.
In total 174 churches in Cornwall are dedicated to these roaming saints. It must have been a very busy and exciting time. These lands were still inhabited by Celts, ruled by their own kind, many of the people were now Romano British and had a small knowledge of Latin. The new arrivals from Ireland from Ireland spoke Goidelic and introduced the Ogham script. Some example of latin script can be found at St Cleer on King Doniert's Stone. Doniert is mentioned in the Anglo Saxon chronicle as being a later king of Cornwall, probably the last, dating to the ninth century, but perhaps they still used this ogham script for memorials, much as we use Latin today. King Doniert was said to have drowned in the Rive Fowey in 878 AD and the inscription roughly translated, ststes that he wanted the stone laid for the good of his soul, "Doniert Rogavit Pro Anima". Doniert has been identified with Dungarth, with whom a similar story and date refers. This monument has now been made a feature and can be seen easily from the road between cheesewring and Redgate.
Life was much the same as in the iron age. Contact with the outside was still mainly by sea, the people traded with the Mediterranean as before and also with culturally linked folk in Wales, Brittany and Ireland. The desire to spread the Christian gospel was now the motivating force for travelling. Links with Brittany became so strong that it lost its old name, Amorica and became known as little Britain, the language was almost the same.
With the roman church converting the Anglo Saxons and the Celtic saints infiltrating onto Saxon land there was bound to be a conflict of interest, The roman church clutched at straws to point out petty differences. The underlying problem was not to get all to submit to the will of Christ but the might of Rome. The Celts were outwitted and outnumbered, they fell in with the rest of Europe. In this remote county, however, the memory, a Celtic blessing, lives on in this rare breed of people.
When the Saxons invasions began in 428 AD it was to Brittany that people fled. The Dumnonii followed in 567 when the Saxons advanced into the Cotswolds. With its petty kings, local dynasties and wondering saints, Cornwall was no match for the invaders. The celts were pushed into pockets at the extremities, those pockets of resistance, Wales, Devon, Cornwall and Strathclyde.
I will mention a few local saints, firstly the dedicated saint to Linkenhorne, the village of Daniel's birth. He was St Melor, described as a Breton prince and martyr. It is said of him that as a child he had his hand and foot replaced by metal and they grew as normal. He also gave his name to Mylor near Falmouth, where the largest stone cross in Cornwall stands in the churchyard, ten feet out of the ground.
St Cleer, or St Clare became the patron of the parish of the same name near Cheesewring. The writings of Wilkie Collins, bemoaning the decay of the good lady's well here gave rise to its restoration. The original story runs that St Clare left her nunnery to escape the attentions of an unknown nobleman. She resisted him and he eventually murdered her. We still celebrate her feast day on November 4th each year.
Another popular name for standing stones is Druid circles and Stonehenge is a popular example. There has been a recent revival of interest in druidism and a new romantic and unhistorical cult set up in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. This is termed as neo druidism and for the purposes of my enquiries can largely be ignored. The Ancient Order of Druids, founded in London in 1781 was a secret benefit society akin to freemasonry and plays little part in the ancient orders.
In addition to Caesar's writings, Daniel and thousands of Cornishmen have worshipped nature in the way of the ancient Druids and have made what they can of life from the soil and the sea. I feel that the Druids were here before the main body of the Celts arrived from Gaul to join their kinsfolk and were all re integrated as an advanced society. In Gaul and Britain the Druids were wiped out by the romans, their last stand was at Anglesey in 61 ad but in Ireland they survived until the arrival of the Christian missionaries. The stone basin on Cheesewring has been referred to as Druid sacrificial basins for the collection of blood of the human sacrifices, most unexplainable things in old times are accredited to either King Athur or the Druids.
The Saxons began the settlement of the land in the fifth century, It took time. By the time the Vikings had arrived there had been many changes and disturbances. One kingdom after another, Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex had all in time become more powerful that the others. Independent tribes in Kent, Sussex and East Anglia had lost their separate status. The Jutes of Kent and the Isle of Wight now acknowledged the Saxon King. The Celtic tribes in Devon became part of Wessex. Even down in Cornwall they looked up to Wessex as a greater kingdom. Wales and Scotland held aloof from Saxon settlement and would hold independence for many centuries more. In Cornwall and Devon, as in Wales, the influx of Anglo Saxon settlers was delayed, leaving the people of this area enjoying a time of independence.
At the end of the seventh century the Saxon King Centwine drove the Britons "as far as the sea", but in Cornwall itself it was the ninth and tenth century when first King Egbert and then finally King Athelstan overcame our resistance.
In 838 the Saxons, under King Egbert defeated a combined Cornish and Viking force at the battle of Hingston Down near Callington The Celts were reluctant to abandon old and established ways and the Saxons were hated.
The Vikings were these new raiders coming from over the sea from Norway and Denmark, the great peninsula of Jutland at the foot of the Baltic sea. For some time their raids had been held in check by the powerful empire of Charlemagne, King of the Franks, but after his death early in the century, their activities had increased. When a dynastic dispute in the Danish kingdom broke it up, a new and terrible age for Europe and Alfred's England began.
The age of the Vikings. The term meant pirate, and these facts are beyond dispute. The heathen Vikings were cruel and destructive raiders whose main object was plunder. The scene of raids, stretching over two generations descended on the island like a plague.
They launched themselves at Alfred's England. Devon and Cornwall came under attack, coastal monasteries were easy targets for the warriors but they soon found themselves converted. Perhaps it was the countryside, the scenery and magic that inspired so many before them, or the legacy of the Cornish Saints. This temporary alliance did nothing to stem the opening up of the Celtic areas.
When Alfred came to the throne of Wessex, England was in effect divided into two parts. One part, the so called Danelaw in the north, most of the land north of the Thames, where the Vikings had supremacy and moved freely about. They levied huge tributes from the native farmers and merchants to save themselves from destruction. When they had taken all they could get they moved out. Wessex held out although the Vikings had made several raids into the southern territory. The Vikings had never succeeded and this was largely thanks to Alfred.
Over the year the growing Viking forces, having taken all they could from the unlucky people of Northumbria and Mercia had split into several sections. One party took over the territory in the north to become known as Yorkshire and another annexed East Anglia. A third party set off to raid Ireland and a further more powerful force moved again on Wessex. They swept down almost to the South Coast but they were hemmed in by Saxon forces and a peace was arranged. In return for payment the Vikings swore their most solemn oath, on the holy armlet that they would leave Wessex for ever.
They broke their oath at once and slipped west to Exeter and waited for reinforcements. In sight of the shore the reinforcements were destoyed by a great storm and soon afterwards in the Autumn of 877 the invaders moved back to Mercia and for the while at least there was peace in Wessex.
I have gone into the history to date in much greater detail that the following centuries up to the restoration and the first knowledge we have of the Gumbs in Cornwall. The reasons I have done this is as I believe it was the history I have covered to date forms the Cornish race as we still know them today. Look at the evidence. The craftsmen, the philosophers, the self taught god fearing people that history so far has made them. Our family although not miners, fishers or farmers but stone workers and masons have the traits of the artistic thoughtful Celtic race and all these traits are borne out in Daniel.
Life moved on in England. The Normans came, a great part of English history but probably little changed in Cornwall. Great tracts of land were given to knights and relatives of the conqueror for their loyalty, but the people of Cornwall simply paid their rents and dues to the replacement overlord on their coming. Our ancestors in East Cornwall was probably close enough to the Tamar to hear the news of the conquest but I suspect contact was little. The Saxons had left their language and place names but the Cornish still spoke their own peculiar language and kept the place names of this Celtic landscape. It was to be several hundred years until the language all but disappeared.
The doomsday book mentions Caradon in the Rillaton hundred and two other villages in Daniels immediate area, Rillaton and Climson. In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned king and the lands of the English nobility were in the main granted to his followers. The Doomsday book was compiled some twenty years later. He sent men all over the country to each shire, to find out what or how much each land owner held and what, in land or livestock, it was worth. Willian was very thorough and sent a second body of commissioners to check the original work. The commissioners brief, to be collated at Winchester was the name of the place, who held it before 1o66 and now, how many hides or measures of one hundred and twenty acres, ploughs, the populace and their standing, freedmen, slaves etc. How many mills and ponds and the total value of what each man own. It was called the Doomsday book, from the day of judgment, so every man could be sure of his rights.
This was English society under new management, in minute detail. Everything was noted. The Normans had taken over, but again little had changed. The chief land owners were named and the rest of the people merely counted. Villages were grouped into administrative districts called hundreds. The old names still survive as we see in the three examples I have chosen. Most people did live in villages or holdings where people clustered together, many were described as manerium, or today, manors, these greatly varied in size and structure.
Caradon is mentioned in the doomsday book as a village spelt Carenton and could have referred to Caradon Town, a small village a mile or so south east of Upton Cross today. It could also have referred to Caradon Prior, whose grid reference square includes Caradon Hill on the western side of the Rillaton hundred, slightly north of centre. It states that the land there was held by the king, consisted of five hides of land and they paid tax for three hides. Thirty ploughs could plough the land. Of these hides the king had half a hide, three ploughs and twenty slaves in lordship. The villagers had four and a half hides and seventeen ploughs. The King had forty three villagers, seventeen small holders, two acres of meadow and pasture one league long and of similar width. It paid seven pounds a year in weight.
The village or manor of Climstone or climsom, the area now owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and now known as Stoke Climsland is mentioned as many of our ancestors hailed from this area to the north east of Linkenhorne, nearer the Devon border.
Similar to Caradon, it too held five hides, but paid for only two and a half. It could support twenty four ploughs, but had one h1de of land in lordship with three ploughs and nine slaves. The king had thirty villagers, twenty four smallholders, and they worked seventeen ploughs on the remaining four hides. This valley area had more pasture and a tract of woodland three leagues by one league. They had three acres of meadow and four leagues square of pasture. A league is outdated unit of measurement, often varying but commomnly said to be three miles.
The other manor or village I am going to mention is that of Rillaton or Rileston as stated in the Doomsday book. It is situated about three miles north east of Cheesewring. This was owned by the Count of Mortaring, he was Robert, half brother of King William and perhaps the wealthiest man in England after the King. Richter the priest held this before 1066 and paid tax for one hide. The land could support fifteen ploughs, with two ploughs, twelve slaves and half a hide of land in lordship. The Count had fifteen villagers and twenty four small holders with a half hide of land. This comprised of sixty acres of woodland and a good three hundred acres of pasture. Again this land in on the side of the wooded valley and the pasture would include some of the moorland of stowes common.
Cornish men still revolted against their distant overlords from time to time. During the next few hundred years we see the Western Rebellions of 1497, when Cornish men, sick of paying taxes to fend off the Scots, dedicated to the support of Perkin Warbeck, marched on London. Perkin Warbeck, a pretender to the throne, came to Cornwall and rallied the Cornish, he was executed for his trouble and the Cornish were subdued.
The Cornish were on the move again in 1549, to rebel against the new prayer book written in English, brought into play by the young Edward V1 in order to enforce the wishes of his protestant father, Henry V111. The prayer book was known as the first prayer book of Edward V1. The Cornish could not read English, but were familiar with Latin texts of the old order. They had seen their monasteries destroyed and sold off in the last reign and the sacking of their churches. Rents and fines were so high that the poor were poorer for all the changes. They were paying more in dues to the new landlord that previously to the monasteries.
It was left for Cornwall and Devon alone to march in full scale revolt for the sake of religion and the old ways. In this year they were on the move. They marched on Exeter, onward they hoped to London, picking up supporters in East Cornwall on the way. One can reasonably assume that my ancestors from this area would have fought alongside the men from the other side of the family, the Westcotts of Devon when they continued to rally support through Crediton where the Westcotts hailed. The Cornish were completely defeated on the outskirts of the old Roman garrison town of Isca Dumnoniorum, now known as Exeter and a bloody battle was played out in the countryside around the city. The Cornish were once again subdued and many murdered and hung for their beliefs. Yet another tribute to the individual and hot headed nature of this race of people bred from the pages of history so far.
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