Corn­wall’s unique wel­come

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - JENNY BROAD

MOW­BRAY HEIGHTS, TAS­MA­NIA A SIGN bear­ing the words ‘‘Ker­now a’gas dyn­ergh’’ greeted us as we slowly went over the steel rail­way bridge built by Isam­bard King­dom Brunel across the River Ta­mar, sep­a­rat­ing Devon and Corn­wall.

‘‘Corn­wall Wel­comes You.’’ We hadn’t re­alised this county has its own an­cient lan­guage, but we were to see it again on town name­plates, such as Porth Eia, added to St Ives.

In this sea­side set­tle­ment, we ac­tu­ally heard the lan­guage spo­ken when about 200 bards of the Gorsedh Ker­now as­sem­bled to cel­e­brate their her­itage and present prizes for po­ems, songs or sto­ries in English as well as in Cor­nish.

They ini­ti­ated new bards from across the Cor­nish di­as­pora, in­clud­ing Aus­tralia and the US, many the de­scen­dants of those who em­i­grated in the 19th cen­tury to work in cop­per or tin mines. Bards were hon­oured for their re­search into Cor­nish her­itage and con­tri­bu­tions to cre­ative arts or sport. Oth­ers were re­warded for pass­ing ex­am­i­na­tions in the lan­guage set by the bards.

Men and women, dressed in long, blue robes, with head­dresses that would not be out of place in a na­tiv­ity play, pa­raded through the town be­tween lines of be­mused hol­i­day-mak­ers to an arena be­hind the surf­ing beach.

They blew a horn and chanted to harp mu­sic. At the cli­max of their cer­e­mony, all the bards ad­vanced in a tight knot, each touched the shoul­der of the one in front to gain contact with the replica sword of King Arthur and to swear al­le­giance to their home­land, in the be­lief that Arthur would re­turn to lead his peo­ple to in­de­pen­dence.

Our train passed un­der the bat­tle­ments of Restormel Cas­tle be­fore the sta­tion stop at Lost­with­iel, the seat of the first Duke of Corn­wall, a ti­tle en­joyed by ev­ery heir to the English throne since the Black Prince in 1337, as well as Prince of Wales.

The cas­tle above the town and the Duchy Palace within pro­tected the Duke’s coinage, a tax on all the tin pro­duced from the gran­ite moors by clip­ping off a cor­ner of each smelted in­got. Duchy sta­tus and the Stan­nary Par­lia­ment, which gave le­gal priv­i­leges to Cor­nish min­ers, has been in­ter­preted by mod­ern na­tion­al­ists as an in­di­ca­tion of Ker­now’s in­de­pen­dence.

But, how­ever much Ker­now longs to be sep­a­rate from Eng­land, we found an in­clu­sive wel­come for all trav­ellers. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to our Fol­low the Reader col­umn. Pub­lished colum­nists will re­ceive OSA Brands’ Univer­sal Travel Adap­tor with USB ($39.95) and Ta­tonka Check In Bag ($29.95), ideal to keep doc­u­ments safe, fea­tur­ing zip com­part­ments, belt loop and de­tach­able shoul­der strap. More: 1800 558 707; osabrands.com. Send your con­tri­bu­tion to: travel@theaus­tralian. com.au.

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