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The Cornish Piskey

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Folk Lore, Myths and Legends

lands end cliff face with a dark grey sky

Local myths and legends were amplified by romantics of the past.

The folk tales of the region and its rich oral culture were captured by collectors such as Henry Hunt and William Bottrell in the 1860s and 1870s. The memory of the Cornish folk is very long, and some things are still remembered in Cornwall that have been forgotten elsewhere. For example, the other inhabitants that share the land with us are remembered. Pixies, the farmers called them. For the miner they were the Knockers. Deep underground you hear many strange noises. Perhaps it is a knocker working a rich lode, his knocking giving you a clue which way to go. Or perhaps it is water dripping into a long forgotten shaft. Whether or not you choose to believe these local myths, they do still exist in popular culture.

The Cornish landscape had a special meaning for its people in medieval times, as people adopted a surnames based on place names. This link between people and places continued throughout the industrial period. Cornish surnames such as Menadue, Chynoweth or Nankivell, all derived from the Cornish language via place names, are very common in Australia. So even Cornish names can now be found all over the world. This illustrates the process of cultural interchange that has followed the changing fortunes of Cornish mining.

Geevor may be derived from the Cornish word for goat. The symbol combining land and sea was used by the mining company.

 

Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of Pat Comber

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Comment left by Nigel on 2010-01-18 18:44:31

"Pixies, the farmers called them." No they did not, to Cornish people (like me) they are piskies.

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