John Cary's map of Cornwall, 1790
John Cary's map of Cornwall, 1790

Cornish place names, like the land itself, can be fascinating. This is mainly due to the Cornish language itself, though a good number of the later English introductions are not without their merit. Place names such as Skillywadden, Kaervran, Jelling the Tinkers, Maengluthyou, Carn Kenidjack, Gwinear and Polwheveral ring out like small and perfectly formed pieces of poetry. Such names can stand tall on their own merits, but taken in related groups or as a whole, they constitute the keystone in Cornwall's well hewn arch of cultural heritage. They are probably Cornwall's greatest asset with respect to its language and thousands of words would have been lost centuries ago if it were not for these little bundles of topographical and societal information. The names themselves, and the contexts in which they are found, are full of detail concerning the landscape, its natural features, industry and archaeology. They also tell of society and of the history of families; the migrations, the occupations, the pastimes and the religion. They chart the changes to all of these things, but, greater still, they chart the course of the Cornish language itself.

I began work on the index in 2004, and the project is ever ongoing. With so many place name forms to be added it is likely that I will always be contributing something new. Many of the historical forms here were gathered from my years working at both the Cornwall Record Office and the Royal Institution of Cornwall, where I catalogued many tens of thousands of documents; though many others have been gathered since. Printed texts, gazetteers and maps also account for a substantial number of entries.

This website is an attempt to update and improve the index as originally featured on cornovia.org.uk. Sadly, A Cornish Sourcebook closed in October 2009, though it is still available via the British Library's archives of the site. This current version should be far more user-friendly: navigation of the index should be much easier; internal links to related place names can be added with ease; maps and satellite imagery can be embedded within the pages and it is little trouble to list each place both alphabetically and by parish; as well as by manor and tithing. The possibilities for the future of the index are, these days, far more vibrant. I sincerely hope that you enjoy your visit here, whether it is by virtue of brief amusement or vague interest, or as part of some deep-seated urge to understand the language and the local and family history of Cornwall.

Onen hag oll.

This website is © Chris Bond 2004-2023.