The History of the Cornish Language: From the Romans to the death of Dolly Pentreath in 1777

How and why did Cornwall change from being a place with its own distinctive language, to having an English-speaking population? This talk examines the political, social, and economic reasons why the Cornish language retreated; how events in wider Europe affected life in Cornwall; key moments in Cornish history which affected the Cornish language such as the 1549 Prayer Book Rebellion; and the roles individuals – including Dolly Pentreath, Edward Lhuyd and Daines Barrington – played in the history of the Cornish Language.


Kensa Broadhurst is a final year PhD student at the Institute of Cornish Studies, part of Exeter University. Her studies are funded by the Cornwall Heritage Trust and the Q Fund. Kensa is researching the status of the Cornish language between 1777-1904, that is, the period in which it is widely believed to have been extinct. A former modern languages teacher, Kensa is a fluent speaker of Cornish, a bard of the Cornish Gorsedh, and both teaches and examines the language.

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Dr. Amy Hale is an Atlanta-based anthropologist and folklorist writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall in various combinations. Her biography of Ithell Colquhoun, Genius of the Fern Loved Gully, is available from Strange Attractor Press, and she is also the editor of the forthcoming collection Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses from Palgrave Macmillan. Other writings can be found at her Medium site and her website

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