A Conversation for CELTIC DEVON

Celtic flag & tongue!

Post 1

Estren

Good day to you all, or "Dyth da"!

I'm very interested in your project and do greatly appreciate it. The time is over to "isolate" Cornwalls celtic heritage, it's time to bring in mind the history of Dewnans, its culture, its people, its history.

Because I'm from Germany, I have a rather small possibility to research things like Devon flag etc. except via internet. I browsed through your flag proposals, and have a question - are black, white and green the "Devon colours"? The thing that came to my mind when I thought about a Devon flag (or maybe, a Cornwall-Devon flag), was the Uther-Pendragon flag, i.e. - as far as I know - the red dragon (in Welsh "Yr ddraig goch", must be in Cornish "An dhryk/dhragon ruth") on a yellow/golden ground. But that could be too "Celticised", and wouldn't include the Saxon heritage.

Would there be any chance to introduce the Cornish language in Devon?

Third question: as far as I can see, the interest for the "Celtic Devon" topic is really high, so is anyone working on a "Celtic Devon" website? (I think the way of posting messages, showing flag proposals and giving an overview over Devon's history "excavated" so far would be much easier...)

All the best for the project,

Estren


Celtic flag & tongue!

Post 2

Ozzie Exile

Wolcum Almayn!

It is good to see that this discussion has been noted in Germany.

Originally the Cornish language was not limited to Cornwall.
The Devon/Cornwall peninsular was one Celtic state (along with West Somerset) - called Dumnonia.

Cornwall, Devon and west Somerset (Kernow, Dewnans, ha Haf an Gwlas Howlsedhas) all spoke the precursor to what is now the Cornish Language.

After the Saxon's arrived the Celtic language began a retreat westward, in a slow and patchy manner.

It is not recorded (or more accurately I do not know) when the Celtic language was last spoken (as a living language) in Devon, but remnants of it remain in local dialect words and in place names - as it does in Cornwall.

I would expect that today there are a few Devonians who know a few words (like me - and I am sure I get the grammar wrong most times), and perhaps only one or two who are more proficient.

Perhaps with the increase in interest in our Celtic background the 'Tavas Dewnansek' will be spoken again. I hope so.

As to a Celtic Devon Website - I don't know of any specific site devoted to this, although a number touch on it.

Perhaps other contributors can be more specific.

Thank you for your interest

Until next time - Bys y'n wyth aral.


Celtic flag & tongue!

Post 3

Plymouth Exile

Welcome Estren,

I believe it was Ozzie Exile who highlighted the problem concerning the History of Devon , in his first posting on the Celtic Devon topic. The only History taught in the Devon schools is that of the National Curriculum, which states that the Anglo-Saxons drove the Britons (Celts) into Wales, so all of the English are pure Anglo-Saxons. Because of this, I would reckon that only a very small percentage of Devonians realise that they have a Celtic Heritage.

You are correct in assuming that black, white and green are the Devon colours, which is why each of the proposed flag designs are based on these colours. I suspect that the Uther Pendragon Flag with a red dragon would be considered too Welsh (Kembrek, yn Kernewek).

As for the introduction of the Cornish Language in Devon, I think there is less chance of that than there is of introducing it in Cornwall, and the chance of that happening is about zero. There is no such thing as a precise time when the Celtic Language was last spoken in Devon, as it would have died out gradually, ending up as just a few dialect words. I have read in a couple of sources that a dialect of Celtic origin was still in use in the more remote parts of Devon into the 16th Century, but how true this is, I cannot say. As Ozzie Exile states, there are a few people from Devon who know a number of Cornish words. In my case, they are mainly the words used in place names, but not exclusively so.

Regarding your question about the existence of a specific Celtic Devon web site, I could not find one using Google.com as a search engine, so I doubt whether there is one. I think you overestimate our numbers when you say that the interest in Celtic Devon is really high, as so far, no more than about ten of us have contributed to the discussion, and I suspect that most (if not all) of us are no longer living in Devon.

I am intrigued to know how you became interested in Celtic Devon, as you say you are from Germany. Do you have any Devonian ancestry, or are you a linguistics student studying Celtic Languages? Whatever the reason, you are very welcome here.

If any of you Celtic Devon enthusiasts are interested, the BBC Devon Devolution Message Board is now up and running at:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/speakout/devolution.shtml

So far, I am the only one who has posted anything. Please help me out guys and post something to get it really going. Surely the people of Devon aren't that apathetic about Regional Assemblies and the implications for their future Local Government. I have also posted to the BBC Cornwall board on the same topic, to try to educate some of the extremists.

Good day! (Durdadha-why!)

Plymouth Exile


Celtic flag & tongue!

Post 4

Plymouth Exile

While searching for a Celtic Devon web site, I came accross the following (tongue in cheek) site.

http://www.btinternet.com/~aardvark.nest/

Although it is not exactly what we are looking for, it is quite entertaining and informative.


Plymouth Exile


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 5

Plymouth Exile

I have been continuing my researches into Devon and its language in the latter part of the Dark Ages, and have found an interesting web site, which if taken at face value raises some intriguing possibilities. The web page concerns the history of Branscombe Parish in the Roman, Saxon and Viking Eras. The URL is:-

http://www.geocities.com/Athens/1491/saxon.html

In a section dealing with the Roman era, the author states:-

"The Celts, now called Britons, were subjugated but allowed to continue with their language and customs. In fact there was a section of Exeter called Britayne where it is said the Celtic tongue was still spoken as late as the thirteenth century."

If this is correct (and I have seen brief references to it in other documents), then it seems probable that, in the more remote Western parts of Devon, the Celtic tongue was still in use into the sixteenth century, as I read in other sources many years ago.

In the section dealing with the Saxon era, we find the passage:-

"... but the long term cultural impact of the Saxons in this area (Branscombe) has been questioned. Again, the main evidence is in the pottery record - very little Anglo-Saxon pottery has been found west of Bournemouth."

This would imply a small scale Saxon occupation of the present South West Counties, where the vast majority of the population would have remained native British. This presumption is reinforced later by the passage:-

"In 900, King Alfred's will mentions Branscombe as one of the places he owns among the Wealcynn, or "Welsh that are not in Cornwall"."

This again implies that in 900 AD, Devon was regarded (even by the Saxons) as a land predominantly occupied by the British (Welsh or Wealas - foreigners to the Saxons). This leads to the question of how the Saxons maintained control over the area, when heavily outnumbered by the Britons. One only has to look back as far as World War II and the occupation of France (and other countries) by the Germans, who were also heavily outnumbered by the native inhabitants. Just as one would not have described France as part of Germany at that time, so one shouldn't describe Devon as an integral part of Wessex in the Saxon era.

When considering the language of the Britons of the South West at this time, one should not suppose that it was the same as Cornish as we know it today (or indeed Welsh), so I am trying to find out more about the Celtic Language of the South West during the latter part of the Dark Ages. I will report back to this forum if I find anything of significance.


Plymouth Exile




Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 6

Estren

Has anyone any idea whether there exists a website and/or whether someone got any material about the Celtic forms/roots of modern Devon placenames (e.g. Isca for Exe, Caer Isca for Exeter etc.)?

A question to Plymouth Exile: You quoted and wrote:

>"The Celts, now called Britons, were subjugated but allowed to continue with their language and customs. In fact there was a section of Exeter called Britayne where it is said the Celtic tongue was still spoken as late as the thirteenth century."<

>If this is correct (and I have seen brief references to it in other documents), then it seems probable that, in the more remote Western parts of Devon, the Celtic tongue was still in use into the sixteenth century, as I read in other sources many years ago.<

But why should this "Devonic" be not nearly identical with the Cornish "we know today" (whose sources date back around that time and earlier, as far as I know...), as you say at the and of your post? Please let me know your thoughts!

Greetings to all of you

Estren


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 7

ryan_sealey

hi all,
Just a little fact that i found out the other day. In cornwall there are 2 two school offering a GCSE in Cornish however the bit that got me was the fact that there are 4 in Devon offering the same GSCE, this was written in a book on gealic languages, i dont know when it was published but i could probably find out the title if anyones interested? The other thing that interested me in this book was that the when describing the Cornish language (which most scots are aware of surprisingly) it says that it originates in the old celtic kingdom of dumnonia (as we know encompassing devon and cornwall) It didnt actaully state anywhere that it belongs to cornwall.
The main thing i think we need to achieve here more than a flag or anything else is to convince or remind the Cornish that we are very similiar and are stronger togther, in a way its a lot like the situation of lowland and highland scotland, theres still lots of differences even today but they recognise the fact that theyve got more in common with each other than they do with anybody else.
I wonder how much better the Mebyon Kernowek would fare if they had devon in support?

PS why cant it be Agan Tavas too?


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 8

Plymouth Exile

Dear Devonian,

I like your bit about the GCSE in Cornish being offered in twice as many Devon schools as Cornish ones, and the Cornish Language originating in Dumnonia with no mention of Cornwall. If the Cornish knew about this they would be marching on Exeter right now.

As for convincing the Cornish that there is very little difference between them and us, and that we would be stronger together, I have already started to do this on the Devolution/Independence discussion on the BBC Cornwall site. Please read the discussion so far and join in. The URL is:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cornwall/talk/mebyon.shtml

I have also persuaded the BBC Devon Editor to start a similar discussion, which is now underway on:-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/speakout/devolution.shtml

On the BBC Cornwall board, we are up against the Cornish Independence extremists, who spread misinformation to promote their view that Cornwall has nothing in common with Devon. So far, I think I have managed to expose their lies and half-truths. Let us know what you think and please join in.


Bob Burns

Plymouth Exile


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 9

Plymouth Exile

Dear Estren,

I do not know of any web sites devoted to the Celtic roots of modern Devon placenames. The instances, which I know about, have been picked up from reading many books about Devon and carrying out my own research. Some of the more common ones are:-

Pen-y (Head of the) has become Penny, as in Pennycomequick (Pen-y-cwm-gwyk), meaning the Settlement (gwyk) at the Head of the Valley.

Dyn or Dynas (Fortified hill) has become Don or Dun, as in Dunchideock.

Coed (Wood) has become Good, as in Goodameavy, meaning the Wood on the (River) Meavy.

Cwm (Valley) has become Combe or Coombe, as in Combe Martin or Salcombe.

Twr (Tower or Rock Pile) has become Tor, as in Yes Tor (and other Dartmoor tors).

Maen (Stone) has become Man, as in Manadon, meaning Stone Hill Fort.

Derw (Oak) has become Derri, as in Derriford.

Ffordd (Road/Track) has become Ford, as in Derriford, meaning Oak Road or Road by the Oaks.

Llan (Church) has become Land, as in Landkey, meaning the Church of St. Kea.

Tre (Farmstead or Town) has become Tree, as in Plymtree.

Dwr (Water) has become Dewer, as in Dewerstone, meaning the Rock by the Water.


The reason that the early (Dark Age) Celtic Language in the South West (including Devon) was not the same as modern Cornish, is that Cornish has evolved since then. In fact, Modern Cornish is a recent construct by Cornish scholars. This had to be done because Middle Cornish as spoken until about 250 to 300 years ago had died out and therefore did not evolve further. One could equally ask the question why Modern English is not the same as Old English or Anglo-Saxon.

I hope this helps to answer your questions.


Plymouth Exile


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 10

Estren

Dear Plymouth Exile,

gromercy for your placename list - why shouldn't we all together work on a list of Devon "recelticed" placenames?

Thanx too for your explanation of contemporary Cornish (I don't use "Modern Cornish", because this is ONE of the revival threads dealing with a later version of Cornish). But if the assumption is correct and Cornish in Devon was spoken till the 16th century then it would be NOT so far away from the contemporary Cornish that's based on UC(R) and Kemmyn (except the orthography of course); these threads are relying on Cornish that dates back to that period of time, intentionally bypassing the Late Cornish whose concentration of English loan words got extremely high. So if the contemporary Cornish is good for the Corns, it would be good for the Devonians, too.
I hope I'm correct in my explanations about time periods in Cornish - nevertheless I favour every correction... smiley - smiley

By the way, I added some flag proposals to the appropriate site - take a look and state if you like them or refuse them.

All the best

Estren


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 11

Plymouth Exile

Dear Estren,

Some of us already have commented on your flag designs, over at the Devon Flag site.

I personally very much like your Pendragon design, but I feel that it would be more appropriate (in fact ideal) as a "Pan-Celtic" Flag, but not one specific to Devon. I think that for a Devon Flag you need the Devon colours and a symbol which is specific to Devon.

Regards,

Plymouth Exile


Celtic flag & tongue!

Post 12

Researcher 201502

I am no scholar of Dumnonian history, I am just interested as someone who (though self exiled in Edinburgh for now) has, to date, regarded himself as from the 'South West'. Do we know how far east Dumnonia stretched? You say Cornwall, Devon and West Somerset are Dumonian but what about modern boundaries? Can someone from Dorset call himself Dumnonian? or is that too far? We use Devonian English usage! When we all get autonomy I don't want to be pinned to Hampshire! What about Wiltshire? East Somerset? I assume if the ancient boundary stopped at the Exe, for example, then the eastern portion of Devon will not be left in some cultural vaccuum, so why should we? At least someone mentioned places west of Bournemouth being more Celtic in origins (seem to remember a genetic survey of Viking blood finding something similar), however there are places to the north of and around the boundaries of Bournemouth (since 1974) that are in Dorset too.

Where should the government be? Bodmin? Exeter? Perhaps a roving one, that visits all the main towns - no single Capital - unless there's a known seat of government between the Roman Empire and the Anglo-Saxons which will be resurrected.


Bye

Jon


Dumnonia & Dorset

Post 13

Plymouth Exile

Welcome Jon,

The precise boundaries of the Kingdom of Dumnonia, in terms of present day counties, are not known, and probably altered with time. It is usually reckoned to be along the line of the River Parrett and the Devon/Dorset border, with present day Dorset referred to as the Land of the Durotriges. However I have seen maps showing the whole of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset as being in Dumnonia. What is certain is that Hampshire and Wiltshire were never part of Dumnonia (or the Land of the Durotriges for that matter).

The DNA survey, carried out by University College (London) for the BBC "Blood of the Vikings" series, revealed that Britons (Celts) were predominant in the South of England (particularly so in the South West - one of the test sites was the area around Dorchester). For more detail on this, use a search engine (such as Google.com) and enter "Blood of the Vikings" as the search criterion. One of the conclusions was that the South of England is no less Celtic than the Highlands of Scotland. Archaeological evidence backs this up, in that there have been very few finds of Saxon Pottery west of Bournemouth.

Concerning the Governments proposals for devolution (regional assemblies), they want a South West Region comprising Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Many of us think that this is far too large (the distance, from Lands End to the far North East of Gloucestershire, is greater than the distance from Brighton to York). I personally reckon that a Region consisting of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset would satisfy the Government's criterion of critical mass, as well as make sense as a cohesive unit. I think your idea of a 'roving' Centre of Government is a jolly good one. The first thing we need to do is overcome the irrational objections of the Cornish Nationalists (who still think that Cornwall is a separate Country), and get the sensible majority of the Cornish people on board. If you are interested, both BBC Devon and BBC Cornwall have Devolution Message Boards up and running.


Plymouth Exile


Dumnonia & Dorset

Post 14

Researcher 201502


Indeed, however were the Durotriges not pre-Roman? And how can one be so sure that their territory skirted modern day Dorset, just as Dumnonia may have drifted from the Parrett to...well, Bournemouth (which was in Hampshire)? Surely any identifiable culture or subculture should reflect the here and now for present day issues. Generally Dorset gets lumped together with everyone to the west (unless one is with Wessex Water), rarely we are put into the same camp as Hampshire in the South East. We do however seem to have a somewhat closer relationship with Wiltshire. I was never too sure about Glouscestershire. However I would question why one is purist about refusing inclusion of Wiltshire on the basis that it does not appear on a map concerning a period from over 1000 years ago, when the contemporary citizens of that region are so closely related. Let's be inclusive, after all my parents are from the South East and Canada, I was born in Africa and live in Scotland! Being raised in Dorset (though there was an off-chance of in Cornwall) is my claim to this. Still great part of the world.


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 15

Plymouth Exile

Anyone interested in the old Brythonic Celtic language, which was in use in Devon up until the Norman Conquest (and probably much later), may well be interested in a fascinating little book, which I have discovered during my researches. It is:-

"A Handbook of West Country Brythonic" by Joseph Biddulph
The forgotten Celtic tongue of South West England c.700 AD (Old Devonian)
1996

This book is obtainable from Amazon.co.uk at a price of £4.25 + p&p.

It is interesting to note that Biddulph refers to the language as "Old Devonian" and not "Old Cornish". It contains a list of "Old Devonian" words, some grammar and notes on place names. Interestingly, in the Introduction, Biddulph suggests that "families still spoke the Old Language up to a fairly late date, switching to fluent West Saxon when visiting the local marketplace". This is an exact parallel of the present day bilingual Welsh still speaking Welsh (Cymraeg) as their first tongue, while at home in their villages, and breaking into fluent English (albeit with a Welsh accent) on shopping trips to Cardiff (Caerdydd) or Swansea (Abertawe). If some references, that I have read, are to be believed, then this practice continued in some of the more remote parts of Devon into the 16th Century. He also refers to "an independent lordship called Devon, Celtic in speech and culture", so let the Cornish Nationalists stuff that up their saffron coloured tartan kilts (not a patch on the Devon tartans).

As far as I know, it is the only publication dealing with this subject, and as such, I can thoroughly recommend this excellent little book.


Plymouth Exile


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 16

Ozzie Exile

Plymouth Exile

Thanks for the link to the book.

A copy of it now ordered - its frighteningly easy to spend money with Amazon isn't it.

Ozzie Exile


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 17

ryan_sealey

hey there folks,
sorry i havnt been very active lately but ive been busy sorting out university stuff for the coming term.
No-ones able to get down for the telly then? thats a bit of a shame it would have been good to get some TV exposure, i would have offered myself up but its a helluva bus journey from aberdeen (it takes about a day, ive done it twice now!).
I think im going to get me a copy of that book your reccomended, maybe we could "beg" loads more money off europe (like cornwall) if we decided to "re-launch" our own language for the benefit of American tourists.
The flag vote seems to have gone fairly well with lots of people voting for many of the different designs, not sure where it goes from here though, i like the idea of bumper stickers (they'd beat the usuakl Garfield "i love devon" ones that you usually see around eh?)
I'll look into finding flag makers on the internet maybe www.flagsoftheworld.com (i think that the address) then if we can pursuade them to make a few touristy shops might stock some.
When we get our own assembly do you think they'll let us have our own football team, it'd be fun at least


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 18

ryan_sealey

hey there folks,
sorry i havnt been very active lately but ive been busy sorting out university stuff for the coming term.
No-ones able to get down for the telly then? thats a bit of a shame it would have been good to get some TV exposure, i would have offered myself up but its a helluva bus journey from aberdeen (it takes about a day, ive done it twice now!).
I think im going to get me a copy of that book your reccomended, maybe we could "beg" loads more money off europe (like cornwall) if we decided to "re-launch" our own language for the benefit of American tourists.
The flag vote seems to have gone fairly well with lots of people voting for many of the different designs, not sure where it goes from here though, i like the idea of bumper stickers (they'd beat the usual Garfield "i love devon" ones that you usually see around eh?)
I'll look into finding flag makers on the internet maybe www.flagsoftheworld.com (i think that the address) then if we can pursuade them to make a few touristy shops might stock some.
When we get our own assembly do you think they'll let us have our own football team, it'd be fun at least


Celtic Devon and its Language

Post 19

Ozzie Exile

I will try to see what the cost of production might be here (Australia).

There are a number of people of Devon descent here, and therefore maybe a market for them as well.

Alternatively, if some are made up in Devon I would probably export a number.


Devon Flag Vote

Post 20

Plymouth Exile

I wish to inform you folks that I have just sent the following E-Mail to the Devon Editor:-

Dear Kevin,

I must say that I am disappointed by your response. There is a big
difference between fun with fairness, and fun with deceitfulness. In the
circumstances, I must therefore request that my two contributions, flags 1
and 3 be removed from the voting slip, as I have no wish to participate in
anything which is not completely above board. If you would care to view my
contributions to the Devolution message board, you will see that I am a
stickler when it comes to truth and honesty, values which appear to be
seriously in decline these days. Although you may regard the whole thing as
just a bit of fun, you will note that those who are participating in the
Celtic Devon and Devon Flag discussions in A Sense of Place are already
planning flag production of the winning design, on the basic assumption that
the vote has been fair and above board.

Bob Burns

The background to the above E-Mail, is that I pointed out to the Editor, some evidence leading to suspicions of gross voting irregularities in the flag vote. His reply was that it was only a bit of fun. I leave you all to make your own judgements.


Plymouth Exile


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