Celtic League News
A widely reported meeting facilitated, hosted and chaired by the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League has occurred between senior representatives of English Heritage and the Celtic League, ‘Save Penwith Moors’ (SPM), the Cornish Gorseth and the ‘Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network’ (CASPN).
The aim of the meeting was to address concerns raised by the Celtic League and other organisations regarding the management and interpretation of Cornish historical sites administered by English Heritage.
Following liaison between the Convener of the Cornwall Branch, Mike Chappell and Alex Page, English Heritage’s Historic Properties Director West, an agreed agenda was formulated which included parts of a critical report submitted by the League which gathered together issues which had caused friction down the past twenty years.
The meeting took place against the background of the Government’s announcement made during April, 2014 that the Cornish people were to be included as a recognised National Minority into the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities.
Present at the meeting was Alex Page, English Heritage Historic Properties Director West, Dr Jeremy Ashbee, English Heritage Head Historic Properties Curator, Sophie White, English Heritage Territory Marketing Manager, Cllr Mike Chappell, Convener of the Cornwall Branch of the Celtic League who chaired the meeting, Craig Weatherhill, member of SPM, Bard of Gorseth Kernow, Cornish place names consultant, archaeologist, historian and author, Dr Merv Davey, Deputy Grand Bard of Gorseth Kernow, historian and author, Cheryl Straffon, Chair of CASPN and author, Matt Blewett, Secretary of the Cornish Branch Celtic League, archaeologist and historian and Tony Leamon, Assistant General Secretary of the Celtic League and treasurer of the Cornwall Branch.
The representatives from English Heritage outlined the future of the organisation and its division into two bodies to allow for the creation of a charitable side to administer monuments and confirmed the fact that there was to be ongoing and extremely productive liaison between the organisation and the Cornish Language Partnership with regard to the increasing visibility of the Cornish language at some of the castles and historic sites. It was noted that several of those present were members of groups forming the Partnership.
The meeting addressed in detail the many issues and concerns raised particularly in respect of Cornwall’s pre England and pre English History.
It was acknowledged that there had been misunderstandings down the years and delegates informed that some of English Heritage’s marketing and signage had caused sufficient offence to provoke some Cornish people into taking direct action of varying sorts.
Moving on, the meeting considered a more Cornish interpretation of history to take account of Cornwall’s uniqueness in this respect as well as cultural differences.
Of particular note was the amount of resources and talent already in Cornwall which it was agreed would add greatly to English Heritage’s events agenda.
It was determined that regular contact be maintained in order to take account of Cornish views and sensibilities with the same or very similar group meeting on an annual basis possibly in advance of the coming year’s events and activities at sites administered by English Heritage to discuss matters related to Cornwall.
Meanwhile, a resource document is to be prepared and submitted to English Heritage to assist them with staging events and marketing in the Duchy.
After some three hours and a frank exchange of views, it was agreed that a very useful channel of communication had been opened up between the organisations and that the debate had been informative, constructive and cordial.
Mike Chappell Convener of the Cornwall Branch Celtic League said, ‘It has been my distinct pleasure to chair this meeting and to see a very Cornish viewpoint of history, heritage, identity and language put to representatives of English Heritage. Today’s meeting has been extremely positive and Mr Page and his team have been very open to our opinions and offers of engagement in terms of cultural activities, signage, interpretation and education. It is now of the utmost importance that we continue to communicate and meet like this in order to prevent any future problems. I would like to express my thanks to Alex Page, Dr Jeremy Ashbee, Sophie White and to my own colleagues and to echo the views of some of our team, that we proceed with cautious optimism.’
An Kesunyans Keltek Scoren Gernewek
The Cornish Branch of the Celtic League
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The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.