British identity in Cornwall

british nat identity

In the 18th and 19th centuries the Cornish, like the Welsh, were apt to stress their origins as ‘ancient Britons’, the original inhabitants of the islands that had only recently been united politically as ‘Great Britain & Ireland’. However, there is little sign that ‘British’ still serves as a signal for a pan-Celtic identity.

The geography of Britishness is less clear-cut than that of Cornishness or Englishness. Three distinct areas contain the highest proportions of British national identity – parts of West Penwith,. a band in mid-Cornwall from St Keverne in the south to running through Falmouth and Truro north to St Agnes, and south east Cornwall.

There appears to be a correlation between social class and Britishness. The more deprived areas like Bodmin, the clay country and parts of Camborne-Redruth are least ‘British’. Conversely, the highest proportion plumping for a British identity is found in Falmouth Arwenack, the probable result of a high student population, most of whom are not Cornish but may wish to avoid the associations that accompany ‘Englishness’.