Today was a meeting of “Heritage Kernow” the latest iteration of a long line of different forums, advisory groups, and similar heritage groupings to link Cornwall Council with the huge number of voluntary sector groups that work on aspects of Cornwall's heritage and also the amenity providers such as the National Trust.
It has not started well – Cornwall Council have set up a board that ignored all of the community groups (such as the Trevithick society, Cornwall Ancient Sites Protection Network, Federation of Old Cornwall Societies, and many more). Instead a board comprising quangos from outside Cornwall was selected instead, with three positions going to English Heritage and one to Historic England (which is the new statutory organisation split off from English Heritage), as we were told. This is unacceptable.
People at the meeting were rightly outraged that our heritage, Cornwall’s heritage, is again subject to English interpretation. This was shown disastrously by the debacle at Tintagel and English Heritage’s jingoistic references to Tennyson without any critical explanation of the misappropriation of culture for colonial, imperialistic ends. Because of the strength of feeling in the room, Cornwall Council officers put up a slide of the Heritage Kernow board, which seemed to have no English Heritage positions on it. It is therefore now unclear exactly who comprises the board.
The team in Cornwall council were certainly left in no confusion that the wider community want more Cornish ownership over Cornish heritage, and fewer quangos. Whether they will listen, and return the board of Heritage Kernow to the one that was previously agreed by Cornwall’s heritage communities is something we wait to see.
Cornwall Council were also told that Cornwall's heritage comprises of intangible as well as tangible heritage. So as well as environment/landscape, built heritage, Cornish heritage includes our place-names, language, folklore, dances and feasts that all add narrative to our physical heritage and give it meaning, without which it is just rocks and earth that can be discarded.
We will now enter into dialogue with Cornwall Council to try and get them to ensure Cornish Heritage is truly respected - especially with respect to its destruction by the tidal wave of in-migrants from other parts of the UK who fail to respect our heritage.