King Æthelstan and Cornwall

Oliver Padel


During the three centuries from about AD 700 to 1000, Cornwall became a border area through the anglicisation and absorption into Wessex of its neighbour Devon, then ceased to be one when it was itself fully absorbed into the newly-formed kingdom of England. The particular focus here is on the reign of Æthelstan (924–939). Four events relating to Cornwall are considered in detail, including William of Malmesbury’s twelfth-century account of Æthelstan’s treatment of the Cornish. His statement that Æthelstan ‘expelled the Cornish from Exeter’, if accepted, refers not to native Devonians but to economic migrants from Cornwall itself.


Cornwall; England; tenth century; place-names; borders

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