Obituaries to Craig Weatherhill

From Agan Tavas

The Passing of a Great Cornishman

It is with great sadness that I have to report the death of our former Chairman and honorary life member Craig Weatherhill. Craig had been suffering from poor health for a few years but in spite of this he continued with his work and research and his publications. His death will be a great loss to the world of Cornish studies. Just a week ago he was awarded the Gorsedh Community Award following a recommendation from Agan Tavas.

Craig was widely known as a historian, especially of the West Penwith area, a place-names specialist and an artist of historic places. His greatest love was horses and he was never more happy then when he was researching the West Penwith area on horse back.

A great loss is his death to Cornwall and many friends.

From Cllr Bert Biscoe

Craig Weatherhill (1951 – 2020) was an inspirational person with a range of skills and interests that brought him into the lives of a very wide spectrum of people. I first met him at a gig when he was very keen to immerse himself in the rhythm and noise of, I think, Gulval Mead. As with everything he did, Craig immersed himself in the music with vigour, and so our first meeting was a mingling of dripping sweat and twelve-bar elation!

During his early years in local government, at Carrick Council, Craig took on a senior colleague over the fate of an archaeological artefact. Whilst he enraged officialdom with his rhetoric, his assessment of the artefact, his knowledge of procedure, and his tenacity as a campaigner fired the imagination of many who read accounts of the saga in Peninsula Voice. He later served with distinction as Conservation Officer at Penwith District Council,

As a conservationist, an archaeologist, an historian and a persistent defender of the Cornish cultural community, following up his childhood explorations, Craig led and sustained the ongoing battle for the integrity and beauty of Penwith. There was not a stone or indentation that Craig had not studied and gazetted. His exceptional book, ‘Cornovia’ (preceded by ‘Belerion’), is not only a central text in any Cornish library, and an immensely useful and deeply researched work, it also set out a now internationally accepted model, and is a textbook of Cornish heritage.

As a linguist Craig was immersed in place-names. His ‘Place Names of Cornwall and Scilly’ is a vital resource for any geographer, anthropologist or explorer of Kernow. He took his position in the great debates about Kernewek and often found himself quite isolated. His rationality sustained him, even though, sometimes his passion had painted him into a tight corner. Nothing mattered so much, though, that it shattered the relationships which his innate charm, wit and inner repose had built up throughout the many layers of Cornish and British life. He served for many years on the Place-Names Panel of the Cornish Language Partnership and was Chairman of Agan Tavas.

Craig lived quietly in Newbridge, between Penzance and St Just. He kept a horse and together they roamed his beloved moors, observing, delighting and patrolling. Many a landowner will testify that, whilst small (or large) reorganisations of things was being carried out, a large, bright-eyed and fierce Celtic chieftain would trot out of the low cloud to berate such disturbance of the scarred turf and its artefacts, and demanding restoration before a list of mellifluously quoted and referenced regulations unleashed their full force upon the hapless miscreant.

He was, I think, above all things, a storyteller and a writer. He loved the Cornish story, and he told it in many forms, in many books, for many years. He told it to academics and to children with the force, passion and adherence to facts which were his central attributes. His last book, The Promontory People, was an historical polemic driven by his narrative style, detailed and incontrovertible – not just his swansong, but a bringing together of the many facets of his life’s work in a work of seminal power and beauty.

We have fought together, and sat on opposite sides, and ruminated over past times and varied futures. I, and all who knew him, have lost a man of resonant knowledge and wisdom, of wit and compassion, whose research, thinking and imagination have enriched all our lives, and will continue to do so for as long as Cornish eyes are left to liberate Cornish literature from cold shelves, or to wander among the stones.

I was standing on Eagles’ Nest, above Zennor, in a gathering mist, with the Parish of Towednack reaching out to the west and all of Kernow to the north, with Tremedda, Porthmeor, Foage and Wicca entering possibly their five thousandth year of cultivation and harvest. John Davey lay in the graveyard, and D H Lawrence jingled along from Tregarthen to discover the truth by the fire in the Tinners’. On the air came some words of his old friend, Sidney Graham, lamenting the death of Peter Lanyon. I thought of Craig, unable to ride his horse, sitting quietly with his mellotron, conjuring echoes of little folk below the beams of his lair. I thought that, but for Craig, there would be red brick and dual carriageways, broken farms and unrecognisable stones.

The days are shortening over Little Park Owles.
The poet or painter steers his life to maim
Himself somehow for the job. His job is Love
Imagined into words or paint to make
An object that will stand and will not move.(1)

Craig Weatherhill was a completer of projects, a draughtsman, thorough and intense in his method, modest and self-effacing in his achievement. His early experience in the RAF(2) gave him a work ethic which has driven him to produce, to perfect, and to make a lifework of lasting and statuesque value to his Nation, her people and the sum of human culture. I know he was anxious about where the next generation of fighters and thinkers for Cornwall was to be found – with its head buried in the books he wrote in his spare time, I have no doubt!

Kernow bys vykken

Cllr Bert Biscoe, Cornish historian, bard of Gorsedh Kernow and Mayor of Truro – July 2020

1 W S Graham – ‘The Thermal Stair’ from Malcolm Mooney’s Land (1970)

2 See Memoirs – Art Cornwall – http://www.artcornwall.org/features/Craig_Weatherhill_Memoirs.htm


From Transceltic Kernow

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with enormous sadness that we announce the passing of Craig Weatherhill whose demise over the weekend of Saturday 18th July 2020 to Sunday 19th July, 2020 at the age of 69 years, has sent a shock wave of grief through our Cornish community. Craig was so many things to so very many of us.

A humble man but firmly and proudly Cornish, Craig was a widely published and award winning author of best-selling historical and other reference books as well as novels, a retired planning officer and architect, a former semi-professional footballer, a Bard of Gorseth Kernow, a practised and accomplished horseman, a recognised expert on Cornwall’s archaeology and history, an expert on Cornwall’s place names, a Cornish language speaker and life member of Agan Tavas – the society for the promotion and protection of the Cornish language, an inspirational and truthful campaigner for Cornish matters, a musician, a friend and an absolute authority on all things Cornish and relating to Cornwall. This list is far from exhaustive and could go on so much more.

Craig was a truly great Cornishman who was respected, admired and loved. A giant in his fields of expertise, and one who spoke with passion, unquestionable knowledge and dignity. To him, Kernow truly mattered. His presence touched the lives of so very many and his death leaves an enormous vacuum. We are in deep mourning for this son of Cornwall.

Cusk yn cres Craig. (Rest in peace. These simple words can never be enough for this great and much loved man)


From Cornwall24

The passing of a great Cornishman, Craig Weatherhill (1950-2020), whose death ‘in the virtual saddle’ working alone in his home on Saturday 18th July, 2020 or Sunday 19th July, 2020 at the age of 69 years, is a huge blow to those who loved him and his beloved Duchy.

As one of the groups to which he was dedicated to work for Cornwall, Kernow Matters to Us, said in their breaking news:

“Craig was so many things to so very many of us. A humble man but firmly and proudly Cornish, Craig was a widely published and award winning author of best selling historical and other reference books as well as novels, a retired planning officer and architect, a former semi professional footballer, a Bard of Gorseth Kernow, a practised and accomplished horseman, a recognised expert on Cornwall’s archaeology and history, an expert on Cornwall’s place names, a Cornish language speaker and life member of Agan Tavas – the society for the promotion and protection of the Cornish language, an inspirational and truthful campaigner for Cornish matters, a musician, a friend and an absolute authority on all things Cornish and relating to Cornwall. This list is far from exhaustive and could go on so much more”.

Craig was Barded as ‘DELYNYER HENDHYSCANS’ at Nance, Illogan in 1981.

As Craig himself humbly said, just shortly before he left us: “Gorsedh Kernow has awarded me an Awen Community medal for “outstanding contribution to Penwith and to broader Cornish culture.” The medal, made by St Justin of Longrock, is of Cornish tin, and about 2 inches across. I’ve known for a month, but the official announcement was today. Very pleased, honoured and pleasantly surprised.”

The Gorsedh has outlined that his Bardic Name means Draughtsman of Archaeology and he conducted extensive archaeological surveys of West Cornwall under the tutelage of PAS POOL, the Cornish Historian. His reconstruction of West Cornwall Courtyard Houses (drawings & artwork) is now the accepted form for these buildings. He wrote extensively and just some of his work includes:

  • The Principal Antiquities of the Land’s End District with Pas. POOL MA, FSA & Professor Charles THOMAS (Cornwall Archaeological Society 1980)
  • Belerion: Ancient Sites of Land’s End (Alison HODGE 1981, 1985; Halsgrove 1989, 2000)
  • Cornovia: Ancient Sites of Cornwall & Scilly (Alison HODGE 1985; Halsgrove 1997, 2000, 2009)
  • Myths & Legends of Cornwall with Paul DEVEREUX (Sigma Press 1994, 1997)
  • Cornish Place Names in Cornwall & Scilly (Wessex/Westcountry Books 2005)
  • Cornish Place Names & Language completely revised edition (Sigma Press 2007) ISBN 978-85058-837-5
  • A Concise Dictionary of Cornish Place Names (Evertype 2009) ISBN 978-1-904808-22-0
  • The Place-names of the Land’s End Peninsula (Penwith Press, 2017) ISBN 978-1-9997775-0-0
  • They Shall Land – The Spanish Raid on Mount’s Bay, Cornwall, July 1595 (Penwith Press, 2019) ISBN 9781999777517

Perhaps his greatest contribution to Cornish History is The Promontory People, An Early History of the Cornish (Francis Boutle Publishers, 2018) ISBN 978-1-9164906-1-1 which is awaiting a fourth reprint, being required reading for those who want to know the true early history of their nation and land. When he passed on to be free with his beloved horses he had completed a work on Late Cornish. We await this being in publication.

Craig was a truly great Cornishman who was feisty but humble, a stickler for detail but able to write for easy understanding. He was respected, admired and loved. A giant in his fields of expertise, and one who spoke with passion, unquestionable deep knowledge and with dignity. Generous of his time and knowledge, he was a mentor to many!

He worked selfessly as a volunteer and advisor for many groups over his life, both in public and behind the scenes – recently with his mobility curtailed by his respiratory illness groups such as Save Penwith Moors, Cornish Signage Panel, Penwith Landscape Partnership, and KMTU.

KMTU again, “To him, Kernow truly mattered. His presence touched the lives of so very many and his death leaves an enormous vacuum. We are in deep mourning for this son of Cornwall”.

Disqwitha yn cres (Rest in peace) 22 July, 2020


From CornwallLive

Tributes have been flooding in following the death of a Cornish patriot and activist over the weekend. Craig Weatherhill passed away at his home over the weekend aged 69. Over the years Craig has penned numerous pieces of literature and following his death been described as someone whose expertise and knowledge of Cornwall will be sadly missed.

A statement from the ‘Kernow Matters’ Campaign Group paid tribute to Craig. It said: “It is with enormous sadness that we announce the passing of Craig Weatherhill whose demise over the weekend at the age of 69 years, has sent a shock wave of grief through our Cornish community.

“Craig was so many things to so very many of us. A humble man but firmly and proudly Cornish, Craig was a widely published and award winning author of bestselling historical and other reference books as well as novels, a retired planning officer and architect, a former semi-professional footballer, a Bard of Gorseth Kernow, a practised and accomplished horseman, a recognised expert on Cornwall’s archaeology and history, an expert on Cornwall’s place names, a Cornish language speaker and life member of Agan Tavas – the society for the promotion and protection of the Cornish language, an inspirational and truthful campaigner for Cornish matters, a musician, a friend and an absolute authority on all things Cornish and relating to Cornwall. This list is far from exhaustive and could go on so much more.

“Craig was a truly great Cornishman who was respected, admired and loved. A giant in his fields of expertise, and one who spoke with passion, unquestionable knowledge and dignity. “To him, Kernow truly mattered. His presence touched the lives of so very many and his death leaves an enormous vacuum. We are in deep mourning for this son of Cornwall.”

Information blog Ancient Penwith added: “Craig was without doubt one of the most well respected Cornish historians, and the work he did with Cornish ancient history, Cornish place names, the Cornish language and Cornwall in general was incredible.