TRADITIONS OF THE DANES IN CORNWALL.
THE Danes are said to have landed in several places around the coast, and have made permanent settlements in some parts. We have already spoken of the battle of Vellan-Druchar. In Sennen Cove there was for a long period a colony of red-haired people,--indeed, I am informed some of them still live on the spot,--with whom the other inhabitants of the district refused to marry. Up to a very recent period, in several of the outlying villages, a red-haired family was "looked down" upon. "Oh, he or she is a red-haired Daäne," was a common expression of contempt.
There are several hills which bear the names of Danes' Castles--as Castle-an-Dinas, near Peazance, and another in St Columb. [a] Another very remarkable earthwork in Perran-Zabula (Caer-Dane) is described by HaIs. [b]
Eventually the Danes are said to have made permanent settlements in Cornwall, and to have lived on friendly terms with the Britons.
The Danes and the Cornish are reported to have concentrated their forces to oppose Egbert the Saxon. In 835 the combined body are reported to have met, and fought a pitched battle on Hengistendane (now Hengistondown), near Callington. The Cornish were so totally routed, that Egbert obliged the Danes to retire to their ships, and passed a law "that no Briton should in future cross the Tamar, or set foot on English ground, on pain of death." [c]
In 997 the Danes, sailing about Penwrith-steort, landed in several places, foraged the country, burnt the towns, and destroyed the people.[d]
Many of the traditions which are given in different parts of these volumes have much of the Danish element in them [e]
[a] "CASTLE-AN-DINAS.In the parish of Columb Major stands a castle of this name. Near this castle, by the highway, stands the Coyt, a stony tumulus so called, of which sort there are many in Wales and Wiltshire, as is mentioned is the 'Additions to Camden's Britannia,' in these places, commonly called the Devils Coyts. it consists of four long stones of great bigness, perpendicularly pitched in the earth contiguous with each other, leaving only a small vacancy downwards, but meeting together at the top; over all which is laid a fiat stone of prodigious bulk and magnitude, bending towards the east in way of adoration (as Mr Lhuyd concludes of all those Coyts elsewhere), as the person therein under it interred did when in the land of the living; but how or by what art this prodigious fiat stone should be placed on the top of the others, amazeth the wisest mathematicians, engineers, or architects to tell or conjecture. Colt, in Belgic-British, is a cave, vault, or con-house, of which coyt might possibly be a corruption." --Gilbert's Parochial Hislory.
[b] In the Manor of Lambourn is an ancient barrow, called Creag Mear, the Great Barrow, which was cut open by a labourer in search of stones to build a hedge. He came upon a small hollow, in which he found nine urns filled with ashes; the man broke them, supposing they were only old pitchers, good for nothing; but Tonkis, who saw them believes them to have been Danish, containing the ashes of some chief commanders slain in battle; and, says he, on a small hill just under this barrow is a Danish encampment called Castle Caer Dane, vulga Castle Caer Don,--i.e., the Danes' Camp - consisting of three entrenchments finished, and another begun, with an intent to surround the inner three, but not completed; and opposite to this, about a bowshot, the river only running between, on another hill is another camp or castle, called Castle Kaerkief, castrum simile, from Kyfel similis, alike alluding to Castle Caer Dane. But this is but just begun, and not finished in any part, from which I guess there were two different parties the one attacking the other before the entrenchments were finished.
[c] C. S. Gilbert's Historical Survey.
[e] See Popular Tales from the Norse. By George Webbe Dasent, D.C.L. Legends of Iceland, collected by Jan Arnason. Translated by George E. J. Powell end Eirekur