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Cornwall's History of the World

Gold lunulae neckpiece
This 4,000 year old treasure came from Ireland to Cornwall

Many historic items from Cornwall have been added to the BBC's online museum as part of A History of the World.

The aim behind the campaign is to encourage people to share their own treasures which have helped to shape the world we live in. The latest discoveries include a necklace from the Great War, a brass 4.5 Howitzer shell case, a gold Lunulae and souvenirs from Michigan.

The 4000 year old gold neckpiece pictured above has been added by the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro. Staff say:

"Named after the crescent moons they resemble, lunulae represent some of the most valuable and beautiful items ever found in Cornwall.

"Gold lunulae came from Ireland some 4,000 years ago. Whereas in Ireland they were ritual items, in Cornwall they were treasured and buried in the mounds of local chiefs or spiritual leaders.

"Of the four examples found in Cornwall in the late 18th and 19th centuries, one was kept in a bank vault for years after being given away as a wedding present in the early 1860s and two others were used, temporarily, to hold up the finder's trouser legs."

Tony Squires has added a necklace from the Great War

Great War necklace
One of the great finds so far is a necklace from the Great War

He says: "My Grandfather, Alfred Squires was severely injured as a 19 year old ammo runner during the battle of Bois des Buttes in 1918. He spent four years in hospital and during that time ,as part of Physical Therapy, he made this necklace out of the card packets that Woodbine cigars were sold in.

"He gave the necklace to his nurse, Louisa, who had helped in through the tough times. After his discharge from the Army in 1921 and then from hospital in 1922, the two of them were married and had nine children.

"The marriage deteriorated and they were divorced by the mid 40's. Louisa died in the late 60's but Alfred live to a the age of 83, dying in 1981. In his possessions was this fragile necklace which he had kept safe all those years. He always said that she was the love of his life."

'JAC' from St Ives has added a brass 4.5 Howitzer shell case.

He says: "I often look at the brass shell case that sits on our hearth and wonder if it might have changed the course of history.

Howitzer shell case
This brass shell case has pride of place in a home in St Ives

"I met the late Captain Ross when he was in command of the salvage vessel Droxford, working under the Risdon Beazley flag. He had recently returned from a salvage operation off the Faeroes where he located the SS Holington, sunk on the 2nd June 1917 by the German U 95 with the loss of some 30 lives.

"Hollington was carrying a cargo of tin, and according to Capt Ross, small arms and ammunition for delivery to the Tsar of Russia.

"Had the SS Hollington not been sunk by enemy action, would the cargo have changed the result of the Russian revolution?

"The records show that between 1970 & 1972 Captain Ross recovered 680 Tons of Tin from the SS Holington which lay off the Faeroes at a depth of 894 feet."

Souvenirs from Michigan have also been added to the History of the World online museum. It was sent back by expat miner Edward Gerrish and was sent to us by Geevor Tin Mine.

The museum says: "Edward Gerrish left St Just at the age of 21, in 1901. He and two friends decided to join the large Cornish copper mining community in Houghton County, Michigan.

Michigan gift from yesteryear
Many miners from Cornwall would bring gifts home from Michigan

"Edward worked as a miner, went to the local Methodist Church and enjoyed such activities as Cornish wrestling. Pay was good and he sent money home each month to his aunt.

"In 1912 Gerrish returned to St Just after almost becoming an American citizen. As well as money, miners would bring back souvenirs such as decorative copper items or simply native copper preserved in oil.

"Edward also brought back these medicines, purchased in America. The bottle of Eucamenthine claims to cure many ills including hay fever, piles, mosquito bites, tonsillitis, neuralgia and many more. The box contained a powder to cure an unknown illness."

Get Involved

If you have an important item that you would like to add to the BBC's History of the World online museum, click here

A History of the World
20 Jan 10 |  History



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