Announcing cornishmemory.com – a new resource for Cornwall’s audio-visual heritage

cornishmemory.com logoSince November 2014 some of my time has been spent working with Azook CIC,  a “not-for-profit social enterprise dedicated to growing cultural confidence amongst Cornish communities by connecting people with their cultural heritage”. Initially working on the MemoryFish project looking at fishing heritage in Cornwall, I began to help them rebuild cornishmemory.com so that it would have capacity to display tens of thousands of historic photos, films and audio recordings from around Cornwall. Many of these items have been digitised from private and pubic collections with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of Azook’s Re:collect project.

The new version of cornishmemory.com is built using an open source platform called Omeka, which is designed for “scholars, museums, libraries, archives, and enthusiasts”.  I customised it for their needs and populated it with over 31,000 items, assisted by many open source tools along the way, such as LibreOffice and OpenRefine.

There are lots of improvements and additional functionality planned for 2016 (Creative Commons licensing, metadata enhancement, temporal searching, Google site search, more content, etc).

Visit cornishmemory.com if you are interested in any aspect of the the history of Cornwall.

Recording St Piran’s Oratory – 3D model and animation

I have now completed my recent work on St Piran’s Oratory on behalf of St Piran Trust and Cornwall Archaeological Unit. It was a challenging task requiring a huge amount of computer resources and time, with colleagues at Archaeovision helping when my computer broke down, but I am pleased with the results.

Here is a short animation of St Piran’s Oratory, digitally freed from its concrete walls:

Here is an interactive model which you can zoom, turn, and inspect:

[sketchfab id=”f2f60441723f433cb230153768cf5f77″ start=”0″ spin=”” controls=”1″]

And here is an interactive 3D model of the complete Oratory structure with the concrete walls we see today:

[sketchfab id=”b360da3fe0ca4deda9d6d8b03e2cb4cf” start=”0″ spin=”” controls=”1″]

We must now wait for the final report by CAU (to which this data contributes) to better understand the building and its phasing. Watch this space.

Recording St Piran’s Oratory

For the last couple of weeks, and on St Piran’s Day itself, I have been helping out with the Uncovering St Piran’s Oratory project. Organised by St Piran Trust and run by Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service the project aims to uncover as much of the (potentially) early medieval structure to assess and record its condition.

Following a 15-year-campaign, the St Piran Trust plans to unearth and conserve St Piran’s Oratory, believed to be amongst the oldest Christian buildings on mainland Britain. The site has been of central importance to Cornish people for over 1,400 years as a place of worship and pilgrimage, and as a focus for cultural expression. Today, many hundreds of people gather at the site annually to mark St Piran’s Day. The saint’s flag (which features in a stained-glass window installed in Westminster Abbey in 1888) – a white cross on a black field, is flown the length and breadth of Cornwall.

The scheduled ancient monument is a listed building and was buried in 1980, for “its own protection”. Since then expert opinion has shifted, amid calls for it to be uncovered and conserved in a more sympathetic way.

The Oratory and associated protective concrete structure from 1910 are protected as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. Unfortunately in 1980 as part of the burial programme, the concrete roof was removed – or so we thought. During this year’s excavation we found that part of the roof structure, badly damaged and sitting at an angle, had been left where it fell and simply buried. It has been decided that the pile of broken concrete needs to be removed to safely continue with the project.

Concrete at St Piran's Oratory

I have been commissioned to record concrete remains in-situ using photogrammetry to complement more traditional recording. I undertook the photography aspect of photogrammetric recording on St Piran’s Day (5th March 2014) and am now processing the point clouds. This will result in a highly detailed model of the concrete remains, which include a buttress, part of the reinforced concrete curved roof, and the hollow mundic blocks used to construct the walls.

From a technical point of view it is proving to be a challenge. There is no uniformity to the concrete remains – it is full of overhangs, pockets and voids. The photographic capture strategy was tough to work out, and 16GB of RAW images were taken after careful cleaning of the concrete by trowel, hand shovel, bucket and brush. I have covered as many angles as was safe and practical to do so.

I will be delivering the point cloud and a series of orthographic views to the client.

Once the concrete has been removed, it is hoped to expose more of the Oratory, and I will be able to record the medieval structure in the same manner.

In the meantime, I have the opportunity to get out in the open air and dig, which I love.

The are plenty of photos on the open Facebook group Uncovering St Piran’s Oratory. You can also see a 3D model of the excavation as it stood on St Piran’s Day 2014.

Recent 3D Scanning in West Cornwall

Noti Noti stone

A few weeks ago I gave a talk to the Cornwall Archaeological Society about 3D capture methods in archaeology, with examples of some of my recent work. It’s all work in progress, but here are some of the images shown during the lecture.

The stones were all chosen as case studies as they all contain details which can be difficult to see with the naked eye under normal lighting conditions. They include the Noti Noti stone in St Hilary, an inscribed stone and decorated crosses at Phillack, the Penzance Market Cross (left elevation) and the Cunaide Stone in Hayle.

The Pasties of Penzance

Pasty from Ian Lentern butchers, Penzance
Pasty from Ian Lentern butchers, Penzance
Pasty from Ian Lentern butchers, Penzance

Does Penzance have more pasty shops than anywhere else in Cornwall? The total number of establishments selling fresh hot pasties is now at 20.

When I moved to Penzance one of the first things I had to eat was, of course, a pasty. It was huge. Bigger than my head, and I couldn’t finish it. It was from Lavenders, and made here in the town. After that, I noticed the sheer number of establishments which sold pasties. And there began a most important piece of research. Is Penzance the pasty capital of Cornwall?

Here is a list of establishments that sell fresh, hot (as hot as the Pasty Tax allows, anyway) pasties, baked daily. In the town centre there are 18 19 20 such places. If you know of anywhere that isn’t on the list, tell me. If you know of any other town in Cornwall that has more pasty outlets, I want to know!

Takeaway Pasties

  • Lavenders (Alverton St)
  • Cindy’s (Alverton St)
  • Warrens (Alverton St)
  • AJ’s Eats and Treats (Causewayhead)
  • Rowes (Causewayhead)
  • Mounts Bay Pasty Company (Market Jew St)
  • Warrens (upper Market Jew St)
  • Pellows (Market Jew St)
  • Rowes (Market Jew St)
  • Warrens (lower Market Jew St)
  • Lavenders (Market Jew St)
  • Dreckleys Steakhouse (Wharf Rd)
  • Steamers (Penzance Station)
  • Chy an Clare News (St Clare St, allegedly baked by Lavenders)
  • Costcutters (Market Jew St, sells hot Rowes pasties)
  • Ian Lentern butchers (Chapel St)
  • Cornish Hen deli (Market Place)
  • All Day Takeaway & Ice Cream shop (Barbican & Coinagehall St junction)
  • Barbican Coffee Shop (Barbican Lane)

(19)

Pasties for Eat-in Only

  • Tremenheere Wetherspoons (Market Jew St)

(1)

Pasty and SwanThe best pasties in Penzance?

I’ve had a pasty for my croust (Cornish term for lunch, or just a time when you’re starving) from most of the places listed above. My personal preference is for a large pasty from the Mounts Bay Pasty Company. They’ve got plenty of sweetness and gravy, and the pastry is just right, and nice and buttery, with soft delicious meat. I do like a Lavenders pasty on occasion, but lately they’ve been a bit too salty for me. Warrens is probably the best “mass produced” baker’s pasty in Penzance. They’re actually made in St Just, so it’s still pretty local.

I need your help

Is Penzance truly the pasty capital of Cornwall? Have I missed somewhere? Probably! Leave a comment below and I’ll publish it and add to the list. Does your town have more pasty outlets? Prove it!

Living in Cornwall

Over the last few years I have moved about quite a lot. I’ve lived in Salisbury, London, Swansea, and have moved yet again. I have moved back to my homeland, to Cornwall. And this time I hope it’s the last move for a very long time!

I now live in West Cornwall, an area called West Penwith, and the town of Penzance is my new home. I have been visiting this part of the Duchy with Tehmina every year for the last twelve years, and we have completely fallen in love with it. I didn’t often visit this part of the world whilst I was growing up in Cornwall, so we’ve discovered it together. Penzance began to feel like home some years ago, and it seemed after moving around so much, that it was the only place we could settle down in. And a few weeks in, we’re really glad that we’ve finally made it.

I’ll undoubtedly post more in the coming weeks, once we get our phone and broadband installed, on the amazing place that I can now call home. For now, here are a few photographs that I have taken whilst out and about.

Cornish pasties receive Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status

Tuesday 22nd February 2011 was a great day for the humble Cornish pasty. As reported by the Cornish Pasty Association:

The Cornish Pasty Association (CPA) is celebrating after receiving Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status for its world famous pasty. The decision from the European Commission means that from now only Cornish pasties made in Cornwall and following the traditional recipe can be called ‘Cornish pasties’.
From
http://www.cornishpastyassociation.co.uk/news11.html

A pasty can still be baked elsewhere in the country, so long as it was prepared in Cornwall. The West Cornwall Pasty Company, Pasty Presto, and The Pasty Shop to name but a few will be glad of that. With a bit of luck this could be good news for the Cornish economy, as it is hoped that demand for the real thing will grow.

I’d like to think that this will be an end to the word “Cornish” being used to describe the pale imitation pasty that is prevalent across the UK, made with flaky pastry, crimped on top and filled with grey slush, corned beef, or worse. Let’s hope so. From the middle of March purveyors of imposters will need to change those signs.

Sadly, a friend reminded me that Ginsters pasties are made in Launceston, and can legally be called a Cornish Pasty under the new rules. For the uninitiated, the word ‘Ginsters’ is a bit of a swear word amongst Cornish pasty appreciators across the land, a blight on our pasty landscape. They did once upon a time make a nice proper pasty with short pastry called the “Beast of Bodmin” which came in a cardboard box, but this didn’t take off and we’re now left with those horrible tasteless flaky ‘pressed’ pies sold in motorway service stations and overpriced railway station cafes. But this is a rant for another time, the world isn’t perfect, and people do need jobs, I suppose.

Ginsters. A swear word amongst Cornish pasty appreciators. Here is a Ginsters sponsored train heading off to Cardiff in Salisbury.

Head over to the Cornish Pasty Association to find out more about the PGI status, and download a fine recipe. But what happens if you cook some pasties at home outside of Cornwall, can you call them Cornish? Or will it be a ‘pasty made to a traditional Cornish recipe’? Maybe PGI status is only applicable if you try to sell it. That’s a debate to be had!

So here’s to the Cornish pasty, the humble hoggan, made in Cornwall!