This is where I was on Sunday afternoon and below you can see what it looked like. What it felt like was cold and so windy that it was difficult to stand upright at times.

Kynance is a small cove just north of The Lizard, which is the southernmost point in England. The name The Lizard is easy. It derives from Cornish lys (“court”) + ardh (“height”). Kynance is a bit trickier, however.

An early form (1325) of the name is Pennkeunans, meaning “end of ravine valley”. Once the penn got dropped, the expected development of the spelling would have resulted in Cownance. However, somewhere along the way the name seems to have been re-interpreted as containing the element ki, which means “dog”.

The flatter of the islands you can see, the one just right of centre in the picture, is called Asparagus Island, from the wild asparagus that used to grow there. Apparently, it is possible to walk across the sands to the islands for an hour before and an hour after low tide. No-one was attempting that on Sunday, least of all me.

6 thoughts on “Kynance

  1. Emilio,

    Both the result of my amateurish attempt to clean up the picture a bit. The sun was so bright that the left of the photo was blanched out.

  2. Don’t forget the horizon is curved, we just think it’s straight as we have to turn our heads to take it all in. A wide angle lens can exaggerate the curvature on a photo.

  3. Visual distortions and optical illusions aside, this is an extremely spectacular stretch of coast, as John’s photo shows. 12.5% of my genes come from this parish.

    Interesting derivation of Kynance. As I remember it, there is indeed a very deep ravine that requires you to descend sharply to near sea level before climbing up again. But that last step, kai rather than *kau. Couldn’t that be an English pronunciation, instead of a celtic reinterpretation to “dog”.

    Any ideas on the derivation of Landewednack?

    Regarding pronunciation, my place-name dictionary (Routledge) says landi’wednak by the BBC but lanad’wednak in Cornwall. My inspired guess before going there was *la’wenak (prejudiced thinking that four syllables is too many to survive in those stiff winds that you and everyone else experiences there).

  4. John,

    Local’s seem to think that Lizard came from Lys-arth, meaning high moor, or high plateau.

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