Cornish literature boasts a rich and diverse history, and among its treasures are two remarkable medieval dramas: “Gwreans an Bys” and “Origo Mundi.” These two plays provide a captivating glimpse into the cultural and linguistic heritage of Cornwall while offering distinct narratives and perspectives. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of these Cornish masterpieces and compare their unique features.

“Gwreans an Bys”: The Creation of the World

Gwreans an Bys

1. The Mysterious Epic

Gwreans an Bys, also known as The Creation of the World, stands as a testament to the creativity and cultural depth of medieval Cornwall. This anonymous play, believed to originate from the late 14th or early 15th century, tells the story of the creation of the world and the lives of saints. Its allure lies in its enigmatic authorship, linguistic richness, and captivating narrative.

2. Linguistic Significance

One of the standout features of Gwreans an Bys is its use of the Cornish language. It serves as a linguistic treasure, shedding light on the historical development of Cornish and its role in shaping the region’s identity. Exploring this play is not only a journey through time but also a linguistic adventure.

“Origo Mundi”: The Origin of the World

Origo Mundi

1. The Divine Perspective

Origo Mundi, meaning The Origin of the World, offers a different perspective on the creation narrative. This Cornish play, dated to the late 14th century, focuses on the biblical story of creation and the fall of man. It’s known for its dramatic portrayal of the biblical characters and events, making it a unique contribution to Cornish literature.

2. The Theological Themes

While Origo Mundi shares some thematic similarities with Gwreans an Bys regarding the creation narrative, it places a stronger emphasis on theological themes. It delves into sin, redemption, and divine judgment, offering a deeper exploration of religious ideas.

A Comparative Glimpse

Comparing these two Cornish dramas highlights their distinct qualities:

  • Narrative Focus: Gwreans an Bys emphasizes the creation of the world and the lives of saints, while Origo Mundi centers on the biblical narrative of creation and the fall of man.

  • Linguistic Diversity: Both plays showcase the Cornish language, but Gwreans an Bys offers a broader linguistic tapestry, reflecting diverse linguistic elements.

  • Themes: While both explore biblical themes, Origo Mundi delves deeper into theological concepts, making it a more explicitly religious work.


“Gwreans an Bys” and “Origo Mundi” are two jewels in the crown of Cornish literature, each offering a unique perspective on the creation narrative and the cultural heritage of Cornwall. These plays remind us of the linguistic richness and historical depth of the Cornish language, and they continue to captivate readers and scholars alike.

As you explore these medieval masterpieces, you’ll embark on a journey not only through time but also through the minds of their anonymous authors, gaining a deeper appreciation for the enduring legacy of Cornish culture.