Thursday, 8 October 2015


You must be in bed by seven, or the crows will get you!”

In my mind’s eye great black birds swooped down, picking up small children and carrying them up to Craig-Yr-Wylfa, the high cliff south of the village. I looked from the window to see if any were nearby.
The Crows were women.
In the old days the people paid their tithe to the church in herring and other fish caught in the bay. But it was always dangerous – especially launching and landing boats through the surf.
Out at sea the litany of lost ships and lost sailors was also long. Enoch James was just 14 when he fell overboard from the Dovey Belle.
The Crows were the widows of 19th century Borth sailors, for the tithe of herring was dearly won. The women always wore black. Other fishermen would give them a few fish, they would carry turf and they would knit and sew and weave. They would collect cockles and limpets from the rocks. Then they would carry their produce over the hills to Aberystwyth to sell. In the evening you would see a line of sombre figures coming back into the village. There were so many fishermen’s widows they were vital to the local economy.

When the weather is bad you can still see ghostly, black figures on the shore, gazing out to sea.

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