Weaving Text and Pictures

 

A Village by the Sea

 

Selkies and Seal Legends

 

Spinning Tales Around the Text

 

 

Maes y Mynydd is the setting for the village in The Seal Children. This ruined village lies behind a high ridge of rock to the north of St Davids, not far from Whitesands Beach and St Davids Head.

Once it was a small but busy community, with upwards of thirteen cottages. The people who lived there were fishermen and farmers, the cottages tied to the rich farms over the hill. In the later years of the life of the village the people who lived there were thought to be Quakers, escaping from religious intolerance on the other side of the hill. Old maps of the area show the road to the village to be named as either the road to Pennsylvania, or the road to New York.

Life for the villagers was little more than slavery, with even small children working hard in the fields. The villagers kept their fishing boats in a sheltered cove called The Gessel, and as late as the 1940's it was possible to descend a steep path to the cove where iron rings that the boats would have been fastened to could still be seen rusting in the rock face. The path has long since fallen away and now only seals and oystercatchers are seen on the beach.

In the 1890's there were only 6 people left in the village, all over the age of 60. All the other people had left for what they believed would be a better life in the towns, working in the coal mines in Swansea and in America and Australia. These six old people lived in a place with no roads, no electricity, they drew their water from a well and the nearest small town was 3 miles away.

By the turn of the century the village was empty and after that the houses were occasionally used by itinerant workers. Stones were taken away, roofs fell in, and now all that remains are the echoes of past lives carried on the wind and the bones of a few cottages.

The fields worked by the people are still farmed, and the walls surrounding the small gardens of the houses can still be seen. Stonecrop and moss grow on the walls and birds and mice wander the ruins. In one of the cottages the chimney fawr can still be seen, with the chimney held up by an almost rotten piece of wood for a lintel, a piece of wood that may well have come ashore as driftwood centuries ago. When this breaks the chimney will fall.

 

 

A hawthorn tree grown from a seed dropped by a bird grows from a window. In spring it is covered briefly with white blossom like sea spray before the wind catches it and blows the tree bare. Buzzards call a mournful mew and if you listen carefully you can catch the song of the seal on the wind.

 

 


©Jackie Morris