Borth - A Seaborn Village, by Terry Davies
Book published by Carreg Gwalch in 2004, 120 pages. Square(ish) paperback - c.19.5cm by 20.5cm (N5902)
Brand New Book
This book is a fascinating history of the coastal village of Borth in Cardiganshire, and details its historic connection with the sea, especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book is illustrated throughout with lots of colour and black and white photographs. Chapters include History, Fishtraps And Folklore, Maps And Charts, The Ynyslas Area, Shipping Development, Cargoes, Herring Fishing, Borth Boats, Local Fishing Practices, Borth Stories, Borth Captains And Their Ships, and Illustrations.
The origins of Borth are lost in the mists of time - way before any written history. Unlike most settlements in the area, Borth didn’t develop around a church, castle or manor house and as Davies points out, there’s always been a folkloric belief that it was founded by outcasts. Anyone who’s spent time in Borth will know that that sense of being the ‘outsider’ can still be detected today.
The population of modern-day Borth fluctuates wildly. It is said to increase tenfold in the summer with the influx of holidaymakers mostly from the Midlands. But it seems there’s always been an ebb and flow to numbers in the village over the centuries. Davies tells us that seasonal herring fishermen have always drifted to the shores of Borth with the earliest records from Elizabethan times.
This is mostly a study of Borth’s links with the sea – no mean feat given the lack of official records. But Davies, who was born in the village, has managed to fill the gaps comprehensively. In amongst some dense detail, there are some delightful glimpses of colour, for instance, the ‘black crows’ - widows who ruled the village after their menfolk were lost at sea. This is a local history but it’s also much more than that – it’s a vital record of ordinary people who would otherwise be forgotten.