Gwelan Podcasts- Myth, Language and Legend in Mounts Bay

Posted on: 28th February 2022 No Comments

As part of the Gwelan podcasts, with artist Emma Smith, we continued our exploration of Mounts Bay, this time through the lens of myth, legend and language.

We start with a poem from Angie Butler, who lives in Penzance. An avid book reader, as a child, with first dibs on the books which came through the vicarage book sales (her father was vicar on the Mount), Angie has spent many hours reading and discovering myths and legends from the area. When working as a Primary School teacher in Penzance, with views out over the bay, Angie wanted to excite and engage children with local myths and legends. Finding very little written for children, she wrote a series of plays to bring the stories she discovered to life, snippets of which we hear in this podcast.

We hear again from the fascinating maritime historian Jo Esra, whose window also overlooks Mounts Bay, Stephen and Anna who live and work on the Mount and Connie who we find litter picking on the shore, as they explore these myths and legends further and reflect on the spirituality of the Mount.

Like the stone heart that sits in the path up St Michael’s Mount, stories are not just told but get woven into the landscape. The place names we all use and navigate by are laden with local knowledge. As well as place names, language also offers insights into how we experience the landscape. And in Mounts Bay an integral part of this landscape is the sea. It was a pleasure to spend time with Mark Trevethan, Cornish Language Lead at Cornwall Council who unpicks some of this language with us.

Tom’s father’s treasured notebook containing notes on local fishing marks

As well as being used to understand and read the landscape, language also helps us navigate the sea, with carefully guarded ‘marks’ being passed down the generations to help fishermen find fishing grounds and return safely to harbour. We hear again from Tom Chambers in Porthleven, as he shares with us some of the names of these marks and their importance to fishing in the past.


A massive thank you to everyone who has shared with us for this podcast. It’s been a privilege to hear your stories. The music in this podcast was played by Jypsonian, with sound design by Ciaran Clark.

The full series of podcasts will be made available through the Newlyn Art Gallery website as well as other podcasting platforms.

The podcasts are part of the project led by artist Emma Smith, commissioned by Cornwall Council. The artwork is part of the EXPERIENCE project which promotes experiential tourism and sustainable economic growth during October to March. The project is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) through the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme under the Natural and Cultural Heritage funding category.

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