What are my special features?
Penclawdd cockles have been present in the Burry Estuary in South Wales since Roman Times. The cockles are removed from the sand when the beds are exposed at low tide. Traditionally this was performed by a donkey pulling a flat cart, using a curved metal ‘scrape’ to break the sand. In order to protect the industry and ensure sustainability, a government decree was passed in 1965 which only permits licensed gatherers to hand-pick the cockles with limited quotas, although these days the donkeys have been replaced by tractors. When cockles are bought they are often boiled and shelled. The spawning season is from January to April and they are harvested throughout the year.
What is my history?
Archaeological evidence suggests cockles have been present in the Burry Estuary since Roman times. They have been widely eaten in the area for centuries, with women traditionally hand picking the cockles before selling them at the marketplace either boiled ‘cocs rhython’ or untreated ‘cocs cregyn’. Due to their abundance in the Burry Estuary cockles have played a part in shaping the local cuisine. One traditional dish which is popular locally is the ‘Welsh breakfast’ which involves cockles fried in bacon fat, alongside Laverbread and fried eggs. Penclawdd cockles are a staple at the Swansea Market where every year they celebrate the Swansea Cockle Festival in September.
Why am I forgotten?
The cockle industry in Penclawdd has diminished over the last century as greater pollution in the water and mismanagement meant that cockles stocks suffered a decline. Thankfully they have recovered in recent years. As tastes change and the demand for these unique products decline, the traditional foods and the recipes and history that surround them are at risk of becoming lost.
Don’t lose me…cook me!