A crab for St Piran’s Day

Today is the feast day of the patron saint of Cornwall, Piran (Peran in Cornish). I’ve posted HERE about the remains of his oratory on Penhale Sands near Perranporth (named after him – it’s also a popular boy’s name in the county).

He’s said in his legend to have arrived on the Cornish coast strapped to a mill wheel, having been consigned to the sea by the king of Leinster, whom he’d angered with his Christian piety. He’s not the only legendary saint to have arrived in Britain by this unconventional means. Piran lived here in Cornwall as a holy hermit in the fifth or sixth centuries; he later became an abbot.

Piran is also said to have rediscovered tin-smelting, by lighting his fire on a black hearthstone which turned out to be rich in tin ore. The tin smelted to the surface to form a white-silver cross on a black background – which accounts for the design of the Cornish flag. Mining – principally at first for tin – was for centuries the dominant industry in this county. Remnants of this industrial activity are found everywhere here – even on the rugged coastal promontories.

Picture: Stemonitis, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In March 2016 a small species of hermit crab was rediscovered on the Cornish coast during a survey by Shoresearch Cornwall – a volunteer programme of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The species (clibanarius erythropus) had not been seen here for fifty years. After a viewers’ survey on the BBC ‘Springwatch’ programme, this apt name was chosen for it – both the saint and the crab are hermits, and survive the perils of the sea.

I’m indebted to a post on Facebook for knowledge of the existence of this handsome little red-pincered crab. There’s an even better photo of it in that FB post, if you care to search for the Cornish Wildlife Trust page, and today’s entry there.


4 thoughts on “A crab for St Piran’s Day

  1. Ha ha, when I saw the title of this post, I was envisaging a large crab featuring in a scrumptious repast at a pub overlooking the bay…
    On the subject of seafood, we’re unexpectedly lucky here in Australia… when I was a young woman, crayfish a.k.a. lobsters were cheap enough to buy even for us on our limited budget. Then the Chinese started buying them, the price shot up and they became special occasion only. (Well over $100, even for a small one). But now the Chinese are cranky with us and have slapped an import ban on our crays, and so we can afford them again!

    • Cornwall is still a major source of lobster for European as well as UK markets – but they’re expensive here, too. Lobster boats around Falmouth still have to be under sail – no engines allowed. They’re a fine sight, with dark red sails.

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