The Bucca

The term Bucca refers in Cornwall to several things. First of all it was common for the fisher folk of Newlyn, Moueshole and Penzance to set aside three fish from their catch to placate the Sea hobgoblin Bucca Dhu who was said to be the herald and originator of storms, particularly violent storms. In Newlyn their were a number of sites that were associated with this spirits veneration including the Tolcarne, which was said to have where the devil or Bucca foretold the Spanish Raid on Mount’s Bay in 1595. Another place was the Park an Growse or field of the cross which was situated east of the now large Council estate Gwavas. The Rev Lach-Szyrma of St Peters Newlyn considered the Bucca to be the remnant of ancient Cornish sea god a view shared by other antiquarians associated with the Cornish revival. The famous Cornish Folk Story “Duffy and the Bucca” or Duffy and the Devil is based on a different version of the Bucca as a land devil who was seen riding the moors of Cornwall with a wild hunt of flame eyes dogs in attendance, sometimes known as the Devil and his Dandy Dog’s or East Cornwall, Dando and his dogs. Curiously the Bucca had two forms one Bucca Dhu was hobgoblin, Bucca Gwidden was a spirit of light and kindness.

William Bottrell in 1890 described in detail the current situation concerning Buccas;

‘It is uncertain whether Bucka can be regarded as one of the fairy tribe; old people, within my remembrance, spoke of a Bucka Gwidden and a Bucka Dhu – by the former they meant good spirit, and by the latter an evil one, now known as Bucka boo. I have been told, by persons of credit, that within the last forty years it was a usual practice with Newlyn and Mousehole fishermen to leave on the sand at night a portion of their catch for Bucka.

The Bucca was also associated with a booming noise that was said to be heard in Mount’s Bay Prior to the onset of a storm.Sir Humphry Davy examined this phenomena scientifically as part of one of his earlier works.

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