Sea biscuits – lumps of clay that are ‘hand rolled’ into ovate shapes by the tide

This is another new term to emerge out of the collaborative explorations of the Severn Estuary by Owain (blog owner) and artist-scholar Heather Green. With artist PhD student Laura Denning too on this occasion.

Sea Biscuits. Pieces of clay that are rolled into regular ovates (egg shaped) along the sea floor by the flowing of rising and ebbing tides, which are then left exposed as the tide falls. (The clay mud is sticky and firm enough to resist being dissolved by the sea water).”

((Ovates also seem to be druids of some kind!!))

We like how like how ‘biscuit’ conjures up the action of rolling dough by hand.

We might go and get some and try to bake them hard. And biscuit is also a term for unglazed fired ceramics.

Laura suggested the name sea scat!


This has been added to the page A (poetic) Tidal Glossary on this blog.


In a Facebook comment Stuart Ballard added:


“Stuart Ballard We used to find great fields of almost perfect spheres and cylinders about 4″ diameter near Arlingham when the conditions were right. I think someone tried putting one in a kiln but it just fell apart.”

Vintage, pretty, ‘ebb tide’, Huntley and Palmer buscuit tin showing sailing scenes.

We stumbled across this tidal curiosity. We guess there were many  such tins depicting classic scenes and times of British life – and the ebb tide was one of them. And maybe a reference to retirement, old age – and biscuits!? The drawings are lovely – reminiscent of Delft tiles.

Lovely pattern made by a moored boat and tide in an intertidal mudflat. (We think).

This is great we think – it is from a 1980s book of arial photographs of the British landscape. It seems to be a kind of pattern made in an estuary mudflat by a moored boat being repeated lifted and grounded by the tide?? There seems to be a few of them.

IMG_1912 This is in Angle, Dyfed, Wales.

This is the book this is from, by Bernard Stonehouse,  published in 1982. Although just about the British Landscape there are a lot of coastal pics of intertidal areas, e.g. the ones below

Treece – a mark left on intertidal ground by bits of wood and other objects, as they are dragged, and then left stranded, by the last ebbings of a falling tide.

This is a new term devised by artist-scholar Heather Green and Owain (blog owner), and is the first outcome of their collaborative explortions of the Severn Estuary. Treeces were seen when Heather and Owain got on to the Severn river bed at Arlingham (near Gloucester, UK) at low tide. The moon was rising over the nearby village of Framilode.

Treece – a mark left on intertidal ground by bits of wood and other objects, as they are dragged, and then left stranded, by the last ebbings of a falling tide. (Treece is also an old Anglo-Saxon name associated with trees).

They might be quite rare – depending on particular combinations of conditions of flow, surface and object.

Comment from artist  Margarethe Kölmel sent by email on 16.01.2020. Thanks.

“Lovely, a new word! “Treece” – Besides its obvious relation to trace it is what I would call a sound word (surely there is an english term for it that I don’t know) – a word that describes the thing or the activity by the sound it makes when we say it – here the dragging of a thing through\over sand.

You might want to submit it to  the” (We have done so)

This has been added to the page A (poetic) Tidal Glossary on this blog.

New artwork added to Tidal Artworks Page

No 69.  Walking the Tide. A large scale dynamic participatory performance event celebrating coast and community. By Jo Hodges in collaboration with Florencia Garcia Chafuen.  Scotland; UK.  2013.

Thanks to Jo Hodges of artist partnership  Coleman and Hodges for sending this in to us.

From the artists’ website

See it and  all other tide art works on the dedicated page here

Bristol Beach Schools. Taking children, young people and families to local, tidal beaches on the Severn Estuary. “There is something just so magical about watching the tide come in wave by wave.”

See their website here

And also a film on their Facebook page here 

A few quotes

They say .. “The different tides at each Beach School session spark children’s curiosity and interest in unimaginable ways!”

“There is something just so magical about watching the tide come in wave by wave, I love observing the children’s reaction to the great water! For some of them it will be their first experience of open water.”

A BBC Radio 4 programme on the tides of North Norfolk, UK. “The Tides of the Staithe” by Kevin Crossley-Holland

This is great, very much a poetic exploration of the tides.

The programme and details are here

I am not sure how long this will stay on the BBC IPlayer

A few quotes, written and spoken by Kevin Crossley-Holland

‘Tide watching is compulsive activity’

‘Yes. Tides, they shape our days, they’re the breath and shining,  the dark blood-stream of this place. Sometimes gasping, sucking, shuddering, alarming; sometimes rhythmical and calm as a sleeping baby.’

‘There is a paradox, isn’t there? In the way that this place; always in flux, always on the edge, and sometimes subject to wind and water at their most destructive; this place that has sustained livelihoods, and inspired many artists and writers, can also offer a very deep sense of peace’.

Here is the text from the website and full credits

The Tides of the Staithe

Kevin Crossley-Holland reflects on the magic and the menace of the Norfolk tides.

For centuries, North Norfolk lives have been shaped by the daily rhythm of the tides, creating a sense of wonder, as well as tragedy, with many stranded or lost at sea.

The shimmering creek is at low tide at Burnham Overy Staithe, the North Norfolk coastline a mesh of salt marshes, sand dunes, wild sea lavender and shingle ridges. But the whispering of the wind and the cawing of the gulls are deceptively tranquil. In a matter of hours, the furious gushing of the incoming North Sea tide signals the utter transformation of the staithe – and, in its wake, a new menace arrives. The coastline is in a constant state of flux, always shape shifting, beguiling and menacing.

For local fishermen and sailing enthusiasts, the Tide Tables are ignored at their peril; for others the rhythm of the tides provides solace and comfort. And for a local artist, the tides bring back reminders from the past, from the ancient forests of Doggerland.

With thanks to contributors Matt and Sky Falvey, Andy Frary, Mandy Humphries, Polly Ionides, Daniel Loose, Ashmole Ring, Robert Smith and Pat and Mike Thompson.

Written and narrated by Kevin Crossley-Holland
Produced by Sarah Peters
Recorded and mixed by Peregrine Andrews
Extra wildlife recordings provided by Tony Fulford
A Tuning Fork and Open Audio production for BBC Radio 4