One of the stranger tidal facts/stories I have come across; foraging hogs in New Brunswick.

In a restaurant in Bath they hadve a complete set of old encyclopaedias on a shelf. I looked up tides!

The entry includes a strange fact about hogs in New Brunswick. I have tried to find other references to this online – but can’t.

Click on pic one to read – then on pic two. The relevant bit is right at the bottom of pic one and runs onto pic two.

Tides and death: drownings, execution and burial.

Death by Flood

Tides and the intertidal areas they expose are, obviously, things to be very cautious of when living or walking by the coast, and on the foreshore at low tide.

There are, sadly, many stories of people being drowned by in-coming tides. I will just mention a few. And there are other, darker, stories of tides and death.

Throughout Britain’s history there have been catastrophic episodes of coastal flooding where high tides, exaggerated by storm surges, have overtopped sea defences and caused huge floods. In 1607 this happened along the shores of the Bristol Channel and Seven Estuary when as many as two thousand people drowned. This was recorded in a famous pamphlet written soon after the event, which have woodcut illustrations. To this day flood level marks can be seen cut into the stone of the church of the estuary’s lowlands. See here for a fuller account.

In 1953 a devastating flood affected Eastern England drowning as many as 300 people on the coasts of Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. Area of Holland on the east coast of the North Sea wee also badly affected, and many died there too.

Drowned by Incoming Tides

Floods which over top sea defences aside, sadly,  many people have perished when they have ventured beyond the seawall and into the intertidal zone for either curiosity, leisure, or work. Perhaps most notoriously, in the UK, as many as twenty-one Chinese illegal immigrant labourers were drowned by an incoming tide while picking cockles off the Lancashire coast on Morecambe Bay. Now called the Morecambe Bay Cockling Disaster, this occurred on the evening of 5 February 2004, when those drowned were taken unawares by the speed of the incoming tide. Much more information is  here on Wikipedia The famous Irish folk Singer Christie Moore wrote  folk song about the disaster. The lyrics contain the line  ‘the tide is the very devil….’

A very sad example, local to me, and the Severn Estuary, is the tragic case of two young cousins who were playing whilst exploring the intertidal areas of Beachley Point near Chepstow.  One of the boys, Chepstow schoolboy Jamie-Lee Wilson Cartwright, eight, drowned when they got in trouble because of the incoming tide. His cousin Kyle, then nine, survived thanks to the quick-thinking of a bird-watcher who heard their shouts for help and the work of members of the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA). Jamie-Lee lived in Beachley, and floral and other tributes are still placed on the shore close to where he tragically drowned.

A third and very horrible tale is of a father and son who were drowned by an incoming tide at Ulverston Bay, Cumbria, 06 01 2002. On a fishing trip, they were walking on the intertidal area of Morecambe Bay, when dense fog came down and they could not see which direction to head, as a high spring tide was coming in. The father had a mobile phone and was in touch with the police in a series of increasingly desperate calls. He ended up wading in the deepening water, carrying his son on his shoulders as they tried to find a way to shore, but they tragically failed to do so. Their bodies were found in the following day. Source here  (Guardian).

But I suppose tides will always result in such tragic accidents on occasions. Here I now focus on other intertidal death stories of stranger, and more macabre natures.

Murder by Tide

The story, a Tragedy of the Tides,  in the collection Earth’s Enigmas; a Volume of Stories, by Charles G D Roberts, published in 1896, tells how a young colonial couple were kidnapped by native American Indians in what is now Canada. They were taken on a long forced walk, and by canoe, for two day before being executed. The were so by being staked out,  standing,  in a muddy creek at low tide and drowned as the tide came in. The man was positioned lower in the intertidal zone so that the woman would witness his death before drowning herself. The couple were reported as missing from city of Halifax on the afternoon of September 18th, 1749. The story reports that the Indians were waiting by the creek to watch the tide rise, but were disturbed by other colonists and made off. Attempts were made to save the couple by freeing them – but to no avail. The creek in the story is named as the Tantramar, which is near Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The full text of the story is on line at

Unholy Burial by Tides

In the period of terrible witch trials in Scotland, in 1704 at Torryburn on the south west Fife coast, a woman Lilias Adie confessed to being a witch and having sex with the devil after a long period of incarcerations and interrogation. But she died, probably as suicide, in prison before she could be finally tried, sentenced and burned.  The disposal of her body was a problem to the church and authorities given her probable suicide and her supposed crime of witchcraft. So she was buried in the muddy intertidal area of Torryburn Bay, and a large flat sandstone slab lain over her resting place, in the hope this would stop the devil bringing her back from the dead. A series of folk songs by Heal & Harrow, harpist Rachel Newton and the fiddler Lauren MacColl, have now been created about the Scottish witch trials, including one about Lilias Adie.

The Duplicitous Royalist Ferryman!

Another Severn Estuary tale is of a ferryman loyal to King Charles I in the English Civil War who carried a group of Royalist soldiers across the estuary near Aust. He was then forced ‘at sword point’ to also ferry a group of pursuing rebel soldiers across the water. At low tide the estuary does look like it is possible to walk across many of the sand banks and rocky areas to and from the shore. So he landed the soldiers on an area called ‘The English Stones’, assuring them that they could from there walk the rest of the way, but this was not in fact true, as even at the lowest tides the Stones are cut off from the bank by a deep channel with fast currents called The English Lake. The soldiers were all drowned by the rising tide. The English Stones now support part of the Second Severn Road Crossing.

Traces of individual wave edges, made by the waves themselves on hard sand; on an ebbing tide. Lovely delicate, intricate patterns. Tenby, Pembrokeshire, UK: Nov 13 2021

A falling tide on the hard sand of Tenby Norrth beach allows each wave to leave a trace of its own margin, made by a little outline trace of sand. Many of these lines interweave as following waves partially cover them. I love the delicate patterns this creates. I left my feet in a few of the images to give an idea of scale. Other marks give that away too! Of course, a rising tide washes all but the highest wave margins away.

A visit to Lydia Halcrow’s PhD with Practice Exhibition: Matter Maps (study area: theTaw Estuary, Devon, UK). Bath Spa University; 19 10 2021.

Lydia’s art practice for her PhD was an in-depth engagement with a tidal landscape known to her as a child, adult and parent: the Taw Estuary, Devon, UK. The art works explore various aspects of time, materiality, family, memory, climate crisis, and the agencies of collected material and weathering and tidal processes. Lydia’s uses of range of body and material/process practices to create these lovely, often fragile, works. Artist website here.

Severn Estuary mud marks for the Tidal TimeSpace Project

Somw sample mud marks for the Tidal Timespace: Imprints & Palimpsests project with Heather Green

I have been photographing mud marks at low tide in the Severn Estuary for the project I am doing with Heather Green. These include a lot of wader / wildfowl footprints and tracks. And other things. Here is a sample. It can become a bit compulsive. And, of course, most will be erased by the next high tide and new ones be in place after the next low tide.

Link to the Tide Mill Institute added to our link section

Tide Mill Institute

“Promoting Appreciation of Tide Mill History and Technology”

Where as large barrages and lagoons seems very poor choices to harness power from tides because of their very negetive, large scale, impacts on habitiats and ecologies, smaller tide mills, as have been used around the world in the past, seem a much better way of getting power at the local scale. This site is of great interest in that regard.

The Tidal Sense. A BBC Radio 3 programme based upon Signe Lidén’s art project commissioned by Lofoten International Art Festival in 2019.

BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature

From the programme website

“What does the tide mean, and could it be trying to tell us something? Multimedia artist Signe Lidén reflects on both ancient and emerging knowledge across disciplines and cultures that understands the tide as more than just a mechanical phenomenon.

While recording sounds on the dunes of an island off Denmark, Lidén was surprised by the rapid rise in sea level without being able to see the change from moment to moment. She has since devoted herself to studying the tide, recording an entire tidal zone using a 28-metre canvas as a microphone, and noticing the different sense of time she gets through close and extended listening. Could a deeper connection to the tide offer new ways of sensing and relating to the world around us, and help us to grasp the scale of environmental change that is happening in it?

Recent research has begun to show us how the tide influences life at a cellular level. Coastal organisms from sea-lice to shore-dwelling sheep have body clocks that are synchronised to the tidal schedule on their home beach. Could there be a resonant echo in our own bodies of this ancient circatidal mechanism? Is this something we can reconnect with, and what might this mean for our relationship with the oceans?

Coastal landscapes are places of between-ness and flux, where remnants of the past – a piece of driftwood or a dialect word – lie alongside the chaos and renewal of the constant ebbing and flowing of the waves. What might this teach us about living in times of loss and radical change?

Many indigenous cultures believe that personhood extends beyond humans to other entities. If we were all to relate to water as a living being, might it change how we move through the world? And is it fantastical to imagine the tide as the thought process of the ocean, creating life on Earth through repetitive rhythms unfolding over billions of years?

Lidén loves the way that the medium of sound captures the ‘constant becoming of a place’. As she listens to the interlocking rhythms of her recordings, and the perspectives of other tidal thinkers, she notices how her sense of her place in the world is shifting.

With contributions from biologist and writer Arjen Mulder, neurobiologist Michael Hastings, Shetland poet Roseanne Watt, historian and kayaker David Gange, and Grace Dillon, a member of the Anishinaabe and professor in indigenous nations studies.

Produced by Chris Elcombe
A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 3.

Field recordings and concept based on Lidén´s project The Tidal Sense, commissioned by Lofoten International Art Festival in 2019.”

Hear the programme here

High Water: sharing our connections to the sea and the tides; Tuesday March 30, from 08.45 GM

Tuesday March 30, from 08.45 GMT/UTC      

This is a great looking intreractive project based upon the Exe Estuary, with an online collaborative event taking place on the day of the higest tide in the UK in 2021.

From the online details

“You are invited to share with us your story about the sea and in particular high tide.  It might be a reading, some factual information, an image or a recording. It might be something you’ve found on the beach (brought there by the tide), it might be a story from today or last week or many years ago. 

Tides are the constant ebb and flow of the planet, the stuff of myth and legend, artwork, folklore and personal history, scientific study and monitoring.  Spring tides occur twice each lunar month, around full moon and new moon. The height of the spring tide varies throughout the month (and year), depending on the distance between Earth and the Moon (and the Sun).  On March 30, in Exmouth, UK  we will experience our highest spring tide of 2021. Art.earthTidelines and Low Carbon Devon invite you to mark this equinoctial tide by sharing your tide story with us. You might be an expert or you might just visit the sea once a year – whatever your relationship to the sea we want to hear from you.

Do you visit a particular place to observe the tides? Do you have a seasonal connection to the tides? Does the tide directly affect you where you live? Have you observed wildlife behaviour relating to the tides? Are you aware of an emotional response to high tides? Have you noticed changes in the tides and do you believe they might be linked to climate change?  Does our knowledge of the tides, and our awareness of them become more important as the climate and sea levels change? 

The High Water event starts at 08.45 GMT on March 30 and continues to low tide, six hours later, and perhaps beyond.  Book a timeslot during the day to share your story. If you’d rather not join online there are other ways you can participate so please do drop us a line at

Read more about how it will all work and what will happen afterwards

Source here