Shell equivalve, subcordate, with twenty-four or more ribs radiating from the beaks, which are bent inwards; umbones prominent; the internal margins of the valves fluted or indented. Ligament external, strong, and of a dark horn-colour. Four teeth in each valve; the two primary teeth close together, the lateral teeth remote. Colour yellowish-white.

* 'Manuel de Conchyliologie,' par Dr. T. C. Chenu. † Athenaeeus,'Deip.' Bohn's Class. Lib. iii. p. 142.

The common Cockle (the Ruocane or Bruvane of the Irish; la Bucarde sourdon, Bigardot, or Coque of the French, the Berdigones, Berberichos, Croques, Carneiros, Romeas. and Escupinas de gallet, of the Spaniards) is found all round our coasts, burying itself in sand, or sandy mud, in the neighbourhood of estuaries; and at low tides numbers of people may be seen busily engaged filling their baskets, as it is everywhere much sought after for food; and during times of scarcity in some of the northern islands of Scotland, the inhabitants might have perished with hunger, if it had not been for this useful little shellfish. The quantity of shellfish, particularly of cockles, on the shores of most parts of the Long Island (Western Isles) is almost inconceivable. On the sands of Barra alone, scores of horse-loads may be taken at a single tide. Cockles are considered by the people very nutritious, especially when boiled with milk.* It is astonishing how quickly an expert cockle-gatherer will fill his basket; and sometimes they make use of a piece of bent iron, or half an old hoop, to scrape the shells out of the sands. At Starcross, they have small "cockle-gardens," where the shellfish are kept, and the flavour of these cockles is considered superior to those which are found elsewhere. The costume of the women who gather them is anything but becoming - large fishermen's boots, their dresses so arranged as to resemble very large knickerbockers, and an old hat or handkerchief on their heads, with their baskets on their backs.

* 'Visits to the Seacoasts : Shipwrecked Mariners,' vol. xii. p. 32, 1865.

Cardium edule   Common cockle.

Cardium edule - Common cockle.

del. _ G. B. Sowerby, lith Vincent Brooks,Imp.

I am told that some of the Gower people, on the north side of the seigniory of Gower (a Flemish colony in Glamorganshire), live nine months in the year on cockles. They also carry large quantities to Swansea market, whence they are sent to London, and indeed by rail to all parts of England.

At Penclawdd tons of cockles are gathered to send away, and women do the work. Mr. Wirt Sikes tells us, that the sand-banks are lined with the "cockle-wives" scraping for cockles, the scraper being made from an old reaping-hook. The tide recedes for a mile and exposes acres upon acres of sand in which the cockles are embedded. Some of the women have small carts or donkies with panniers, but the majority carry their baskets on their heads. They earn in good times, three or four shillings a day. The cockle is usually boiled out of its shell, and sold by measure, by the itinerant vendors. The cockles are generally gathered on Friday for the Swansea market on Saturday.*

Mr. Baines, in his 'Explorations in South-West Africa,' tells us that cockle-shells are greatly prized by the Damaras, and if they are rich enough to afford it, one is worn in the hair over the centre of the forehead; and he adds, that if some friend at home would invest three-halfpence in these favourite mollusks, and send him the shells after his meal, he might make his fortune. In the British Museum a fishing-net is exhibited, from the Friendly Islands, with cockle-shells fastened on to it to sink it, instead of leads.

* 'Old South Wales,' by Wirt Sikes, p. 243.

Cockle-shells are used as cultch for the oyster spat to adhere to; they are thrown on to the breeding beds; and they sow them during the time the oyster spat are floating about in the sea.....Mr. Frank Buckland, in his examination before the Select Committee on Oyster Fisheries, 1876, adds that "Spat are especially fond of cockles, and that the great advantage of cockle-shells cultch is, that the oysters will grow up in handsome bunches, they can then be broken off, and they will grow into proper size and shape, and become handsome and fit for market".

Major Hayes, Inspector of Irish Fisheries, in his report on the principal Oyster Fisheries of France, made in 1878, noticed at Arcachon, a new form of collector for spat, viz., cockle-shells strung closely together upon wire, a hole being made in the shell near the hinge; the wire is run through, and when strung they are placed at the proper time in situations favourable for catching spat. They are kept about three inches above the mud by means of pegs placed at intervals, to which the wire is attached, and they appeared to succeed admirably, as when a long string, or chaplet, as it is called at Arcachon, was lifted, every shell was covered with young oysters.

Cockle-shells are also used for making garden walks, and good lime is made from them when they are calcined.

Pepys, in his 'Diary,' mentions the care with which the ground in the Mall was kept for the game of "Pall mall". In 1663, May 15th, he says "I walked in the Park (St. James's) discoursing with the keeper of the Pall mall, who was sweeping it, and who told me, that the earth is mixed that do floor the mall, and that over all there is cockle-shells powdered, and spread, to keep it fast, which however, in dry weather turns to dust and deads the ball. The person who had the care of the ground was called the "King's Cockle Strewer". *

In the heraldry of Prussia, the cockle-shell is used. "Barry of four, argent and azure, semee of cockleshells counterchanged, are borne by the Silesian family of Von Strachwitz, which has for crest, two wings also charged with cockles".†

We also find this shell figured on coins. A specimen in the British Museum of the sextans, the sixth part of the as, or piece of two ounces, has on one side a caduceus, a strigil, and two balls, and on the other, a cockle-shell.