Oystermouth is one of those places that’s difficult to pin down. The magnificent 13th century Norman castle, the church, the library and the local school all carrying the name. Even so after living here for decades, I don’t really know exactly where it begins and ends. Like other nearby wards such as Newton and Norton, it’s part of the much larger seaside ‘village’ of Mumbles. Its name is often interchangeable with Mumbles; we shop in Mumbles (but many of the shops are in Oystermouth) and borrow books from Oystermouth library, which is in Mumbles!
Oysters have been gathered and traded in the village since the Middle Ages and maybe during Roman times. During the 19th century, dredging for oysters was probably the main source of income for the village. The practice has been revived in recent years, and a small commercial fishery now operates beds in the bay.
The sea dominates life here and the best place to appreciate this is from the castle. The view from the castle field is spectacular. From a high ridge in front of the castle gate I look down towards the sweep of Swansea Bay and can see for miles. A grey, bright light shines on the exposed mud of the beach and sea beyond. I marvel at the extent of the bay and from here I can see it all. My eyes run from the distant headland at Porthcawl some twenty miles away, past the great industrial conurbations at Port Talbot, the docks and city of Swansea to the picture postcard village of Mumbles spread out beneath me.
Most impressive though is the castle itself, a great edifice of limestone, perched strategically above the village shouting history. In winter it seems to sleep, but several pairs jackdaws are already searching for breeding holes in its massive walls. In summer it’s used for outdoor performances of Shakespeare’s plays, when tourists enjoy its magic, but I much prefer these intimate moments in winter when I can be alone with the great building.