There are many Cornish folklore tales which tell stories of sea spirit mermen coming to shore to inhabit coastal communities during stormy weather. The Tale of the Sea Bucca describes the being as having the dark brown skin of a conger eel, and a mound of seaweed hair. Legend suggests that he was once a human prince who was cursed by a witch. He helped local fishermen by driving fish towards their nets, and in return, the fishermen would leave fish on the beach to placate him. Throughout the 19th century, these offerings were particularly common in Newlyn and Mousehole.
One such beach used for this purpose was the area of Newlyn known formerly as Park an Grouse (‘the field of the cross’ in Cornish) where a stone cross was allegedly once situated. Similar offerings were recorded on the beaches of Mousehole and Newlyn ‘Town’ (the area which is now known as Newlyn Cliff). It is likely that it is from this observance that the common nickname of ‘Newlyn Buckas‘ was derived
‘Penzance boys up in a tree,
Looking as wisht* as wisht* can be;
Newlyn buckas as strong as oak,
Knocking them down at every poke.’
The Bucca is said to have had two forms, good and evil; Bucca Widn (White Bucca) and Bucca Dhu (Black Bucca). Now known as Bucca Boo, parents have used the evil version of the spirit as a ‘bogeyman’ to encourage their children to behave better! In the nineteenth century a new road was built between Penzance and Land’s End, the Tolcarne River in Newlyn was bridged and the area was named ‘Bucca’s pass’.