There is an area along North Shore called “Crawl” and I have learned that it is nothing to do with the fact that it is a hill on a bend that means the traffic crawls along slowly. It is in fact due to the little bay shown above: the crawl.
A crawl is a staked or penned-in area for holding fish.
The etymology is debatable, some sources claiming an origin in Dutch “kraal” used in South Africa in the early 1800s, usually referring to a cattle enclosure. Other dictionaries state it comes from the North American “corral”, again a cattle pen but originating from the Latin “currare” meaning to run. An alternative Latin origin would be “currale” which is apparently an enclosure for vehicles (did the ancient Latin-speaking folks have many vehicles?)
The Urban Dictionary informs that a CRAWL is the noun for a large unified travelling group of Zombies – somehow I don’t think that was what led to the use in Bermuda, not met any Zombies here, guess they find getting a work permit quite hard.
More likely is that the term was imported from Jamaica and the West Indies where a crawl was the name of a hog pen, used in Jamaica from 1660 onwards. A hog crawl was a large circular area with a hut in the centre and at night the crawl-keeper would call the hogs into the central area with a conch (yes, really) and they reportedly spent the night huddled together. The Dictionary of Jamaican English notes that it can also refer to a staked enclosure in the sea: a CRAWL. In this case I suppose the fish are first caught and then released into the crawl until wanted for the table, given there were no refrigerators.
In his memorials Governor Lefroy said that Crawl was the name of a large natural lagoon in Hamilton Parish and that it was thus named from as early as 1623. Apparently smaller enclosures locally known as “fishponds” were cut into the coastline.
The lagoon above was pointed out to me this morning by a friend (as she dragged me along the Railway Trail for a brisk morning walk – not a crawl, please note). It doesn’t fit with my imagination of Lefroy’s “large natural lagoon” so I remain a little sceptical as to this being the original crawl. Admittedly it does have closeby a large board saying “Crawl Park”.
So, this afternoon as you crawl up along North Shore Road in the rush hour traffic you may take a left turn just opposite the gas station (gas as in petrol) and a short walk along the grassy track to the Crawl.