A crwth or crowd, is as far as we know the oldest stringed instrument played with the bow; probably at home in India, but in its European use apparently limited to England, and especially to Wales.
It is first mentioned in some elegiacs, written about 609, by Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop of Poitiers:
“Romanusque lyra plaudit tibi, Barbarus harpa, Gracecus achilliaca, crhotta Brittanna canat.”
Its oldest form was probably the ‘crwth thithant,’ or with three strings, pictures of which are found in manuscripts of the 11th century.
We first hear it mentioned again by Daines Barrington, a Welsh judge and archeologist, who relates that he knew one John Morgan, born 1711 in the isle of Anglesey, who still played the crwth.
Bingely also heard it played at Carnarvon as late as 1801; but is it now entirely out of use.
In its later form it was mounted with six strings, four stretched over the fingerboard and played with the bow, and two, lying at the side of the fingerboard, pinches with the thumb of the left hand.
The sound holes were perfectly circular and had a diameter of 1 ¼ inch.
The bridge did not stand straight but inclined toward the right, and its left foot, which is 2 ½ inches in length (while the right foot measures only ¾ of an inch), pases through the sound hold and rests on the back of the instrument, thus acting the part of the sound post in the violin.
The crwth was 22 ½ inches in length; its width near the tailpiece was 10 ½ inches, near the top 9 inches; the height of the sides was 2 inches.