The sleeve notes for MacAlias’ album Highwired say, "In the early days of coal-mining in Lochgelly, Fife, women and children worked underground from an early age. Paired up with the men who hewed the coal, the women carried it to the surface in large baskets on their backs. Gill’s song was inspired by an account written by Archibald Cook (born 1837) which tells the story of his grandmother.
She was left a widow with five children and had no other way of supporting them than by taking them down the pit and digging the coal herself. Working where no light would burn, she relied instead upon the phosphorescent glow of fish heads."