Haloween #blogtober day 10. I always find folklore, myths, and legends quite creepy. I’m sure not everyone feels the same way, but these are some of my favourite tales from Wales – that send a shiver down my spine!
The story goes…. Salem is a painting by English artist Sydney Curnow Vosper showing Siân Owen in traditional Welsh dress attending chapel on a Sunday (Capel Salem in Cefncymerau, Llanbedr, North Wales. One interpretation of the piece claims that it’s a commentary on the sin of vanity, with the Siân Owen arriving late (a few minutes before 10 according to the clock on the wall), to ensure her arrival was noted. Another observation is the ghostly face which appaears on the right side of the shawl (by admission of the artist). Many believe this to be the devil sneaking into church. The original is displayed at the Lady Lever Art Gallery in Liverpool.
The story goes… Gelert was a hunting dog, the favourite pet of Prince Llewelyn. On one occasion, the Prince sets off on a hunting trip with his wife, leaving their infant son in the care of a nurse and servant. Given that all is well, the nurse and servent decided to go for a walk in the mountains – leaving the baby at home, alone.
The Prince quickly notices that Gelert is not with the pack, and so returns home. As they arrive, Gelert appears from their lodge and bounds toward his master, blood dripping off his face and his tail wagging. The Prince finds the child’s cradle overturned, and no sign of his son. The floor and bedclothes are blood stained.
Prince Llewelyn immediately avenges his son’s death, bringing his sword down on the dog. Gelert wimpers, and his cry is met by that of the baby, hidden behind the overturned cradle. The Prince investigates, and finds his son unharmed with the bloodied body of a huge wolf next to him.
It’s said that Llewelyn never spoke again. Gelert is honoured in the name of the village Beddgelert (Gelert’s Grave) in North Wales.
Y Ddraig Goch
The story goes… According to the Mabinogion (a book of Welsh myths and legends) an invading white and local red dragon become locked in a fight,with the emanating cries terrorising the land and people in earshot. The dragons were both captured when the brother of the king dug a hole and filled in with mead, and the dragons drank and fell asleep. Both dragons were wrapped in cloth and held within Dinas Emrys in Snowdonia.
The story continues in Historia Brittonum. The dragons were undisturbed until the King of Briton decided to build a castle at the site. No matter what progress was made during the day, overnight they would return to find everything demolished. The king decided to seek out a child and sacrifice him. The child instead tells the King that the dragons hidden within the mountains are the reason the castle won’t stand.
The king investigated, and came across the two dragons. The awoke and continued their fight, and soon the white dragon fled. The red dragon remained, victorious!
The Cursed Wall
The story goes… 800 years ago, there was a fully functioning Abbey in Margam. When Henry VII ordered the dissolution of the monasteries this site was one that was seized. One disgruntled monk declared to the new owner “if this wall should fall, everything in the vicinity will fall with it”. This particular wall is no longer part of the Margam park estate, but rather sits within the ground of the Port Talbot Steel Works plant. It’s surrounded by a protective barrier – just to protect the heritage, of course…
The Swansea Devil
The story goes… Back in the 19th Centrury, the church of St. Mary was having some work done – and a few architects were battling it out for the job. One was enraged when his plans were rejected, so o much so that he bought the lands opposite, demolished the cottages which sat on it and built a structure to house a wooden carving of “Old Nick” the devil. The idea being that the church would forever be held within an evil gaze.
He declared that “My devil will be able to leer and laugh, for at some time in the future he will see St. Mary’s burn to the ground.” Which happened to come true during the WWII Blitz… and yet the devil remained standing. The church was rebuilt following the original plans, and the devil’s lair was demolished.
Old Nick disappeared for years, until a historian launched a campaign to locate him which he did, in a garage in Gloucester. The devil was soon returned to his rightful spot, which is now within the Quadrant shopping centre, still gazing over St. Mary’s Church. If you haven’t noticed him, the next time you’re entering the Quadrant from the Entrance by St. Mary’s church, and Primark and New Look… Glance up at the second floor windows.