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Coed y Bwnydd (Hillfort)

In a Welsh manuscript from 1600* there is a list of giants and their abodes. It includes

"Clidda Gawr in the parish of Bettws Newydd, and his abode in the place called Cloddeu Caer Clidda, and that land to­day is called Tir Clidda in the parish of Llanarth."

Coed y Bwnydd is near/on Clytha Hill, so it seems Coed y Bwnydd may well be Clidda's castle. It's now a wooded nature reserve looked after by Monmouthshire council. (There is a Clytha Castle to the north, but that's far too new for a giant).

*Owen, H., 'Peniarth Ms. 118, fos. 829-837' Y Cymmrodor, XXVII, (1917) pp.115-52. Text and translation.
cited here on the Arthurian Gwent page.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th December 2006ce

Garn Goch (Cairn(s))

This is a slightly different version of the tale below (which is also in the article). It was told by Mr. Howel Walters of Ystradgynlais, who assured the writer it was firmly believed in that parish. It's quite long, but then it has to be to accommodate the traditional 'three repeats'.
There was a conjurer living at Ystradgylais at the beginning of the present century, who had an iron hand; and there is an old tradition that a treasure is hidden at the Garngoch, the highest point of the Drim mountain. The "Iron-hand" conjurer made the acquaintance of one John Gething, a farmer's son, who lived at Werngynlais farm, and gave him some books to study, with a view of teaching him the black art. John is reported to have made great progress in a short time; and, being a very courageous man, his teacher was able to perform in his presence many things which few mortals can withstand.

One day John Gething was working at the hay on his father's farm, when two men appeared before him. John said to them, "Hei!" And one of the men said to him: "Well, is it for thee that thou hast spoken! Thou must come with us to the Garngoch to seek the hidden treasure."

John went, and on the way he found out that he who spoke to him was his old teacher: but the other being disappeared, and John never saw him again. On arriving at Garngoch the conjurer told John that he was not, on the peril of his life, to divulge anything that he would see or hear that night on the top of Garngoch.

When night came on the conjurer opened his books, lit a candle, and began to read, with strict injunctions to John not to be afraid of anything he saw. While the conjuror read spirits appeared and surrounded them with great noise; and then great light shone on Garngoch, and John saw three pots full of gold. Nothing more happened that night; but the conjurer gave John strict instructions to meet him there another night which he named.

When the appointed night came John met him to time. The first thing done by the conjurer this night, after giving John the same instructions as on the previous night, and that he was not to be frightened, was to make two rings joined like the figure 8. John stood in one ring and the conjurer in the other, and neither of them was to step out of the ring, or fear, at the risk of losing their lives or being carried away by the devil! The conjurer lit his candle and began to read his books; and the spirits appeared with great noise. Then came a fiery bull, and ran at John Gething; but John stood in the ring fearlessly, and the bull and all the evil spirits vanished. The conjurer was very pleased with John Gething's courage, and told him one night more would be sufficient for them to fight against the spirits to secure all the hidden treasure and gold he had seen on the first night. The conjurer, before leaving, told John on what night he was to meet him again.

On the third night the conjurer had brought more books, and told John before he opened them that it was a matter of life or death to im how he acted that night, that terrible things would appear, but there would be no harm if he stood fearlessly, and did not move out of the ring; but first he must have a drop of John's blood to give to the devil to satisfy him before the spirits appeared, and John gave a drop of his blood to the conjurer to give to the devil.

The conjurer then made to rings as before, lit his candle, and began to read his books. The spirits came with greater noise than before, and surrounded them, and a large wheel of fire came towards the ring in which John Gethin stood, and John was so frightened that he stepped out of the ring.

The devil immediately took hold of him, and was going to carry him away in such a terrible storm and heavy rains as no one before witnessed in the district, but the conjurer implored him not to kill John, as he had displayed such courage before; and there was a hard fight between the devil and the conjurer for John's life, and the devil at last gave in, and permitted John to live as long as the candle lasted which the conjurer had to read his books, and the devil told them that neither of them should ever have the hidden treasure, but a virgin not yet born would some day own the same.

The conjuror gave John Gething the candle, and told him not to light it, but to keep it in a cool place. John did so, but the cndle wasted, though it was never lighted, and John Gething from that night became ill, and worse and worse, until he died. The candle also was found to have wasted completely at the time of his death.

During John's illness several doctors attended upon him, but no one understood the cause of his sufferings or death, except a few persons to whom he divulged what had transpired on the Garngoch. John was buried at Ystradgynlais church.

E. SIDNEY HARTLAND.
The Treasure on the Drim
E. Sidney Hartland
The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2. (1888), pp. 125-128.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th December 2006ce

Maen Ceti (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

A species of divination is still practised at Arthurstone, by the neighbouring rustic maidens, who have little idea that they are perpetuating (perverted indeed in its object,) the rites of Druidism and the mysteries of Eleusis in their propitiatory offering. At midnight of the full moon, if a maiden deposit in the sacred well beneath, a cake of milk, honey, and barley meal, and then on hands and knees crawl three times round the cromlech, she will see, if "fancy free," the vision of her future lord; if her affections are engaged, the form of the favoured youth will stand before her, fearfully bound to answer truly her questions as to his sincerity.
. An early version of the folklore mentioned below. It's got to be worth a try.

p186 in
Tales of the Cymry: with notes illustrative and explanatory
By James Motley
1848
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
20th November 2006ce

Ysgyryd Fawr (Hillfort)

The Skyrrid, or Holy Mountain, is so called because it was divided at the Crucifixion. One part of it is in America. There has been no snail upon it ever since, or worm either: that is because it is sacred; they cannot go there. (Collected at Bromyard, 1909)
ELLA M. LEATHER.
Any religion that refuses entry to worms and snails is of no use to me. From p110 in
Welsh Folklore Items, I
E. J. Dunnill; Ella M. Leather
Folklore, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Mar., 1913), pp. 106-110.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th November 2006ce

Pendinas Hillfort

The Wheel of Fire. -- (Informant, W.). Near the bottom of Bridge St., Aberystwyth, stands a very old house, which was tenanted 150 years ago by a butcher and his son, who sometimes let rooms. Among their guests was a pedlar and Bible colporteur, who was reputed to carry his money with him. This man disappeared and his pack was afterwards found in the river. Suspicion attached to the butcher and his son, but nothing could be proved, nor could the pedlar be found, dead or alive.

One night, however, a wheel of fire was seen to appear at the top of Pendinas*, where the Waterloo monument now stands; it rolled down hill and paused by a large tree about half-way down. This was taken as a sign from heaven; digging operations were conducted near the tree, and the body of the pedlar was found; the butcher and his son were convicted and hanged.

*A steep, conical hill just outside Aberystwyth, to the south. It is crowned with an ancient earthwork, not yet properly explored. The hill, especially the earthwork, is reputed to be haunted by the Tylwyth Teg or fairies.
p 162 in
Scraps of Welsh Folklore, I. Cardiganshire; Pembrokeshire
L. Winstanley; H. J. Rose
Folklore, Vol. 37, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1926), pp. 154-174.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th November 2006ce

Beddyrafanc (Burial Chamber)

Bedd yr Afanc, 'the Afanc's Grave, [is] the name of some sort of a tumulus, I am told, on a knoll near the Pembrokeshire stream of the Nevern.

Mr. J. Thomas, of Bancau Bryn Berian close by, has communicated to me certain echoes of a story how an afanc was caught in a pool near the bridge of Bryn Berian, and how it was taken up to be interred in what is now regarded as its grave.

A complete list of the afanc place-names in the Principality might possibly prove instructive. As to the word afanc, what seems to have happened is this: (1) from meaning simply a dwarf it came to be associated with water dwarfs; (2) the meaning being forgotten, the word was applied to any water monster; and (3) where afanc occurs in place-names the Hu story has been introduced to explain it, whether it fitted or not. This I should fancy to be the case with the Bryn Berian barrow, and it would be satisfactory to know whether it contains the remains of an ordinary dwarf.

Peredur's lake afanc may have been a dwarf; but whether that was so or not, it is remarkable that the weapon which the afanc handled was a ffechwaew or flake-spear, that is, a missile tipped with stone.
Aw just give over, let it be a water monster, that's much more interesting. The grave is long and the monster is long.

From Rhys's 1901 'Celtic Folklore Welsh and Manx', online at the Sacred Texts Archive
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cfwm/cf207.htm

also see this page for more details (about the Peredur story, for instance):
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cfwm/cf201.htm
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th November 2006ce
Edited 14th March 2010ce

Tredegar Fort (Hillfort)

The poet Gwilym Tew.. presided at a Gorsedd in Glamorgan in 1460, about which time he wrote a complimentary poem in praise of Sir John Morgan of Tredegar, Knight of the Holy Sepulchre, whom in the title he styles Syr Sion ap Morgan o Dre-Degyr, and again in the poem itself he writes the name Tre-Degyr [..] the capital D indicating a proper name. In a MS. of the seventeenth century, in the possession of Mr S.R. Bosanquet, is this statement, "The house of Tref-ddigr, holden by inheritance of blood from time to time, is the most ancient in all Wales." "Teigr ap Tegonwy was an ancient prince in King Arthur's time" [..] though Teigr may be as mythical a personage as King Arthur, this is strong presumptive evidence that there was such a traditionary personage connected with this place...
Octavius Morgan, The Friars, Newport, Mon.
Notes and Queries, Volume s6-IV, Number 96, 1881
Octavius, like me, tries to squeeze a bit of folklore out of the Tre (or homestead) of Teigr.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd November 2006ce

Nash Point (Cliff Fort)

"There is an ancient Cromlech, called The Old Church; and which, according to tradition, was anciently the place of Worship belonging to the Village.."

From: A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle, 1811.

The OS map shows 'Cae'r Eglwys', and this webpage on Glamorgan Walks
http://www.glamorganwalks.com/localfeatures6.htm
says that the remains of this 'cromlech' are actually of a long cairn, and can be seen in the Nash Point car park. Coflein complicates things by saying that the cairn could be associated with an old church that's since dropped into the sea. Ooh it's all very confused.

The promontory fort itself is called Nash Point, and the earthworks follow the cwm of Marcross/Marcroes brook back inland.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th October 2006ce

Mein Hirion (Standing Stones)

Local folklore or Victorian gentlemen's theory? Ten feet high is a bit of an exaggeration. And there's a burial chamber just across the fields? Not that that looks much like a cromlech any more. Who knows.

"To the west of the church, and about a mile distant from it, are three upright stones, ten feet in height, disposed in the form of a triangle, twelve feet distant from each other, and supposed to be the remaining supporters of an ancient cromlech, which must, from the elevation of the stones, have been one of the loftiest monuments of that kind in the island ; the table stone, if ever there was one, has disappeared ; but the farm on which the upright stones are found still retains the name of the "Cromlech." "

A Topographical Dictionary of Wales
Samuel Lewis, 1833
online at Genuki
http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/AGY/Llanfechell/Gaz1868.html
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th October 2006ce

Mynydd Bychan (Enclosure)

Mynydd Bychan is a little Iron Age (and Roman) settlement. It's right next to Pwllywrach, which is mentioned in the following story from Marie Trevelyan:
In a story formerly attached to Pwllywrach, Glamorgan, it is asserted that one of the huntsmen was approaching the kennels one evening, when he heard the wild barking of dogs in the air immediately above his head. It was twilight, and no animals were at hand. The hounds in the kennels were silent. Presently the unseen dogs barked again, and somebody called out "Tally-ho-ho!" It was more like a wail than a cry. When the sound was repeated the huntsman responded with a wailing "Tally-ho-ho-ho!" The next moment all the pack of hounds in the kennels broke loose, surrounded the huntsman, and tore him to pieces, so that nothing but bones remained. People said it was the revenge of the Cwn Wybyr, whose cry the unfortunate man had imitated. In after-years the peasantry declared that often in the night-time the cries of the huntsman and the baying of hounds could be heard distinctly. It was stated that the huntsman had forgotten to feed the hounds, and they fell upon him and killed him. The kennels were pulled down because of this calamity. The spot is still called "the old kennels." [J. R.]
From 'Folk-lore and Folk-stories from Wales' (1909).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th October 2006ce
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