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Wales: Latest Posts — Folklore

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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

Beddyrafanc (Burial Chamber)

I always imagined the Afanc as a bit like a watery dragon. But it seems he could talk and wield a spade:
A North Pembrokeshire legend says that in ancient days the Afanc, dwelling on the Precelly slopes somewhere above Brynberian, ravaged the countryside, committing such depredations on the live-stock of the population that a consultation of the wisest folk was held to devise some means of getting rid of him. They decided to slay him by a trick. A deputation was sent to him to ask him to dig a well for the people. This he agreed to do, and forthwith began working furiously. When he had dug to a great depth ("over one hundred yards" said one relater) the people above tipped into the hole he had made a big load of "white stones" {? Alabaster} which they had collected on the mountain-sides, intending to crush him to death. But next morning they found him still digging, and were informed by him that there had been a rather heavy snowstorm on the previous day. Thus they were unable to do away with him; and he continued as before, eventually "dying a natural death", after which "he was buried on the hill side" between Hafod and Brynberian, "and his tomb {a cairn of stones} may be seen to this day". In June, 1928 Charles Oldham and I visited this stone circle which is close to the village of Brynberian, well out on the moor.
This story was collected by T.R.Davis (now Schoolmaster of Newport School) and included by him in original Welsh in his prize essay on N. Pembrokeshire Folklore (MS. Maenchlochog, 1906). He heard it from shepherds and cotters in the Precelly district.
Notes on Pembrokeshire Folk-Lore, Superstitions, Dialect Words, etc
Bertram Lloyd
Folklore, Vol. 56, No. 3. (Sep., 1945), pp. 307-320.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th October 2006ce

The Four Stones (Stone Circle)

Four Stones, Old Radnor.-- There was a great battle fought here, and four kings were killed. The Four Stones were set up over their graves. (Kington Workhouse, 1908.)
Welsh Folklore Items, I
Ella M. Leather
Folklore, Vol. 24, No. 1. (Mar., 1913), pp. 106-110.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd October 2006ce

Maen Beuno (Standing Stone / Menhir)

About a mile east of Berriew, on the green by the side of a lane, is a stone about five feet high, called, on the Ordnance Map, Maen Beuno, but by the people in the neighbourhood "the Bynion Stone." A man who told me (in 1891) that he was fifty years of age, said he had been told by old men when he was a boy that it was intended to have built a church on the spot where the Bynion Stone stands, but that every night the stones which had been placed in position were carried away and put down on the spot where Berriew Church now stands. (1891.)
Scraps of Folklore Collected by John Philipps Emslie
C. S. Burne
Folklore, Vol. 26, No. 2. (Jun. 30, 1915), pp. 153-170.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st October 2006ce

Tinkinswood (Burial Chamber)

..at St. Nicholas, near Cardiff, a man told me that his mother took him to 'Castle Corrig' (a cromlech near St. Nicholas, perhaps the biggest existing in Britain), when he 'had a decline' as a boy, and she spat upon the stone, rubbed her finger in the spittle and rubbed him on the forehead and chest.

... I feel convinced there is a good deal of this sort of thing, but I cannot get it out, or else it exists among a residuum which feels such a gap to exist between student and peasant that freedom of speech becomes impossible. But I have felt the sort of thing to underlie many ordinary stories, from certain turns of expression.
From 'A Fisher-Story and Other Notes from South Wales' by E. Sidney Hartland and T. H. Thomas, in Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 3. (Sep. 29, 1905), p339.

Perhaps he could have got more out of his informants if he didn't use words like 'residuum' on them. It's a shame though.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th September 2006ce

Maen Ceti (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

.. I found some five years ago that there were [magical rites] connected with Arthur's Stone (Gower), though denied by my informant. But she "did hear that gels went and walked round it to see their sweethearts - a long time ago - and if they didn't see him they took off their shawls and went on their hands and knees - nobody is so fulish now." This from a young girl at Port Eynon.
Oh right. Just their shawls then is it. From p339 in 'A Fisher-Story and Other Notes from South Wales' by E. Sidney Hartland and T. H. Thomas, in Folklore, Vol. 16, No. 3. (Sep. 29, 1905).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th September 2006ce

Gaer Llwyd (Burial Chamber)

An old man of Newchurch, near the Gaerlwyd Cromlech, told the writer that Jackie Kent and the Devil threw the stone forming the Gaerlwyd Cromlech at Newchurch West - the same tradition as that about the Trelech maenhirs.
From 'Folklore of Gwent'by T. A. Davies, in Folklore, Vol. 49, No. 1. (Mar., 1938), p. 30.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th September 2006ce

Castell Caer Seion (Hillfort)

This fort is on the summit of Mynydd y Dref (Conwy Mountain). It has 24 hut circles inside, and some outside its walls. There's the remains of a larger building (a 'citadel' so Coflein grandly says) at one end of the fort.

This from 'Notes and Queries', March 12,1870.
I have [examined repeatedly the] remains on Conway mountain. They are intensely interesting.. They consist of a multitude of circular structures partly sunk below the ground, with rough walling a little raised above, evidently the substructure for huts... They are called by the country people "Cyttiau Gwyddelod," which is generally interpreted " the huts of the Irishmen," but which in its primary meaning is "the huts of the savages," or wild men, in contradistinction from the Gal, or agricultural race.
'Cytiau' (so I understand from the dictionary) does imply a rude kind of hut, more of an animal shelter, so this could be a dig at the Irish?? Or maybe not at all. Maybe a Proper Welsh person can explain the subtleties of the phrase for me.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th September 2006ce

Bryn Gwyn (Stone Circle)

An intersesting encounter with the Arch Druid of Anglesey reveled something of the folklaw of these stones. Until quite recent times these stones formed the only stone circle on Anglesey (his words), then the stone masons set to work! These two large stones which frame Snowdon, were reputedly cursed and they were left untouched! Well I'm not sure how he came across this piece of unrecorded history, but Francis Lynch (Prehistoric Anglesey) notes that in the Mid 1700's there were indeed 3 standing stones and the broken remains of a fourth. I also noticed the large stone set into the wall perhaps 30m from the site back towards the road. Posted by MikePlant
7th September 2006ce
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