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Garn Goch


<b>Garn Goch</b>Posted by thesweetcheatImage © A. Brookes (3.8.2013)
Also known as:
  • Y Carn Goch
  • Mynydd Y Drum

Nearest Town:Neath (15km SSW)
OS Ref (GB):   SN817107 / Sheet: 160
Latitude:51° 46' 54.96" N
Longitude:   3° 42' 54.45" W

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Garn Goch</b>Posted by thesweetcheat


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More folklore connected with the Garn Goch. I haven't found out where the Ynys Geinon rock is, although Ynisgeinon House, Farm and Bridge are near SN767081 so I'm sure it wasn't far away.

A farm servant called Dai was trying to catch some rabbits near the Ynys Geinon Rock, when "he saw a little man going up to that great mass of stone. On his uttering a curious little word, a door opened in the face of the rock: he went in, and the door closed behind him."

Obviously Dai couldn't resist and plucked up the courage to repeat the little word. The door opened - and he ventured inside. Suddenly a little man came running up shouting "Shut the door, shut the door, the candles are guttering with the draught." Then he muttered another curious little word, and the door slammed shut. The fairies treated Dai kindly, but he was to stay there with them for two years.

"He found that there were underground passages running in all directions: they could get to the Cave of Tan yr Ogof, near Craig y Nos Castle, the Caves of Ystrad Fellte, the Garn Goch, and other places by them. He learned, too, much about their habits: these fairies were dreadful thieves, always stealing milk and butter and cheese from farm-dairies."

When they let him go they gave him a hatful of gold guineas. The existence of these coins reached Dai's old master, who was greedy, and decided he would use the curious little word to steal from the cave "enough guineas, half-guineas and seven-and-sixpenny pieces to fill his salt chest."

Of course this wasn't enough for him, and he went back for more. But the fairies caught him. Dai went to look for him and (grossly) "he found his four quarters hanging behind the stone door." Understandably Dai wouldn't use or reveal the password ever again.

The complete story at V Wales: from W Jenkyn Thomas's "Welsh Fairy Stories" (1907).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th June 2007ce
Edited 17th June 2007ce

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.

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
Edited 5th December 2006ce

Garn Goch is a cairn on top of Mynydd y Drum. (Its name means 'red cairn'. Is it actually red? Or is it the sun on it? Something symbolic? Or what? Do you know?)

It actually contains a stash of gold, as explained in this story from Rhys's 'Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx' (1901).
'We also [received a] tale about a cwmshurwr, "conjurer," who once lived in Ystradgyrlais (as the rustic pronounced it). The wizard was a dyn llaw-harn, "a man with an iron hand"; and it being reported that there was a great treasure hidden in Mynydd y Drum, the wizard said he would secure it, if he could but get some plucky fellow to spend a night with him there. John Gethin was a plucky fellow (dyn "ysprydol"), and he agreed to join the dyn llaw-harn in his diablerie.

The wizard traced two rings on the sward touching each other "like a number 8"; he went into one, and Gethin into the other, the wizard strictly charging him on no account to step out of the ring. The llaw-harn then proceeded to trafod 'i lyfrau, or "busy himself with his books"; and there soon appeared a monstrous bull, bellowing dreadfully; but the plucky Gethin held his ground, and the bull vanished.

Next came a terrible object, a "fly-wheel of fire," which made straight for poor Gethin and made him swerve out of the ring. Thereupon the wheel assumed the form of the diawl, " devil," who began to haul Gethin away. The llaw-harn seized hold of him and tried to get him back. The devil was getting the upper hand, when the llaw-harn begged the devil to let him keep Gethin while the piece of candle he had with him lasted. The devil consented, and let go his hold of Gethin, where. upon the cwmshurwr immediately blew out the candle, and the devil was discomfited.

Gethin preserved the piece of candle very carefully, stowing it away in a cool place; but still it wasted away although it was never lighted. Gethin got such a fright that he took to his bed, and as the candle wasted away he did the same, and they both came to an end simultaneously. Gethin vanished--and it was not his body that was put into the coffin, but a lump of clay which was put in to save appearances! It is said that the wizard's books are in an oaken chest at Waungyrlais farm house to this day.
The book is online at the sacred texts archive.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st February 2005ce
Edited 26th February 2005ce