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Round Barrow(s) (Destroyed)


Richard Holland's 1989 book 'Supernatural Clwyd' gives these details of the folklore. These stories "supposedly" predate the discovery of the cape.

It seems that Bryn-yr-Ellyllon was the name given to the hill approaching Pentre. In 1830 a farmer's wife was returning up it from Mold market when her horse began to get jumpy. She saw lights in the woods to her right and wondered if a fire had started in them. Suddenly a huge figure wearing golden armour strode out of the woods - he was shining with the weird golden light. He crossed in front of her and straight into the barrow on the opposite side of the road. Immediately the golden light disappeared.

The farmer's wife pulled herself together and rode to the Rev. Charles Butler Clough's vicarage. He took her statement and got two people to witness it. (He printed it in the 1861 book 'Scenes and Stories Little Known.') He did some more research and found that the barrow itself was known as Tomen yr Ellyllon, and that it was regarded as haunted and a place people avoided. An old man who lived nearby told him of Brenin yr Allt, the King of the Hillside. The field in which the mound lay was supposedly called Cae'r Yspryd (Field of the Ghost).

He also discovered there had been sightings in the previous century (look, this is a man of the cloth we're talking about - would he lie for a good story?). A girl called Nancy had seen the spectre standing on the mound twice, and another woman who'd seen it had apparently gone mad for seven years. It was, she said 'All glittering and shining in gold'. The story at icNorth Wales here mentions that Nancy was rather relieved when the gold cape was found, because it collaborated her story (and no doubt reassured her that she wasn't totally bonkers). She felt that the ghost wouldn't be seen again - which it wasn't.

Various stories surround what happened after the barrow was broken into. It's known that many of the amber beads found their way home in people's pockets. One woman who took some home for her young daughter heard stamping feet at her cottage that night, and an invisible hand knocked on the doors and windows. Reluctantly she took the beads back and threw them on the remains of the barrow.

It is also said that many of the wedding rings handed down in Mold are made from melted gold from Bryn yr Ellyllon, though no associations with bad luck were mentioned with these.

One of the slabs from the tomb is said to be the first of the steps up the Bailey Hill in the centre of Mold.

Holland includes a photo of the house which was built on the site. A plaque is cemented into its garden wall commemorating the barrow and its find. It claims that the tomb was the burial place of the giant prince Benlli Gawr... but that's a different story.

(However, there are discrepancies in Holland's tale - he claims the book mentioned was written by the Reverend himself, but it was actually his wife.. so who knows what other aspects are factually a bit suspect. Still, it's all folklore isn't it - including the way new retellings get incorporated with the old ones. Nothing should come in the way of a good story).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th February 2004ce
Edited 6th March 2007ce

Comments (2)

Rhiannon is mistaken when she says that the tale was written by Rev Clough's wife: she didn't. I think Rhiannon is confusing this tale with that of the the Fyynnon yr Ellyllon (Goblin Well), which was indeed written by Mrs Clough in Scenes and Stories Little Known.

I wrote Supernatural Clwyd way back in 1988 when I was 24 and I confess I wouldn't consider it a great authority: I have learnt a lot since then about using primary sources and the importance of careful referencing. A much fuller and more accurately sourced account of this interesting ghost story can be found in my Haunted Wales published by Landmark in 2005 (now out of print but due to be republished by the History Press later this year). In this book I went back to the primary sources. While researching it I learnt lots of new details, including the fact that the field the mound stood in was called Cae Yspryd (Field of the Ghost). I also uncovered a first-hand record of the discovery of the cape.

But most significantly, I learnt that the first published record of the conversation between the witness and the Rev Clough didn't appear until 1885 - more than 50 years after the event - which rather undermines it as evidence for the ghost. Nevertheless, there's no doubt that belief in the ghost of the mound, known as Brenin yr Allt (King of the Hill), was extant before the cape's discovery and that there was at least one witness to it still alive in 1833 who had seen it back in the previous century. And who knows, the testimony by the farmer's wife allegedly written down and witnesssed in 1830, may still be languishing at the back of a drawer somewhere in the vicarage. If discovered, it would certainly be strong evidence for the exsitence of ghosts: the coincidence of an apparition 'clothed and shining in gold' haunting that very mound would be too much, I feel.
Posted by UncannyUK
10th February 2011ce
Hello Richard, Perhaps when I paraphrased your book I got confused about which book you were talking about. But the 'scenes and stories' book is on Google Books on the link, and it certainly seems to be entirely by his wife, and it does have a poem about the story, the first one in the book, 'the field of the golden corselet'. But I now realise you must have been talking about another book altogether.

So in which book is this account from the 1830s that the Rev published in the 1880s? I'm intrigued. And its late arrival only undermines the credibility of the story if you think the vicar would have a reason for fibbing !

You inspired me to have a scout about so I've posted up something I found, and I'm sure you'll have seen it before, but it's nice to put it on the site, I always like the language of these antiquarian journals.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th February 2011ce
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