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  • Napoleon in Wales November 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Napoleon in Wales

    Beach recently offered up the gem of a story that Göring, of all people, had hidden out in a British bomb shelter in the second world war. At that moment he alluded to the fact that in a previous period the British had been convinced that Napoleon himself had visited Britain on the eve of his […]

    First Knocker Record from Wales August 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    First Knocker Record from Wales

    Knockers (aka knackers) were the tiny mine spirits described particularly in Cornwall and in Wales. They were sometimes said to be helpers, sometimes hinderers, and sometimes they warned of disasters in the pit. On this last point Beach links here to his description of a nineteenth-century mine disaster in Wales at Morfa. They arrived in […]

    Romans in Nineteenth Century Wales?! March 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Romans in Nineteenth Century Wales?!

    There is lots of enjoyable nonsense about the Welsh and the Romans. The medieval Welsh genealogies are full of supposed Welsh connections to Caesar and other luminaries of the Empire. If memory serves correctly Gerald of Wales claims that the Welsh of his time sported Roman hairstyles (or was it their clean beardless faces that […]

    Red Fairies #4: Added in Translation? February 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Red Fairies #4: Added in Translation?

    Perhaps the real key to the Red Fairies problem is language. As we have established they are referred to as y Gwilliaid Cochion Mowddwy in Pennant our first extensive source. Let’s work backwards. Mowddwy refers to their region, modern Mawddwy. No problem there. Cochion refers to a deep red colour. Again no problem or controversy. (Some […]

    Red Fairies #3: Do NOT Use the Chimney February 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Red Fairies #3: Do NOT Use the Chimney

    One curious folklore tradition survives about ‘the red fairies’. This is David Pennant our earliest extensive source. The traditions of the country respecting these banditti, are still extremely strong. I was told that they were so feared, that travellers did not dare go the common road to Shrewsbury, but passed over the summits of the […]

    Red Fairies #2: A People Apart? February 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Red Fairies #2: A People Apart?

    One of the most curious aspects of the Red Fairy legends in the belief that the Red Fairies survived up until the nineteenth century as a race apart in the locality. This was elevated to high pseudo-science. Here is a passage from The British Race (1909) In Merioneth there is a red-haired, ruddy-skinned people, with […]

    Red Fairies #1: The Fairy Bandits? February 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Red Fairies #1: The Fairy Bandits?

    Imagine the scene: 1555, Lewis Owen, vice-chamberlain is passing down the road with a small bodyguard and his son-in-law, on the edge of Powys in central Wales. As they pass down the track, they come to several felled trees across their way in the midst of ‘thick woods’. Are the men anxious? Perhaps not at […]

    The Mystery Footstep January 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mystery Footstep

    A busy day, so a good and, let’s say, credible story from Llanfillin in Wales. This tale also involve a favourite Beachcombian theme, which cannot be revealed to the end without ruining the story.  An English man goes to live in Wales and is warned that the house he wished to rent is haunted. The […]

    A Ghost Rabbit as Big as a Sheep January 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Ghost Rabbit as Big as a Sheep

    Welsh ghost stories always have something extra: maybe it is the water, maybe Methodism, maybe coal dust… They are, in any case, always worth reading. This one starts with a nun that is admittedly not very promising but bear with her. Llangynwydd, which is in the Llynvi Valley, has a ghost scare on just now. […]

    Mine Disaster Premonitions at Morfa November 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mine Disaster Premonitions at Morfa

    10 March 1890 one of the worst mining accidents in British history* took place in Morfa in South Wales. 87 miners were killed. A gas explosion had been set off, probably by an unfastened lamp. Interestingly the local community had had forebodings before the explosion. This article came out almost two months later in the […]

    Blood and Judges: Murder Will Out November 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Blood and Judges: Murder Will Out

    There is the old folk belief that blood calls out for justice. If Beach murders his father-in-law (random example) and then successfully provides an alibi he will soon be undone. The local magistrates will call Beach forward and demand that he lay his hand on dead dad and then poor, much provoked Beach will be […]

    Stolen Horses and the Cunning Man October 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stolen Horses and the Cunning Man

    Cunning men were the healers and magicians of the English countryside from the middle ages up until the reign of George V. They had various jobs: including making love potions, casting birth charts, healing animals and individuals, and undoing witchcraft. However, the activity that got them most in the newspaper was their talent for finding […]

    Butter Tricks and Witches August 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Butter Tricks and Witches

    Here is a silly story from nineteenth-century Wales followed up with a serious point: or as serious as this blog ever gets. Mrs. Braithwaite [of Caergwrle, Flintshire] supplied a Mrs. Williams with milk, but a short time ago refused to serve her, and the cause was as follows: Mrs. Braithwaite had to that time been […]

    Why Do Welsh Ghosts Jump? August 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Why Do Welsh Ghosts Jump?

    Supernatural beings occasionally, like the rest of us, jump. In some cases, e.g. Spring Heeled Jack and the Devil, this seems to be a key characteristic. In other cases it is there in many descriptions: e.g. American wild men. Then, with other bogeys it is only an occasional activity: e.g. fairies and ghosts. However, Beach […]

    Green Children of Woolpit 5: Parallels January 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Green Children of Woolpit 5: Parallels

    Beach must start with apologies. He promised four posts on the green children but he was not able to contain himself. Here, then, is a fifth dreamt up in the outer rings of fever in the last couple of days (flu now been ravaging for a week). Beach set himself a simple question: to what […]

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