Sunday, 4 July 2010

Spooky Sunday

In the current issue of Paranormal Magazine there is an article by Richard Freeman on particularly weird ghosts. I'm going to have a crack at coming up with a similar selection in the next issue. First port of call for me is the works of the Rev Edmund Jones, known as 'The Old Prophet', who lived in South Wales in Georgian times. He claimed to have seen fairies as well as ghosts and believed that to deny the existence of such supernatural entities was the first step towards disbelieving in God.

In his books An Account of the Parish of Aberystruth (1779) and the following year's Apparitions of Spirits in the County of Monmouth &c, as well as a later unpublished manuscript residing in the National Library of Wales, Jones recounts a number of stories by his congregation and neighbours of encounters with a number of, frequently very bizarre, spooks. They make up the strangest body of ghost stories from Wales and yet are among the best attested, in that Jones is able to give precise information regarding locations, dates and biographical details of the experiencers, who were all known to him (and, of course, whose truthfulness was always above question!).

Among the spooks described are apparitions of bestial beings crawling on all fours, or on their hands or turning over and over 'topsy-turvy' fashion; incredibly tall or massive figures; half-formed silhouettes of people; shapeless things and floating black 'bowls' (balls). Perhaps the strangest - and the one I will be using in my article - is the follwing account from a farm in in the parish of Trevethin, near Pontypool. I quote from my Haunted Wales (2005). Watch out at a later date for the illustration, which will be by my friend Jonathan Edwards.

[A milkmaid] saw it loitering by a holly tree one evening as she went to milk the cows. It was approximately the shape of a man but ‘very big in the middle and narrow at both ends’ and when the girl’s dog approached it, it shot out a long, black tongue, scaring it away. With a heavy, earth-shaking tread, the monster marched off in the direction of a well suspiciously named Ffynnon yr Yspryd (Well of the Ghost), where it disappeared.

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