Wales is a land of bards, storytellers and preachers; the seclusiveness of the country and the exclusiveness of the language have perhaps tended more than anything else to bring about that peculiar Welsh poetic temperament that prompts their universally known annual gatherings and gives rise to those theological musings and raptures so characteristic of the people.
It is also a land of ghosts.
What is it about the green hills and valleys of Wales that attracts apparitions? Is it the ancient mountains shrouded in mists and rain which evoke a land where time has been stilled? Or is it the dark secrets and stories which remain to tell over the fires at night time?
No matter the whys and wherefores of this trove of richness, the ghost tales of Wales retain a lively existence on the lips of the forebears of these original storytellers and one could spend a lifetime wrapped spellbound in their telling.
Here is but one of them…
It was in the dark autumn of 1938, when one of the oddest ghosts on record drove a family from their home. A black cloud of sibylline intensity was reported to have enveloped every member of a family in turn—that is how the phantom was described by Mr David Jones, a colliery foreman, and his wife and sons, who had recently lived in a cottage on the mountainside at Ganllwyd, South Wales.
Because of this baleful presence they abandoned their cottage and moved to Abertillery, a former mining town set in the heart of Blaenau Gwent, South Wales.
For five years they lived in the mountain-side cottage. Then suddenly the black terror appeared.
It drove one of Mr Jones’ sons from home. It made his wife a nervous wreck. He himself felt the strange influence weighing him down, almost strangling him one night as he lay in bed.
The family had just returned from a wedding of a close friend. Mr Jones recalls his wife asking him if he had noticed anything odd about the bride. “I was a little surprised by the question,” said the former miner. “My wife is a very straightforward woman who isn’t one to speak of ghosts and such things. On this occasion, however, she was quite struck by something; she was sure that she had seen what she described as a shadow floating above the bride’s head, something that remained throughout the ceremony. I must admit I saw nothing out of the ordinary but she was adamant that she had seen this eerie shadow.”
It was a few days later when Mr Jones came home from his work and found his wife unconscious on the floor. She told him:
“I was sleeping. Suddenly I awoke. I could feel something weighing down on the bedclothes, which gradually tightened about me. I put up my hands to ward off some dark shadowy mass
which seemed to be enveloping me. Then I collapsed.”
After that Mr Jones and his son David slept in the room. They had a terrifying experience. Here is Mr Jones’s story : “Something tugged at the bedclothes. Then I had a feeling that the bedclothes were being drawn tightly around me. I had an awful feeling of being trapped.
His son felt the same eerie influence. A candle was lit. There was nothing.
The candle was put out. Mr Jones’ story goes on.
“Suddenly we knew that it was coming. My body went icy cold. A wave of blackness seemed to be flowing into the room. David shouted: “Get up, dad, I can see it over your head.”
They put on the light again and waited until the dawn when they left the cottage. There was nothing else for it.
“I’m not sure why this thing entered our home,” stated Mr Jones, “but it felt as if it had followed us from the church. Again, why it should have done that I’m completely in the dark. I’m just pleased we have had no such disturbances since.”
Today that cottage is empty on the mountain, and the curious are making pilgrimages to it. But there is no explanation of the weird happenings that drove away the occupants.
Wales seems to be a haunted haven for the phenomenon of spectral black clouds, sometimes referred to as shadow people. These spectral presences have been the subject of several newspaper reports throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries.
A gentleman from Dyserth in North Wales reported witnessing something similar in the early 1980s: “I was at my cousin’s house, in Dyserth which my mother had convinced me was haunted – hanged men in the attic, that kind of thing. She claimed to have seen a man’s shadow on top of the lower stair case one night. It was quite a big house, not really sure how old it was, but the attic was now a bedroom. Anyway, I must have been about 6 and I was sat in the dining room on the big wooden table eating breakfast. My aunt was in the other room, which was the kitchen. I sat eating it happily minding my own business, only to turn my head left at the window (it was fading light at that time) to see the most hideous face. It was cloudy like soot, but it had features, though these were wrinkled up, and the face looked like it was melting, kind of like the ‘scream’ painting. it was very much real.”