Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Exploring Supernatural Wales

I've just received a new, or shortly to be published, book: 'Exploring Supernatural Wales' by Alvin Nicholas. To quote the blurb: 'The book contains information on over 40 supernatural locations in Wales. The main featured stories are accompanied by 25 walks of terror and mystery.'

No quite sure about the 'terror and mystery' (publishers are always writing blurbs that embarrass their authors, though) but Alvin certainly covers some fascinating and beautiful locations. Alvin draws on some of the classic works of Welsh folklore, particularly 'Folk-lore and Folk Stories of Wales' by Marie Trevelyan and 'British Goblins' by Wirt Sikes, and he's also used my own 'Haunted Wales' for inspiration. I am delighted, though, that where he has used my research, he has given it full credit. Not every author is so polite.

Two of the spooky sites Alvin has based his walks around are particular favourites of mine.

One is an ancient track at Llysworney in Vale of Glamorgan. It took me ages to find the 'Lisworney Crossways' mentioned by Wirt Sikes because this archaic spelling was no longer on the map and failed to turn up on any genealogy websites. If I'd lived in South Wales, like Alvin (who's from Caerphilly), I might have known Llysworney and made the connection but this was an area I was unfamiliar with. I was relieved when I spotted the village on a map and pleased when I worked out the exact location. It's a pretty little spot, or at least it was when I visited it one summer's afternoon. It's probably eerie as hell at night. According to folklore, it was haunted by a weird apparition in the shape of a big, spotty dog with a man's head. Eek!

The other site is the Old Warren at Broughton in my home county of Flintshire. This is another lonely, wood-bound lane. Its ghost, a floating clergyman who terrifies courting couples, was previously unrecorded until a kind lady wrote to tell me all about it when I was writing my 'History and Mystery' column in the local paper back in the early 90s. Both her mother and her aunt had been bothered by the disapproving spectre as young women in the 1930s.

There's also a great deal in 'Exploring Supernatural Wales' that was unfamiliar to me and which has got my Spookisense tingling. I'm especially impressed with Alvin's pictures of the Carreg y Bwci (Goblin Stone) near Lampeter, and the mighty burial mound of Twm Barlwm, near Risca. Alvin Nicholas is clearly a great enthusiast, with considerbale knowledge, of folklore and weirdness in Wales. I have no doubt that I will find lots more intriguing gems when I read it more fully.

'Exploring Supernatural Wales' by Alvin Nicholas is published by Landmark (the same publisher as 'Haunted Wales') and is priced £9.99.

(For more high strangeness, UK-wide, visit my other blog, http://uncannyuk.blogspot. com)

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