Saturday, 10 November 2007

The Gwyllgi, Black Dogs of Welsh folklore

The second part of the 'Beast of Brymbo' story has been uploaded on Uncanny UK, with witness Malcolm Jones's account of a huge, unidentifiable animal he saw one evening in the early 1970s.

His description of this creature, seen on a lane leading into the Wrexham village, echoes those of the Gwyllgi, the mysterious dog-like apparitions of Welsh folklore. These commonly reported yet inexplicable spectres have their counterparts in England, where they go by a variety of regional names, including Padfoot, Skriker, Trash and Black Shuck. In the literature, they are usually simply referred to as Black Dogs.

In Wales, as elsewhere, they are usually described as being black in colour, with a shaggy pelt and closely resembling a dog of the mastiff breed but much larger, about the size of a calf. They are said to haunt lonely lanes at night or twilight. Mr Jones's spook has many of these characteristics, although his had a leaner outline, more like a lurcher. There are other variants throughout Wales. In the Afan and Margam district of South Wales, for example, they were described as being blood red in colour. The most grotesque is that which haunted a green lane near Llysworney in Glamorgan: this was described as having the hind-quarters of a spotted dog but the head of a man.

When I was writing my 'Wales of the Unexpected' column in the Daily Post newspaper, I received accounts from readers of two separate Gwyllgi seen on Anglesey. These accounts are reproduced in my book of the same name (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, ISBN 1-84527-008-8).

The word Gwyllgi, incidentally, first appears in a rare book, 'The Vale of Glamorgan', published in 1839. I believe the best translation of the word would be 'Dog of the Twilight'.

The are several other stories of the Black Dogs to be found on the Uncanny UK website, including one that could fly! To read more visit
To buy a copy of 'Wales of the Unexpected' from Amazon, visit:

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