Monday, 5 May 2008

The scent of time

The latest article on is about ghostly smells. These are quite common phenomena, although not as common as I would expect considering how evocative the sense of smell is.

A recent blog tells the story of a female apparition seen in Flintshire: she appeared near the turning to a medieval farmhouse, Brithdir Mawr, and she may possibly be the same ghost of a woman reportedly seen in one of the bedrooms there. When I visited Brithdir Mawr when researching my book 'Haunted Clwyd', I spoke to the then owner, a Jane Mould, who told me that the most prevalent spook was the unmistakable smell of cooking stew.

'It's wonderful, very savoury,' Jane told me. 'It makes you hungry just to smell it! I often come across it in the passageway.'

Considering the house dates back to the 14th century, this could be somebody's dinner that was cooked one day six hundred years ago.

A more sinister aroma, though equally pleasant to the uninitiated, was the smell of thyme emanating from some old cottages near Llanasa, in the north of the county. Elias Owen, in his 'Welsh Folklore' of 1896, reports this phenomenon, stating that no thyme then grew there, but that many years ago there had been a bed of thyme, under which had been laid the bodies of two murdered children. The ghostly aroma was a supernatural reminder of this horrible deed.

Makes you wonder about that savoury stew - perhaps it was poisoned!

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