Craggy coves, hidden treasure, pirates, smugglers, and highwaymen are all part of the rich dark history of this South Wales coastline. CLAIRE BARRAND explores the top five haunted places in Barry, South Glamorgan.
Barry Island, Vale of Glamorgan
Barry Island is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of a local hero by the name of Benedict y Diffoddwr aka Benedict the Fighter. Legend tells of the time his ship Tam Lyn was accosted by Spanish pirates and he bravely and single-handedly fought and killed them all even though they slaughtered every member of his crew. He then sailed his ship back to port alone, and he was hailed a hero. He went on to navigate many more trips and eventually died during a storm when his vessel sank. It is thought that his ghost still lingers in the rocks off the shore protecting the inhabitants from invaders.
The Haunted Field, Near St Nicholas, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan
Tinkinswood Burial Chamber is almost 6000 years old pre-dating it older than Stonehenge, it once held 50 bodies. With one of the most enormous capstones in Europe, Folklore will twirl three times on midsummer nights eve, and the stones bathe in the river nearby. If you visit the stones on Halloween and whisper to it your wishes, they are said to come true. This field is supposed to be haunted by the specter of an unsaddled here that cannot be ridden, which suddenly is heard galloping wildly past unsuspecting walkers.
St Athan Village, Vale of Glamorgan
There is a traditional ghost story which has survived many centuries. When Sir William Berkerolles of St Athan returned from a crusade to the Holy Lands, his wife threw him a huge Norman banquet to celebrate however another Norman Lord informed Sir Berkerolles that she had been unfaithful. Despite her protestations of innocence, in a fit of rage, he had her buried up to her neck on the boundary between St Athen and Llantwit Major. Her sister kept her alive for ten days, allowing her to drink rainwater from her long skirts. Years later her husband found out that the Norman Lord was lying about her infidelity as she had, in fact, rebuked his advances, and through excessive drinking, he died in a fit of wretched guilt and insanity. The ghost they call Y Ladi Wen (The White Lady) of St Athan still roams the ruins of the Manor house and her presence has been witnessed many times.
The Captain’s Wife, Beach Road Swanbridge, Penarth
Formerly three cottages stood on the site where public house The Captains Wife now stands. Formerly a Smugglers lair there once was a tunnel that connected here to the sea and Sully House opposite. The legend goes that the wife of a sea captain was hidden here by her husband because he didn’t want to confess that she had died on his ship, due to the superstition of the time. Her body was placed in a box and mistaken for treasure and was stolen. Her ghost is said to haunt the building and appears as a dark shadow. Human remains were revealed bricked up in the chimney during renovations. A young boy is heard in one of the bedrooms thought to have died of strangulation during an accident, and another young boy haunts near the chimney in the bar area. It is believed that he died climbing up it trying to escape his violent father.
The Blue Anchor Inn, East Aberthaw, Barry
One of the oldest buildings in Wales, used by smugglers and wreckers as a hiding place for contraband, there is allegedly an underground tunnel which led from the inn down to the harbor. When an airman from the nearby Royal Air Force base was patrolling the perimeter one evening, his dog Target began to growl and bare teeth. Feeling uneasy he suddenly found himself in unfamiliar surroundings. He described standing on a rough road and hearing the sound of horses hooves approaching. Hiding in a hedge, he heard voices in a strange accent and watched dark figures leading four ponies carrying barrels pass by. He found himself once more by the fence of the RAF base yet only moments passed according to his watch. He then discovered a Viking coin on the same path which leads him to believe he had not imagined the whole thing and found that the route was once a regular track used by smugglers on their way to the Inn to hide their wares.