Ceredigion’s Spookiest Folklore And Legends

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The historic county of Ceredigion, on Wales’ west coast, is a creepy destination for those intrigued by the mystical and the supernatural, RICK HALE writes

A vintage print of Cardigan Castle in Ceredigion, Wales.
A vintage print of Cardigan Castle in Ceredigion, Wales.

Along the far western Welsh coast, bordering the Irish Sea can be found the county of Ceredigion. 

For centuries, Ceredigion knew much sorrow and bloodshed. When the western Roman empire fell, and its legions pulled out of the region, the region was subjected to numerous raids and invasion attempts by the Irish.

Thankfully, the invasions were repulsed by the forces of Cunedda, an early Welsh warrior and leader.

The intervening centuries saw a succession of conquerors and kings try to take over Ceredigion, but the people stayed strong and maintained their unique culture.

Today, that culture takes center stage in Ceredigion as it is a place where the history of Wales is celebrated.

And with that comes dark stories of grim ghosts, terrifying hauntings, and even dealings with the devil himself.

Cardigan Castle 

Of all the territories of the United Kingdom, Wales has the most castles per square mile than any other place in Britain. And fabled Cardigan Castle on the River Teifi in Cardigan is undoubtedly its most haunted. 

Cardigan Castle was built a thousand years ago in the 11th century, Cardigan Castle was owned by the Cadwgn family but was seized by Henry I as punishment.

From that moment on, the castle went through several different owners and was even a prison for a time. As well as being used by Welsh soldiers during World War II.

But time was not kind to Cardigan Castle and in 1984, it was declared unfit for human habitation. A sad ending to one of Wales’ most magnificent castles. 

Eventually the castle was renovated to its former glory in the early years of the 21st century, and has become an important part of the culture of Cardigan. And so has its ghosts.

Following the castle’s expansive renovations and opening to the public, it has become quite clear that Cardigan Castle is very much haunted.

The present house known as Castle Green House seems to be a magnet for paranormal activity, as most of the ghostly goings-on happens there.

Staff have reported the sound of footsteps in the halls, as well as the eerie feeling of being watched when they’re alone in a room.

Full conversations are heard in rooms where no living person is present.

And full bodied apparitions are regularly seen standing in rooms. Including the figure of a stern looking woman in black who vanishes if she’s spoken to.

Cheating Old Scratch

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “The devil always gets his due.” But that’s not always the case. Sometimes he’s cheated by the mere mortals he torments. Here are two from Ceredigion. 

The Devil’s Bridge

Spanning over the perilously deep Mynach Gorge is an ancient stone bridge that has quite a story to tell. 

Long ago, an elderly woman desperately needed to get her cow to the other side of the gorge, but couldn’t as there was no way across.

Suddenly the devil himself, in all his infernal majesty appeared and offered to build her a bridge. But there was a catch. 

He would only build the bridge if he could claim the soul of the first person who crossed it.

When she agreed, the devil was overjoyed because he would most certainly whisk the elderly woman’s soul off to the fiery pit of hell once she crossed. But the old lady was clever and knew the game he was playing.

When the bridge was done, the old woman grabbed a piece of bread from her apron and threw it across the bridge. Her dog happily ran across and gobbled the bread.

When the prince of lies realized he had been bested, he vanished in a flame. 

As for the old lady, she and her cow crossed the bridge and, well, lived happily ever after.

The Graveyard Game

Dafydd Llwyd was a man who yearned for power, and would do anything to get it. Even sell his very soul.

Dafydd summoned the devil and said he could have his soul for power if he was buried inside or outside the cemetery. 

The devil of course was all too happy to oblige. But when he wasn’t looking, Dafydd outsmarted him by having his body buried half in the cemetery and half out.

Clever way to keep his soul and still be the most powerful man I’m his town.

Ghosts Of The Cambrian Mountains

Wales is a land known for its remarkable beauty and majestic mountains with peaks that disappear in the clouds.

One of those beloved mountain ranges, the Cambrian Mountains, is said to be home to a number of ghosts that haunt its slopes and craggy ridges.

The Phantom Airman

Motorists on the A44 while driving along the slope of Pumlumon Cwmbiga have claimed to come face to face with the ghost of an Airman.

While driving along, people have claimed to see a silent, World War II era bomber flying overhead. A bomber that mysteriously vanishes from plain sight.

Years ago, a bomber crashed in the area and everyone on board was instantly killed.

Near the crash site the image of a bloody Airman in a tattered and burned up uniform appears on the side of the road. Forever mourning the loss of his life. And the life of his crew.

The Knockers of Ceredigion

Joining the phantom Airman are the ghosts of the Cambrian Mountains silver mine.

The mine is no longer in use, but the ghosts of the miners who perished in its darkened subterranean realms are still heard knocking and begging to be saved.

The Monks Of Nanteos Mansion 

Nanteos Mansion near Aberystwyth is one of those beautiful country homes that dots the landscape of Britain. And like many of its counterparts, it has a legendary ghost story to go along with it.

In the middle ages a brave group of Monks managed to find the cup of Christ, the legendary Holy Grail. 

The Monks brought the holy relic back to their abbey. Long after their deaths, the Monks are still seen today, guarding their find until the day Christ returns and reclaims the chalice.

Corpse Candles And Phantom Funerals 

Will o’ the wisps have long been a part of British folklore and Ceredigion has its very own.

In the bogs surrounding Ceredigion, residents have reported a most unusual sight.

After the sun dips below the horizon small dots of light appear and dance around the bogs as if guided by an intelligent force. 

These corpse Candles, as they have been called for centuries, are believed to be the souls of those who died in the area. And they are not alone.

A large pale light hovers over the ground and if you get too close it’s said you will recognise the spirit before it vanishes.

And to end this tour of the ghosts and legends of Ceredigion, we take a look at the Toili.

The Toili is a phantom funeral procession that makes its way down the more remote streets of Ceredigion. 

According to legend, if you are unfortunate enough to witness this dark and somber event, it will foretell your own death and your funeral.

Ceredigion, like the rest of Wales, is a place steeped in legend, magic, and ghostly tales of old.

If you’re ever in this ancient land you would be wise to explore this timeless region. And it’s many legends.

Have we missed your favourite Ceredigion legend or haunting? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

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