Released: April 2015
Publisher: Bradwell Books
Size: 180 x 110mm
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The folklore and legends of Wales are among the oldest and the most exciting. Many survive in ancient manuscripts, such as the ‘Red Book of Hergest’ and the ‘White Book of Rhydderch’, both dating from the 14th century but almost certainly referencing much earlier sources. In the middle of the 19th century many of these surviving stories were compiled and translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest as The Mabinogion. Some of the oldest stories featuring King Arthur appear in The Mabinogion and are therefore of worldwide importance.
In addition to such epics, there is a wealth of local legends, yarns and strange superstitions recorded from throughout the Principality. These are, in their way, arguably all the more interesting to the average reader in that they reveal the very real beliefs of our recent ancestors. Most people living in the Welsh countryside in the 18th and 19th centuries firmly believed in the existence of fairies, ghosts, witchcraft and even – in one or two communities – dragons.
For the purposes of this necessarily brief introduction to the folk tales of Wales, I have focused in on these less well-known stories and accounts. In them you will meet a wide variety of strange beings and fascinating characters, such as the elegant, aristocratic but dangerously amoral Fair Tribe; the crafty old lady who fooled the Devil; wicked witches and helpful healers; the saint who lost her head and got it back again; the woman who had to fend off a fiendish version of her husband in the bedroom; and the man who had to lean against a cow for comfort after being spooked by a scary ghost.
The folklore of Wales paints it as a wonderfully magical place. Many would say this is still true today.