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Llanddona Witches


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

There is a tradition in the parish of Llanddona, Anglesey, that these
witches, with their husbands, had been expelled from their native
country, wherever that was, for practising witchcraft. They were sent
adrift, it is said, in a boat, without rudder or oars, and left in this
state to the mercy of the wind and the wave. When they were first
discovered approaching the Anglesey shore, the Welsh tried to drive them
back into the sea, and even after they had landed they were confined to
the beach. The strangers, dead almost from thirst and hunger, commanded
a spring of pure water to burst forth on the sands. This well remains to
our days. This miracle decided their fate. The strangers were allowed,
consequently, to land, but as they still practised their evil arts the
parish became associated with their name, and hence the Witches of
Llanddona was a term generally applied to the female portion of that
parish, though in reality it belonged to one family only within its

The men lived by smuggling and the women by begging and cursing. It was
impossible to overcome these daring smugglers, for in their neckerchief
was a fly, which, the moment the knot of their cravats was undone, flew
right at the eye of their opponents and blinded them, but before this
last remedy was resorted to the men fought like lions, and only when
their strength failed them did they release their familiar spirit, the
fly, to strike with blindness the defenders of the law.

The above-mentioned tradition of the coming of these witches to Anglesey
is still current in the parish of Llanddona, which is situated on the
north coast of Anglesey.

It was thought that the witching power belonged to families, and
descended from mothers to daughters. This was supposed to be the case
with the witches of Llanddona. This family obtained a bad report
throughout the island. The women, with dishevelled hair and bared
breasts, visited farm houses and requested charity, more as a right than
a favour, and no one dared refuse them. Llanddona Witches is a name
that is not likely soon to die. Taking advantage of the credulity of the
people, they cursed those whom they disliked, and many were the
endeavours to counteract their maledictions. The following is one of
their curses, uttered at Y Ffynon Ocr, a well in the parish of
Llanddona, upon a man who had offended one of these witches:--

Crwydro y byddo am oesoedd lawer;
Ac yn mhob cam, camfa;
Yn mhob camfa, codwm;
Yn mhob codwm, tori asgwrn;
Nid yr asgwrn mwyaf na'r lleiaf,
Ond asgwrn chwil corn ei wddw bob tro.

The English is as follows, but the alliteration and rhythm of the Welsh
do not appear in the translation:--

May he wander for ages many;
And at every step, a stile;
At every stile, a fall;
At every fall, a broken bone;
Not the largest, nor the least bone,
But the chief neck bone, every time.

This curse seemed to be a common imprecation, possibly belonging to that
family. Such was the terror of the Llanddona Witches that if any of
them made a bid for a pig or anything else, in fair or market, no one
else dared bid against them, for it was believed they would witch the
animal thus bought. There were also celebrated witches at Denbigh.
Bella Fawr (Big Bella) was one of the last and most famous of her tribe
in that town, and many other places were credited with possessing persons
endowed with witching powers, as well as those who could break spells.

The following tales of the doings of witches will throw light upon the
matter under consideration.

Next: Witches Transforming Themselves Into Cats

Previous: Witches And Conjurors

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