: Welsh Folk-lore

Caesar, bk. v., ch. xii., states that the Celts do not regard it

lawful to eat the hare, the cock, and the goose; they, however, breed

them for amusement and pleasure. This gives a respectable age to the

superstitions respecting these animals.

Mention has already been made of witches turning themselves into hares.

This superstition was common in all parts of North Wales. The Rev. Lewis

Williams, rector
f Prion, near Denbigh, told me the following tales of

this belief:--A witch that troubled a farmer in the shape of a hare, was

shot by him. She then transformed herself into her natural form, but

ever afterwards retained the marks of the shot in her nose.

Another tale which the same gentleman told me was the following:--A

farmer was troubled by a hare that greatly annoyed him, and seemed to

make sport of him. He suspected it was no hare, but a witch, so he

determined to rid himself of her repeated visits. One day, spying his

opportunity, he fired at her. She made a terrible noise, and jumped

about in a frightful manner, and then lay as if dead. The man went up to

her, but instead of a dead hare, he saw something on the ground as big as

a donkey. He dug a hole, and buried the thing, and was never afterwards

troubled by hare or witch.

In Llanerfyl parish there is a story of a cottager who had only one cow,

but she took to Llanfair market more butter than the biggest farmer in

the parish. She was suspected of being a witch, and was watched. At

last the watcher saw a hare with a tin-milk-can hanging from its neck,

and it was moving among the cows, milking them into her tin-can. The man

shot it, and it made for the abode of the suspected witch. When he

entered, he found her on the bed bleeding.

It was supposed that there was something uncanny about hares. Rowland

Williams, Parish Clerk, Efenechtyd, an aged man, related to me the

following tale, and he gave the name of the party concerned, but I took

no note of the name, and I have forgotten it:--A man on his way one

Sunday to Efenechtyd Church saw a hare on its form. He turned back for

his gun, and fired at the hare. The following Sunday he saw again a hare

on the very same spot, and it lifted its head and actually stared at him.

The man was frightened and went to church; the third Sunday he again saw

a hare on the very same form, and this hare also boldly looked at him.

This third appearance thoroughly convinced the man that there was

something wrong somewhere, and he afterwards avoided that particular


The pretty legend of Melangell, called Monacella, the patroness of hares,

is well known. One day the Prince of Powis chased a hare, which took

refuge under the robe of the virgin Melangell, who was engaged in deep

devotion. The hare boldly faced the hounds, and the dogs retired to a

distance howling, and they could not be induced to seize their prey. The

Prince gave to God and Melangell a piece of land to be henceforth a

sanctuary. The legend of the hare and the saint is represented in carved

wood on the gallery in the church of Pennant. Formerly it belonged to

the screen. Hares were once called in the parish of Pennant Melangell

Wyn Melangell, or St. Monacella's lambs. Until the last century no one

in the parish would kill a hare, and it was believed that if anyone cried

out when a hare was being pursued, God and St. Monacella be with thee,

it would escape.