Satan Appearing To A Collier
: STORIES OF SATAN, GHOSTS, ETC.
: Welsh Folk-lore
John Roberts of Colliers' Row, Cyfartha, Merthyr, was once going to
Aberdare over the mountain. On the top of the hill he was met by a
handsome gentleman, who wore a three-cocked hat, a red waistcoat, and a
blue coat. The appearance of this well dressed man took John Roberts's
fancy; but he could not understand why he should be alone on Aberdare
mountain, and, furthermore, why he did not know the way to Aberdare, for
he had asked Roberts to direct him to the town. John stared at the
gentleman, and saw clearly a cloven foot and a long tail protruding
underneath the blue coat, and there and then the gentleman changed
himself into a pig, which stood before John, gave a big grunt, and then
I received the story from a lady to whom Roberts related it.
All these tales belong to modern times, and some of them appear to be
objectless as well as ridiculous.
There are a few places in Wales which take their names from Satan. The
Devil's Bridge is so called from the tradition that it was erected by
him upon the condition that the first thing that passed over it should be
his. In his design he was balked, for his intended victim, who was
accompanied by his faithful dog, threw a piece of bread across the bridge
after which the dog ran, and thus became the Devil's property, but this
victim Satan would not take.
The Devil's Kitchen is a chasm in the rock on the west side of Llyn
Idwal, Carnarvonshire. The view through this opening, looking downwards
towards Ogwen Lake, is sublime, and, notwithstanding its uncanny name,
the Kitchen is well worthy of a visit from lovers of nature.
From the following quotation, taken from Y Gordofigion, p. 110, it
would appear that there is a rock on the side of Cader Idris called after
the Evil One. The words are:--
Mae ar dir Rhiwogo, ar ochr Cader Idris, graig a elwir.
'Careg-gwr-drwg,' byth ar ol y Sabboth hwnw pan ddaeth yno at drigolion
plwyfydd Llanfihangel Pennant ac Ystradgwyn, pan oeddynt wedi ymgasglu i
chwareu cardiau, a dawnsio; ac y rhoddodd dro o amgylch y graig gan
ddawnsio, ac y mae ol ei draed ar y graig eto.
This in English is as follows:--There is on the land belonging to
Rhiwogo, on the side of Cader Idris, a rock called The Rock of the Evil
One, so named ever after that Sabbath, when he came there to join the
parishioners of Llanfihangel Pennant and Ystradgwyn, who had gathered
together to play cards and dance, and there he danced around the rock,
and to this day the marks of his feet are to be seen in the rock.
There were, perhaps are, in Pembrokeshire, two stones, called the Devil's
Nags, which were haunted by Evil Spirits, who troubled the people that
passed that way.
Ceubren yr Ellyll, the Hobgoblin's Hollow Tree, a noble oak, once
ornamented Nannau Park, Merionethshire. Tradition says that it was
within the trunk of this tree that Glyndwr buried his cousin, Howel Sele,
who fell a victim to the superior strength and skill of his relative.
Ever after that sad occurrence the place was troubled, sounds proceeded
out of the tree, and fire hovered over it, and, according to a writer in
The Cambro-Briton, vol. i., p. 226:--
E'en to this day, the peasant still
With cautious fear treads o'er the ground;
In each wild bush a spectre sees,
And trembles at each rising sound.
One of the caves in Little Orme's Head, Llandudno, is known as Ogof
Cythreuliaid, the Cave of Devils.
From the preceding names of places, which do not by any means exhaust the
list, it will be seen that many romantic spots in Wales are associated
There are also sayings in Welsh connected with the Evil One. Thus, in
our days may be heard, when it rains and the sun shines at the same time,
the expression, Mae'r Gwr Drwg yn waldio'i wraig--the Devil is
beating his wife.
Besides the Biblical names, by which Satan is known, in Wales, there are
several others in use, not to be found in the Bible, but it would seem
that these names are borrowed being either importations or translations;
in fact, it is doubtful, whether we possess any exclusively Welsh terms
applied solely to the Devil. Andras or Andros is common in North
Wales for the Evil One. Canon Silvan Evans in his Welsh Dictionary
derives this word from an, without, and gras, grace; thus, the word
becomes synonymous with gracelessness, and he remarks that, although the
term is generally rendered devil, it is much softer than that term, or
its Welsh equivalent diawl.
Y Fall is another term applied to Satan in Wales. Dr. Owen Pugh
defines the word as what is squabby, bulky. The most common expressions
for the devil, however, are Cythraul, and diawl, or diafol, but
these two last named words are merely forms of Diabolos. Other
expressions, such as Old Nick, Old Harry, have found a home in Wales. Y
gwr drwg, the bad man, Gwas drwg, the wicked servant, Yr yspryd
drwg, the wicked spirit, Yr hen fachgen, the old boy, and such like
expressions, are also common. Silly women frighten small children by
telling them that the Bo, the bogey, the bogey bo, or bolol,
etc., will take them away if they are not quiet.