Friday, April 28, 2006

Heading towards the UK, Wales, & Ireland

Oh boy oh boy oh boy. In a few days we'll be flying to see Edward's family and the home of some of my dearly departed ancestors.

Here is my wish list of things I'd love to see:
1. Beddgelert (the grave of Gelert ) a truly righteous dog.
This village owes its fame to the story of Prince Llewelyn who left his infant son in the charge of his faithful dog Gelert. On his return, the Prince was greeted by Gelert, who noticed the dog's muzzle was soaked in blood, and his son was nowhere to be seen. Llewelyn beat the dog, and it fell to the ground gravely injured. However, Llewelyn then heard a cry and stumbled through nearby bushes to find his son, safe in his cradle. Beside the cradle lay the body of a giant wolf covered with wounds, the result of a fight to the death with hound Gelert. Llewelyn strode back to his faithful dog and watched this noble creature die.

Modern folklorists say that this story was made up by local traders some time ago in an attempt to lure Snowdon's visitors to their village. It appears the place name actually refers to Gelert, a sixth century saint from the area. This legend was well known by the time George Borrow visited Beddgelert in 1854 as part of the journey through the country the results of which he published in 1862 in his book tilted 'Wild Wales'.

The tomb of Gelert supposedly stands in a beautiful meadow below Cerrig Llan and consists of a slab lying on its side, and two upright stones.

2. Brownies
A widespread name for a fairy or supernatural creature, they were small in appearance and wore brown coloured clothing.

Like many mischievous spirits they were thought to be attached to houses or families and could be helpful in menial household tasks. If offended they became malignant and mischievous, creating poltergeist activity and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

3. Will o' the Wisp
Some Regional Names for this phenomenon :

Hertfordshire and East Anglia: The Hobby Lantern
Lancashire: Peg-a- Lantern
Cornwall: and Somerset: Joan the Wad
East Anglia: The Lantern Man
Somerset and Devon: Hinky Punk
Shropshire: Will the Smith
Worcestershire: Pinket
The West Country: Jacky Lantern, Jack a Lantern
Lowland Scotland: Spunkies
Wales: Pwca and the Ellylldan
Norfolk: Will o the Wikes
Warwickshire Gloucestershire: Hobbedy's Lantern
North Yorkshire, Northumberland: Jenny with the Lantern

Other names:
Corpse candles - related to graveyards and funeral processions.
Ignis Fatuus - the Latin name which means foolish fire.

Wirt Sikes in his book British Goblins alludes a common story about a Welsh Will o' the Wisp (Pwca); a peasant, who is travelling home late in the evening sees a bright light travelling before him, looking closer he sees that the light is a lantern held by a "dusky little figure" (a brownie?) which he follows for several miles, suddenly he finds himself standing on the edge of a great chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that moment the lantern carrier leaps across the fissure, raises the light over its head and lets out a malicious laugh, after which it blows out the light leaving the unfortunate man far from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice. They were not always so dangerous, and there are tales told about the Will o' the Wisp being guardians of treasure, leading those brave enough to follow them to sure riches.

I will be brave and maybe I will find treasure!
Stay tuned.

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