An ungodly man once refused to pay his tithe as regularly as he refused to say his prayers or listen to sermons. Due to his "reluctance and corrupted behaviours", he was excommunicated by the Grey and Black Friars who jointly ran his local monastery.

He was also forced to endure the torrents of an icy waterfall at Pistyll Cain at Y Friog near Fairbourne, and he is said to have haunted a cave there ever since. Such creepy tales form part of a new book, featuring spectral sows and stone-throwing poltergeists, using many texts translated into English for the first time.

Dr Delyth Badder, co-author of "The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts", said one text stated that this "ungodly" man "did not partake in confession or communion even at his last hour, the result of which was that they obliged him to accept the Viaticum [last rites], on pain of being tormented in Cain waterfall as a sign of being cleansed of his unnatural lust, and it is said that terrible screams came from the cave at times: especially so when the river was flooded, or when frost had solidified the waters."

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Dr Badder said: "The location of this haunting is the impressive Pistyll Cain, a waterfall that can be found along the picturesque walking route through Coed y Brenin, a popular destination for tourists visiting Eryri, blissfully unaware of its gruesome place in Welsh folklore."

Indeed, Dr Badder and joint author Mark Norman, who is the founding curator of The Folklore Library and Archive, discovered that a common theme within Welsh ghost-lore, and one which is recorded several times within the chapters of The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts, is for accounts to serve as a warning within the community to steer clear of a particular ill-reputed or dangerous location.

Dr Delyth Badder
Dr Delyth Badder

With original Welsh texts, many translated into English for the first time, the authors present a wide panorama of stories and first-hand accounts that will be new to even the most seasoned folklore reader. Ranging from the distant past right up to the present day, this collection shines a spotlight on the unique qualities of folkloric ghost beliefs in Wales.

Dr Badder said: "The vast majority of sources came from my own personal library. I've been a Welsh antiquarian book collector for several years, and so have amassed an extensive library of some of Wales's rarest folkloric texts.

"Many of the stories printed within The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts come from old Welsh language parish history accounts - an invaluable source which has previously been overlooked and ignored in Welsh ghost-lore study.

"Some of the stories have been translated from newspaper reports, texts held at the Special Collections and Archives at Cardiff University, and from the archive material held at St Fagans National Museum of History."

She added: "Many of these sources are extremely rare, unrecorded since the time of their initial publication; some are published here for the first time ever. Owing to the scarcity of many of the texts, it is likely that even the most well-versed Welsh folklorist will be unfamiliar with some of the accounts presented within the book’s pages."

Dr Badder has expertise in Welsh death omens and apparitions, with a particular academic interest in the appearance of spirits within the Welsh tradition, as well as the nineteenth-Century neo-druidic movement, and the life and work of archdruid and surgeon, Dr William Price.

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Intriguingly, she also works for the NHS as the world’s first Welsh-speaking Consultant Paediatric and Perinatal Pathologist, and as a Medical Examiner for the Welsh Medical Examiner’s Office.

Wales is a land with a vast wealth of ghost stories, including fantastical animals, flickering death omens and unseen things that go bump in the night. Whether these tales are based on true events, or are the creations of active imaginations, is known only to those who have experienced them - but what is certain is that their power to delight and scare us remains undimmed to this day.

* The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts by Delyth Badder and Mark Norman is published by Calon at the University of Wales Press (£14.99). It is out in hardback on September 28, 2023.

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