Cynon's Ghost

: Welsh Folk-lore

One of the wicked Spirits which plagued the secluded Valley of Llanwddyn

long before it was converted into a vast reservoir to supply Liverpool

with water was that of Cynon. Of this Spirit Mr. Evans writes

thus:--Yspryd Cynon was a mischievous goblin, which was put down by

Dic Spot and put in a quill, and placed under a large stone in the

river below Cynon Isaf. The stone is called 'Careg yr Yspryd,' the

Ghost Stone.
This one received the following instructions, that he was

to remain under the stone until the water should work its way between the

stone and the dry land.

The poor Spirit, to all appearance, was doomed to a very long

imprisonment, but Dic Spot did not foresee the wants and enterprise of

the people of Liverpool, who would one day convert the Llanwddyn Valley

into a lake fifteen miles in circumference, and release the Spirit from

prison by the process of making their Waterworks.

I might here say that there is another version current in the parish

besides that given me by Mr. Evans, which is that the Spirit was to

remain under the stone until the river was dried up. Perhaps both

conditions were, to make things safe, imposed upon the Spirit.

Careg yr Yspryd and Cynon Isaf were at the entrance to the Valley of

Llanwddyn, and down this opening, or mouth of the valley, rushed the

river--the river that was to be dammed up for the use of Liverpool. The

inhabitants of the valley knew the tradition respecting the Spirit, and

they much feared its being disturbed. The stone was a large boulder,

from fifteen to twenty tons in weight, and it was evident that it was

doomed to destruction, for it stood in the river Vyrnwy just where

operations were to commence. There was no small stir among the Welsh

inhabitants when preparations were made to blast the huge Spirit-stone.

English and Irish workmen could not enter into the feeling of the Welsh

towards this stone, but they had heard what was said about it. They,

however, had no dread of the imprisoned Spirit. In course of time the

stone was bored and a load of dynamite inserted, but it was not shattered

at the first blast. About four feet square remained intact, and

underneath this the Spirit was, if it was anywhere. The men were soon

set to work to demolish the stone. The Welshmen expected some

catastrophe to follow its destruction, and they were even prepared to see

the Spirit bodily emerge from its prison, for, said they, the conditions

of its release have been fulfilled--the river had been diverted from its

old bed into an artificial channel, to facilitate the removal of this and

other stones--and there was no doubt that both conditions had been

literally carried out, and consequently the Spirit, if justice ruled,

could claim its release. The stone was blasted, and strange to relate,

when the smoke had cleared away, the water in a cavity where the stone

had been was seen to move; there was no apparent reason why the water

should thus be disturbed, unless, indeed, the Spirit was about to appear.

The Welsh workmen became alarmed, and moved away from the place, keeping,

however, their eyes fixed on the pool. The mystery was soon solved, for

a large frog made its appearance, and, sedately sitting on a fragment of

the shattered stone, rubbed its eyes with its feet, as if awaking from a

long sleep. The question was discussed, Is it a frog, or the Spirit in

the form of a frog; if it is a frog, why was it not killed when the stone

was blasted? And again, Who ever saw a frog sit up in that fashion and

rub the dust out of its eyes? It must be the Spirit. There the workmen

stood, at a respectful distance from the frog, who, heedless of the

marked attention paid to it, continued sitting up and rubbing its eyes.

They would not approach it, for it must be the Spirit, and no one knew

what its next movement or form might be. At last, however, the frog was

driven away, and the men re-commenced their labours. But for nights

afterwards people passing the spot heard a noise as of heavy chains being

dragged along the ground where the stone once stood.