Howell Elfed Lewis
1860–1953

Coffa Elfed / Elfed Museum

RECOLLECTIONS - SUPERSTITION

Elfed remembered one particular winter when it seemed all the talk on the hearth centred on superstition. Hardly a night went by without stories being told of will-o'-the-wisp, hounds from the netherworld and unnatural apparitions such as a hoofed animal without a head that had been seen by some near the entrance of Pen-y-graig Fawr and of course bogeys of all sorts. He felt that the fairies had descended on the neighbourhood.

His mother believed in these superstitions despite his father’s constant ridiculing of such matters. Elfed later realised that many of the stories were the creation of fertile minds as there was always an able craftsman available to spin a yarn if there was a ready and gullible audience. At the time Elfed, the young boy, could hardly remove himself from the glow of the fireside to go to bed and its surrounding darkness such was his fright. 

Some half a mile from Pant-y-waun there was a place called Bwlchcydiadau where the road split into two and one road hence wound towards a desolate moorland. One dark Saturday evening a farmer was returning from Carmarthen and was set upon by two tramps near this particular place, was robbed of his money and left to die . However one of the two returned to confirm that he had been killed. The farmer had his wits about him despite the beating and had the presence of mind to hold his breath and feign death as the tramp prodded him.

Later, the farmer managed to drag himself to a nearby farm called Parc-y-mynydd and described what had happened to him. On Sunday morning the whole neighbourhood gathered from all directions carrying sickles, scythes, axes, pitchforks and whatever they could lay their hands on including a few guns and dogs in order to track down the two culprits. Following a few hours search the two thieves were found in Nant-y-castell wood. Elfed heard the story told umpteen times and until his dying day he could never go past Bwlchcydiadau without imagining the scene of a man holding his breath lest he should betray he was still alive.

Arianwyd gan / Funded by

Canolfan Tywi - Tywi Centre RDP Sir Gar Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru - Natural Resources Wales Cyngor Sir Gar - Carmarthenshire County Council Ymddiriedolaeth Genedlaethol - National trust EU Llwodraeth Cymru - Welsh Government