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Identified by The National Library of Wales as an 'Important part of Wales' documentary heritage' Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) - A Welsh Documentary Heritage Website
Identified by The National Library of Wales as an 'Important part of Wales' documentary heritage'
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Well Known Stories - Phantom Hounds (Cwn Annwn)


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Well Known Stories

Phantom Hounds (Cwn Annwn)


Background

Locals would avoid crossroads at night time due to yet another legend, widely accepted. The Ghosts of Spirit Hounds called Cwn Annwn were fierce wild dogs who chose to hunt in packs. Their howling could clearly be heard across the lonely countryside even as far as Sker. They favoured crossroads where a person had been hung until dead! Sometimes they were accompanied by a ghost called ‘Matilda of the Night’ travelled alongside them on her night black horse. It was believed that she was a Norman woman who died after a riding fall. She was punished for her love of hunting by condemnation to hunt with the evil hounds for eternity.

The Spirit Hounds of Glamorgan

These were harbingers of death and were seen everywhere across Glamorgan. Any dog howling at night among the wastes of Newton Burrows or the moorlands of Sker was in danger of being categorised as such, adding to the legends of ghost dogs that used to be rife many years ago.
The dogs came in all sizes, some white, some black and there were quite a few red ones with black spots. They were always found in remote places hunting either singly or in packs, sometimes they were accompanied by a gigantic black master on a horse. Their favourite haunting places were cross-roads where a hanging had been carried out or a murder committed.
Packmen were usually robbed and murdered for the wares they were carrying where the Parish authority rarely paid to have the body buried properly being merely kicked into the nearest ditch and left to rot. These corpses were seen by passers by months later and so such places were greatly feared by the simple country people who then associated the sites with supernatural events, particaulary the appearance of the spirit hounds.

Meanings
Seen singly a dog indicated coming sickness, if seen as a pack the spirit hounds meant certain death.
The dogs were greatly feared throughout Glamorgan and were called 'Cwn Annwn' in Welsh.

Local Legend

A local legend connects the spirit hounds with the Norman Knight Robert Fitzhamon, the conqueror of Glamorgan.
Having subdued the Welsh of the lowlands, Robert Fitzhamon brought over from Normandy a beautiful but wicked lady who loved riding to hounds. Enjoying the sport so much, she was able to ride better than most men that she was heard to remark 'If I cannot hunt in heaven I would rather not go there'...
She kept up the hunting until she died and when that event occurred the powers that control these things directed her to the spirit hounds - to hunt with them for eternity. Known as 'Mallt y Nos' by the frightened villagers who saw her, she repented of her past misdeads to no avail. Dressed in a red hooded cloak mounted on a swift black steed, her hounds around her, she was often heard lamenting her fate.
Her favourite time of appearance was on Christmas night or New Year's Eve and any inhabitant of Newton-Nottage travelling outside the Parish boundary at that time was always afraid of meeting her.







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Acknowledgements


Bibliography

  • Bridgend County Borough Council Library & Information Services
  • Legends of Porthcawl & the Glamorgan Coast - Alun Morgan
  • The Buried City of Kenfig (1909) - Thomas Gray
  • Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group

Webpage Author

  • Rob Bowen - Kenfig.org Local Community Group, 2011


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Kenfig - The Complete History (e-Resource) - An important part of Wales' documentary heritage

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