The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts

Author(s) Delyth Badder,Mark Norman

Language: English

Genre(s): Literary Criticism, Welsh Interest, History

  • September 2023 · 256 pages ·216x135mm

  • · Hardback - 9781915279507
  • · eBook - epub - 9781915279521
  • · eBook - pdf - 9781915279538

About The Book

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.

In The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts, renowned folklorists Delyth Badder and Mark Norman present an intriguing and comprehensive selection of ghostly accounts, illuminating key themes running through them, and giving insights into the history and culture of Wales’s varied regions and communities.

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.


'This excellent book brings much that is new to the study of ghostlore in Britain. Its new translations of invaluable source material previously little known to non-Welsh speakers have the welcome effect also of giving us a much more accurate regional picture than previous rather vague and unhelpful references to ‘in Wales’. The accounts are also a revelation, highlighting subjects not often recognised in general British ghostlore. The authors have made a splendid contribution to deepening our understanding of regional ghost reports and beliefs within Britain.'
- Paul Cowdell, folklorist.

‘This collection by Delyth Badder and Mark Norman approaches the ghost-lore of Wales through the richness of the Welsh language. It contains a wealth of stories and traditions that are usually ignored – because the sources were not available in English. This volume carefully selects and classifies them while adhering to clearly defined themes, referring appreciatively to the work of past collectors and scholars while also including tales from oral tradition. It is a masterpiece of ghost stories in Welsh homespun.

Yes, there are tales of thrills and chills. Here, you’ll find beastly ghosts, ecclesiastical ghosts, ferocious ghosts, and even spirits of the living! But while this book focuses on the treasure trove of stories from Wales, they are introduced in the context of the wider traditions of the Celtic nations and those of other cultures. Much like some lakes and pools in Wales, this volume is also bottomless!’
- Myrddin ap Dafydd, Archdruid of Wales

'An impeccably researched book, The Folklore of Wales: Ghosts provides a long overdue authoritative work on the historical, cultural and social significance of the supernatural in Welsh folklore. The detailed attention to the imagery, rituals and belief systems surrounding such spectres, the source materials and the inclusive approach to the Welsh language in the recording and re-introduction of these ghost stories give this book a broad appeal. It not only introduces a non-Welsh-speaking audience to the dynamics of the language in conveying supernatural motifs and beliefs, for readers of Welsh it highlights the intricacies of meaning that the Welsh language and indeed the landscape can convey through these eerie tales. Congratulations to Delyth and Mark on a highly perceptive and thorough history of Welsh ghosts. From spectral sows to stone-throwing poltergeists, this is a book that will entertain, entice and educate in equal measure.'
- Dr Lisa Tallis, Cardiff University

‘This meticulously researched book unearths the facts behind the fiction of Wales’s ghostly tales, and offers a fascinating insight into the shaping of its folklore.’
- Matthew Yeomans, author of Return to My Trees

‘This absorbing study of Welsh ghosts and spirits makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of both Welsh folklore and the broader historical significance of the spirit world. It is expertly researched, engagingly written, and beautifully illustrated. The richness of the translated Welsh language material is a gift to the general reader and scholar alike.’
- Professor Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire


Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Unfinished Business
Chapter Three: Ghosts in the Landscape
Chapter Four: Spectral Beasts
Chapter Five: Holy Ghosts
Chapter Six: Poltergeists
Chapter Seven: Ladi Wen
Chapter Eight: Water Spirits
Chapter Nine: Fantastical Ghouls
Chapter Ten: Death Omens

About the Author(s)

Author(s): Delyth Badder

Delyth Badder has channelled a lifetime’s interest in Welsh folklore into academic study, and an extensive library of some of Wales’s rarest antiquarian folkloric texts. She is a regular contributor to discussions on Welsh folklore in the media. Delyth otherwise works as a part-time Consultant Paediatric and Perinatal Pathologist for the NHS.

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Author(s): Mark Norman

Folklorist Mark Norman is the Founding Curator of the Folklore Library and Archive, an organisation dedicated to the collection and preservation of folklore materials for the future. Many people know him as the creator and host of The Folklore Podcast. Mark also acts as a Council member for the Folklore Society and is the Recorder of Folklore for the Devonshire Association.

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