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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 July 2005, 06:36 GMT 07:36 UK
Mystery and myths in weird Wales
Part of Fortean Times cover
Welsh beasts and UFOs feature on the cover of Fortean Times
While Wales has plenty of mountains and sheep, does it also have more than its share of ghosts, UFOs and monsters?

So claims the Fortean Times, which keeps a keen eye on global weirdness.

The magazine calls Wales "one of the most haunted countries in the world" which is "overflowing with mystery".

The Wales Tourist Board's Heledd Llewelyn Parry said: "I'm sure every town in Wales has a story to tell about a ghost, myth or legend - and the Welsh are so good at telling those stories."

The magazine may leave sceptics scoffing, but the Fortean Times lists many of the "paranormal," unexplained and plain bizarre events which propel Wales up the curiosity charts.

There are traditional historic legends, such as the fairies said to materialise at Castell Dinas Bran, overlooking Llangollen.

There are no taboo areas and God has given us the means and curiosity to examine the wideness of the universe
Rev Lionel Fanthorpe

Then there are tales of monsters, such as the 8ft humpbacked creature reported to pop up occasionally from the depths of Lake Bala, Gwynedd.

There are also the unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, which were spotted fairly regularly at St Bride's Bay, Pembrokeshire, in the mid-1970s.

But there are more prosaic tales, too. Such as the claim that 5,000 baked bean tins without labels were found strung along a five-mile stretch of the A48 in south Wales on three occasions in one year, 1985.

'Time slip'

If all this stretches your credibility to the limits, the magazine even offers a "pigs might fly" story.

Boy saw dancing fairies at Bodfari, Denbighshire in 1757
Visions of the Virgin Mary seen at Capel-y-Ffin, Powys, in late 19th century
Ghosts reported at mansion and road running past Plas Teg, Flintshire
The Skirrid Mountain Inn, near Abergavenny is claimed to be the most haunted pub in Wales

It reports that during the great Welsh religious revival in 1905 "a dark black object with four legs and short wings, which looked like nothing so much as a flying pig, soared over Froncysyllte" in north Wales.

The airborne creature, says the magazine, was "estimated to be two miles up and travelling at 20 mph".

The Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, a Cardiff vicar and Fortean Times writer who also presents TV programmes about the inexplicable, put forward three possible reasons for a country's penchant for the paranormal.

He said it could be the genetic inheritance of the people, the properties of its earth - perhaps electro-magnetic, or even gravitational - or even a "time slip" which allows the 21st Century an insight into other eras.

Castell Dinas Bran (picture: Susan Stanley)
A suitably eerie cloud-cloaked backdrop for Castell Dinas Bran

Mr Fanthorpe, a part-time unpaid Anglican priest, said he was not bothered if some clergy took a dim view of his unconventional interests.

"I'm very much a laid-back liberal and the God I believe in is the God of the entire universe. There are no taboo areas and He has given us the means and curiosity to examine the wideness of the universe."

Tourist board official Ms Parry said Wales had "a wealth of history, culture, folklore and magical mysteries".

"Wales' myths and legends are especially appealing to our overseas visitors, and although it's a niche market, many people also have an interest in visiting locations which are said to be haunted."

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31 Oct 03 |  Wales


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