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Last Updated: Friday, 2 September 2005, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Old wedding custom angers police
A bride and groom
The wedding custom is known locally as 'Melltith' (curse in Welsh)
An old Welsh custom of causing havoc for a bride and groom on their wedding day has "gone beyond a joke" in Ceredigion, say Dyfed-Powys Police.

Telegraph poles have been chopped down in the Llandysul area blocking roads and causing a hazard to motorists.

Last month, three poles were felled in one week, said British Telecom (BT).

The tradition of blocking the groom's path dates back 200 years and involves him overcoming obstacles to prove he is worthy of the bride.

Llandysul chapel minister and Ceredigion county councillor Cen Llwyd, said: "Years ago the tradition was used to prove whether a man had what it took to be a good husband, but now it's seen more as mischief making."

Cutting down telegraph poles has gone beyond a joke
Sgt Phil Edwards

The custom is known as 'Melltith' (curse in Welsh) and is common in rural areas of Powys, Ceredigion and Gwynedd, mainly among the farming community.

In the latest incident on 6 August, people sporting balaclavas where reported sawing down one pole in Talgarreg, near Llandysul.

In the first incident on 8 June, two were hacked down on to a road between Synod Inn and Talgarreg.

Sergeant Phil Edwards of Dyfed-Powys Police in Lampeter appealed for the damage to stop.

"We don't mind the tradition, but cutting down telegraph poles has gone beyond a joke," he said.

"Apart from causing a hazard to motorists, it is criminal damage and destruction of British Telecom's property.

"It has got to stop and if these people are caught then it is possible they could end up in court.

EXAMPLES OF MELTITH
The telegraph poles have been chopped down near Llandysul
Chopping down trees to block roads
Emptying a barn of hay and placing it at the entrance to a farm
Adding gravy browning to the water supply
Putting sheep in the church the night before the wedding

"If it is found that they are the perpetrators of a few of these acts then they could face a period in jail."

Sgt Edwards added that five poles had been felled in 14 months in the area.

BT spokesman Jason Mann said the cost of repairing the damage varied, but often ran into "hundreds of pounds".

"It is leaving customers without a telephone service, but it's also putting lives of motorists at risk who could collide with poles and lines strewn across roads," he said.

"There was one incident at Cwrt Newydd (near Llandysul) where a pole was brought down on a bend that left lines stretched across the road."

He added that last month three poles had been hacked down in the space of a week.

One man who has taken part in the custom in the past which did not involve cutting down telegraph poles, who did not want to be named, said: "I have known of trees being chopped down, gravy browning being put in the water supply and sheep being tied up in the church the night before the wedding."


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