The Fairies of Pennard Castle, Gower

Written by forestelf on .

Perched high over the magnificent Three Cliffs Bay , the mysterious Pennard Castle has to be one of the most picturesque ruins on the Gower Peninsula . Little is recorded of the history of the stronghold, but it is believed to be of late 13th century origin and to have been occupied for only a short period of time before abandonment. With few historical documents to detail the site, the castle is bathed in an air of superstition with many legends and folktales noting the castle to be both haunted and cursed!

alt A Moonlit Three Cliffs Bay

First off there's the tale of Gower's very own faery folk (or the Verry-Volk as Gowerians used to call them) - whose antics and exploits are recorded in numerous folk tales assocciated with the Gower Peninsula. The bedevilment was said to have commenced upon the return to Pennard Castle of a chief who had just won a particularly fierce and blood-thirsty battle. Having been awarded the hand of the Welsh Ruler's daughter for his success, the chief began a great feast on the grounds of the castle, ordering all to join in the festivities. He was most furious however, when his celebrations were spoiled that night by a sentry reporting the strange lights he had witnessed along the sands of Three Cliffs Bay, located below the castle.

Grabbing his sword and ordering his army to follow, the chief raced down from the castle to give battle to the trespassers who had dared disturb his raucous victory party. The trespassers turned out to be a group of trooping faeries, dancing around the moonbeams which sparkled along the glistening bay. When the chief and his army burst upon their party, jabbing and waving their swords to cut the little folk into pieces, the faeries, impervious to the attack, became angry and called to the chief:

alt Three Cliffs Bay - Viewed from the Ruins of Pennard Castle

"Stop thy warring ways. Thy canst harm us with thy swords and spears. Cursed shall you and your castle be for spoiling our innocent game!" The faeries then disappeared and the chief and his men became afraid. Looking over the sea, they saw a great sand storm descending from the sky towards them. Running for their very lives, it was only moments before they all succumbed to the choking sand that roared and tore about them. When the sun next arose, Pennard Castle had become ruined forever in the avalanche of sand which had engulfed it.

alt The Cursed Remains of Pennard Castle

 With such a legend, it is perhaps only natural for tales of ghosts and other supernatural occurrences to also have become attached to Pennard Castle . Perhaps the most famous of these is that of the Gwrach-y-rhibyn - a spectre similar to that of the Irish banshee, who roams the castle grounds, condemning all those who dare spend a night amongst the enigmatic ruins to instant madness. Published over a century ago, "Wanderings in Gower" by C. D. Morgan, described a lake at the foot of Penrice hill where a maiden threw herself to her death after avenging the death of her lover. The description of the spirit of this woman very closely matches ths Gwrach-y-rhbyn. Are they one and the same?

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