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The Aberystwyth Mermaid

The story of the Aberystwyth Mermaid was published after 1826, written in Welsh. The general abbreviated story is outlined below.

In July 1826, a farmer from the parish of Llanfarian, outside of Aberystwyth, who lived within 300 feet of the shore, saw a woman (as he thought) washing herself in the sea within a stone’s throw of him. At first, he modestly turned away; but after a moment’s reflection realised that she must be standing in more than six feet of water. After considering the matter, he lay on the ground and crept on to the edge of the rock face and had a good view of her for more than thirty minutes. He then crept back to call his family to see this sight. After telling them what he had seen, he directed them to go and to creep near the rock as he had done. Some of them went only half dressed, for it was early in the morning, and they had only just got up. On arriving at the spot, they looked at her for about ten minutes, but when his wife came, she did not throw herself down as the others had done, but startled the creature. The mermaid dived into the water, and swam away till she was some distance from them. The whole family and servants (twelve altogether), ran along the shore for more than one and a half miles, watching her in the sea. Sometimes her head and shoulders were out of the water, and she was also seen waist up in the water. The whole family declared that she was exactly the same as a young woman of about 18 years of age, both in shape and stature. Her hair was short, and dark in colour; her face rather handsome, her neck and arms were like those of any ordinary woman, her breast blameless and her skin whiter than that of any person they had ever seen before. She bent down frequently, as if drinking water and then holding a hand before her face for about ninety seconds. When she was bending in the water, the witnesses saw a black tail like thing turning up behind her. She frequently made sneezing noises, which caused a nearby rock to echo. The farmer who had first seen her, and had had the opportunity of looking at her for some time, said that he had never seen but very few women so handsome in appearance as this mermaid.

Simon Topham

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