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Satan Outwitted In Trefeglwys

The following account appeared in 'Y Brython', a popular Welsh-language periodical devoted to literature, antiquities and folklore published between 1858 and 1863. It was later reprinted in Elias Owen's 'Wesh Folkore' (1887).

There is an incredible tradition connected with this place Ffinant, Trefeglwys.  It is said that an old barn stands on the right hand side of the highway.  One Sunday morning, as the master was starting to church, he told one of the servants to keep the crows from a field that had been sown with wheat, in which field the old barn stood.  The servant, through some means, collected all the crows into the barn, and shut the door on them.  He then followed his master to the Church, who, when he saw the servant there, began to reprove him sharply.  But the master, when he heard the strange news, turned his steps homewards, and found to his amazement that the tale was true, and it is said that the barn was filled with crows.  This barn, ever afterwards was called Crow-barn, a name it still retains.

It is said that the servant’s name was Dafydd Hiraddug, and that he had sold himself to the devil, and that consequently, he was able to perform feats, which in this age are considered incredible.  However, it is said that Dafydd was on this occasion more subtle than the old serpent, even according to the agreement which was between them.  The contract was, that the devil was to have complete possession of Dafydd if his corpse were taken over the side of the bed, or through a door, or if buried in a churchyard, or inside a church.  Dafydd had commanded, that on his death, the liver and lights were to be taken out of his body and thrown on the dunghill, and notice was to be taken whether a raven or a dove got possession of them; if a raven, then his body was to be taken away by the foot, and not by the side of the bed, and through the wall, and not through the door, and he was to be buried, not in the churchyard nor in the Church, but under the Church walls.  And the devil, when he saw that by these arrangements he had been duped cried, saying:—

Dafydd Hiraddug, badly bred,
False when living, and false when dead.

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