The Gloddaeth Ghost
The following extract concerning a ghost in Gloddaeth Wood (now Coed Gaer) appeared in ‘Welsh folk-lore: a collection of the folk-tales and legends of North Wales’ (1887) by Owen Elias. He obtained the story from Rev. Owen Jones of Pentrevoelas who was had received a first hand account from Thomas Davies of Tycoch, Rhyl, who appears in the tale.
‘I may say that Gloddaeth Wood is a remnant of the primæval forest that is mentioned by Sir John Wynn, in his History of the Gwydir Family, as extending over a large tract of the country. This wood, being undisturbed and in its original wild condition, was the home of foxes and other vermin, for whose destruction the surrounding parishes willingly paid half-a-crown per head. This reward was an inducement to men who had leisure, to trap and hunt these obnoxious animals. Thomas Davies was engaged in this work, and, taking a walk through the wood one day for the purpose of discovering traces of foxes, he came upon a fox’s den, and from the marks about the burrow he ascertained that there were young foxes in the hole. This was to him a grand discovery, for, in anticipation, cubs and vixen were already his. Looking about him, he noticed that there was opposite the fox’s den a large oak tree with forked branches, and this sight settled his plan of operation. He saw that he could place himself in this tree in such a position that he could see the vixen leave, and return to her den, and, from his knowledge of the habits of the animal, he knew she would commence foraging when darkness and stillness prevailed. He therefore determined to commence the campaign forthwith, and so he went home to make his preparations.
I should say that the sea was close to the wood, and that small craft often came to grief on the coast. I will now proceed with the story.
Davies had taken his seat on a bough opposite the fox’s den, when he heard a horrible scream in the direction of the sea, which apparently was that of a man in distress, and the sound uttered was “Oh, Oh.” Thus Davies’s attention was divided between the dismal, “Oh,” and his fox. But, as the sound was a far way off, he felt disinclined to heed it, for he did not think it incumbent on him to ascertain the cause of that distressing utterance, nor did he think it his duty to go to the relief of a suffering fellow creature. He therefore did not leave his seat on the tree. But the cry of anguish, every now and again, reached his ears, and evidently, it was approaching the tree on which Davies sat. He now listened the more to the awful sounds, which at intervals reverberated through the wood, and he could no longer be mistaken—they were coming in his direction. Nearer and nearer came the dismal “Oh! Oh!” and with its approach, the night became pitch dark, and now the “Oh! Oh! Oh!” was only a few yards off, but nothing could be seen in consequence of the deep darkness. The sounds however ceased, but a horrible sight was presented to the frightened man’s view. There, he saw before him, a nude being with eyes burning like fire, and these glittering balls were directed towards him. The awful being was only a dozen yards or so off. And now it crouched, and now it stood erect, but it never for a single instant withdrew its terrible eyes from the miserable man in the tree, who would have fallen to the ground were it not for the protecting boughs. Many times Davies thought that his last moment had come, for it seemed that the owner of those fiery eyes was about to spring upon him. As he did not do so, Davies somewhat regained his self possession, and thought of firing at the horrible being; but his courage failed, and there he sat motionless, not knowing what the end might be. He closed his eyes to avoid that gaze, which seemed to burn into him, but this was a short relief, for he felt constrained to look into those burning orbs, still it was a relief even to close his eyes: and so again and again he closed them, only, however, to open them on those balls of fire. About 4 o’clock in the morning, he heard a cock crow at Penbryn farm, and at the moment his eyes were closed, but at the welcome sound he opened them, and looked for those balls of fire, but, oh! what pleasure, they were no longer before him, for, at the crowing of the cock, they, and the being to whom they belonged, had disappeared.’