The Source of the Taff

On 4 August 1900 a miner from Maerdy, at the head of the Rhondda Fach valley, decided to take his five-year-old son Tommy to visit his grandparents who still farmed near Brecon. They’d travelled by train and planned to walk the four miles to Cwmllwch, the farmhouse in the valley just below Pen y Fan. However, the little boy got lost when his father sent him with his cousin to tell his grandmother that they were on their way. The little boy’s body was not found for weeks and the mountain was combed by soldiers, police and local people, who all knew the area very well. The boy was found because a woman who lived near Brecon had a dream about where the body of the boy was. And, amazingly, she climbed the Beacons with her husband and relatives to find Tommy. The little boy had climbed over 1300 ft to a ridge just below Pen y Fan and must have dropped down with exhaustion and died where he was found. An obelisk was erected on the spot where his body was found.

Over the years the ghost of Tommy’s father, frantically searching for him has been seen, as has little Tommy’s ghost, sobbing on the open ground high up near the highest peak in the south of Britain.

Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil

Built in a year between 1824 and 1825, this impressive icon of the Industrial Revolution was built for the Crawshay family, who were one of the pre-eminent iron-manufacturing families in the world.  They employed thousands of people and, for a time, their iron mills drew affluent visitors who came to gaze in amazement at one of the first places where iron was manufactured on such a huge scale.

The ghosts of several members of the Crawshay family have been seen in the castle and in the castle grounds and William Crawshay II, the man responsible for building the castle, is reputed to have been seen looking sternly at visitors as if he disapproves of their presence.

Visitors and staff have experienced occurrences like hearing someone walking in corridors and rooms when no one is present, objects being moved and areas becoming cold for no apparent reason.

William Crawshay II is buried in Pontsticill, further on up the Taff Valley and there are various sightings of him wandering in the churchyard during the day and night, shaking a fist at those people who have strayed into its confines. 

Llancaiach Fawr, Nelson

This is possibly one of the most haunted houses in Wales. Paranormal Investigator, Phil Whyman, states that Llancaiach Fawr Manor is one of the spookiest and most atmospheric places he has ever been to.  He adds, ”And when the lights go out and it’s pitch black, there is an overwhelming sense of desolation”. There are regular ghost tours here.

Castell Coch, Tongwynlais

Built by the same eccentric architect who rebuilt Cardiff Castle, William Burges, on the site of a medieval castle. this fairytale castle is a regular venue for ghost hunts. Probably the best known ghost here is the l Castell Coch Cavalier. When there were servants in the castle in the early part of the 20th century the butler woke up in the middle of the night to see the ghost of a cavalier looking at him from the foot of his bed. Coolly, the butler asked him what he wanted and the cavalier told him “in a strange dialect” that he had hidden treasure in the walls of the castle before going off to fight in the civil war. The cavalier didn’t seem to realise that he was now dead and asked the butler to help him locate the treasure.  However, the butler is said to have thought better of it and remained in bed “because he had to get up early in the morning and take up his duties.”

However, some people assert that the butler did, in fact, locate the treasure in his spare time and soon afterwards left Wales for the United States where he thought that he could put enough distance between himself and the ghostly cavalier. However, the Cavalier is still occasionally seen, so the treasure may still be somewhere in the castle.

Another ghost is that of the White Lady who wanders the woods around the castle in search of her son who fell into the Taff and who was never seen again . Following her son’s drowning she is said to have died of a broken heart but her spirit still looks for him, especially at the time of the full moon..

Llandaff Village

Llandaff only became part of Cardiff officially in the 1920s and it has the oldest cathedral site in Britain, as there was a Celtic church here with a holy well that is still visible, long before the Normans decided to build a church here.  There is a ruined bishop’s palace, a Gothic churchyard and historic houses that line the village green, so it is natural that there are regular ghost walks around here

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle has to be one of the most accessible castles in Britain, being located in the centre of Cardiff, and also one of the best examples of a Gothic castle in the world.  

The history of the castle goes right back to Roman and Celtic times and those who work with the paranormal think that because of this it could be one of the most haunted castles in Britain,  There are regular ghost tours of the castle to help visitors decide for themselves.  Some of the ghosts that may be seen on a visit are: –

Roman Soldiers

Roman soldiers have been seen marching inside and outside the castle.  One witness said that they were surprised at how small the men were and that some of the soldiers were “very arabic in appearance”, which could well corroborate the fact that the Second Augustan Legion were recruited from southern Spain and North Africa.  One lady said that she was surprised that “they seemed to be wearing kilts as well as armour.”

Robert Curthose

The eldest son of William the Conqueror and one of those who participated in the capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade but was imprisoned by his younger brother, Henry, in Cardiff, where he may have been blinded and where he certainly died.  Curthose is Norman French for short stocking and was a disparaging nickname due to the fact that Robert was not of great stature and thus had short legs.  A man with cavernous eyes and wearing “something like a sack” has been seen sat on the steps leading up to the motte and bailey castle overlooking the north wall of the castle.


Considering the castle has been owned by a number of Norman families it is surprising that not more sightings of ghosts have been made.  Visitors have seen the horses of knights suitably attired for jousting or for battle and grooms leading these horses but there has never been a sighting of a knight dressed in armour, as far as we can ascertain.

Second Marquis of Bute

After a large banquet John Crichton-Stuart felt unwell and went into a drawing room behind the library and died very quickly at the early age of 54.  He was a classical scholar and people have not only seen the Marquis walking around the castle but also heard him speaking Latin and Greek “as if it was poetry”.  The drawing room was converted into a small chapel by his son in memory of his father

A Phantom Coach and Horses

On the other hand there have been quite a number of sightings of a phantom coach and horses that rattle over Canton Bridge, which is situated near to Cardiff Castle, together with a woman dressed in a long dress and a bonnet who appears to be running after it.

Written by Paul Barrett