Saints, Fairies and Bwbachs… Customs, Traditions and Folklore from Wales

Here’s a list of Welsh folklore resources that gives fascinating glimpses into the cultural bedrock of Wales – if you have any suggestions of your own, please leave your comments underneath.

British Goblins – Wirt Sykes
“In a sense Wales may be spoken of as the cradle of fairy legend” so writes Wirt Sykes, in this mesmerising exploration of Welsh folklore, and folk creatures, including the Dwarfs of Cae Caled, the Bwbach or household fairy… and goblins.

Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx – John Rhŷs
First published in 1923, this work is seen by many as an important historical and cultural collection of folklore from across Wales and the Isle of Man – written by John Rhŷs whose principle interest was in Welsh philology.

Diwylliant Gwerin Morgannwg – Allan James
This rather wonderful collection of folk culture from Glamorgan, in Welsh only, gives a readers an fascinating view of Morgannwg, including insights into local dialects and vocabulary.

Folklore of West and mid Wales – Jonathan Ceredig Davies
First published in Aberystwyth in 1911, this culturally significant collection of customs and folklores explores everything from fairy lore to wedding customs, healing traditions to mermaids.

Pagan Celtic Britain: Studies in Iconography and Tradition – Dr. Anne Ross
By melding anthropology, archaeology and folklore, Dr Ross contests that there is a continuity of pagan religious practice in Britain.

Pembrokeshire Folk Tales – Brian John
Brian John is a great collector of Pembrokeshire folktales, which have been published via several very readable, accessible and enjoyable books: https://www.brianjohn.co.uk/non-fiction-titles.html – and don’t miss his digitised compendium of folk tales… a collection of over 500 tales from the across county.

Seven Welsh Folk Tales – Richard Eastwood
These Welsh folk tales are well written – and suitable for readers aged 8 and above according to Y Lolfa, its Ceredigion based publisher.

The Book of Taliesin
This is a wonderful collection of some of the earliest Welsh poetry – many of the poems date back to the 10th Century, or earlier, and we composed in parts of Britain that once spoke Welsh but no longer do. The Battle of the Trees / Cad Goddeu is my personal favourite.

The Customs and Traditions of Wales – Trefor M. Owen
Educational, accessible – and fun… this seminal work provides a fantastically comprehensive view of Wales’s customs and traditions.

The Lives of the British Saints – Sabine Baring-Gould
These lives of the early British saints are intriguing and rich in tradition, folklore and legend – Wales was also a major location of learning for the Irish saints – particularly Llancarfan, Llantwit Major and St. Davids (Cilmuine in Irish) – so it is well worth exploring the Lives of the Irish Saints too…

The Mabinogion
A fantastical medieval collection of Welsh tales that interweave Celtic mythology, Arthurian traditions and tales, and Welsh folklore… the Jones and Jones translation is one of many to choose from.

Welsh Folklore – Elias Owen
Focused on North Wales, this collection of tales and customs was first published in 1896, collated written by cleric and antiquarian, Rev. Elias Owen, cleric… he would gather local tales and legends when he was working as a school inspector, when he would ask local clergy to introduce him to the most aged local inhabitants. The book includes a detailed overview of Y Tylwyth Teg, or fair tribe – who were spoken of as little people rather than goblins or fairies.

Welsh Folklore and Folk Custom – T Gwynn Jones
This fascinating, and in many ways pioneering, exploration of folk traditions in Wales follows the customs and superstitions of early 20th Century Wales back into the mists of time.

Welsh Folk Tales – Robin Gwyndaf
This run of folktales, tied to specific location in modern-day Wales, is a real classic – all the legends are strongly connected to place, supported by wonderful illustrations by Margaret Jones.

Welsh Monsters and Mythical Beasts – Collette J Ellis
Discover mythical monsters, and assorted other creatures rooted in Welsh myth, in this wonderful illustrated guide.

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