Aberbeeg, Blaenau Gwent, Wales

St. Illtyd's Church

St. Illtyd’s Church

The altar at St. Illtyd’s Church was once adorned with a golden statue of a calf, which was stolen by two thieves. The enraged parishioners gave chase and caught the culprits in the woods beneath Pen y Fan Uchaf Farm on the other side of the valley; they confessed to burying the calf under a whitethorn tree.

 

In vain, the parishioners dug up every whitethorn on the hill and, to this day, no whitethorns grow in those woods!

The Devil's Hand

The apparition of a figure wearing ‘a cloak and tall hat similar to Guy Fawkes’ is said to walk the road between Aberbeeg and Cwm. It is thought by some to be the ghost of Hosea Pope, a Police Officer killed in a fight by a local vagrant named James Wise. The incident occurred on 14th July 1911. Hosea Pope was an officer with the then Monmouthshire Constabulary. At the time of his death he was only 33 years old.

The Fairies

In 1779, the Rev. Edmund Jones (1702-1793), a local independent minister, published A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth. Chapter XIV of this now very rare book is entitled, ‘Of Apparitions and Agencies of the Fairies &c.’, and it gives an invaluable first-hand account of the beliefs of local people before the disruption of their rural society by the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 1790’s. To Edmund Jones and his neighbours, the reality of the fairies and other ‘agents of Hell’ was not some quaint eccentricity, but a fact of everyday life.

 

Others saw them at sunset flying from hill to hill across Cwm Beeg - a sure portent of disharmony.

Location

Visitor Information

Aberbeeg (Welsh: Aber-big) is a small village in Blaenau Gwent, Wales.

It lies on the B4471, North of Crumlin. Nearby are the villages of Llanhilleth and Six Bells, whether former colliery allowed the whole community to thrive as part of the South Wales coalfields.

Pictured left is St Illtyds Church, courtesy of Phil Matthews. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.