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TRWYN FARMHOUSE

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 20939

Map Reference ST29NW

Grid Reference ST23869647

Unitary (Local) Authority Caerphilly

Old County Monmouthshire

Community Abercarn

Type of Site FARMHOUSE

Broad Class DOMESTIC

Period Post Medieval

Site Description 1. Ruins of 17th-18th century farmhouse. A substantial farmhouse appears on the first, second and third edition 25" O.S. maps (1879, 1901 and 1920), but the only the remains of a southern outbuilding appear on modern maps.

2. The Trwyn farmhouse was well-known in connection with the folk-tale of the ‘Pwcca’r Twryn’, a household spirit which was supposed to have haunted the Trwyn and several other farmhouses in the vicinity (notably other sources regard the Pwcca’s appellation to derive from its having or appearing as a large nose (Welsh: ‘trwyn’)). The Pwcca was supposed to have arrived at the Trwyn in a jug of barm (yeasty froths produced in beer making), performing household tasks there in exchange of bread and milk. One night, a mischievous servant girl ate the spirit’s meal, leaving either only the crusts or a bowl of stale urine (depending on the account) in its place. The Pwcca punished the girl and departed before reappearing at Havodyrynys where he assisted another servant girl in spinning wool. He would not reveal his name, but the girl hid and listened to him work learning his real name, Gwarwyn-a-throt. She then confronted him with her information, upon which he departed. He appeared yet again at another nearby farmhouse where he befriended a servant named Moses. When Moses departed to fight in a war, the Pwcca turned mischievous and was laid by a cunning man from near Caerleon.

Versions of the story of the Pwcca’r Trwyn were recorded by several sources throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, notably by D. Rhys Stephen (1851), Wirt Sikes (1880), and Sir John Rhys (1901). Stephen proposed that the Pwcca was in reality ‘the Lord Howell’ (Yr Arglwydd Hywel) who was supposed to have hidden at the farmhouse in the fifteenth century. One of the earliest accounts of the Pwcca’r Twyn is found in Relations of Apparitions of Spirits in the Principality of Wales (1780) by the Rev Edmund Jones. Jones’s version differs markedly from the account given above (see Coward) and only records the spirit’s exploits at the Trwyn farmhouse. He describes the spirit as having come to the Trwyn from nearby Pwll-y-Gaseg sometime before Christmas around the beginning of the eighteenth century. The farmhouse was then the residence of Job John Harry and his two sons Harry and David Job, and the spirit was supposed to have come in response to Harry’s use ‘of some magic spells – yet without the design of bringing the spirit there, but for some other, idle purpose’. The spirit was supposed to have departed on Easter Wednesday, saying he went ‘Where God pleases’.

(Sources: Coward ‘Edmund Jones and the Pwcca’r Twryn, Folkore, 126:2 (2015), 177-95; Jones, Apparitions of Spirits in the Principality of Wales (Trefecca: 1780), pp. 19-21; Palmer, Folklore of (old) Monmouthshire (Almeley: 1998), pp. 61-62; Rhys, Celtic Folklore (New York: 1974, originally pub. 1901), vol. II, pp. 593-97; Sikes, British Goblins (London: 1880), pp. 117-118; Stephen, Pwcca’r Trwyn, the Celebrated Mynyddyslwyn Sprite (London: 1851), pp. 6-9; Thomas, The Welsh Fairy Book (Cardiff: 1952, org. pub. 1975), pp. 248-52)
A.N. Coward, RCAHMW, 24.08.2018