Myths and Legends

Wales, as we know, is the land of myths and legends and most of them are founded in the Welsh valleys in places just like Hafodyrynys. Many international stories of supernatural or magical creatures seem to have their origins in Wales.

It is beleived that Shakespeare learned his knowledge of the Cambrian fairies from his friend Richard Price, son of Sir John Price. It is also thought that that Cwm Pwca or Puck Valley in the Clydach Vale is the original scene of the "Midsummer Night's Dream".

The fairies of Wales are divided into five classes:- 1. The elves (Ellyllon), 2.The mine fairies (Coblynau), 3. The household fairies (Bwbachod), 4.The fairies of the lakes and streams (Gwragedd Annwn) and 5. The mountain fairies (Gwyllion).

We are concerned here with the Coblynau or Bwca because we have our very own Coblyn (Tam) - see the middle picture above - in Hafodyrynys. Tam the knocker is known for bringing good luck. So Tam the Knocker is our own "Good Spirit".

Coblynau are gnome-like creatures said to haunt the mines and quarries of Wales. They are said to be about 2 foot tall and are dressed in miniature mining outfits.

There have been many stories and reports of sightings of Tam over the years and we will report them here over future months on this site.

The word coblyn has the double meaning of knocker or thumper and sprite.In the mines knockers would knock on the walls of the mine to warn the miners of an approaching cave-in and to direct the miners to good seams of coal or ore.

In the past, when miners moved from Wales and Cornwall to the USA these coblynau became known as the Tommyknockers. You may well have heard that in 1956, the closing and sealing of a huge mine in California prompted the miners to petition the owners of the mine to "set the knockers free enabling them to move on to other mines." The owners met the petition's demand.

Miners would often leave bits of food and little gifts for the knockers.

In Germany they are called the Kobolds. In Ireland they are known as the Pooka, in the Isle of Man as the Buggan, and in Cornwall as the Bucca Boo,