Fairy tales, ghost stories and legends of monsters, we’ve been using stories to frighten one another for millennia.
Tales like that of Ancient Greece and the Minotaur, the mythical creature (part man and part bull), to more recent stories, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, draw on our fear of the unknown. The thought that something supernatural, maybe more powerful, having an influence on our daily lives scares us.
However, by placing our fear in the realm of fiction, whether through ghost stories or horror films, we find a way to control that fear, we make the goosebumps fun and enjoyable.
So, as it’s Halloween, the time of year that ghosts and evil spirits roam free, we thought we’d brush off the cobwebs from a few local ghost stories…
Sobbing woman disrupts family picnic
In one story, a family was having a picnic in the grounds of Oystermouth Castle – it’s a lovely spot with stunning views over Swansea Bay. While the parents rested, their two young children ran off to play. However, the children soon returned to say they’d seen a lady dressed in white crying behind a tree.
So, they led their father to the tree, sure enough he too saw the woman dressed in a long white robe with a cord tied at the waist, seemingly sobbing her heart out, although he heard no sound.
As their dad approached the white lady she turned her back to him and he was shocked to see the top part of her dress was ripped to shreds and her back was raw from countless lacerations.
He stood for a moment then decided to go and take the children back to his wife. When he returned a few seconds later, there was no sign of the anguished woman in white and it seemed quite impossible for her to have disappeared normally from the scene.
White lady makes dog whimper
In our second story, a local man was taking his dog for a walk near Oystermouth Castle. He lost sight of the dog for some moments and when he whistled and the dog did not return, he began to search for it. After a little while he heard it whimpering, and he found it behind a tree petrified with fear, it’s eyes fixed on a part of the castle wall.
It was starting to get dark, but he was curious to know what could have frightened his little dog. He went towards the spot on the castle wall that seemed to have attracted the dog’s attention, and as he did so, he saw a white shape on the floor just in front of the wall.
As he got closer the dog began to howl, and the white shape, which he thought may have been a large piece of paper or something similar, rose up from the ground. It was a woman dressed in a white robe, and almost before he could recover from his surprise, she seemed to ‘melt’ into the castle wall.
When he reached the place where she disappeared, he saw that there was no way she could have passed through the wall, as he put it “the earth just swallowed her up”.
The White Lady of Oystermouth
Every self-respecting castle has to have a ghost and Oystermouth Castle is no different. Stories, like those we’ve already heard, are plenty, but their unifying figure is, of course, the white lady.
The lady most identified with the castle is Alina de Braose. Could she be the White Lady of Oystermouth?
Whilst we cannot be sure, Alina’s story is certainly an interesting one.
Lady Alina de Braose
Alina de Braose was the eldest daughter of William de Braose III, Lord of Gower. In 1298, at Swansea Castle, Alina married John de Mowbray who would go on to participate in the barons’ revolt against King Edward II of England with Thomas of Lancaster.
After losing the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322, John de Mowbray was executed, and Alina fled by boat from Gower to Devon. However, she was discovered and imprisoned in the Tower of London.
On her release, Alina obtained confirmation of Gower land for herself and her heirs from King Edward III, holding it with her second husband, Richard de Peshale, until her death in 1331.
The white lady in stone
Amongst the medieval objects on display at Swansea Museum is a 700-year-old stone carving believed to represent the White Lady of Oystermouth, Lady Alina de Braose.
If you see the White Lady of Oystermouth this All Hallows Eve maybe you’ll want to recite these few words:
White lady please don’t fright,
White lady be asleep tonight!
This post is also available in: Welsh