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1862, August: A Strange Dance on a Welsh Hill

A hill near Cwn Dwr
A hill near Cwn Dwr, Wales [Picture source]

One day in August, 1862, David Evans and Evan Lewis had taken their wagons to Brecon, Wales, to pick up some timber needed for ship-building in New Quay. On the trip back, the men and their horses stopped for a short time by Cwn Dwr farm, near the town of Llanwrda. It was about two in the afternoon, and the men were watching reapers busily working in a field on the opposite side of the road, when Evans saw what he at first thought were small wheat stacks moving near a hill about 400 yards away. After a moment he decided they must actually be more reapers, because the fifty or so figures were all dressed alike and were walking fast along a winding footpath on the side of the hill, and Evans mentioned them to Lewis to get him to look over... which is when the first of these figures reached a level spot at the top of the hill and started dancing.

        As each of the remaining figures reached the level spot, they gave a jump and started dancing, joining the circle that they were forming on the top of the hill. The two men watched as the figures danced for a short while in a circle; then, one by one, each danced closer and closer to the center of the circle, in a spiral pattern... and then they disappeared one by one into the ground at the center of the circle! As Evans and Lewis looked on in disbelief, one of the figures reappeared at the center, looking all about him for a moment; then another and another, all acting the same, until the whole group was once again dancing on top of the hill. Once again they spiraled to the center, and vanished one by one... but this time no one reappeared.

        After staring at the hill for some time, Evans and Lewis finally decided they'd best continue their journey. They came across an old man working on the road, and briefly told him what they had seen and asked if he knew who they were. He replied he had no idea who the figures were... but his grandfather had once stated that the Tylwth Teg -- fairies -- used to dance in the area. And so Evans and Lewis felt that's what they'd seen, and that is what they reported the figures to be when interviewed years later by Jonathan Ceredig Davies, who then included this event in his 1911 book Folk-Lore of West and Mid-Wales.