In myth and legend, the Snowdonia region of North Wales is famous for its ghosts, giants, dragons and other supernatural beings. This is our guide to the most haunted sites you can visit in Snowdonia.
The existence of ghosts, spirits and other supernatural phenomena is a much-debated subject; nowhere more so than in Snowdonia, where many centuries’ worth of myths, legends and spooky stories are an integral part of our rich storytelling heritage.
The following are ten of Snowdonia’s most haunted sites, if the stories are to be believed…
Maes-y-Neuadd at Talsarnau, near Harlech, is a 14th century building, extended over the centuries to become a manor house, which is now run as a hotel. The hotel has a resident ghost, reputedly the spirit of a children’s nursemaid from centuries ago. She’s a friendly ghost, though; guests report feeling comforted by her presence, and drifting pleasantly off to sleep whenever she appears.
2. Castell y Bere
In its heyday Castell y Bere, a 13th century castle near Tywyn, was a stronghold of the princes of Gwynedd. Little remains of the building today, but the outline of towers and walls are still clearly visible. It’s said that a solitary, shadowy figure is sometimes seen standing at the ruins at sunset. As the sun slips out of sight over the surrounding hills, the figure slowly melts away.
3. The Faenol Estate
The Faenol Estate, Bangor, dates back to Tudor times and is said to have a very spooky chapel. Apparently, there is a strange bird-like ghost – reportedly the ghost of a man executed for illegally cutting down trees on the Estate – that perches in a tree, screeching at passers-by: “Woe! Woe’s me that I ever put a handle to my axe to fell the trees of Faenol!”
4. Aberconwy House
Aberconwy House in Conwy is a beautifully-preserved medieval merchant’s house which now has a shop on the lower floor and a museum upstairs. There have been several spooky goings-on reported at Aberconwy house, including the original mistress of the house seen sitting by the fireplace. Other reports include volunteers being prodded, creaking floorboards, rattling doors and even a door slammed in someone’s face.
5. The Black Boy Inn
The 16th century Black Boy Inn, in the heart of Caernarfon, is one of the oldest inns to survive in Wales. Centuries ago the inn backed onto a nunnery, and one of the most oft-reported spooky sightings at the Black Boy Inn is that of the ghost of a nun passing through the walls. There have also been reports of people feeling as if they’re being strangled when walking up the stairs.
6. Gwydir Castle
Parts of Gwydir Castle, in the Conwy Valley, date back to the 14th century. The castle is now run as a country house hotel. Many supernatural experiences have been reported at the castle over the centuries, including sightings of the ghost of a young woman, the smell of a rotting corpse, unexplained drops in temperature, the sound of children crying, the ghost of a dog and even a ghostly procession on the Great Terrace.
7. The Anglesey Arms
Another old Caernarfon pub, the Anglesey Arms was once the town’s customs house and sits next to the old hanging tower, at one time the place of execution of criminals. There are stories of glasses on high shelves moving of their own accord and even hanging in the air; darts sometimes jump out of the dart board; and there have been reports of invisible beings sitting at the end of guests’ beds.
Bardsey, off the Llyn Peninsula, has a very long history and there are many myths and legends attached to the island. Most of these concern King Arthur and Merlin, but there are ghost stories attached to Bardsey too. St Cadfan built St Mary’s monastery on the island in the 6th century, and this was destroyed during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. There have been reported sightings of shadowy, cowled monks appearing along the shoreline; their appearance is said to be an omen of disaster coming to the area.
9. The Rhinogydd
The Rhinogydd mountain range has been described as Wales’ last true wilderness. One of the most popular walking routes around Rhinog Fawr starts at a medieval packhorse trail known as the Roman steps. Despite the steps not actually being Roman, there was plenty going on in Snowdonia in Roman times, and perhaps this is the background to the legend which says that a ghostly troupe of Roman soldiers with mules can sometimes be seen trudging up the steps; according to legend, anyone following the soldiers will be led to a secret stash of gold.
10. Plas yn Rhiw
Plas yn Rhiw, overlooking Hell’s Mouth on the Llyn Peninsula, has apparently existed as a dwelling for over a thousand years. Supernatural phenomena reported at Plas yn Rhiw include the ghostly footsteps and coughing of an old man, and the weeping spectral figure of a Victorian maiden.