One of my all time favourite Welsh legends this.
Dunraven Castle used to stand on the Glamorgan coast of the Bristol Channel. Not far from Bridgend on the Heritage Coast by Southerndown beach. It has a fascinating history dating back to the Iron Age but nothing is more spectacular about this place than this legend. It is the story of the wreckers of Dunraven. The Lord of the Manor; Walter Vaughan saw his life fall apart when two of his children and his wife died prematurely. He turned to drink and gambling and squandered his fortune away. Then, when at his lowest ebb he turned for help to a henchman, a local pirate, smuggler and wrecker called Matt of the Iron-Hand who had a score to settle with his new partner in crime.
Together, they terrorised sea farers in the Bristol Channel in the sixteenth century.
They would tie lanterns to the sheep grazing on the cliff tops to mimic the lights of Newton, to lure ships onto the jagged teeth of Tuskar Rock. It kept the scavenging, coastal-living folk of the Vale of Glamorgan in a plentiful supply of plunder, washed up on their beaches from the wreckage of numerous merchant ships.
In this video I tell the best-known version of the legend. It deals with grief, greed, avarice and the final tragic outcome when all these things are allowed to come together.
I also answer the obvious question; is this a true story? What sources do we have for it? And where does Iolo Morgannwg fit into all this?
This was all filmed on location at Dunraven Castle on a cold but clear day.
If you want to read more about this story, I wrote about it in my book ‘Legends and Folklore of Bridgend and the Vale’. Also now available for Kindle Download.