As might be expected with two stories like that, Sker House has its ghosts. The spectre of the original maid has been seen (according to local folk) in an upstairs room - the one that she had been imprisoned in by her father. Her appearance is noisy for, when she materialises, the sound of clanking chains is heard. Blackmore’s Maid also had a secret place within the house known as the Abbot’s Walk. There the ghost of a monk is seen, a quarrelsome fellow who fell out with his Holy brethren and came to an untimely end. His spectre is said to groan in the middle of the night.
A frequent visitor to Sker is a great stone. This stone, thought to be a prehistoric relic lying in a field off Water Street, is said to visit Sker Beach every Christmas morning before cock crow. It goes to the water’s edge, has a drink, then returns to its normal sight. Anyone who is unfortunate enough to cross its path has a terrible fate.
Then there is the *Gwrach y Rhibyn*, the hag of the Mists. This is a lost soul who wanders about the dunes between Sker and Kenfig uttering terrible cries which are a portent of death; and local folk in the last century went in fear of her. If she were not seen there was always the chance of meeting the spectre of a white horse. If encountered on the night of the new moon (Blackmore mentions this in his Maid of Sker) the beholder has the certainty of a dreadful end before twelve months have passed.
Finally there is the *‘Cyhiraeth’*, a ghostly wailing or shrieking sound that brings fear into the hearts of all who hear it for it is the certain harbinger of a coming storm or wreck. The Cyhiraeth was well known throughout Wales and so will be described in more detail later. Suffice it to say at this point that anyone who come under the spell if the area around Sker is able to understand why it is that such stories and legends came into being and have persisted for such a long time.
*Cyhiraeth* or Cyhyraeth is a ghostly spirit in Welsh Mythology, a disembodied wailing or shrieking voice that sounds before a persons death. Along the Glamorgan Coast the Cyhiraeth is said to be heard before a shipwreck accompanied by a corpse-light.
*Gwrach y Rhibyn* a monsterous Welsh spirit that comes in the form of an ugly woman, therefore sparking the saying "Y mae mor salw â Gwrach y Rhibyn" - “She is as ugly as the Gwrach y Rhibyn” describing a woman “without looks”. It is said that she approaches the window of a person about to die by night and calls their name. She is also said to travel with a person close to death and utter her cries as they approach a stream or crossroads.
The Gwrach y Rhibyn is known to wail the following words;
Fy ngŵr, fy ngŵr!" (My husband! My husband!) or
"Fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn bach!" (My child! My little child!), she may even sometimes assume a male's voice and cry "Fy ngwraig! Fy ngwraig!" (My wife! My wife!).
Original Maid of Sker
Blackmore's Maid of Sker
The Legends of Porthcawl and the Glamorgan Coast
Author: Alun Morgan
Author: Alun Morgan
Illustration by Margaret Wooding