Twm, the Prophet of Kenfig

Many parts of Wales have had their own prophets, some becoming famous in their localities for the accuracy of their fore-telling of the future. A well-known man with these powers was Twm (Thomas) who lived near Kenfig Pool. His surname is not known but he was the descendant of a prominent local poet. Even when young he was making his forecasts and these obviously did not please the ruling powers of the day for he was imprisoned for a while in Kenfig Castle. Upon his release he became a beggar and casual farm worker, being employed mostly as thresher of corn.

Among the locals, to whom he surreptitiously confided  his forecasts about the weather and yield crops, he became something if a legend; and gradually, as his prognostications were found to be more and more correct, his fame spread far and wide. His greatest feat was to foretell the death of the infant son of a local Lord. He described, accurately, not only the time but the manner of death. The baby would die he said, by strangulation. At first he was ridiculed but when his child was suffocated by its own pinafore strings criticism was stifled and he was held in awe.

His most famous prophecy, however, was when he told a local youth that he would ‘die three times before this night.’  Again he was laughed at especially by the youth who considered it impossible for anyone, leave alone himself, to die three times. Later that day the boy went bird nesting and climbed a tree near the Kenfig  river. When reaching out for the eggs he was bitten on the arm by an adder. He then fell and broke his back on a branch. Finally he plunged into the river and drowned.

No one laughed at Twm after that.

Illustration by Margaret Wooding

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