Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

OLL LEWIS: An Unusual Water Horse

At the 2011 Weird Weekend one of the talks was Glen Vaudrey’s talk about the folklore surrounding water horses in Scotland. Water horses are reported throughout Europe; mainly in Celtic parts; and reports of them often follow a few set narratives. For more details and some great retelling of the folklore I recommend that you seek out Glen’s 2011 talk on youtube (when it has been uploaded of course; keep your eyes on the CFZ blog for details of that) or buy one of Glen’s books from CFZ press. Like Glen, the water horse has always been of interest to me, but whereas Glen knows it mainly from the Scottish folklore, I am more familiar with the Welsh folklore. The similarities between the accounts featured in the folklore of both these Celtic traditions are very interesting, particularly considering that the oral traditions of Wales and Scotland developed fairly independently of each other past the Dark Ages because they were more or less isolated from each other by land. This could mean that either stories about water horses are very old, pre-dating the invasions of Britain by the people who would become the English, or that a lot of the individual tales were fabrication of later folklorists based on original genuine tales from places like Scotland. The latter is certainly a possibility in Wales where Iolo Morganwg was a serial creator of “genuine” folklore. He might have seen the Scottish tales and thought “Hmm, we’ll have some of that.”

So, it is the tales that follow a slightly different narrative from the norm that are among the most interesting of the water horse folklore. One such tale comes from near Swansea in Wales. It tells of a hapless and tired traveller who met with a water horse in the Glyn Neath area. The horse, like most water horses, seemed quite normal when the traveller met her at a waterfall that formed a convergence point of three local rivers, and as he was running very late decided he would steal the horse to get him to his destination faster. The traveller looked around and finding no obvious owner in sight, jumped upon the beasts back. Rather than dragging the traveller to a watery grave, as water horses are usually want to do, the horse started to run away from the water. As time went on the horse started to run faster and faster and soon the hapless traveller found himself hugging on to the creature for dear life and burying his head in its mane with his eyes closed. After a while the traveller realised that he could no longer feel the fall of the creature’s hooves on the ground yet it was still moving at great speed. He opened his eyes and was surprised to see that he and the creature were flying through the air. Needless to say the man was terrified and held on even tighter.

After a few hours the horse touched down on a small hill just outside Llandewi Brevi. The traveller ran away from the creature as fast as he could and straight to the nearest inn where he told his story. Judging from many other water horse stories the traveller had a very lucky escape. Usually the horse makes straight for the nearest water and drowns its rider before eating it, save for the occasional bit of offal.

1 comment:

Dale Drinnon said...

If you want to go to the absolute earliest roots of Waterhorse lore, I suppose THAT goes back to the early Indo-Europeans, somewhere in the vicinity of 3000 BC and probably in Southern Russia at the time: although they did not come from nothing even then of course, there would have been earlier forerunners. But these traditions are going back so far that they are coming out of Mythology which is almost like a parallel universe to our own reality, that is ordinarily how it works (the concept is parallel to the Australian Aboriginal's Dreamtime)

Which once again points up the fact that Folklore is one thing and actual Cryptozoological REPORTS are something else again. Although traditional beliefs are often attached to Cryptids, ordinarily these traditions mean nothing in the Biological sense.

Thank you for posting, I had been wondering what was up with that.
Best Wishes, Dale D.