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

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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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.

WEIRD WEEKEND 2011: The Quiz

WEIRD WEEKEND 2011: P.T.Barnum (2)

WEIRD WEEKEND 2011: P.T.Barnum (1)

WEIRD WEEKEND: Peter Christie - Fortean North Devon

HAUNTED SKIES: Berrows Worcester Journal 30.6.89.



Oll Lewis is still gallivanting around Plymouth, but he asked me to remind you that on this day in 1839 Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction..

Goodness me.

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The most wonderful lyrics of all time:

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