The gwyllgi of Wales is not an uncommon myth. Throughout Britain, folklore is rife with stories of these huge dogs, beasts the size of bullocks, with red eyes that struck fear into whoever saw them. In England the name of these beasts varies with the area they are seen. The padfoot, famously the nickname of Sirius Black in the Harry Potter books, was supposed to guard graves, and Black Shuck is said to be a ghostly black dog roaming East Anglia. The prevalence of pubs named after these beasts goes someway to indicating the popularity of the myth. In Wales, the gwyllgi were often encountered in dark lanes on the outskirts of villages, and often by people one might consider reputable. There is an example of a gwyllgi stalking a Ruthin couple. They were thought to have the power to paralyse those that looked into their eyes, though fear might well explain this reaction, and stories from throughout North East Wales do not suggest that these huge mastiffs appeared due to any deliberate wrong doing on the part of the unfortunate witness. Coming across a gwyllgi was really just an unlucky occurrence for the traveller.
During the 19th century, an Edward Jones was making his way home one late evening from Cynwyd on horseback, where he had been attending a fair. Jones describes how of sudden he realised he was being stalked by a gwyllgi, a beast he describes as the, ‘black hound of destiny’. He goes on to describe it as a, ‘beast of fearsome visage and blood shot eye.’ Jones was terrified, and paralysed with fear, expecting to be ripped to pieces by the huge beast at any moment. It was only with considerable courage that he eventually turned around to find that the beast had vanished.
It is curious that tales of ‘big cats’ roaming the wilds of England and Wales are still popular today, with vague photographs and the testimony of witnesses often making the news. The most recent is of a big cat crossing the A5 at Chirk, witnessed by many in June 2018. How accurate these reports are, remains debatable, but there are several sources, including police officers who claim to have seen beasts roaming the Denbigh Moor. Perhaps the gwyllgi are not so fanciful after all.