Bridge of screams
Date 25/11/2003 | Topic: Locations
| Supernatural author Richard Holland recounts the tale of grisly murder at Holt Bridge, Wrexham.|
Bridges often appear in folklore as eerie places, symbolising a crossing place between the natural world and the supernatural.
There are several Devil's Bridges in Britain, the best known can be found near Aberystwyth.
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We all remember the fairytale of the troll which lived under a bridge, threatening to eat Billy Goat Gruff. Fords, little used today, had a similar reputation.
It was believed evil spirits could not cross running water, so both fords and bridges frequently appear in folk tales as places of safety. Folklorist and scholar of Norse and Anglo-Saxon literature, J R R Tolkein, was well aware of this when he wrote Lord of The Rings.
If you have seen the 2002 spectacular film adaptation, you will recall three scenes where the forces of evil are so thwarted.
The Ringwraiths are halted at a ferry crossing and later destroyed at a ford which magically becomes a raging torrent.
In the mines of Moria, the wizard Gandalf makes a stand against the Orcs and the terrifying Balrog on a bridge.
When this collapses, taking poor Gandalf with it, the rest of the company get to safety.
There is at least one haunted bridge in North-East Wales - the medieval sandstone bridge which spans the Dee at Holt, on the Wales-England border.
The haunting recalls a despicable murder which took place soon after the bridge was built.
Madog ap Gruffudd of Dinas Brân, Llangollen, had died, leaving two young sons with no trustees.
John, Earl Warren, and Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, were appointed as guardians but the cruel lords plotted to gain for themselves the wealth the boys would inherit on their coming of age.
One night they took the boys on horseback from Chester to Dinas Brân and, as they crossed the bridge, they halted and gently took down from their mounts their sleeping wards.
Then, as one, they heaved the helpless boys over the parapets into the freezing waters of the river beneath.
The boys screamed in terror, begging for rescue as their sodden clothes dragged them relentlessly down.
But Warren and Mortimer stood and watched and waited until they were drowned, smiling with satisfaction the while.
It is said those pitiful cries are still heard at dead of night echoing from beneath the bridge so that the cruel deed should not be forgotten.
From at http://www.bbc.co.uk
25th november 2003