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Red Dragons and Grey horses: An Introduction to the Folklore of Wales

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Duration 10 weekly meetings
Tutor Dr Juliette Wood
Course code FOL20A5433A
Fee £170
Concessionary fee £136 (find out about eligibility and funding options)

50-51 Park Place
CF10 3AT

Welsh folklore abounds in tales, beliefs and customs both old and new about the Red Dragon, the Mari Lwyd, witches, saints and magicians, ghosts and the tylwyth teg.

You will study the history and development of Welsh folklore culture and how it has adapted to the modern world.

The folklore of Wales, especially the many traditions about the supernatural have shaped perceptions about its origins and identity, and this course will also examine the ways in which folklore has shaped Welsh identity as well.

Learning and teaching

The module will be delivered through ten 2-hour sessions, made up of lectures, class discussions, small group work, and debates. Class sessions will be supplemented by resources available to students via Learning Central.

Syllabus content

  • Confronting the Past - Introducing Welsh Folklore and Myth
  • Celts and Druids: perceptions of Wales at home and abroad
  • The Mabinogi: Welsh Myths and medieval folktales
  • Past and Future – medieval Welsh romance and the Victorian revival.
  • Heroes and Heroines: Owain Glyndwr, Dic Penderyn, Boudicca and Gwenllian
  • Legends and Ancient Monuments in the Welsh Landscape
  • Celebrating Welsh seasons from the Mari Lwyd to Halloween
  • Merlin and the Magicians of Wales
  • The Supernatural World: Witches and Y Tylwyth Teg
  • Ghosts and apparitions

Coursework and assessment

To award credits we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved. Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to increase your confidence and we try very hard to devise ways of assessing you that are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

You will be asked to undertake a short review of an article or topic related to the course (30%) and an essay on Welsh folklore (70%). In total, you will write about 2000 words.

Reading suggestions

Sioned Davies, The Mabinogion (Oxford, 2008)

Karen Jankulak, Geoffrey of Monmouth (Cardiff: 2010)

Oliver Padel, Arthur and Medieval Welsh Literature (Cardiff 2000)

T. Gwyn Jones, Welsh Folklore and Folk-Customs (1930)

Owen, Trefor M., Welsh Folk Customs (1974)

Customs and Traditions of Wales: A Pocket Guide (1991)

Tony Curtis, ed. Wales, The Imagined Nation. Bridgend: Poetry Wales Press, 1986

Andrew Joynes, Medieval ghost Stories: an Anthology of Miracles, Marvels and Prodigies (Woodbridge, 2001)

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.