Haunted House Online Guide Helps You Get Scared This Halloween

haunted house
Trauma Towers at Blackpool, England. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Looking for a haunted house this Halloween season? The online guide Hauntworld will help you find the best one.

Hosted by Hauntworld Magazine, a trade journal for those running haunted houses, it lists creepy attractions in every state in the U.S. and many in Canada too. Most listings just have promotional material from the businesses themselves, while some have garnered numerous reviews and comments, making it as sort of TripAdvisor for scary attractions.

In my old stomping grounds of Tucson, Arizona, there’s Nightfall, which earned nine out of ten skulls. For even bigger scares, check out their Most Extreme and Shocking list. The number one place goes to the Erebus 4 Story Haunted Attraction in Pontiac, Michigan. HauntWorld says “Erebus is by far the most unique haunted house in America because they have monsters, animations, and props that touch the customers some even swallow customers whole. Erebus is a multi-story haunted house with special fx you’ll see no where in the World but at Erebus near Detroit Michigan.”

If you want to get scared on vacation, the international section will help you out. If haunted houses aren’t your thing, the site also lists hay rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, ghost tours, and zombie events.

There’s even a section for supposedly real haunted houses.

We are showing you how to eat, drink and be scary this Halloween season. Read more about Halloween on AOL:
7 Creepy Museum Treasures That Will Give You the Halloween Shivers
Disney Halloween: The Scariest Place on Earth
Historic Haunted Houses

Ani, The Ghost City


Ask someone to name tourist draws in Turkey and you’ll get the obvious: Istanbul, Cappadocia, Galipoli, maybe the beaches of Antalya. Some more familiar with the country might offer up the bizarre calcium cascades of Pamukkale, or the monstrous gods’ heads sculptures on Mount Nemrut. Nobody ever mentions Ani, a city that for a brief period 1,000 years ago was one of the cultural and commercial centers of the world.

The ruins of Ani, the erstwhile capital of an ancient Armenian kingdom, stand overlooked in the far east of Turkey, weathered by the elements and neglect. In 2010 the ruins were ignominiously singled out with 11 other sites by the Global Heritage Fund as places that were in danger of disappearing due to neglect and mismanagement. This is a travesty. Greek, Incan, Roman, Siamese, Mayan, Khmer – you name the civilization, the ruins of Ani are on par with all of them. They are the most astounding ruins you have never seen.

Part of the reason is distance. At over 900 miles from tourist central, Istanbul, Ani is actually closer to Baghdad and Tehran. It’s still 30 miles away from Kars, the nearest city of any note, and there is no public transportation to the site. In 2011, Turkey welcomed 31 millions visitors. Ani saw around 23,000. As you can see in this video, they traveled a while to get there:

A friend and I arrived on a dark day in mid-November. The fields, which in the spring are green and speckled with wildflowers, had shed their color and taken on sepia tones. The grasses were gold and yellow, and fallen bricks covered in green and rust-colored lichen littered the ground. An occasional flurry of snow would burst from the slate-grey sky and then vanish before it had time to settle on the ground. We slipped by the sleeping guard at the entrance and through one of Ani’s famed “40 gates,” a feature of the city’s rapid growth that rendered redundant much of its original fortifications. We had the entire ancient city to ourselves.

Ani is set on a triangular plateau that is naturally protected by a river on one side and a steep valley on another. On the other side of the river is modern-day Armenia. We heard low-frequency sounds from tractors and drills in a quarry across the border. Armenia developed this quarry to build the Yervan cathedral, wanting to use building material as close as possible to the original Ani stone. Unfortunately, blasts from the Armenian quarry have damaged the ruins.

The wind ushered these mechanical sounds through the valley and canyon, where they wrinkled and amplified into eerie moans. Swirling over the plateau in a swooping howl, these distorted noises were punctuated by piercing cries from low-flying eagles. It was more than a little spooky.

Ani’s “1,001 churches” now number only a handful. Some, like the Cathedral of Ani shown in the lead photo, look like they could have been designed recently. That they’re over 1,000 years old and not only structurally sound but architecturally fresh is remarkable. Others, though, in their cloaks of grasses, lichens and overgrowth, seem to slip into the background. All are in a woeful state. A lightning strike in the 1950s caused half of the Church of the Redeemer to collapse. Some of the rubble was collected and pushed against the side of the building in a half-hearted effort to prevent further ruin.

Archaeologically, the site is a shambles. The Church of the Apostles suffered damage when untrained landscapers went at the overgrowth with pickaxes. In the Church of St. Gregory, we found a worker had made a fireplace against one wall to keep warm, and the fire had scorched and blackened the entire apse. The Merchant’s Palace was rebuilt in 1999 using bricks of a different color, material, size and finish than the originals. Only a small section near the doorway in the bottom left of this photo is pre-1999.

Howard Carter is rolling in his grave.

Sometimes a good balance between decay and preservation can make for a more genuine encounter with history. I prefer to see a bit of nature crawling into old, dead buildings. It’s the way of things, and when you take it away entirely you end up with Wayne Newton ruins, frozen artificially in and inorganically buttressed against time. Few people would argue that Ta Prohm, the famous tree-entangled Angkor temple should be recovered from the jungle.

The restoration of Ani has gotten it wrong in both directions. The very few sections that have been recovered have been turned into ersatz monstrosities like the example above. Meanwhile, the rest of the buildings are crumbling and falling down by the day.

In a way, Ani’s perverse treatment in death reflects the sad historical trajectory of the city. In its heyday during Armenian (Bagratid) rule, as the guidebooks like to say, it was a city on par with other world capitals: Constantinople, Cairo and Baghdad. In reality, Ani’s population, and by extension its importance, was only about a fifth of these other cities’. It was, however, highly regarded as a center of commerce and culture. The unique architectural artistry of the churches was widely renowned.

When it was made the capital of Ashot III’s Bagratid Kingdom in 971, it grew into a major hub on the Silk Road, connecting Syria and Byzantium with Persia and Central Asia. The seat of Armenian Catholicism moved there in 992, and churches and dioceses sprouted up like dandelions. At its peak, the city had 12 bishops.

Then, on a fateful day in 1064, her citizens yielded to a 25-day siege by Sedjuk Turks. They were subsequently massacred. After the sacking, the city never really recovered. It changed hands countless times, passing from the Armenians to the Turks to the Kurds to the Georgians to the Persians. Even the Mongols sacked the city. After a drawn-out twilight, the city was abandoned completely in the 1700s.

Ani’s current decline is the result of icy diplomatic relations between Ankara and Yerevan. Armenia often claims Turkey is purposefully letting their cultural touchstone descend into decrepitude. Past actions don’t help matters. After retaking Ani in post-WWI border skirmishes, the Turkish government ordered Ani’s monuments “wiped off the face of the Earth.”

Modern Turkish diktats aren’t nearly so explicit. While Turkey deflects accusations of willful destruction, other Turkish activities are at best antagonistic. In 2010, majority-Christian Armenia was enraged when a Turkish politician uttered a Muslim prayer in the Cathedral of Ani. Later that year, Elle Turkey shot a fashion spread amid the ruins, which Armenians say disrespected the site. Armenians also complain about local cowherds encouraging their cows to graze on Ani’s pastures. And not without reason: when we entered one of the 1,000-year-old churches, we found cows had taken shelter there and defecated in the building.

After walking around the ruins for almost five hours, the sky began to darken noticeably and we made our way back to the car. The sleeping guard had disappeared by the time we returned, and had locked the gate on the way out. For a brief moment, we were trapped in time in a dead city. We had to scale one of Ani’s 1,000-year-old walls to get out. A sudden snow flurry pursued us like a ghostly whisper at our back as we drove away from the city walls.

Things are changing for the ghosts of Ani, though. From 2011 to 2012, the number of visitors doubled. Turkey is gradually coming around to the view that Ani is a potential tourism gold mine and is starting to change its tune. A quick glance at The Hurriyet Daily News, Turkey’s leading English-language paper, illuminates the shift. From 2006 until late 2010, there were no mentions of Ani in the headlines. In September of 2010, the aforementioned politician came a-praying in Ani’s cathedral, an act that the paper called a response to an Armenian prayer gathering earlier that month. In 2011, a travelogue’s first mention of Ani is in reference to the greatness of Turkey. In August 2012, it was a “historic site in Kars province”; in October, “the capital of an ancient Armenian Kingdom”; and in March 2013, “the center of a powerful Armenian empire.”

More visitors potentially means more damage, but it also means that Ani finally has a shot, if only in death, at being restored to its former renown. If all goes well, Ani could be set for the pilgrimage it has been waiting for for almost 1,000 years.

[Photo credit: Flick user sly06 for the spring photos, all others Adam Hodge]

The good old days were horrible


Ah, Merry Olde England! A time and place with happy people, clean streets, and scenes that looked just like they do on BBC historical dramas.

Not!

Premodern England was a grim place of death, filth, and general misery. Actually that can describe pretty much everywhere in the nineteenth century, but the town where the Brontë sisters lived was especially nasty. Some authors write novels to escape reality, and the Brontë sisters had a lot to escape from. Two of their sisters died in childhood thanks to the neglectful conditions at their boarding school. Then the Grim Reaper took the remaining sisters and their brother one by one.

This may have been due to the horrible health conditions in their town of Haworth, Yorkshire. At a time when all towns were unsanitary, Haworth took the prize. Haworth stands on the side of a steep hill with much of its water supply coming from natural springs near the top. Also near the top of the hill is the town graveyard. So crowded was this graveyard that the coffins were often buried ten deep. Water flowing through the graveyard contaminated the public pumps and ensured a steady supply of more dead bodies, which would rot, seep their juices into the water supply, and start the cycle anew. The Black Bull pub contributed to this by using this spring water to brew its own beer. One wonders what it tasted like.

%Gallery-104759%This wasn’t the only spring in Haworth, but the locals managed to ruin the others by placing open cesspools next to the pumps. Although the connection between cleanliness and health was only imperfectly understood, Patrick Brontë, local clergyman and father of the Brontë sisters, realized a place where 41 percent of the population died before age six had some serious issues. In 1850 he brought in Dr. Benjamin Babbage (son of Charles Babbage, who built the first computer) to make an inspection. Babbage was horrified at what he saw and his damning report of the local squalor made reformers take notice. If it wasn’t for Babbage, Haworth probably wouldn’t get so many tourists. People tend not to like smelling open cesspits and drinking decayed bodies while on vacation.

If natural causes didn’t bump you off, the Haworth poisoner might do it for you. John Sagar ran the local workhouse, the place where the poor were forced by law to live. There they were underfed, overworked, and slept in rat-infested little rooms as a punishment for the cardinal sin of poverty. Sagar was a “short, dark, vulgar-looking man” who only had one arm, which he used to beat his wife Barbara mercilessly. Everyone was too afraid of him to come to her aid. When she finally died it wasn’t by beating, but by arsenic poisoning. Sagar was the obvious suspect. Questions were also raised about the deaths of their nine children. Yet Sagar got off due to lack of evidence, and he lived to the ripe old age of 78, a small miracle considering the conditions of the town. Strangely, his is one of the only graves in the cemetery that shows signs of weathering. Some locals say nature is serving justice where the courts did not.

Links to the eerie past still linger. On some old buildings, strange stone faces stare out onto the street. They look like ancient Celtic stone heads, but researcher John Billingsley says they were a continuing folk magic custom that experienced a rebirth of popularity in the area in the 17th and 19th centuries. They were used to ward off evil, and as late as 1971 a head was placed over the front door of the Old Sun Inn to stop a haunting. It’s said to have worked! If you had witch trouble you could also carve a “W” into your door frame, or put pins into a bullock’s heart and bury it beneath the floorboards. Special witch bottles could be used to trap witches. I’ve seen pinned hearts and witch bottles at the West Highland Museum in Ft. William, Scotland, and the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, so the practice was widespread

With all the death and tourists, it’s not surprising that Haworth is full of ghost stories. Not only did I stay in a haunted hotel room, but every single bar I drank at or restaurant I ate in had a resident ghost. Phantom drinkers, gray ladies, even haunted carriages all prowl Haworth at night. There are deeper mysteries than ghosts, however. Witchcraft and folk magic abounded. Fear of witches was so great that local “cunning man” Old Jack Kay, a contemporary of the Brontës, would lift curses for a price. He also told fortunes and could show you your future spouse in a mirror or bowl of water. He and other “cunning men” brewed cures for the sick. Some were herbal medicine that might have been effective, while others had dubious ingredients. The urine of a red cow supposedly cured cancer. I suppose it would be unscientific to dismiss red cow’s urine as a cure for cancer with testing it, but good luck getting volunteers for the clinical trial.

So the next time you’re in some charming historic locale, think back on how things used to be, and be thankful that they’re not like that anymore!

Don’t miss the rest of my series on Exploring Yorkshire: ghosts, castles, and literature in England’s north.

Coming up next: Hiking the Yorkshire moors!

A special thanks to local historians Steven Wood and Philip Lister for all the great stories that contributed to this article, and all the great ones I couldn’t fit in.


This trip was sponsored by
VisitEngland and Welcome to Yorkshire, who would have a lot less to brag about if Dr. Babbage hadn’t fixed a few things.

Three nights in a haunted hotel room


The best thing about being an agnostic is that you don’t have to live your life fearing the unknown. The worst thing is admitting the possibility that there might be something to fear after all.

Instead of pretending to have all the answers, my belief system ranks things in order of likelihood, and ghosts are pretty far down the list. Not as low as Santa Claus or the “we never landed on the Moon” conspiracy theory, but a poor ranking nonetheless. So when I heard that my hotel room in England was supposedly haunted, my only thought was that I’d bagged a good story for Gadling.

Unlike a lot of supposed hauntings, this one’s actually based on a true story, related to me by local historian and folklorist Steven Wood.

Back in 1906, Haworth, Yorkshire, was holding its annual gala. Like in other years, brass bands played, entertainers wowed the crowd, and food stands sold all sorts of delicacies. This year, however, the people of Yorkshire had been promised something special. Lily Cove, a famed “aeronaut”, was going to do a death-defying parachute jump from a balloon. This was only three years after Kitty Hawk, so nobody in the area had ever seen an airplane, and balloons were a rarity too. Seeing a lovely lady jump from one and land safely was something of a miracle.

Lily Cove stayed at The Old White Lion Hotel in Room 7, the very same room I had. While waiting for a day with good weather the glamorous aeronaut made many acquaintances in town and became very popular.

On June 11 the weather was fair and thousands gathered to see her performance. After she and her manager Captain Frederick Bidmead checked the balloon, she secured herself to a trapeze hanging from the bottom. The balloon soared into the air with Lily waving to the crowd with a handkerchief. The idea was that once she got to a good altitude, Lily would leap from the trapeze and a ripcord would open up her parachute. She’d then float gracefully to earth.

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The balloon floated over the fields. After it got up to about 700 feet Lily jumped. The parachute opened as planned, but one witness saw Lily shrugging her shoulders and a moment later she detached from her parachute and plummeted to the ground. Farmers rushed to the spot, but she was dead. Her broken body was carried back to her room, my room, and laid out until a coffin could be made for her.

The whole town went into mourning. Captain Bidmead, a veteran of 83 parachute descents, said he might never fly again. At the inquiry he gave the opinion that she’d deliberately separated herself from the parachute. He suggested that because she was drifting towards a reservoir and didn’t know how to swim, she decided to get to the ground early. She must have thought she was much lower than she was and could land without injury. Others said she committed suicide, but there seemed no reason for this. The court ruled that Lily Cove died of “misadventure.” Parliament soon banned parachute performances so such a tragedy would never happen again.

According to local ghost story collector and guide Philip Lister, it wasn’t long before guests began reporting strange happenings in Room 7. Some woke up with a start, thinking they were falling through the air. Others saw an attractive young woman standing at the foot of their bed. The sightings have continued to the present day, and everyone in Haworth knows of Room 7’s reputation.

I didn’t hear any of this until I had spent my first night in the room. Tired from a day’s travel from Madrid, I slept fine, although I woke up once, glanced at the clock, saw it was 4:10, and went back to sleep.

The next day one of my travel companions told me my room was haunted. She started telling me the story but I stopped her. I didn’t want to be subject to suggestion. I wanted to test Room 7, and not have my own mind play tricks on me. The conversation turned to ghosts stories in general, and over the course of the day four of my nine travel companions told me they’d seen ghosts at least once in their lives. I was amazed. These educated, quite sane travel writers were telling me in all seriousness that they’d seen spirits. Nearly half of our group had a story to tell, and I didn’t even get around to asking all of them! Apparitions from the beyond are more common than I supposed.

The second night I slept fine again, although I briefly woke up again shortly after 4am. I think it was 4:08, but I was too sleepy to be sure.

By my third night I’d heard the whole story. I even went on a ghost tour, which I’ll describe in my next post in this series. So when I tucked myself in I knew just what had occurred to that poor woman who had stayed in my room. Once again I saw nothing, except I briefly woke up and looked at the clock.

It was 4:11 in the morning.

Waking in the middle of the night isn’t unusual for me, but I never wake up at the exact same time three nights in a row. Is this significant? Well, by the third night I was wondering if I would again awake shortly after four, so that might have been autosuggestion. The time seems to have nothing to do with the haunting, since Lily did her ascent at seven o’clock in the evening.

So was Lily Cove waking me up? Probably not. The tricky thing about ghosts is they’re unprovable. Even if I’d awoken to see a spectral woman at the foot of my bed, that wouldn’t prove anything except I had a weird experience that could have been a hallucination. Yet ghost stories are found throughout history and in most if not all cultures. We seem to need ghost stories. That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s life beyond death or that dead people occasionally come back to scare the crap out of the living, but it does show ghosts are a part of the human experience. What they signify is something we’ll probably never know, and not knowing is far more interesting than pretending you have all the answers.

Don’t miss the rest of my series Exploring Yorkshire: ghosts, castles, and literature in England’s north.

Coming up next: The good old days were horrible!

This trip was sponsored by VisitEngland and Welcome to Yorkshire, who really should have put someone more impressionable in Room 7.

Conversing with the Welsh ghosts of Nant Gwrtheyrn

Editor’s note: Jan Morris is universally considered one of the greatest living travel writers. She is the author of some 40 books, including the Pax Britannica trilogy and major studies of Wales, Europe, Sydney, Venice, Hong Kong and Trieste. She recently sent us this epistle from a sojourn into the linguistic heart of her homeland, Wales.

There is only one way to approach it. Down a violently precipitous and twisting road you must drive, along the edge of a deep, deep gulley, round several horseshoe bends, dizzily downwards through a dark conifer wood, until the road emerges, slightly shaken, on a wide shelf above the sea. Mountains tower above this secretive place, isolated sheep and feral horned goats meander about the heather and the bracken, there are ruined farm-houses here and there, and directly over the empty ocean is the hamlet called Nant Gwrtheyrn.

The name means Gwrtheyrn’s Spring, because among the ghosts of the village is the half-mythical Welsh king Gwrtheyrn, otherwise known as Vortigen, whose reputation in Wales is ambiguous because he collaborated with usurping Saxons out of England. He is supposed to have died here, and he has left behind him a host of ancillary legends. There is the story of the bride who, according to ancient Welsh custom, playfully hid herself from her bridegroom on the morning of her wedding, but was found years later, a skeleton in festive rags, hiding still in a split oak tree. There is the tale of the three monks who were not welcomed by the village, and responded by cursing it with three terrible curses, allegedly applicable to this day. Varied ghosts and apparitions, owls, coffins, divine fire, a marauding eagle, skeletons and cormorants, Romans and druids and pilgrims all figure in the blurred folk-memories of Nant Gwrtheyrn, and temper its atmosphere still.

Far below you on the shore, as you twist your way down through the woods, you may see the vestigial remains of three jetties. These are more substantial ghosts. For many centuries this valley was occupied only by a few hardy livestock farmers and fishermen, and by miners working its scant resources of iron and manganese. In the middle of the 19th century, however, quarry companies realized that there was money to be made from the granite mountains all around. Soon three separate quarries were being worked. Granite was then used to surface roads all over Britain, and from those quays down there, one to each quarry, for nearly a century small coasting steamers took profitable slabs of it off to England.

On the flat land above the quays a village was built to house the quarrymen and their families, and there it still stands. When the granite industry finally collapsed in the mid-20th century, it became the legendary lost village of Nant Gwrtheyrn, gradually fading, amid its winds, its legends and its goats, into a ghost itself. For years nobody lived there, and on the right damp twilight, if you wander through its buildings, you may fancy that nobody lives there now.

It is a very unusual relic. It is a sort of company town, all alone, backed by the dead remains of its quarries. Twenty-six trim cottages form two terraces connected at right angles, with a chapel at one end, a grander manager’s house at the other, and in the middle a sunken sort of village green, mounded by moles and shaded by oaks (in one of which, I need hardly say, the bones of that poor bride were eventually discovered). In the sparse fields around, immemorial stone walls mark the patterns of Celtic field systems. Bits of ancient quarry mechanisms litter them, too, part of an old iron ship is propped up on the beach, miscellaneous chunks of granite are everywhere and running down the high ground behind you can see the line of the tramline that once rattled by with its stones for the jetties below.

On the right damp and suggestive evening there is not a sound down there, except for the lapping of the waves. Even the sea is an empty sea – no ship has put into the bay of Nant Gwrtheyrn for a hundred years; only dolphins sometimes sport in it, and seals bask on the beach. But here’s a strange thing. All along the line of the silent cottages electric street lights are burning, and this is because they burn, as it were, in exorcism against a ghost of the future, a premonition.

* * *

The primeval language of the Nant Gwrtheyrn valley is Welsh, one of the most ancient literary languages in Europe. It was, more or less, what King Gwrtheyrn spoke before the dawn of history. During its industrial period workers came to Nant Gwrtheyrn from Ireland and from England, bringing their languages with them, but when they left, and the empty village fell into desolation, it was the lyrical echo of Welsh that lingered on, to be heard by wandering poets and romantics.

The language is still spoken in the villages above, beyond the conifer woods, because the Llyn Peninsula is one of the Welshest parts of all Wales. Even there, though, it is constantly under threat, as the colossal forces of Anglophone globalism, expressed through television and e-mail, newspapers and popular trend, bludgeon all indigenous cultures everywhere. It is said that of the 6,000-odd languages spoken in the world today, half will be dead by the end of the century, and not long ago Welsh seemed obviously doomed too. There were less than three million people in Wales, and more than 40 million in England, and whereas English was one of the greatest of all the world languages, Welsh was spoken only by a third even of the Welsh themselves. Thousands of English people had settled in Wales, seldom bothering to learn Welsh, while the mass of the Welsh themselves found it advantageous to use the lingua franca of half the world, so accessible and so seductive a few miles away across the English border.

The general opinion then was that in a generation or two the Welsh language must inevitably die. It seemed to be in terminal decline, and in another century it would be gone. It was that specter of the future! But a powerful nucleus of patriots and idealists believed that the demise of so proud an instrument of civilization, richly creative as it still was, would be a great human tragedy. Welsh should never be allowed to follow Hittite, or Nubian, or even Latin into extinction. Trends could be bucked. Premonition could be challenged. Specters could be exorcised.

And that is why the street lights burn in Nant Gwtheyrn in the twilight.

* * *

Among the visionaries was Dr Carl Clowes. He was a medical practitioner of advanced social conscience living and working in one of the villages above, and when he heard that Nant Gwrtheyrn was up for sale, he dreamed of its restoring first as a project for the local unemployed, but eventually as a residential center for the teaching, study and development of the Welsh language. It would become a statement of defiance, a declaration that Welsh really could be restored to its old social and political potency.

It was a wild idea. By the 1950s the village was a forlorn and half-derelict ruin. Windows were smashed, walls were crumbling, roofs had fallen in, the workers’ terraces were a mess of fallen beams and rubbish, choughs were nesting inside the windowless manager’s house and a community of hippies was squatting amidst the rubble. The only road into the valley was hardly more than a track, and there was no electricity.

As it happened, though, history was with Dr Clowes. In the 1960s there was a resurgence of Welsh national spirit. Laws were passed assuring the language of a proper constitutional place in Wales, and there was a growing demand for Welsh self-government. So a trust was set up to buy the village and its valley, in the name of Wales as it were, and from many sources the necessary money arrived – from a thousand private bank accounts, from lottery funds, from local councils, from sponsored walks and races and even from the coffers of the old mining companies. A new surfaced road was built, corkscrewing down the mountainside, and one by one the buildings were restored. By 1997, when Wales did at last achieve its own devolutionary National Assembly, the Welsh language was compulsorily taught in all schools and its decline seemed to be halted – by then the old lost village was established as a National Language Center.

* * *

And look at it now! It is a ruin reborn. It is no larger than it was, and no less peculiar, the detritus of the quarries lies around still and the sheep and the goats are still wandering; but those 26 cottages now provide snug accommodation for students and scholars, and its rebuilt manager’s house, sans choughs, is now a center for tutorials and conferences. The hippies have gone. The old chapel is a heritage center. And at the bottom of the village, overlooking the sea, there is a granite café which is popular not only for meetings and local wedding receptions, but also for that perennial Welsh celebration, the midday Sunday dinner. Some 25,000 students have passed through the Language Center by now, and they have included many people from other endangered minority languages, to whom Nant Gwrtheyrn has offered distant inspiration.

From the foreshore in the evening half-light the village still looks much the same, except for the street-lamps, but now there are lights in the houses too, where the students and their teachers stay. The old ghosts linger suggestively still, but the premonition is held at bay, and if the spell is sometimes broken by a murmur of voices, at least you can be quite sure what language they are talking…

[Photos: Flickr | Stray Croc; Stray Croc; paplamour; paplamour]