The Green Lady
GILBERT DE CLARE, the Red Earl whose hands were awash with Welsh blood , was a kinsman of the Conqueror. And because the people of the cantref of Senghennydd were more trouble to the Normans than a cartful of monkeys, Gilbert built a strong castle at Caerphilly.
With him was his Countess, the lovely Princess Alice of Angouleme whose beauty was born of Cupids kiss. Magnificent were the feasts she commanded in the Great Hall with jugglers and minstrels, carols, pantomimes and troubadours who sang of love for the ladies.
But Alices heart ached because Gilbert was a man of war, not of love. Forever, was he scheming battles because the sound of a battering ram was sweeter to him than a ballad the canter of a charger was more comely than a French carol.
Alice longed for love and one day Grufudd the Fair, Prince of Brithdir, called at the castle, Gruffudd was fair of tongue as well as face and whispered words of wooing to outdo any troubadour. He swore his passion by all that was sacred and called Alice the crwth of his soul. The Countess was smitten by the Welsh Prince and doted on his every word.
Gruffudd could hardly shout his love from the turrets but confessed his secret to a monk. Now, this monk had been bought by Gilberts gold and he told his master about Gruffudd and Alice. Gilberts blood boiled and he cursed the lovers from the bottom pit of his heart. He sent Alice back to France and ordred his men to root Gruffudd out.
The Welsh Prince was so angered by the tell-tale monk that he waylaid him and then hanged him from a tree. Since that day, the place has been known as Ystrad Mynach or Monks Vale.
But before the treacherous brother expired Gilberts men caught up with Gruffudd and he too was sent to the scaffold. When news reached France of the Fair ones death, Alices heart burst, releasing her ghost which returned to Caerphilly. And sometimes, on moonlit nights, a lonely figure can be seen roving the ramparts. It is Princess Alices spirit, garbed in the green of Gilberts envy, staring northwards to the hamlet of Brithdir, awaiting the clap of hoof beats cantering down the valley.
Key Contact: Rhymney Valley Tales
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