The Oak Tree
Once upon a time, the Rhymney Valley teemed with trees. A squirrel could travel from the top of Caerphilly mountain to Pontlottyn, the village of the Poor Mans Bridge, without once setting paw on the ground.
Then, came the hewers who cut the trees for the carpenters to make tables and chairs, cartwheels and ale barrels. They stripped the valley of its forests and each tree groaned with grief as it was felled.
In a field between Nelson and Ystrad Mynach, the Vale of the Monk, they left a single oak..It wasnt worth a curse to them because it had rotten hollow at its base. Sion Evans the son of a local farmer, was thrice glad the the hews didnt fell the old oak. He screened himself from sight in its leafy branches, a make-believe King Charles hiding from the Puritans. He touched its wood for good fortune, and drove nails into its trunk to cure his toothache.
His playmates said that there was a cave underneath the rotten hollow which led to a secret chamber in Ystrad Mynach mansion. Sions heart missed a beat at the thought of climbing down to peep because he imagined that the cavity corkscrewed down to the very centre of the earth.
When Sion grew to two yards and a dot, he left his parents farm, hoisted Blue Peter and sailed to Australia where there was a chicken in every pot.
After some years, he decided to return to the little acre of his fledgling days, and, before his parents could say Jack Robinson (or Sion Evan) he made off to his favourite boyhood haunt. Sion failed to return. His parents, the farming fraternity and their friends left no stone unturned in the quest for him. But, in the end, they had to admit defeat.
Years later, the old oak fell down, too tired to stand anymore. In the cavity beneath lay the tell-tale skeleton. It was then that the oldest men in the valley brought back to memory the tragedy of Sion Evan, the young man who vanished into thin air.
Key Contact: Rhymney Valley Tales
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