Cors Fochno Legend

For such a mysterious place, Cors Fochno of course has legends associated with it. Welsh poet R. S. Thomas (who for years lived nearby at Eglwysfach) wrote in his poem "The Ancients of the World":

The ousel singing in the woods of Cilgwri,
Tirelessly as a stream over the mossed stones,
Is not so old as the toad of Cors Fochno
Who feels the cold skin sagging round his bones.

And who am I to argue with that? Elsewhere I've found further mention of this old toad, reputed to be the oldest living thing on earth, and mightily wise - as you might imagine, having lived for such a long time. However, R. S. was referring to an ancient legend, which goes on to state that the Toad isn't in fact as old as the Owl of Cwm Cawlyd. To find out more, see:

http://www.vwales.co.uk/Folklore/fairytales/theancients.htm

There is passing mention somewhere else of the Hen Wrach Cors Fochno (the Old Hag of Cors Fochno), which sounded like an encouraging snippet of legend, and some sources say that she was a 7 ft high witch who entered people's houses and caused illness. However, it seems more likely that it referred to a form of malaria which apparently occurred there and was said will re-appear when the coal of South Wales runs out. So, the closing of the South Wales collieries before they ran out of coal was therefore clearly a Public Health measure, carried out by an administration which knew its folklore.

Then there's the foretelling of a battle in the Black Book of Carmarthen, attributed to Merlyn (or Myrddyn as it seems he should be called): "And I foretell a battle...at Cors Fochno...when for good people an end will come to the border and a good lad will rise up for the cause". This was recorded in about 1250, but includes material from a much more distant age.
 
Cors Fochno History - (i)

In 2004 a team of University of Birmingham archaeologists uncovered a 1.5m wide timber trackway in a complex at least 200m long and 50m wide on the edge of Cors Fochno, and dating indicates that it was built from trees felled AD1080-1120. Timbers had been laid across two wooden 'rails' and the whole structure was supported by a series of wooden pegs hammered into the peat, with a layer of gravel placed over it. One end of the causeway overlaid an area of burning and industrial debris dating from 60 BC-AD220, suggesting a late Iron Age/Roman date.

See http://www.cambria.org.uk/projects/llangynfelyn.htm for more.

And there's a good picture at http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/9791
 
Cors Fochno History - (ii)

Local landowners were given permission to enclose and reclaim the bog in 1813. A complex and expensive initial design was produced, involving a series of ambitious embankments and drainage ditches, and the diversion of the Leri from its original outfall into Cardigan Bay via a straight cut joining the Dyfi at Pont Leri. After much arguing over cost, an alternative scheme was decided upon and work completed on the initial embankments in 1818. This was only the start of the problems, however, and wrangle upon wrangle took place over the design, the quality of construction of the ditches, sluices and embankments and, naturally payment. It wasn't until 1847 that it was completed and finally paid for.

See more detail at http://www.llangynfelyn.org/dogfennau/cors_fochno_enclosure.html in an article from Ceredigion VIII, 1977 pp181-192, © Richard Moore-Colyer.