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Here you will find over 20,000 images of objects, books, letters, aerial photographs and other items from museums, libraries and record offices in Wales.

'A most strange and true report of a monsterous fish ... in the parish of Pendine in the countie of Carmarthen' (1604) [image 1 of 9]

'A most strange and true report of a monsterous fish ... in the parish of Pendine in the countie of Carmarthen' (1604) [image 1 of 9]
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This item comes from: The National Library of Wales (Item reference: NLW WS.S 1604(2)).  If you would like to see the original item, or require information regarding copyright, please contact the repository/contributor named above.

The full title of this pamphlet is as follows:

'Most strange and true report of a monsterous fish, that appeared in the forme of a woman, from her waste upwards: seene in the sea by diuers men of good reputation, on the 17. of February last past 1603 neare Gybnanes poynt, in the parish of Pendine in the countie of Carmarthen' (1604).

This unique pamphlet tells the story of an alleged sighting of a mermaid near Pendine in 1603. The creature was first seen by Thomas Raynold, a yeoman from Pendine, who then summoned others to keep watch for three hours. William Saunders of Pendine later examined Raynold and some of the other witnesses.

Stories of mermaids were fairly common during the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and there is even reference to a sighting in the journal of Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) for 9 January 1493. It was believed that mermaids could save sailors from drowning but could also lure ships to their doom. Belief in mermaids, fairies and other mythical creatures persisted in many areas of Britain until the eighteenth century and sometimes even later. Gradually, however, opposition by the Protestant Church, greater levels of literacy, and industrialisation led to a demise of the belief in such creatures, although many stories have survived.

It was the invention of the printing process in the fifteenth century and growing levels of literacy among the general population that spawned the trade of the pamphleteer. These tradesmen often printed their own pamphlets and sold them cheaply in the street for a few pence. The pamphlets were often of a religious or political nature.

The general public also had a thirst for lighter and more entertaining fare and stories of strange creatures, monstrous births, etc. accounted for a significant portion of the pamphlets printed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Many such stories were printed as ballads which could be sung as a form of entertainment.

Source: National Library of Wales

Gathering the Jewels ref: GTJ64526

The National Library of Wales

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