Accepted Paper:

Land of beasts and dragons: modern myth-making in rural Wales  

Author:

Samantha Hurn (University of Exeter)

Paper short abstract:

Wales is steeped in mythology and populated by numerous mythical beings. Recently there have been many sightings of non-traditional 'mythic' creatures; 'Big Cats'. This paper explores the liminality of these felids, the humans for whom they are a reality and the rural Welsh landscape.

Paper long abstract:

Wales is a country steeped in mythology and populated by numerous mythical beings; from the spectral Cŵn Annwn (hounds from the 'Otherworld') who appear in the Medieval Welsh text 'The Mabinogion', to Y Draig Goch (the Red Dragon) whose image adorns the national flag of Wales. In recent years there have been increasing numbers of sightings of other 'mythical' creatures; so-called 'Alien Big Cats'. These non-endemic felids occupy a liminal position in the hearts and minds of those who believe in their existence. Known collectively as 'Big Cats', they also take on individual, colloquial identities. Typified by the 'Beast of Bont' (who may or may not represent several animals as opposed to a single individual), sightings and the animals who are seen are appropriated by those who believe in their existence (and many sceptics besides) and an elaborate mythology develops around them. This paper seeks to explore this emergent mythology and the liminality of the cats themselves, the humans for whom they are a reality and the landscape within which their paths cross.

Panel P09
Cryptozoology: animals out of place or time