No mystery surrounds the reason why the wicked old ghost of Penyard Castle lurks around the old ruined walls. Buried deep beneath the ground in two wooden barrels is a vast store of gold. The barrels lie in a cave, the entrance to which is closed by a pair of iron gates which lie in turn at the end of a long tunnel. The entrance to the tunnel is hard to find, and the route itself is partially fallen in. This might be as well.
Back in the early 19th century a local farmer decided to try his luck at getting the treasure. He knew that the gold was guarded by a spirit set there by the last owner of Penyard Castle, but thought he knew how to defeat it. Yew wood had the reputation for being proof against witches, while rowan (known locally as quicken) was said to deter the little people. The farmer therefore made a harness out of yew for his pair of plough oxen and a goad of rowan for himself.
He then clambered down into the tunnel and tied a rope from the harness to the iron gates. Using the goad he got his oxen to start pulling. With much effort the team jerked the gates open. In excitement the farmer saw the rumoured barrels beyond the doors, overflowing with gold coins.
“Ha”, called the farmer in excitement. “I believe I shall have it.”
Suddenly the rope broke and the gates slammed shut. A phantom jackdaw then appeared and regarded the farmer with a malevolent eye.
“Had it not been
for your quicken tree goad
And your yew tree pin
You and your cattle
Had all been drawn in”
Crowed the bird before disappearing in a flutter of wings.
from HAUNTED HEREFORDSHIRE by Rupert Matthews