Tucked on a small patch of communal land on the Cadole to Gwernaffield road, Deborah’s Well has been the talk of the area for a number of years. I still remember the first time I heard the tale, as a schoolkid on the bus from Mold up to Pantymwyn, and I nearly fell off my seat with a mixture of fear and curiosity. Ghost stories of the area abound, but this particular one struck me in a way that none of the others have. 

A plaque (usually attached to the stone monument that marks the well but currently at Gwernaffield school for safekeeping) tells the story, written by the late councillor Arthur Smith, and we include it here in full. 

“Gwernaffield is a recent village built around the lead mines. The village where Deborah lived was at CONLAN, now known as Cornel along the Hafod. The chief of Conlan was Byffna, whose stone coffin is buried in front of the entrance to Fron Haul Farm, Pontybuarth. Deborah was a caring person with nursing qualities, she worked for the good of the people. Cholera came to Conlan and district, so Deborah arranged to take those not affected up to higher ground. A hospital and wooden shelter was built. She had learned from the Elders that the higher you went the less chance of getting cholera. They did not know it was water borne. The hospital was above the well. Eventually, cholera came to the hospital, those not affected came to the conclusion it was Deborah’s fault, that she had laid a curse, so she should be burnt. They set fire to the hospital. Deborah and all occupants died. Cholera came to an end (for a time at least) because of the fire. 

In 1972, a couple from Buckley stopped their car by this spot, the man wanted to attend a call of nature in the woods. The wife waited in the car. Suddenly, a woman appeared. She just stood there with her hair all on fire. The wife in the car ran out screaming, dropping her bag which contained £90. The husband came back , no-one was to be seen. The couple drove home. Next morning, they informed the police who went to the scene. They found the bag, the money still in it. Realised it had not been an attempted robbery so after further enquiries concluded it must have been a visitation of the supernatural.” 

For me, there are so many curious elements of this tale and its two distinct parts - the 6th century story and the 20th century sighting. It seems I’m not the only one curious for more details either - Gwernymynydd village have produced an incredible local history booklet which can be found on the village website, and within that document Mary Bartley talks of her trip to the archives to uncover more details about the well itself but, as their records only go back so far, details were scant. The lead vein in the area is officially named the Deborah vein however, and so was the vein named after this strange story?

The booklet mentioned above also contains Councillor Smith’s full version of the story he wrote for Topic magazine back in the 1980’s which includes more details. Have you or anyone you know seen the ghost of Deborah? If so we would love to hear from you about this strange story!