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Title: Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx (Volume 1 of 2)

Author: John Rhys

Release Date: July 2, 2017 [EBook #55025]

Language: English

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Our modern idioms, with all their straining after the abstract, are but primitive man’s mental tools adapted to the requirements of civilized life, and they often retain traces of the form and shape which the neolithic worker’s chipping and polishing gave them. [vii]



Towards the close of the seventies I began to collect Welsh folklore. I did so partly because others had set the example elsewhere, and partly in order to see whether Wales could boast of any story-tellers of the kind that delight the readers of Campbell’s Popular Tales of the West Highlands. I soon found what I was not wholly unprepared for, that as a rule I could not get a single story of any length from the mouths of any of my fellow countrymen, but a considerable number of bits of stories. In some instances these were so scrappy that it took me years to discover how to fit them into their proper context; but, speaking generally, I may say, that, as the materials, such as they were, accumulated, my initial difficulties disappeared. I was, however, always a little afraid of refreshing my memory with the legends of other lands lest I should read into those of my own, ideas possibly foreign to them. While one is busy collecting, it is safest probably not to be too much engaged in comparison: when the work of collecting is done that of comparing may begin. But after all I have not attempted to proceed very far in that direction, only just far enough to find elucidation here and there for the meaning of items of folklore brought under my notice. To have gone further would have involved me in excursions hopelessly beyond the limits of my undertaking, for comparative folklore has lately assumed [viii]such dimensions, that it seems best to leave it to those who make it their special study.

It is a cause of genuine regret to me that I did not commence my inquiries earlier, when I had more opportunities of pursuing them, especially when I was a village schoolmaster in Anglesey and could have done the folklore of that island thoroughly; but my education, such as it was, had been of a nature to discourage all interest in anything that savoured of heathen lore and superstition. Nor is that all, for the schoolmasters of my early days took very little trouble to teach their pupils to keep their eyes open or take notice of what they heard around them; so I grew up without having acquired the habit of observing anything, except the Sabbath. It is to be hoped that the younger generation of schoolmasters trained under more auspicious circumstances, when the baleful influence of Robert Lowe has given way to a more enlightened system of public instruction, will do better, and succeed in fostering in their pupils habits of observation. At all events there is plenty of work still left to be done by careful observers and skilful inquirers, as will be seen from the geographical list showing approximately the provenance of the more important contributions to the Kymric folklore in this collection: the counties will be found to figure very unequally. Thus the anglicizing districts have helped me very little, while the more Welsh county of Carnarvon easily takes the lead; but I am inclined to regard the anomalous features of that list as in a great measure due to accident. In other words, some neighbourhoods have been luckier than others in having produced or attracted men who paid attention to local folklore; and if other counties were to be worked equally with Carnarvonshire, some of them would probably be found [ix]not much less rich in their yield. The anglicizing counties in particular are apt to be disregarded both from the Welsh and the English points of view, in folklore just as in some other things; and in this connexion I cannot help mentioning the premature death of the Rev. Elias Owen as a loss which Welsh folklorists will not soon cease to regret.

My information has been obtained partly viva voce, partly by letter. In the case of the stories written down for me in Welsh, I may mention that in some instances the language is far from good; but it has not been thought expedient to alter it in any way, beyond introducing some consistency into the spelling. In the case of the longest specimen of the written stories, Mr. J. C. Hughes’ Curse of Pantannas, it is worthy of notice in passing, that the rendering of it into English was followed by a version in blank verse by Sir Lewis Morris, who published it in his Songs of Britain. With regard to the work generally, my original intention was to publish the materials, obtained in the way described, with such stories already in print as might be deemed necessary by way of setting for them; and to let any theories or deductions in which I might be disposed to indulge follow later. In this way the first six chapters and portions of some of the others appeared from time to time in the publications of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion and in those of the Folk-Lore Society. This would have allowed me to divide the present work into the two well marked sections of materials and deductions. But, when the earlier part came to be edited, I found that I had a good deal of fresh material at my disposal, so that the chapters in question had in some instances to be considerably lengthened and in some others modified in other ways. Then as to the deductive half of the work, it may be mentioned that [x]certain portions of the folklore, though ever apt to repeat themselves, were found when closely scrutinized to show serious lacunæ, which had to be filled in the course of the reasoning suggested by the materials in hand. Thus the idea of the whole consisting of two distinctly defined sections had to be given up or else allowed to wait till I should find time to recast it. But I could no more look forward to any such time than to the eventual possibility of escaping minor inconsistencies by quietly stepping through the looking-glass and beginning my work with the index instead of resting content to make it in the old-fashioned way at the end. There was, however, a third course, which is only mentioned to be rejected, and that was to abstain from all further publication; but what reader of books has ever known any of his authors to adopt that!

To crown these indiscretions I have to confess that even when most of what I may call the raw material had been brought together, I had no clear idea what I was going to do with it; but I had a hazy notion, that, as in the case of an inveterate talker whose stream of words is only made the more boisterous by obstruction, once I sat down to write I should find reasons and arguments flowing in. It may seem as though I had been secretly conjuring with Vergil’s words viresque adquirit eundo. Nothing so deliberate: the world in which I live swarms with busybodies dying to organize everybody and everything, and my instinctive opposition to all that order of tyranny makes me inclined to cherish a somewhat wild sort of free will. Still the cursory reader would be wrong to take for granted that there is no method in my madness: should he take the trouble to look for it, he would find that it has a certain unity of purpose, which has been worked out in the later chapters; but to spare him that trouble [xi]I venture to become my own expositor and to append the following summary:—

The materials crowded into the earlier chapters mark out the stories connected with the fairies, whether of the lakes or of the dry land, as the richest lode to be exploited in the mine of Celtic folklore. That work is attempted in the later chapters; and the analysis of what may briefly be described as the fairy lore given in the earlier ones carries with it the means of forcing the conviction, that the complex group of ideas identified with the little people is of more origins than one; in other words, that it is drawn partly from history and fact, and partly from the world of imagination and myth. The latter element proves on examination to be inseparably connected with certain ancient beliefs in divinities and demons associated, for instance, with lakes, rivers, and floods. Accordingly, this aspect of fairy lore has been dealt with in chapters vi and vii: the former is devoted largely to the materials themselves, while the latter brings the argument to a conclusion as to the intimate connexion of the fairies with the water-world. Then comes the turn of the other kind of origin to be discussed, namely, that which postulates the historical existence of the fairies as a real race on which have been lavishly superinduced various impossible attributes. This opens up a considerable vista into the early ethnology of these islands, and it involves a variety of questions bearing on the fortunes here of other races. In the series which suggests itself the fairies come first as the oldest and lowest people: then comes that which I venture to call Pictish, possessed of a higher civilization and of warlike instincts. Next come the earlier Celts of the Goidelic branch, the traces, linguistic and other, of whose presence in Wales have demanded repeated notice; and last of all come the other Celts, the linguistic [xii]ancestors of the Welsh and all the other speakers of Brythonic. The development of these theses, as far as folklore supplies materials, occupies practically the remaining five chapters. Among the subsidiary questions raised may be instanced those of magic and the origin of druidism; not to mention a neglected aspect of the Arthurian legend, the intimate association of the Arthur of Welsh folklore and tradition with Snowdon, and Arthur’s attitude towards the Goidelic population in his time.

Lastly, I have the pleasant duty of thanking all those who have helped me, whether by word of mouth or by letter, whether by reference to already printed materials or by assistance in any other way: the names of many of them will be found recorded in their proper places. As a rule my inquiries met with prompt replies, and I am not aware that any difficulties were purposely thrown in my way. Nevertheless I have had difficulties in abundance to encounter, such as the natural shyness of some of those whom I wished to examine on the subject of their recollections, and above all the unavoidable difficulty of cross-questioning those whose information reached me by post. For the precise value of any evidence bearing on Celtic folklore is almost impossible to ascertain, unless it can be made the subject of cross-examination. This arises from the fact that we Celts have a knack of thinking ourselves in complete accord with what we fancy to be in the inquirer’s mind, so that we are quite capable of misleading him in perfect good faith. A most apposite instance, deserving of being placed on record, came under my notice many years ago. In the summer of 1868 I spent several months in Paris, where I met the historian Henri Martin more than once. On being introduced to him he reminded me that he had [xiii]visited South Wales not long before, and that he had been delighted to find the peasantry there still believing in the transmigration of souls. I expressed my surprise, and remarked that he must be joking. Nothing of the kind, he assured me, as he had questioned them himself: the fact admitted of no doubt. I expressed further surprise, but as I perceived that he was proud of the result of his friendly encounters with my countrymen I never ventured to return to the subject, though I always wondered what in the world it could mean. A few years ago, however, I happened to converse with one of the most charming and accomplished of Welsh ladies, when she chanced to mention Henri Martin’s advent: it turned out that he had visited Dr. Charles Williams, then the Principal of Jesus College, and that Dr. Williams introduced him to his friends in South Wales. So M. Martin arrived among the hospitable friends of the lady talking to me, who had in fact to act as his interpreter: I never understood that he could talk much English or any Welsh. Now I have no doubt that M. Martin, with his fixed ideas about the druids and their teaching, propounded palpably leading questions for the Welsh people whom he wished to examine. His fascinating interpreter put them into terse Welsh, and the whole thing was done. I could almost venture to write out the dialogue, which gave back to the great Frenchman his own exact notions from the lips of simple peasants in that subtle non-Aryan syntax, which no Welsh barrister has ever been able to explain to the satisfaction of a bewildered English judge trying to administer justice among a people whom he cannot wholly comprehend.

This will serve to illustrate one of the difficulties with which the collector of folklore in Wales has [xiv]to cope. I have done my best to reduce the possible extent of the error to which it might give rise; and it is only fair to say that those whom I plagued with my questionings bore the tedium of it with patience, and that to them my thanks are due in a special degree. Neither they, however, nor I, could reasonably complain, if we found other folklorists examining other witnesses on points which had already occupied us; for in such matters one may say with confidence, that in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.








Undine’s Kymric Sisters        1

I. The legend of Ỻyn y Fan Fach 2
II. The legend of Ỻyn y Forwyn 23
III. Some Snowdon lake legends 30
IV. The heir of Ystrad 38
V. Ỻandegai and Ỻanỻechid 50
VI. Mapes’ story of Ỻyn Syfađon 70


The Fairies’ Revenge        75

I. Beđgelert and its environs 75
II. The Pennant Valley 107
III. Glasynys’ yarns 109
IV. An apple story 125
V. The Conwy afanc 130
VI. The Berwyn and Aran Fawđwy 135
VII. The hinterland of Aberdovey 141
VIII. Some more Merioneth stories 146
IX. The Children of Rhys Đwfn 151
X. Southey and the Green Isles of the Sea 169
XI. The curse of Pantannas 173
XII. More fairy displeasure 192


Fairy Ways and Words        197

I. The folklore of Nant Conwy 197
II. Scenes of the Mabinogi of Math 207
III. Celynnog Fawr and Ỻanaelhaearn 214
IV. The blind man’s folklore 219
V. The old saddler’s recollections 222
VI. Traces of Tom Tit Tot 226
VII. March and his horse’s ears 231
VIII. The story of the Marchlyn Mawr 234
IX. The fairy ring of Cae Ỻeidr Dyfrydog 238
X. A Cambrian kelpie 242
XI. Sundry traits of fairy character 244
XII. Ynys Geinon and its fairy treasures 251
XIII. The aged infant 257
XIV. Fairy speech 269


Manx Folklore        284

The fenodyree or Manx brownie 286
The sleih beggey or little people 289
The butches or witches and the hare 293
Charmers and their methods 296
Comparisons from the Channel Islands 301
Magic and ancient modes of thought 302
The efficacy of fire to detect the witch 304
Burnt sacrifices 305
Laa Boaldyn or May-day 308
Laa Lhunys or the beginning of harvest 312
Laa Houney or Hollantide beginning the year 315
Sundry prognostications and the time for them 317


The Fenodyree and his Friends        323

Lincolnshire parallels 323
The brownie of Blednoch and Bwca’r Trwyn 325
Prognostication parallels from Lincolnshire and Herefordshire 327
The traffic in wind and the Gallizenæ 330
Wells with rags and pins 332
St. Catherine’s hen plucked at Colby 335
The qualtagh or the first-foot and the question of race 336
Sundry instances of things unlucky 342
Manx reserve and the belief in the Enemy of Souls 346
The witch of Endor’s influence and the respectability of the charmer’s vocation 349
Public penance enforced pretty recently 350


The Folklore of the Wells        354

Rag wells in Wales 354
The question of distinguishing between offerings and vehicles of disease 358
Mr. Hartland’s decision 359
The author’s view revised and illustrated 360
T. E. Morris’ account of the pin well of Ỻanfaglan 362
Other wishing and divining wells 364
The sacred fish of Ỻanberis and Ỻangybi 366
Ffynnon Grassi producing the Glasfryn lake 367
The Morgan of that lake and his name 372
Ffynnon Gywer producing Bala Lake 376
Bala and other towns doomed to submersion [xviii] 377
The legend of Ỻyn Ỻech Owen 379
The parallels of Lough Neagh and Lough Ree 381
Seithennin’s realm overwhelmed by the sea 382
Seithennin’s name and its congeners 385
Prof. Dawkins on the Lost Lands of Wales 388
Certain Irish wells not visited with impunity 389
The Lough Sheelin legend compared with that of Seithennin 393
The priesthood of the wells of St. Elian and St. Teilo 395


Triumphs of the Water-world        401

The sea encroaching on the coast of Glamorgan 402
The Kenfig tale of crime and vengeance 403
The Crymlyn story and its touch of fascination 404
Nennius’ description of Oper Linn Liguan compared 406
The vengeance legend of Bala Lake 408
Legends about the Ỻynclys Pool 410
The fate of Tyno Helig 414
The belief in cities submerged intact 415
The phantom city and the bells of Aberdovey 418
The ethics of the foregoing legends discussed 419
The limits of the delay of punishment 420
Why the fairies delay their vengeance 423
Non-ethical legends of the eruption of water 425
Cutting the green sward a probable violation of ancient tabu avenged by water divinities 427
The lake afanc’s rôle in this connexion 428
The pigmies of the water-world 432
The Conwy afanc and the Highland water-horse 433
The equine features of March and Labraid Lore 435
Mider and the Mac Óc’s well horses 436
The Gilla Decair’s horse and Du March Moro 437
March ab Meirchion associated with Mona [xix] 439
The Welsh deluge Triads 440
Names of the Dee and other rivers in North Wales 441
The Lydney god Nudons, Nuada, and Ỻuđ 445
The fairies associated in various ways with water 449
The cyhiraeth and the Welsh banshee 452
Ancestress rather than ancestor 454


Welsh Cave Legends        456

The question of classification 456
The fairy cave of the Arennig Fawr 456
The cave of Mynyđ y Cnwc 457
Waring’s version of Iolo’s legend of Craig y Đinas 458
Craigfryn Hughes’ Monmouthshire tale 462
The story of the cave occupied by Owen Lawgoch 464
How London Bridge came to figure in that story 466
Owen Lawgoch in Ogo’r Đinas 467
Dinas Emrys with the treasure hidden by Merlin 469
Snowdonian treasure reserved for the Goidel 470
Arthur’s death on the side of Snowdon 473
The graves of Arthur and Rhita 474
Elis o’r Nant’s story of Ỻanciau Eryri’s cave 476
The top of Snowdon named after Rhita 477
Drystan’s cairn 480
The hairy man’s cave 481
Returning heroes for comparison with Arthur and Owen Lawgoch 481
The baledwyr’s Owen to return as Henry the Ninth 484
Owen a historical man = Froissart’s Yvain de Gales 487
Froissart’s account of him and the questions it raises 488
Owen ousting Arthur as a cave-dweller 493
Arthur previously supplanting a divinity of the class of the sleeping Cronus of Demetrius 493
Arthur’s original sojourn located in Faery 495


Place-name Stories        498

The Triad of the Swineherds of the Isle of Prydain 499
The former importance of swine’s flesh as food 501
The Triad clause about Coỻ’s straying sow 503
Coỻ’s wanderings arranged to explain place-names 508
The Kulhwch account of Arthur’s hunt of Twrch Trwyth in Ireland 509
A parley with the boars 511
The hunt resumed in Pembrokeshire 512
The boars reaching the Loughor Valley 514
Their separation 515
One killed by the Men of Ỻydaw in Ystrad Yw 516
Ystrad Yw defined and its name explained 516
Twrch Trwyth escaping to Cornwall after an encounter in the estuary of the Severn 519
The comb, razor, and shears of Twrch Trwyth 519
The name Twrch Trwyth 521
Some of the names evidence of Goidelic speech 523
The story about Gwydion and his swine compared 525
Place-name explanations blurred or effaced 526
Enumeration of Arthur’s losses in the hunt 529
The Men of Ỻydaw’s identity and their Syfađon home 531
Further traces of Goidelic names 536
A Twrch Trwyth incident mentioned by Nennius 537
The place-name Carn Cabal discussed 538
Duplicate names with the Goidelic form preferred in Wales 541
The same phenomenon in the Mabinogion 543
The relation between the families of Ỻyr, Dôn, and Pwyỻ 548
The elemental associations of Ỻyr and Lir 549
Matthew Arnold’s idea of Medieval Welsh story 551
Brân, the Tricephal, and the Letto-Slavic Triglaus 552
Summary remarks as to the Goidels in Wales 553


Difficulties of the Folklorist        556

The terrors of superstition and magic 557
The folklorist’s activity no fostering of superstition 558
Folklore a portion of history 558
The difficulty of separating story and history 559
Arthur and the Snowdon Goidels as an illustration 559
Rhita Gawr and the mad kings Nynio and Peibio 560
Malory’s version and the name Rhita, Ritho, Ryons 562
Snowdon stories about Owen Ymhacsen and Cai 564
Goidelic topography in Gwyneđ 566
The Goidels becoming Compatriots or Kymry 569
The obscurity of certain superstitions a difficulty 571
Difficulties arising from their apparent absurdity illustrated by the March and Labraid stories 571
Difficulties from careless record illustrated by Howells’ Ychen Bannog 575
Possible survival of traditions about the urus 579
A brief review of the lake legends and the iron tabu 581
The scrappiness of the Welsh Tom Tit Tot stories 583
The story of the widow of Kittlerumpit compared 585
Items to explain the names Sìli Ffrit and Sìli go Dwt 590
Bwca’r Trwyn both brownie and bogie in one 593
That bwca a fairy in service, like the Pennant nurse 597
The question of fairies concealing their names 597
Magic identifying the name with the person 598
Modryb Mari regarding cheese-baking as disastrous to the flock 599
Her story about the reaper’s little black soul 601
Gwenogvryn Evans’ lizard version 603
Diseases regarded as also material entities 604
The difficulty of realizing primitive modes of thought 605


Folklore Philosophy        607

The soul as a pigmy or a lizard, and the word enaid 607
A different notion in the Mabinogi of Math 608
The belief in the persistence of the body through changes 610
Shape-shifting and rebirth in Gwion’s transformations 612
Tuan mac Cairill, Amairgen, and Taliessin 615
D’Arbois de Jubainville’s view of Erigena’s teaching 617
The druid master of his own transformations 620
Death not a matter of course so much as of magic 620
This incipient philosophy as Gaulish druidism 622
The Gauls not all of one and the same beliefs 623
The name and the man 624
Enw, ‘name,’ and the idea of breathing 625
The exact nature of the association still obscure 627
The Celts not distinguishing between names and things 628
A Celt’s name on him, not by him or with him 629
The druid’s method of name-giving non-Aryan 631
Magic requiring metrical formulæ 632
The professional man’s curse producing blisters 632
A natural phenomenon arguing a thin-skinned race 633
Cursing of no avail without the victim’s name 635
Magic and kingship linked in the female line 636


Race in Folklore and Myth        639

Glottology and comparative mythology 640
The question of the feminine in Welsh syntax 642
The Irish goddess Danu and the Welsh Dôn 644
Tynghed or destiny in the Kulhwch story 646
Traces of a Welsh confarreatio in the same context 649
Þokk in the Balder story compared with tynghed 650
Questions of mythology all the harder owing to race mixture [xxiii] 652
Whether the picture of Cúchulainn in a rage be Aryan or not 653
Cúchulainn exempt from the Ultonian couvade 654
Cúchulainn racially a Celt in a society reckoning descent by birth 656
Cúchulainn as a rebirth of Lug paralleled in Lapland 657
Doubtful origin of certain legends about Lug 658
The historical element in fairy stories and lake legends 659
The notion of the fairies being all women 661
An illustration from Central Australia 662
Fairy counting by fives evidence of a non-Celtic race 663
The Basque numerals as an illustration 665
Prof. Sayce on Irishmen and Berbers 665
Dark-complexioned people and fairy changelings 666
The blond fairies of the Pennant district exceptional 668
A summary of fairy life from previous chapters 668
Sir John Wynne’s instance of men taken for fairies 670
Some of the Brythonic names for fairies 671
Dwarfs attached to the fortunes of their masters 672
The question of fairy cannibalism 673
The fairy Corannians and the historical Coritani 674
St. Guthlac at Croyland in the Fens 676
The Irish sid, side, and the Welsh Caer Sidi 677
The mound dwellings of Pechts and Irish fairies 679
Prof. J. Morris Jones explaining the non-Aryan syntax of neo-Celtic by means of Egyptian and Berber 681
The Picts probably the race that introduced it 682
The first pre-Celtic people here 683
Probably of the same race as the neolithic dwarfs of the Continent 683
The other pre-Celtic race, the Picts and the people of the Mabinogion 684
A word or two by way of epilogue 686

Additions and Corrections        689

Index        695 [xxiv]


We are too hasty when we set down our ancestors in the gross for fools, for the monstrous inconsistencies (as they seem to us) involved in their creed of witchcraft. In the relations of this visible world we find them to have been as rational, and shrewd to detect an historic anomaly, as ourselves. But when once the invisible world was supposed to be opened, and the lawless agency of bad spirits assumed, what measures of probability, of decency, of fitness, or proportion—of that which distinguishes the likely from the palpable absurd—could they have to guide them in the rejection or admission of any particular testimony? That maidens pined away, wasting inwardly as their waxen images consumed before a fire—that corn was lodged, and cattle lamed—that whirlwinds uptore in diabolic revelry the oaks of the forest—or that spits and kettles only danced a fearful-innocent vagary about some rustic’s kitchen when no wind was stirring—were all equally probable where no law of agency was understood …. There is no law to judge of the lawless, or canon by which a dream may be criticised.

Charles Lamb’s Essays of Elia. [xxv]




Aberffraw: E. S. Roberts (after Hugh Francis), 240, 241.

Ỻandyfrydog: E. S. Roberts (after Robert Roberts), 239, 240.

Ỻyn yr Wyth Eidion: (no particulars), 429.

Mynyđ y Cnwc: A writer in the Brython for 1859, 457, 458.

Mynyđ Mecheỻ: Morris Evans (from his grandmother), 203, 204.

Towyn Trewern: John Roberts, 36–8.

Towyn Trewern?: Lewis Morris, in the Gwyliedyđ, 450–2.


Cwm Tawe: Rd. L. Davies, 256, 257.

Cwm,,Tawe,,: Rd.,,L.,,Davies,, (after J. Davies), 251–6.

Ỻangorse: Giraldus, in his Itinerarium Kambriæ, 72.

Ỻangorse?: Walter Mapes, in his book De Nugis, 70–2.

Ỻangorse?: The Brython for 1863, 73, 74.

Ỻyn Cwm Ỻwch neighbourhood: Ivor James, 21, 430, 445.

Ỻyn Cwm?: Ed. Davies, in his Mythology and Rites, 20, 21.


Atpar: John Rhys (from Joseph Powell), 648, 649.

Bronnant: D. Ỻ. Davies, 248, 249.

Cadabowen: J. Gwenogvryn Evans, 603, 604.

Ỻanwenog: J. Gwenogvryn,,Evans,,, 648.

Ỻyn Eiđwen: J. E. Rogers of Abermeurig, 578.

Moeđin: Howells, in his Cambrian Superstitions, 245.

Moeđin,,: D. Silvan Evans, in his Ystên Sioned, 271–3.

Ponterwyd: John Rhys, 294, 338, 378, 391, 392.

Ponterwyd,,: Mary Lewis (Modryb Mari), 601, 602.

Swyđ Ffynnon: D. Ỻ. Davies, 246, 247, 250. [xxvi]

Tregaron and neighbourhood: John Rhys (from John Jones and others), 577–9.

Troed yr Aur and Verwig? : Benjamin Williams (Gwynionyđ), 166–8.
: Gwynionyđ, in the Brython for 1858 and 1860, 151–5, 158–60, 163, 164, 464–6.

Ystrad Meurig: Isaac Davies, 245.

Ystrad,,Meurig,,: A farmer, 601.

Ystrad Meurig?: A writer in the Brython for 1861, 690.


Cenarth: B. Davies, in the Brython, 1858, 161, 162.

Ỻandeilo: D. Ỻeufer Thomas, in Y Geninen for 1896, 469.

Ỻandeilo,,: Mr. Stepney-Gulston, in the Arch. Camb. for 1893, 468.

Ỻandybie: John Fisher, 379, 380.

Ỻandybie,,: Howells, in his Cambrian Superstitions, 381.

Ỻandybie,,: John Fisher and J. P. Owen, 468.

Myđfai: Wm. Rees of Tonn, in the Physicians of Myđvai, 2–15.

Myđfai,,: The Bishop of St. Asaph, 15, 16.

Myđfai,,: John Rhys, 16.

Myđfai?: Joseph Joseph of Brecon, 16.

Myđfai?: Wirt Sikes, in his British Goblins, 17, 18.

Mynyđ y Banwen: Ỻywarch Reynolds, 18, 19, 428–30.

Mynyđ y Banwen?: I. Craigfryn Hughes, 487.


Aber Soch: Margaret Edwards, 231.

Aber,,Soch,,: A blacksmith in the neighbourhood, 232.

Aber Soch?: Edward Ỻwyd: see the Brython for 1860, 233, 234.

Aber Soch?: MS. 134 in the Peniarth Collection, 572, 573.

Aberdaron: Mrs. Williams and another, 228.

Aberdaron?: Evan Williams of Rhos Hirwaen, 230.

Beđgelert: Wm. Jones, 49, 80, 81, 94–7, 99, 100–5.

Beđgelert,,: Wm.,,Jones,, in the Brython for 1861–2, 86–9, 98–9.

Beđgelert,,: The Brython for 1861, 470, 473, 474.

Bethesda: David Evan Davies (Dewi Glan Ffrydlas), 60–4, 66.

Bettws y Coed: Edward Ỻwyd: see the Cambrian Journal for 1859, 130–3.

Criccieth neighbourhood: Edward Ỻewelyn, 219–21.

Criccieth?: Edward Ỻwyd: see the Camb. Journal for 1859, 201, 202.

Dinorwig: E. Lloyd Jones, 234–7.

Dolbenmaen: W. Evans Jones, 107–9.

Dolwyđelan: see Beđgelert.

Dolwyđelan,,: see Gwybrnant. [xxvii]

Drws y Coed: S. R. Williams (from M. Williams and another), 38–40.

Drws y Coed?: S.,,R.,,Williams,, 89, 90.

Edern: John Williams (Alaw Ỻeyn), 275–9.

Four Crosses: Lewis Jones, 222–5.

Glasfryn Uchaf: John Jones (Myrđin Farđ), 367, 368.

Glasfryn,,Uchaf,,: Mr. and Mrs. Williams-Ellis, 368–72.

Glynỻifon: Wm. Thomas Solomon, 208–14.

Gwybrnant: Ellis Pierce (Elis o’r Nant), 476–9.

Ỻanaelhaearn: R. Hughes of Uwchlaw’r Ffynnon, 214, 215, 217–9.

Ỻanberis: Mrs. Rhys and her relatives, 31–6, 604.

Ỻanberis,,: M. and O. Rhys, 229.

Ỻanberis,,: A correspondent in the Liverpool Mercury, 366, 367.

Ỻanberis?: Howell Thomas (from G. B. Gattie), 125–30.

Ỻanberis?: Pennant, in his Tours in Wales, 125.

Ỻandegai: H. Derfel Hughes, 52–60, 68.

Ỻandegai,,: H.,,Derfel,,Hughes,, in his Antiquities, 471, 472.

Ỻandegai,,: E. Owen, in the Powysland Club’s Collections, 237, 238.

Ỻandwrog: Hugh Evans and others, 207.

Ỻanfaglan: T. E. Morris (from Mrs. Roberts), 362, 363.

Ỻangybi: John Jones (Myrđin Farđ), 366.

Ỻangybi,,: Mrs. Williams-Ellis, 366, 471.

Ỻaniestin: Evan Williams, 228, 229, 584.

Ỻanỻechid: Owen Davies (Eos Ỻechid), 41–6, 50–2.

Nefyn: Lowri Hughes and another woman, 226, 227.

Nefyn,,: John Williams (Alaw Ỻeyn), 228.

Nefyn,,: A writer in the Brython for 1860, 164.

Penmachno: Gethin Jones, 204–6.

Rhyd Đu: Mrs. Rhys, 604.

Trefriw: Morris Hughes and J. D. Maclaren, 198–201.

Trefriw,,: Pierce Williams, 30.

Tremadoc: Jane Williams, 221, 222.

Tremadoc,,: R. I. Jones (from his mother and Ellis Owen), 105–7.

Tremadoc,,: Ellis Owen (cited by Wm. Jones), 95.

Waen Fawr: Owen Davies, 41.

Waen Fawr?: Glasynys, in Cymru Fu, 91–3, 110–23.

Waen Fawr?: Glasynys,,, in the Brython for 1863, 40, 41.

Waen Fawr?: A London Eisteđfod (1887) competitor, 361, 362.

Waen Fawr?: John Jones (Myrđin Farđ), 361, 362, 364–8.

Waen Fawr?: Owen Jones (quoted in the Brython for 1861), 414, 415.

Yspytty Ifan?: A Liverpool Eisteđfod (1900) competitor, 692.


Bryneglwys: E. S. Roberts (from Mrs. Davies), 241, 242.

Eglwyseg: E. S. Roberts (after Thomas Morris), 238.

Ffynnon Eilian: Mrs. Silvan Evans, 357.

Ffynnon,,Eilian,,: Isaac Foulkes, in his Enwogion Cymru, 396. [xxviii]

Ffynnon,,Eilian,,: Lewis, in his Topographical Dictionary, 395, 396.

Ffynnon,,Eilian,,: P. Roberts, in his Camb. Popular Antiquities, 396.

Ffynnon,,Eilian,,: A writer in Y Nofelđ, 396.

Ỻangoỻen: Hywel (Wm. Davies), 148.

Pentre Voelas: Elias Owen, in his Welsh Folk-Lore, 222.




Bridgend: J. H. Davies, D. Brynmor-Jones, J. Rhys, 354, 355.

Crymlyn: Cadrawd, in the South Wales Daily News, 405, 406.

Crymlyn?: Wirt Sikes, in his British Goblins, 191, 192, 405.

Kenfig: Iolo Morganwg, in the Iolo MSS., 403, 404.

Kenfig?: David Davies, 402.

Ỻanfabon: I. Craigfryn Hughes, 257–268.

Ỻanwynno: Glanffrwd, in his Plwyf Llanwyno, 26.

Merthyr Tydfil: Ỻywarch Reynolds (from his mother), 269.

Quakers’ Yard: I. Craigfryn Hughes, 173–91.

Rhonđa Fechan: Ỻewellyn Williams, 24, 25.

Rhonđa,,Fechan,,: J. Probert Evans, 25, 27.

Rhonđa,,Fechan,,: Ỻ. Reynolds (from D. Evans and others), 27–9.

Rhonđa Valley: D. J. Jones, 356.

Rhonđa Valley?: Dafyđ Morganwg, in his Hanes Morganwg, 356.

Rhonđa Valley?: Waring, in his Recollections of Edward Williams, 458–61.


Aberdovey: J. Pughe, in the Arch. Camb. for 1853, 142–6, 428.

Aberdovey,,: Mrs. Prosser Powell, 416.

Aberdovey?: M. B., in the Monthly Packet for 1859, 416, 417.

Ardudwy: Hywel (Wm. Davies), 147, 148.

Bala: David Jones of Trefriw: see Cyfaiỻ yr Aelwyd, 376, 377.

Bala,,: Wm. Davies and Owen M. Edwards, 378.

Bala?: Humphreys’ Ỻyfr Gwybodaeth Gyffredinol, 408–10.

Bala?: J. H. Roberts, in Edwards’ Cymru for 1897, 148–51.

Dolgeỻey: Lucy Griffith (from a Dolgeỻey man), 243, 244.

Ỻandriỻo: E. S. Roberts (from A. Evans and Mrs. Edwards), 138–41.

Ỻanegryn: Mr. Williams and Mr. Rowlands, 243.

Ỻanegryn,,: A Ỻanegryn man (after Wm. Pritchard), 242.

Ỻanegryn,,: Another Ỻanegryn man, 242, 243. [xxix]

Ỻanuwchỻyn: Owen M. Edwards, 147.

Ỻanuwchỻyn?: J. H. Roberts, in Edwards’ Cymru for 1897, 215–7, 457.

Ỻanuwchỻyn?: Glasynys, in the Brython for 1862, 137.

Ỻanuwchỻyn?: Glasynys,,, in the Taliesin for 1859–60, 215, 216, 456, 457.


Aberystruth: Edm. Jones, in his Parish of Aberystruth, 195, 196.

Ỻandeilo Cressenny: Elizabeth Williams, 192, 193.

Ỻanover: Wm. Williams and other gardeners there, 193, 194.

Ỻanover,,: Mrs. Gardner of Ty Uchaf Ỻanover, 194, 195.

Ỻanover,,: Professor Sayce, 602.

Risca?: I. Craigfryn Hughes (from hearsay in the district between Ỻanfabon and Caerleon), 462–4, 487, 593–6.


Ỻanidloes: Elias Owen, in his Welsh Folk-Lore, 275.


Fishguard: E. Perkins of Penysgwarne, 172, 173.

Fishguard,,: Ferrar Fenton, in the Pembroke County Guardian, 160.

Ỻandeilo Ỻwydarth: The Melchior family, 398.

Ỻandeilo,,Ỻwydarth,,: Benjamin Gibby, 399, 400.

Nevern: J. Thomas of Bancau Bryn Berian, 689.

Trevine: ‘Ancient Mariner,’ in the Pembroke County Guardian, 171.

Trevine?: Ferrar Fenton, in the Pembroke County Guardian, 171.

Trevine?: Ab Nadol, in the Brython for 1861, 165.

Trevine?: Southey, in his Madoc, 170.


Nil. [xxx]



The author would be glad to hear of unrecorded Welsh stories, or bits of Welsh stories not comprised in this volume. He would also be grateful for the names of more localities in which the stories here given, or variants of them, are still remembered. It will be his endeavour to place on record all such further information, except stories about spooks and ghosts of the ordinary type. [xxxi]



Ab Gwilym: Barđoniaeth Dafyđ ab Gwilym, edited by Cyndelw (Liverpool, 1873), 206, 233, 439, 444, 671.

Adamnan: The Life of St. Columba, written by Adamnan, edited by William Reeves (Dublin, 1857), 545.

Agrippa: H. Cornelius Agrippa De Occulta Philosophia (Paris, 1567), 213.

Aneurin: The Book of Aneurin (see Skene), 226, 281, 543.

Antiquary, the, a magazine devoted to the study of the past, published by Elliot Stock (London, 1880–), 467.

Antiquary,,,: the Scottish: see Stevenson.

Archæologia Cambrensis, the Journal of the Cambrian Archæological Association (London, 1846–), 73, 141–6, 233, 366, 403, 468, 528, 532, 533, 542, 566, 570, 579.

Athenæum, the, a journal of English and foreign literature, science, fine arts, music, and the drama (London, 1828–), 335, 612.

Atkinson: The Book of Ballymote, a collection of pieces (prose and verse) in the Irish language, compiled about the beginning of the fifteenth century, published by the Royal Irish Academy, with introduction, analysis of contents, and index by Robert Atkinson (Dublin, 1887), 375.

Atkinson,,: The Book of Leinster, sometimes called the Book of Glendalough, a collection of pieces (prose and verse) in the Irish language, compiled, in part, about the middle of the twelfth century, published by the Royal Irish Academy, with introduction, analysis of contents, and index by Robert Atkinson (Dublin, 1880), 381, 390, 392, 528, 531, 616, 618, 635, 657.

Aubrey: Miscellanies collected by John Aubrey (London, 1696) [the last chapter is on second-sighted persons in Scotland], 273.

Bastian: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, edited by A. Bastian and others (Berlin, 1869–), 684.

Bathurst: Roman Antiquities at Lydney Park: see 445, 446.

Behrens: Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Litteratur, edited by D. Behrens (Oppeln and Leipsic, 1879–), 480. [xxxii]

Bell: Early Ballads, edited by Robert Bell (London, 1877), 317.

Bertrand: La Religion des Gaulois, les Druides et le Druidisme, by Alexandre Bertrand (Paris, 1897), 552, 622, 623.

Bible: The Holy Bible, revised version (Oxford, 1885), 583.

Bible,,: The Manx Bible, printed for the British and Foreign Bible Society (London, 1819), 288, 297, 348.

Boschet: La Vie du Père Maunoir, by Boschet (Paris, 1697), 386.

Bourke: The Bull ‘Ineffabilis’ in four Languages, translated and edited by the Rev. Ulick J. Bourke (Dublin, 1868), 606.

Boyd Dawkins: Professor Boyd Dawkins’ Address on the Place of a University in the History of Wales (Bangor, 1900), 388, 389.

Bray: The Borders of the Tamar and the Tavy, their Natural History, Manners, Customs, Superstitions, &c., in a series of letters to the late Robert Southey, by Mrs. Bray (new ed., London, 1879), 213.

Braz: La Légende de la Mort en Basse-Bretagne, Croyances, Traditions et Usages des Bretons Armoricains, by A. le Braz (Paris, 1892), 273.

British Archæological Association, the Journal of the: see 674.

British Association for the Advancement of Science, Report of the (John Murray, London, 1833–), 103, 310, 346, 590.

Brynmor-Jones: The Welsh People, by John Rhys and David Brynmor-Jones (London, 1900), 421, 448, 454, 488, 548, 554, 613, 656, 661.

Brython, Y: see Silvan Evans.

Cambrian: The Cambrian Biography: see Owen.

Cambrian,,: The Cambrian Journal, published under the auspices of the Cambrian Institute [the first volume appeared in 1854 in London, and eventually the publication was continued at Tenby by R. Mason, who went on with it till the year 1864], 81, 130, 201, 202, 480, 564.

Cambrian,,: The Cambrian newspaper, published at Swansea, 468.

Cambrian,,: The Cambrian Popular Antiquities: see Roberts.

Cambrian,,: The Cambrian Quarterly Magazine (London, 1829–33), 202.

Cambrian,,: The Cambrian Register, printed for E. and T. Williams (London, 1796–1818), 217.

Campbell: Popular Tales of the West Highlands, with a translation, by J. F. Campbell (Edinburgh, 1860–2), 433, 434, 690.

Caradoc: The Gwentian Chronicle of Caradoc of Ỻancarvan, 404.

Caradoc,,: The History of Wales written originally in British by Caradoc of Lhancarvan, Englished by Dr. Powell and augmented by W. Wynne (London, 1774), 476, 480.

Carmarthen: The Black Book of Carmarthen (see Skene), 543.

Carnarvon: Registrum vulgariter nuncupatum ‘The Record of Carnarvon,’ è Codice msto Descriptum (London, 1838), 70, 201, 488, 567–9, 693. [xxxiii]

Carrington: Report of the Royal Commission on Land in Wales and Monmouthshire, Chairman, the Earl of Carrington (London, 1896), 488.

Chambers: Popular Rhymes of Scotland, by Robert Chambers (Edinburgh, 1841, 1858), 585.

Charencey, H. de, in the Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris, 664.

Chaucer: The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, edited from numerous manuscripts by the Rev. Prof. Skeat (Oxford, 1894), 75.

Chrétien: Erec und Enide von Christian von Troyes, published by Wendelin Foerster (Halle, 1890), 375, 672.

Cicero: Œuvres Complètes de Cicéron (the Didot ed., Paris, 1875), 652.

Clark: Limbus Patrum Morganiæ et Glamorganiæ, being the genealogies of the older families of the lordships of Morgan and Glamorgan, by George T. Clark (London, 1886), 26.

Clodd: Tom Tit Tot, an essay on savage philosophy in folklore, by Edward Clodd (London, 1898), 584, 598, 607, 627, 628, 630.

Cochrane: The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Robert Cochrane, Secretary (Hodges, Figgis & Co., Dublin), 546.

Cockayne: Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of early England, by the Rev. Oswald Cockayne (Rolls Series, London, 1864–6), 293.

Cormac: Cormac’s Glossary, translated and annotated by John O’Donovan, edited with notes and indices by Whitley Stokes (Calcutta, 1868), 51, 310, 521, 629, 632.

Corneille: Le Cid, by P. Corneille, edited by J. Bué (London, 1889), 655.

Cosquin: Contes populaires de Lorraine, by Emmanuel Cosquin (Paris, 1886), 520.

Cothi: The Poetical Works of Lewis Glyn Cothi, a Welsh bard who flourished in the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII, edited for the Cymmrodorion Society by the Rev. John Jones ‘Tegid,’ and the Rev. Walter Davies ‘Gwaỻter Mechain’ (Oxford, 1837), 74, 134, 135, 201.

Coulanges: La Cité antique, by N. D. Fustel de Coulanges (Paris, 1864), 649, 650.

Courson: Cartulaire de l’Abbaye de Redon en Bretagne, published by M. Aurélien de Courson (Paris, 1863), 544.

Craigfryn: Y Ferch o Gefn Ydfa, by Isaac Craigfryn Hughes (Cardiff, 1881), 173.

Cregeen: A Dictionary of the Manks Language, by Archibald Cregeen (Douglas, 1835), 288.

Cumming: The Isle of Man, its History, Physical, Ecclesiastical, Civil, and Legendary, by Joseph George Cumming (London, 1848), 314. [xxxiv]

Curry: The Battle of Magh Leana, together with The Courtship of Momera, with translation and notes, by Eugene Curry [later O’Curry] (Dublin, 1855), 393: see also O’Curry.

Cynđelw: Cymru Fu, a selection of Welsh histories, traditions, and tales, published by Hughes & Son (Wrexham, 1862) [this was originally issued in parts, and it has never borne the editor’s name; but it is understood to have been the late poet and antiquary, the Rev. Robert Ellis ‘Cynđelw’], 66, 91, 109, 123, 155, 156, 481.

Dalyell: The Darker Superstitions of Scotland illustrated from History and Practice, by John Graham Dalyell (Edinburgh, 1834), 273.

Davies: The Mythology and Rites of the British Druids, by Edward Davies (London, 1809), 20.

Davies: Antiquæ Linguæ Britannicæ et Linguæ Latinæ Dictionarium Duplex, by Dr. John Davies (London, 1632), 13.

Derfel Hughes: Hynafiaethau Ỻandegai a Ỻanỻechid (Antiquities of Ỻandegai and Ỻanỻechid), by Hugh Derfel Hughes (Bethesda, 1866), 52, 480.

Dionysius: Dionysii Halicarnassensis Antiquitatum Romanorum quæ supersunt (the Didot edition, Paris, 1886), 650.

Domesday: Facsimile of Domesday Book, the Cheshire volume, including a part of Flintshire and Leicestershire (Southampton, 1861–5), 563.

Dovaston: [John F. M. Dovaston’s poetical works appear to have been published in 1825, but I have not seen the book], 410–3.

Doyle: Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by A. Conan Doyle (London, 1893), 690.

Drayton: The Battaile of Agincourt, by Michaell Drayton (London, 1627), 164.

Dugdale: Monasticon Anglicanum, a history of the abbeys and other monasteries in England and Wales, by Sir William Dugdale (vol. v, London, 1825), 443, 469, 479.

Edwards: Cymru, a monthly magazine edited by Owen M. Edwards (Welsh National Press, Carnarvon), 148.

Elfed: Cyfaiỻ yr Aelwyd a’r Frythones, edited by Elfed (the Rev. H. Elvet Lewis) and Cadrawd (Mr. T. C. Evans), and published by Williams & Son, Ỻaneỻy, 23, 376, 418.

Elton: Origins of English History, by Charles Elton (London, 1882), 615.

Elworthy: The Evil Eye, an Account of this ancient and widespread Superstition, by Frederick Thomas Elworthy (London, 1895), 346.

Evans: The Beauties of England and Wales [published in London in 1801–15, and comprising two volumes (xvii and xviii) [xxxv]devoted to Wales, the former of which (by the Rev. J. Evans; published in London in 1812) treats of North Wales], 563.

Folk-Lore: Transactions of the Folk-Lore Society (published by David Nutt, 270 Strand, London), 273, 338, 341, 344, 346, 356, 358–60, 584, 585, 593, 608.

Foulkes: Geirlyfr Bywgraffiadol o Enwogion Cymru, published and printed by Isaac Foulkes (Liverpool, 1870), 396.

Fouqué: Undine, eine Erzählung von Friedrich Baron de la Motte Fouqué (11th ed., Berlin, 1859), 1, 2, 27, 437, 661.

Frazer: The Golden Bough, a study in comparative religion, by Dr. J. G. Frazer (London, 1890), 638, 662.

Frazer,,: The Origin of Totemism (in the Fortnightly Review for April, 1899), 662, 663.

Froissart: Œuvres de Froissart, Chroniques, edited by Kervyn de Lettenhove (Brussels, 1870–7), 489.

Froissart,,: Chroniques de J. Froissart, published for the ‘Société de l’Histoire de France,’ by Siméon Luce (Paris, 1869–), 489–91.

Froissart,,: Lord Berners’ translation (in black letter), published in London in 1525, and Thomas Johnes’, in 1805–6, 490.

Gaidoz: Revue Celtique, ‘fondée par M. Henri Gaidoz,’ 1870–85 [since then it has been edited by H. d’Arbois de Jubainville, and it is now published by Bouillon in Paris (67 Rue de Richelieu)], 60, 374, 375, 387, 389, 390, 427, 432, 435, 480, 519, 546, 573, 580, 581, 603, 618, 619, 629, 631, 649.

Geoffrey: Gottfried’s von Monmouth Historia Regum Britanniæ und Brut Tysylio, published by San-Marte (Halle, 1854), 4, 280, 281, 374, 406, 448, 503, 507, 547, 562, 611.

Gilbert: Leabhar na h-Uidhri, a collection of pieces in prose and verse in the Irish language, compiled and transcribed about A.D. 1100 by Moelmuiri mac Ceileachar, published by the Royal Irish Academy, and printed from a lithograph of the original by O’Longan & O’Looney (preface signed by J. T. Gilbert, Dublin, 1870), 381, 387, 414, 424, 435, 498, 537, 547, 611, 613, 618, 620, 624, 654, 657, 661.

Gillen: The Native Tribes of Central Australia, by Baldwin Spencer and F. J. Gillen (London, 1899), 662, 663.

Giraldus: Giraldi Cambrensis Itinerarium Kambriæ et Descriptio Kambriæ, edited by James F. Dimock (Rolls Series, London, 1868), 72, 90, 269–71, 303, 389, 414, 441, 507, 509, 660.

Glanffrwd: Plwyf Ỻanwyno: yr hen Amser, yr hen Bobl, a’r hen Droion, by Glanffrwd [the Rev. W. Glanffrwd Thomas] (Pontypriđ, 1888), 26.

Gottingen: Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen, unter der Aufsicht der königl. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (Gottingen, 1890), 544. [xxxvi]

Gregor: Notes on the Folk-lore of the North-east of Scotland, by the Rev. Walter Gregor, published for the Folk-Lore Society (London, 1881), 103.

Griffin: The Poetical and Dramatic Works of Gerald Griffin (Dublin, 1857), 205, 418.

Gröber: Grundriss der romanischen Philologie, unter Mitwirkung von 25 Fachgenossen, edited by Gustav Gröber (Strassburg, 1886), 563.

Gröber,,: Zeitschrift für romanische Philologie, edited by Gustav Gröber (Halle, 1877–), 563.

Gruter: Iani Gruteri Corpus Inscriptionum (part ii of vol. i, Amsterdam, 1707), 580.

Guest: The Mabinogion, from the Ỻyfr Coch o Hergest and other ancient Welsh manuscripts, with an English translation and notes by Lady Charlotte Guest (London, 1849), 69, 123, 196, 386, 442, 502, 507, 509, 538, 553, 560, 613, 620, 629, 645–7, 649, 672.

Gwenogvryn: Facsimile of the Black Book of Carmarthen, reproduced by the autotype mechanical process, with a palæographical note by J. Gwenogvryn Evans (Oxford, 1888), 216, 217, 383, 384, 413, 432, 478, 513, 527, 543, 545, 563, 565, 619, 621.

Gwenogvryn,,: Report on Manuscripts in the Welsh Language, published by the Historical MSS. Commission (vol. i, London, 1898–9), 280, 330, 487, 573.

Gwenogvryn,,: The Text of the Bruts from the Red Book of Hergest, edited by John Rhys and J. Gwenogvryn Evans (Oxford, 1890), 163, 201, 442, 506, 512, 562.

Gwenogvryn,,: The Text of the ‘Mabinogion’ and other Welsh Tales from the Red Book of Hergest, edited by John Rhys and J. Gwenogvryn Evans (Oxford, 1887), 69, 142, 196, 207, 208, 217, 218, 225, 226, 233, 264, 280, 287, 315, 386, 388, 425, 430, 439, 440, 442, 498, 500, 502, 506, 507, 509–16, 519–27, 529–34, 536, 537, 543, 546–8, 550, 551, 553, 560, 561, 565, 580, 608–10, 613, 619, 620, 622, 628–30, 636, 637, 644, 645, 647, 649, 657, 672.

Gwenogvryn,,: The Text of the Book of Ỻan Dâv, reproduced from the Gwysaney manuscript by J. G. Evans, with the co-operation of John Rhys (Oxford, 1893) [this is also known as the Liber Landavensis], 163, 398, 476, 478, 528, 531, 568, 691.

Hancock: Senchus Mór, vol. i, prefaced by W. Neilson Hancock (Dublin, 1865), 617.

Hardy: Descriptive Catalogue of Materials relating to the History of Great Britain and Ireland, by Thos. Duffus Hardy (vol. i, London, 1862), 476.

Hartland: The Legend of Perseus, a study of tradition in story, custom, and belief, by Edwin Sidney Hartland (London, 1894–6), 662. [xxxvii]

Hartland: The Science of Fairy Tales, an inquiry into fairy mythology, by Edwin Sidney Hartland (London, 1891), 18, 268, 583.

Henderson: Fled Bricrend, edited with translation, introduction, and notes, by George Henderson (London, 1899), 501.

Henderson: Notes on the Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders, by Wm. Henderson (London, 1879), 340, 346.

Herbord: Herbordi Vita Ottonis Ep. Bambergensis, in vol. xiv of Pertz’ Monumenta Germaniæ Historica Scriptorum [= Script. vol. xii], edited by G. H. Pertz (Hanover, 1826–85), 553.

Hergest: The Red Book of Hergest: see Guest, Gwenogvryn, Skene.

Heywood: The Dramatic Works of Thomas Heywood (London, 1874), 694.

Higden: Polychronicon Ranulphi Higden Monachi Cestrensis, together with the English translations of John Trevisa and an unknown writer of the fifteenth century, edited by Ch. Babington (Rolls Series, London, 1865–86), 330, 331.

Holder: Alt-celtischer Sprachschatz, by Alfred Holder (Leipsic, 1896–), 533, 622, 659.

Howells: Cambrian Superstitions, comprising ghosts, omens, witchcraft, and traditions, by W. Howells (Tipton, 1831), 74, 155, 160, 173, 204, 245, 268, 331, 424, 453, 469, 576–9.

Hübner: Das Heiligtum des Nodon: see 446.

Hübner,,: Inscriptiones Britanniæ Latinæ, edited by Æmilius Hübner and published by the Berlin Academy (Berlin, 1873), 535.

Humphreys: Golud yr Oes, a Welsh magazine published by H. Humphreys (vol. i, Carnarvon, 1863), 493.

Humphreys,, Ỻyfr Gwybodaeth Gyffredinol, a collection of Humphreys’ penny series (Carnarvon, no date), 408.

Iolo: Iolo Manuscripts, a selection of ancient Welsh manuscripts in prose and verse from the collection made by Edward Williams (Iolo Morganwg), with English translations and notes by his son, Taliesin Williams Ab Iolo, and published for the Welsh MSS. Society (Ỻandovery, 1848), 564, 565, 569, 619.

Iolo Goch: Gweithiau Iolo Goch gyda Nodiadau hanesyđol a beirniadol, by Charles Ashton, published for the Cymmrodorion Society (Oswestry, 1896), 281, 367.

Jacobs: Celtic Fairy Tales, selected and edited by Joseph Jacobs (London, 1892), 567.

Jamieson: An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, by John Jamieson (new ed., Paisley, 1881–2), 591.

Jamieson: Popular Ballads and Songs, by Robert Jamieson (Edinburgh, 1806), 592. [xxxviii]

Jenkins: Beđ Gelert, its Facts, Fairies, and Folk-Lore, by D. E. Jenkins (Portmadoc, 1899), 450, 453, 469, 533, 567.

Johnstone: Antiquitates Celto-Normannicæ, containing the Chronicle of Man and the Isles, abridged by Camden, edited by James Johnstone (Copenhagen, 1786), 334.

Jones: see p. 195 for Edmund Jones’ Account of the Parish of Aberystruth (Trevecka, 1779), 195, 196.

Jones,,: see p. 195 as to his Spirits in the County of Monmouth (Newport, 1813), 195, 217, 350.

Jones: The Elucidarium and other tracts in Welsh from Ỻyvyr Agkyr Ỻandewivrevi, A.D. 1346 (Jesus College MS. 119), edited by J. Morris Jones and John Rhys (Oxford, 1894), 529, 693.

Jones: The Myvyrian Archaiology of Wales, collected out of ancient manuscripts, by Owen Jones ‘Myvyr,’ Edward Williams, and William Owen (London, 1801; reprinted in one volume by Thomas Gee, Denbigh, 1870), 441, 469, 529, 560, 610, 619.

Jones: A History of the County of Brecknock, by the Rev. Theophilus Jones (Brecknock, 1805, 1809), 516–8.

Joyce: Old Celtic Romances, translated from the Gaelic by P. W. Joyce (London, 1879), 94, 376, 381, 437, 662.

Jubainville: Le Cycle mythologique irlandais et la Mythologie celtique, by H. d’Arbois de Jubainville (Paris, 1884), 616, 617, 620.

Jubainville,,: Essai d’un Catalogue de la Littérature épique de l’Irlande, by H. d’Arbois de Jubainville (Paris, 1883), 549, 616, 617, 620.

Kaluza: Libeaus Desconus, edited by Max Kaluza (Leipsic, 1890), 562.

Keating: Forus Feasa air Éirinn, Keating’s History of Ireland, book i, part i, edited, with a literal translation, by P. W. Joyce (Dublin, 1880), 375.

Kelly: Fockleyr Manninagh as Baarlagh, a Manx-English Dictionary by John Kelly, edited by William Gill, and printed for the Manx Society (Douglas, 1866), 316, 349.

Kermode: Yn Lioar Manninagh, the Journal of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, edited by P. M. C. Kermode (Douglas, 1889–), 284, 289, 311, 334, 434.

Kuhn: Beiträge zur vergleichenden Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der arischen, celtischen und slawischen Sprachen, edited by Kuhn and others (Berlin, 1858–76), 629.

Kuhn,,: Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiete der indogermanischen Sprachen, edited by Kuhn and others (Berlin, 1854–), 625.

Lampeter: The Magazine of St. David’s College, Lampeter, 156.

Leem: Canuti Leemii de Lapponibus Finmarchiæ Commentatio (Copenhagen, 1767), 658, 663. [xxxix]

Leger: Cyrille et Méthode, Étude historique sur la Conversion des Slaves au Christianisme, by Louis Leger (Paris, 1868), 553.

Lewis: A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, by Samuel Lewis (3rd ed., London, 1844), 395, 397, 470.

Leyden: The Poetical Works of John Leyden (Edinburgh, 1875), 466.

Lhuyd: Commentarioli Britannicæ Descriptionis Fragmentum, by Humfrey Lhuyd (Cologne, 1572), 412.

Lindsay: The Latin Language, an historical account of Latin sounds, stems, and flexions, by Wallace Martin Lindsay (Oxford, 1894), 629.

Loth: Les Mots latins dans les langues brittoniques, by J. Loth (Paris, 1892), 383.

Ỻais y Wlad, a newspaper published at Bangor, N. Wales, 234.

Mabinogion: see Guest and Gwenogvryn.

Macbain: The Celtic Magazine, edited by Alexander Macbain (Inverness, 1866–), 520.

Malmesbury: De Gestis Pontificum Anglorum Libri Quinque, edited by N. E. S. A. Hamilton (Rolls Series, London, 1870), 547.

Malory: Le Morte Darthur, by Syr Thomas Malory, the original Caxton edition reprinted and edited with an introduction and glossary by H. Oskar Sommer (Nutt, London, 1889), 476, 562.

Malory,,: Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur, with a preface by John Rhys, published by J. M. Dent & Co. (London, 1893), 543, 565.

Mapes: Gualteri Mapes de Nugis Curialium Distinctiones Quinque, edited by Thomas Wright and printed for the Camden Society, 1850 [at the last moment a glance at the original Bodley MS. 851 forced me to deviate somewhat from Wright’s reading owing to its inaccuracy], 70–2, 496.

Marquardt: Das Privatleben der Römer, by J. Marquardt (Leipsic, 1886), 650.

Martin: A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, by M. Martin (London, 1703), 615, 691, 692.

Maspero: see 682.

Maximus: Valerii Maximi factorum dictorumque memorabilium Libri novem ad Tiberium Cæsarem Augustum (the Didot ed., Paris, 1871), 623.

Mela: Pomponii Melæ de Chorographia Libri Tres, ed. Gustavus Parthey (Berlin, 1867), 331, 550.

Meyer: Festschrift Whitley Stokes, dedicated by Kuno Meyer and others (Leipsic, 1900), 645.

Meyer,,: The Vision of MacConglinne, edited with a translation by Kuno Meyer (London, 1892), 393, 501. [xl]

Meyer: Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie, edited by Kuno Meyer and L. C. Stern (Halle, 1897–), 500.

Meyer: Romania, Recueil trimestriel consacré à l’Étude des Langues et des Littératures romanes, edited by Paul Meyer and Gaston Paris (vol. xxviii. Paris, 1899), 690, 693, 694.

Meyrick: The History and Antiquities of the County of Cardigan, by Samuel Rush Meyrick (London, 1808), 579.

Milton: English Poems, by John Milton, 288.

Mind, a quarterly review of psychology and philosophy, edited by G. F. Stout (London, 1876–), 633.

Mommsen: Heortologie, antiquarische Untersuchungen über die städtischen Feste der Athener, by August Mommsen (Leipsic, 1864), 310.

Monthly Packet, the, now edited by C. R. Coleridge and Arthur Innes (London, 1851–), 416, 417.

Moore: The Folk-Lore of the Isle of Man, by A. W. Moore (London, 1891), 284.

Moore,,: The Surnames and Place-names of the Isle of Man, by A. W. Moore (London, 1890), 311, 332, 334.

Morgan: An Antiquarian Survey of East Gower, Glamorganshire, by W. Ỻ. Morgan (London, 1899), 404.

Morganwg: Hanes Morganwg, by Dafyđ Morganwg [D. W. Jones, F.G.S.] (Aberdare, 1874) [an octavo volume issued to subscribers, and so scarce now that I had to borrow a copy], 356.

Morris: Celtic Remains, by Lewis Morris, edited by Silvan Evans and printed for the Cambrian Archæological Association (London, 1878), 148, 413, 564, 566, 694.

Myrđin: Prophwydoliaeth Myrđin Wyỻt: see 485.

Nennius: Nennius und Gildas, edited by San-Marte (Berlin, 1844), 281, 406, 407, 537–9, 570.

New English Dictionary, edited by Dr. James H. Murray and Henry Bradley (London and Oxford, 1884–), 317.

Nicholson: Golspie, contributions to its folklore, collected and edited by Edward W. B. Nicholson (London, 1897), 317.

Nicholson: The Poetical Works of Wm. Nicholson (3rd ed., Castle Douglas, 1878), 325.

Notes and Queries (Bream’s Buildings, Chancery Lane, E.C.), 563.

Notes,,and,,Queries,,: Choice Notes from ‘Notes and Queries,’ consisting of folklore (London, 1859), 140, 213, 217, 325, 418, 453, 454, 494, 596, 601, 611, 612.

Nutt: The Voyage of Bran son of Febal to the Land of the Living, by Kuno Meyer and Alfred Nutt (London, 1895, 1897), 618, 620, 622, 657, 662.

Nutt,,: Studies on the Legend of the Holy Grail, by Alfred Nutt (London, 1888), 287, 438, 548. [xli]

O’Curry: On the Manners and Customs of the Ancient Irish, a series of lectures delivered by the late Eugene O’Curry (London, 1873), 375, 392, 617, 632: see also Curry.

O’Donovan: Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters, from the earliest period to the year 1616, edited by John O’Donovan (2nd ed., Dublin, 1856), 414, 426–8, 433, 546, 569.

O’Grady: Silva Gadelica, a collection of tales in Irish, with extracts illustrating persons and places, edited from manuscripts and translated by Dr. S. H. O’Grady (London, 1892), 381, 437.

O’Reilly: An Irish-English Dictionary, by Edward O’Reilly, with a supplement by John O’Donovan (Dublin, 1864), 142.

Oliver: Monumenta de Insula Manniæ, being vol. iv of the publications of the Manx Society, by J. R. Oliver (Douglas, 1860), 314, 334.

Owen: Ancient Laws and Institutes of Wales, edited by Aneurin Owen for the Public Records Commission (London, 1841), 421.

Owen: Welsh Folk-Lore, a collection of the folk-tales and legends of North Wales, being the prize essay of the National Eisteđfod in 1887, by the Rev. Elias Owen (Oswestry and Wrexham, 1896), 222, 275, 690.

Owen: The Poetical Works of the Rev. Goronwy Owen, with his life and correspondence, edited by the Rev. Robert Jones (London, 1876), 84.

Owen: The Description of Pembrokeshire, by George Owen of Henỻys, edited with notes and an appendix by Henry Owen (London, 1892), 506, 513, 515.

Owen: The Cambrian Biography, or Historical Notices of celebrated men among the Ancient Britons, by William Owen (London, 1803), 169, 170.

Paris: Merlin, Roman en Prose du XIIIe Siècle, edited by Gaston Paris and Jacob Ulrich (Paris, 1886), 563.

Parthey: Itinerarium Antonini Augusti et Hierosolymitanum ex Libris manu scriptis, edited by G. Parthey and M. Pinder (Berlin, 1848), 514.

Pembroke County Guardian, the, a newspaper owned and edited by H. W. Williams and published at Solva, 160, 171, 172.

Pennant: A Tour in Scotland, by Thomas Pennant (Warrington, 1774), 310.

Pennant,,: A Tour in Scotland and a Voyage to the Hebrides, MDCCLXXII, by Thomas Pennant (Chester, 1774), 692.

Pennant,,: Tours in Wales, by Thomas Pennant, edited by J. Rhys (Carnarvon, 1883), 125, 130, 532.

Phillimore: Annales Cambriæ and Old-Welsh Genealogies from Harleian MS. 3859, edited by Egerton Phillimore, in vol. ix of the Cymmrodor, 408, 476, 480, 551, 570. [xlii]

Phillips: The Book of Common Prayer in Manx Gaelic, being translations made by Bishop Phillips in 1610 and by the Manx clergy in 1765; edited by A. W. Moore, assisted by John Rhys, and printed for the Manx Society (Douglas, 1893, 1894), 320.

Plautus: T. Macci Plauti Asinaria, from the text of Goetz and Schoell, by J. H. Gray (Cambridge, 1894), 535.

Plutarch: De Defectu Oraculorum (the Didot ed., Paris, 1870), 331, 456, 493, 494.

Powysland: Collections, historical and archæological, relating to Montgomeryshire and its Borders, issued by the Powysland Club (London, 1868–), 237.

Preller: Griechische Mythologie, von L. Preller, vierte Auflage von Carl Robert (Berlin, 1887), 310.

Price: Hanes Cymru a Chenedl y Cymry o’r Cynoesoeđ hyd at farwolaeth Ỻewelyn ap Gruffyđ, by the Rev. Thomas Price ‘Carnhuanawc’ (Crickhowel, 1842), 490.

Ptolemy: Claudii Ptolemæi Geographia: e Codicibus recognovit Carolus Müllerus (vol. i, Paris, 1883), 385, 387, 388, 445, 581.

Pughe: The Physicians of Myđvai (Međygon Myđfai), translated by John Pughe of Aberdovey, and edited by the Rev. John Williams Ab Ithel (Ỻandovery, 1861) [this volume has an introduction consisting of the Legend of Ỻyn y Fan Fach, contributed by Mr. William Rees of Tonn, who collected it, in the year 1841, from various sources named], 2, 12.

Pughe: A Dictionary of the Welsh Language explained in English, by Dr. Wm. Owen Pughe (2nd ed., Denbigh, 1832), 383, 502.

Rastell: A. C. Mery Talys, printed by John Rastell, reprinted in Hazlitt’s Shakespeare Jest-books (London, 1844), 599.

Rees: An Essay on the Welsh Saints or the primitive Christians usually considered to have been the founders of Churches in Wales, by the Rev. Rice Rees (London and Ỻandovery, 1836), 163, 217, 396, 534.

Rees: Lives of the Cambro-British Saints, by the Rev. W. J. Rees, published for the Welsh MSS. Society (Ỻandovery, 1853), 693.

Rennes: Annales de Bretagne publiées par la Faculté des Lettres de Rennes (Rennes, 1886–), 500.

Revue Archéologique (new series, vol. xxiii, Paris, 1800–), 386.

Rhys: Celtic Britain, by John Rhys (2nd ed., London, 1884), 72.

Rhys,,: Lectures on Welsh Philology, by John Rhys (2nd ed., London, 1879), 566.

Rhys,,: Hibbert Lectures, 1886, on the origin and growth of religion as illustrated by Celtic heathendom, by John Rhys (London, 1888), 310, 321, 328, 331, 373, 387, 432, 435, 444, 447, 511, 542, 570, 613, 654, 657, 694. [xliii]

Rhys: Studies in the Arthurian Legend, by John Rhys (Oxford, 1891), 217, 287, 331, 375, 382, 387, 435, 438–41, 466, 494, 496, 561, 573, 610, 613.

Rhys: Cambrobrytannicæ Cymraecæve Linguæ Institutiones et Rudimenta … conscripta à Joanne Dauide Rhæso, Monensi Lanuaethlæo Cambrobrytanno, Medico Senensi (London, 1592), 22, 225.

Richard: The Poetical Works of the Rev. Edward Richard (London, 1811), 577.

Richards: A Welsh and English Dictionary, by Thomas Richards (Trefriw, 1815) 378.

Roberts: The Cambrian Popular Antiquities, by Peter Roberts, (London, 1815), 396.

Rosellini: see 682.

Rymer: Fœdera, Conventiones, Literæ et cujuscunque Generis Acta publica inter Reges Angliæ et alios quosvis Imperatores, Reges, Pontifices, Principes, vel Communitates, edited by Thomas Rymer (vol. viii, London, 1709), 490.

Sale: The Koran, translated into English with explanatory notes and a preliminary discourse, by George Sale (London, 1877), 608.

Sampson: Otia Merseiana, the publication of the Arts Faculty of University College, Liverpool, edited by John Sampson (London), 393, 451.

San-Marte: Beiträge zur bretonischen und celtisch-germanischen Heldensage, by San-Marte (Quedlinburg, 1847), 611.

Schwan: Grammatik des Altfranzösischen, by Eduard Schwan (Leipsic, 1888), 563.

Scotland: Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (Edinburgh), 244.

Scott: the Works of Sir Walter Scott, 320, 643, 689.

Sébillot: Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne, by Paul Sébillot (Paris, 1882), 273.

Shakespeare: The Plays and Poems of Shakespeare, 197, 636, 694.

Sikes: British Goblins, Welsh Folk-lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions, by Wirt Sikes (London, 1880), 17, 18, 99, 155, 160, 173, 191, 192.

Silvan Evans: Dictionary of the Welsh Language (Geiriadur Cymraeg), by D. Silvan Evans (Carmarthen, 1888–), 387, 431, 539, 580, 620, 621.

Silvan,,Evans,,: Y Brython, a periodical in Welsh for Welsh antiquities and folklore, edited by the Rev. D. S. Evans, and published by Robert Isaac Jones at Tremadoc (in quarto for 1858 and 1859, in octavo for 1860–2), 40, 73, 86, 98, 134, 137, 141, 151–5, 158–60, 202, 321, 413, 442, 456, 464, 470, 481, 690.

Silvan,,Evans,,: Ystên Sioned, by D. Silvan Evans (Aberystwyth, 1882), 271–3. [xliv]

Simrock: Die Edda, die ältere und jüngere, nebst den mythischen Erzählungen der Skalda, translated and explained by Karl Simrock (Stuttgart, 1855), 652.

Sinclair: The Statistical Account of Scotland, drawn up from the communications of the ministers of the different parishes, by Sir John Sinclair (Edinburgh, 1794), 310.

Skene: Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots, and other Memorials of Scottish History, edited by Wm. F. Skene (Edinburgh, 1867), 374.

Skene: The Four Ancient Books of Wales, by Wm. F. Skene (Edinburgh, 1868) [vol. ii contains, besides notes and illustrations, the text of the Black Book of Carmarthen, 3–61; the Book of Aneurin, 62–107; the Book of Taliessin, 108–217; and some of the poetry in the Red Book of Hergest, 218–308. These four texts are to be found translated in vol. i], 226, 233, 269, 281, 387, 442, 541, 543, 550, 614–7.

South Wales Daily News (Duncan, Cardiff), 376.

Southey: Madoc, a poem by Robert Southey (London, 1815), 169–71.

Speed: The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, by John Speed [not Speede] (London, 1611), 208.

Steinmeyer: Die althochdeutschen Glossen, collected and elaborated by Elias Steinmeyer and Eduard Sievers (Berlin, 1879–98), 683.

Stengel: Li Romans de Durmart le Galois, altfranzösisches Rittergedicht, published for the first time by Edmund Stengel (Tübingen, 1873), 438.

Stephens: The Gododin of Aneurin Gwawdryđ, with an English translation and copious notes, by Thomas Stephens; edited by Professor Powel, and printed for the Cymmrodorion Society (London, 1888), 310, 543, 647.

Stevenson: The Scottish Antiquary or Northern Notes and Queries, edited by J. H. Stevenson (Edinburgh, 1886–), 693.

Stokes: Cormac’s Glossary: see Cormac.

Stokes,,: Goidelica, Old and Early-Middle-Irish Glosses, Prose and Verse, edited by Whitley Stokes (2nd ed., London, 1872), 295, 374.

Stokes,,: Irische Texte mit Uebersetzungen und Wörterbuch, edited by Whitley Stokes and E. Windisch (3rd series, Leipsic, 1891), 631.

Stokes,,: The Tripartite Life of Patrick, edited, with translations and indexes, by Whitley Stokes (Rolls Series, London, 1887), 535.

Stokes,,: Urkeltischer Sprachschatz von Whitley Stokes, übersetzt, überarbeitet und herausgegeben von Adalbert Bezzenberger, forming the second part of the fourth edition of Fick’s Vergleichendes Wörterbuch der indogermanischen Sprachen (Gottingen, 1894), 671. [xlv]

Strabo: Strabonis Geographica recognovit Augustus Meineke (Leipsic, 1852–3), 654.

Sturlæus: Edda Snorronis Sturlæi (Copenhagen, 1848), 652.

Tacitus: Cornelii Taciti de Origine et Situ Germanorum Liber, edited by Alfred Holder (Freiburg i. B., and Tübingen, 1882), 271.

Taliesin, a Welsh periodical published at Ruthin in 1859–60, 135–7, 269.

Taliessin: The Book of Taliessin (see Skene), 550, 614–7.

Tegid: Gwaith Barđonol y diweđar barch. John Jones ‘Tegid’ [also called Joan Tegid], edited by the Rev. Henry Roberts (Ỻandovery, 1859), 445.

Triads: [The so-called Historical Triads, referred to in this volume, are to be found in the Myvyrian Archaiology (London, 1801), series i and ii in vol. ii, 1–22, and (the later) series iii in the same vol., 57–80. In the single-volume edition of the Myvyrian (Denbigh, 1870), they occupy continuously pp. 388–414. Series ii comes from the Red Book of Hergest, and will be found also in the volume of the Oxford Mabinogion, pp. 297–309], 170, 281, 326, 382, 429–31, 433, 440, 441, 443–5, 498, 500, 501, 503–9, 565, 569.

Tylor: Primitive Culture, Researches into the Development of Mythology, Philosophy, Religion, Language, Art, and Custom, by Edward Tylor (2nd ed., London, 1873), 290, 329, 601, 603, 641, 658.

Twyne: Thomas Twyne’s Breuiary of Britayne, a translation of Humfrey Lhuyd’s Fragmentum (London, 1573), 412.

Ulfilas: Ulfilas, Text, Grammar, and Dictionary, elaborated and edited by F. L. Stamm (Paderborn, 1869), 626.

Vigfusson: An Icelandic Dictionary, enlarged and completed by Gudbrand Vigfusson (Oxford, 1874), 288, 652.

Vising: see 563.

Waldron: A Description of the Isle of Man, by George Waldron, being vol. xi of the Manx Society’s publications (Douglas, 1865), 290.

Waring: Recollections and Anecdotes of Edward Williams, by Elijah Waring (London, 1850), 458.

Westermarck: The History of Human Marriage, by Edward Westermarck (London, 1894), 654.

Weyman: From the Memoirs of a Minister of France, by Stanley Weyman (London, 1895), 690.

Williams: The English Works of Eliezer Williams, with a memoir of his life by his son, St. George Armstrong Williams (London, 1840), 493. [xlvi]

Williams: Brut y Tywysogion, or the Chronicle of the Princes, edited by John Williams Ab Ithel (Rolls Series, London, 1860), 79, 513.

Williams: A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Welshmen, by the Rev. Robert Williams (Ỻandovery, 1852), 534.

Williams,,: Y Seint Greal, edited with a translation and glossary by the Rev. Robert Williams (London, 1876), 438, 514, 580.

Williams: The Doom of Colyn Dolphyn, by Taliesin Williams (London, 1837), 561.

Williams,,: Traethawd ar Gywreineđ Glynn Neđ, by Taliesin Williams: see 439.

Williams: Observations on the Snowdon Mountains, by William Williams of Ỻandegai (London, 1802), 48, 673, 674.

Windisch: Irische Texte mit Wörterbuch, by Ernst Windisch (Leipsic, 1880), 501, 657.

Windisch,,: Kurzgefasste irische Grammatik (Leipsic, 1879), 291, 501, 502, 531, 546, 547, 603, 613, 618, 691.

Windisch,,: Über die irische Sage Noinden Ulad, in the Berichte der k. sächs. Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften (phil.-historische Classe, Dec. 1884), 654.

Woodall: Bye-gones, a periodical reissue of notes, queries, and replies on subjects relating to Wales and the Borders, published in the columns of The Border Counties Advertizer, by Messrs. Woodall, Minshall & Co. of the Caxton Press, Oswestry, 169, 378.

Wood-Martin: Pagan Ireland, by W. G. Wood-Martin (London, 1895), 612.

Worth: A History of Devonshire, with Sketches of its leading Worthies, by R. N. Worth (London, 1895), 307.

Wright: The English Dialect Dictionary, edited by Professor Joseph Wright (London and Oxford, 1898–), 66.

Wynne: The History of the Gwydir Family, published by Angharad Ỻwyd in the year 1827, and by Askew Roberts at Oswestry in 1878, 490, 491, 670.

Y Cymmrodor, the magazine embodying the transactions of the Cymmrodorion Society of London (Secretary, E. Vincent Evans, 64 Chancery Lane, W.C.), 374, 384, 480, 510, 513, 520, 600, 610, 690, 693, 694.

Y Drych, a newspaper published at Utica in the United States of North America, 234.

Y Gordofigion, an extinct Welsh periodical: see p. 450.

Y Gwyliedyđ, a magazine of useful knowledge intended for the benefit of monoglot Welshmen (Bala, 1823–37), 450.

Y Nofelyđ, a Welsh periodical published by Mr. Aubrey, of Ỻannerch y Međ, 396.

Young: Burghead, by H. W. Young (Inverness, 1899), 345. [xlvii]





Gallias utique possedit, et quidem ad nostram memoriam. Namque Tiberii Cæsaris principatus sustulit Druidas eorum, et hoc genus vatum medicorumque. Sed quid ego hæc commemorem in arte Oceanum quoque transgressa, et ad naturæ inane pervecta? Britannia hodieque eam attonite celebrat tantis cerimoniis, ut dedisse Persis videri possit. Adeo ista toto mundo consensere, quamquam discordi et sibi ignoto. Nec satis æstimari potest, quantum Romanis debeatur, qui sustulere monstra, in quibus hominem occidere religiosissimum erat, mandi vero etiam saluberrimum.

Pliny, Historia Naturalis, XXX. 4.

Pline fait remarquer que ces pratiques antipathiques au génie grec sont d’origine médique. Nous les rencontrons en Europe à l’état de survivances. L’universalité de ces superstitions prouve en effet qu’elles émanent d’une source unique qui n’est pas européenne. Il est difficile de les considérer comme un produit de l’esprit aryen; il faut remonter plus haut pour en trouver l’origine. Si, en Gaule, en Grande-Bretagne, en Irlande, tant de superstitions relevant de la magie existaient encore au temps de Pline enracinées dans les esprits à tel point que le grand naturaliste pouvait dire, à propos de la Bretagne, qu’il semblait que ce fût elle qui avait donné la magie à la Perse, c’est qu’en Gaule, en Grande-Bretagne, et en Irlande le fond de la population était composé d’éléments étrangers à la race aryenne, comme les faits archéologiques le démontrent, ainsi que le reconnait notre éminent confrère et ami, M. d’Arbois de Jubainville lui-même.

Alexandre Bertrand, La Religion des Gaulois, pp. 55, 56.

Une croyance universellement admise dans le monde lettré, en France et hors de France, fait des Français les fils des Gaulois qui ont pris Rome en 390 avant Jésus-Christ, et que César a vaincus au milieu du premier siècle avant notre ère. On croit que nous sommes des Gaulois, survivant à toutes les révolutions qui depuis tant de siècles ont bouleversé le monde. C’est une idée préconçue que, suivant moi, la science doit rejeter. Seuls à peu près, les archéologues ont vu la vérité …. Les pierres levées, les cercles de pierre, les petites cabanes construites en gros blocs de pierre pour servir de dernier asile aux défunts, étaient, croyait-on, des monuments celtiques …. On donnait à ces rustiques témoignages d’une civilisation primitive des noms bretons, ou néo-celtiques de France; on croyait naïvement, en reproduisant des mots de cette langue moderne, parler comme auraient fait, s’ils avaient pu revenir à la vie, ceux qui ont remué ces lourdes pierres, ceux qui les ont fixées debout sur le sol ou même élevées sur d’autres …. Mais ceux qui ont dressé les pierres levées, les cercles de pierres; ceux qui ont construit les cabanes funéraires ne parlaient pas celtique et le breton diffère du celtique comme le français du latin.

H. d’Arbois de Jubainville, Les premiers Habitants de l’Europe, II. xi–xiii. [1]



Undine’s Kymric Sisters

Undine, liebes Bildchen du,

Seit ich zuerst aus alten Kunden

Dein seltsam Leuchten aufgefunden,

Wie sangst du oft mein Herz in Ruh!

De la Motte Fouqué.

The chief object of this and several of the following chapters is to place on record all the matter I can find on the subject of Welsh lake legends: what I may have to say of them is merely by the way and sporadic, and I should feel well paid for my trouble if these contributions should stimulate others to communicate to the public bits of similar legends, which, possibly, still linger unrecorded among the mountains of Wales. For it should be clearly understood that all such things bear on the history of the Welsh, as the history of no people can be said to have been written so long as its superstitions and beliefs in past times have not been studied; and those who may think that the legends here recorded are childish and frivolous, may rest assured that they bear on questions which could not themselves be called either childish or frivolous. So, however silly a legend may be thought, let him who knows such a legend communicate it to somebody who will place it on record; he will then probably find that it has more meaning and interest than he had anticipated. [2]



I find it best to begin by reproducing a story which has already been placed on record: this appears desirable on account of its being the most complete of its kind, and the one with which shorter ones can most readily be compared. I allude to the legend of the Lady of Ỻyn y Fan Fach in Carmarthenshire, which I take the liberty of copying from Mr. Rees of Tonn’s version in the introduction to The Physicians of Myđvai1, published by the Welsh Manuscript Society, at Ỻandovery, in 1861. There he says that he wrote it down from the oral recitations, which I suppose were in Welsh, of John Evans, tiler, of Myđfai, David Williams, Morfa, near Myđfai, who was about ninety years old at the time, and Elizabeth Morgan, of Henỻys Lodge, near Ỻandovery, who was a native of the same village of Myđfai; to this it may be added that he acknowledges obligations also to Joseph Joseph, Esq., F.S.A., Brecon, for collecting particulars from the old inhabitants of the parish of Ỻanđeusant. The legend, as given by Mr. Rees in English, runs as follows, and strongly reminds one in certain parts of the Story of Undine as given in the German of De la Motte Fouqué, with which it should be compared:—

‘When the eventful struggle made by the Princes of South Wales to preserve the independence of their country was drawing to its close in the twelfth century, [3]there lived at Blaensawđe2 near Ỻanđeusant, Carmarthenshire, a widowed woman, the relict of a farmer who had fallen in those disastrous troubles.

‘The widow had an only son to bring up, but Providence smiled upon her, and despite her forlorn condition, her live stock had so increased in course of time, that she could not well depasture them upon her farm, so she sent a portion of her cattle to graze on the adjoining Black Mountain, and their most favourite place was near the small lake called Ỻyn y Fan Fach, on the north-western side of the Carmarthenshire Fans.

‘The son grew up to manhood, and was generally sent by his mother to look after the cattle on the mountain. One day, in his peregrinations along the margin of the lake, to his great astonishment, he beheld, sitting on the unruffled surface of the water, a lady; one of the most beautiful creatures that mortal eyes ever beheld, her hair flowed gracefully in ringlets over her shoulders, the tresses of which she arranged with a comb, whilst the glassy surface of her watery couch served for the purpose of a mirror, reflecting back her own image. Suddenly she beheld the young man standing on the brink of the lake, with his eyes riveted on her, and unconsciously offering to herself the provision of barley bread and cheese with which he had been provided when he left his home.

‘Bewildered by a feeling of love and admiration for the object before him, he continued to hold out his hand towards the lady, who imperceptibly glided near to him, but gently refused the offer of his provisions. [4]He attempted to touch her, but she eluded his grasp, saying—

Cras dy fara;

Nid hawđ fy nala.

Hard baked is thy bread!

’Tis not easy to catch me3;

and immediately dived under the water and disappeared, leaving the love-stricken youth to return home, a prey to disappointment and regret that he had been unable to make further acquaintance with one, in comparison with whom the whole of the fair maidens of Ỻanđeusant and Myđfai4 whom he had ever seen were as nothing.

On his return home the young man communicated to his mother the extraordinary vision he had beheld. She advised him to take some unbaked dough or “toes” the next time in his pocket, as there must have been some spell connected with the hard-baked bread, or “Bara cras,” which prevented his catching the lady.

‘Next morning, before the sun had gilded with its rays the peaks of the Fans, the young man was at the lake, not for the purpose of looking after his mother’s cattle, but seeking for the same enchanting vision he [5]had witnessed the day before; but all in vain did he anxiously strain his eyeballs and glance over the surface of the lake, as only the ripples occasioned by a stiff breeze met his view, and a cloud hung heavily on the summit of the Fan, which imparted an additional gloom to his already distracted mind.

‘Hours passed on, the wind was hushed, and the clouds which had enveloped the mountain had vanished into thin air before the powerful beams of the sun, when the youth was startled by seeing some of his mother’s cattle on the precipitous side of the acclivity, nearly on the opposite side of the lake. His duty impelled him to attempt to rescue them from their perilous position, for which purpose he was hastening away, when, to his inexpressible delight, the object of his search again appeared to him as before, and seemed much more beautiful than when he first beheld her. His hand was again held out to her, full of unbaked bread, which he offered with an urgent proffer of his heart also, and vows of eternal attachment. All of which were refused by her, saying—

Ỻaith dy fara!

Ti ni fynna’.

Unbaked is thy bread!

I will not have thee5.

But the smiles that played upon her features as the lady vanished beneath the waters raised within the young man a hope that forbade him to despair by her refusal of him, and the recollection of which cheered him on his way home. His aged parent was made acquainted with his ill-success, and she suggested that his bread should next time be but slightly baked, as most likely to please the mysterious being of whom he had become enamoured.

‘Impelled by an irresistible feeling, the youth left [6]his mother’s house early next morning, and with rapid steps he passed over the mountain. He was soon near the margin of the lake, and with all the impatience of an ardent lover did he wait with a feverish anxiety for the reappearance of the mysterious lady.

‘The sheep and goats browsed on the precipitous sides of the Fan; the cattle strayed amongst the rocks and large stones, some of which were occasionally loosened from their beds and suddenly rolled down into the lake; rain and sunshine alike came and passed away; but all were unheeded by the youth, so wrapped up was he in looking for the appearance of the lady.

‘The freshness of the early morning had disappeared before the sultry rays of the noon-day sun, which in its turn was fast verging towards the west as the evening was dying away and making room for the shades of night, and hope had wellnigh abated of beholding once more the Lady of the Lake. The young man cast a sad and last farewell look over the waters, and, to his astonishment, beheld several cows walking along its surface. The sight of these animals caused hope to revive that they would be followed by another object far more pleasing; nor was he disappointed, for the maiden reappeared, and to his enraptured sight, even lovelier than ever. She approached the land, and he rushed to meet her in the water. A smile encouraged him to seize her hand; neither did she refuse the moderately baked bread he offered her; and after some persuasion she consented to become his bride, on condition that they should only live together until she received from him three blows without a cause,

Tri ergyd diachos.

Three causeless blows.

And if he ever should happen to strike her three such [7]blows she would leave him for ever. To such conditions he readily consented, and would have consented to any other stipulation, had it been proposed, as he was only intent on then securing such a lovely creature for his wife.

‘Thus the Lady of the Lake engaged to become the young man’s wife, and having loosed her hand for a moment she darted away and dived into the lake. His chagrin and grief were such that he determined to cast himself headlong into the deepest water, so as to end his life in the element that had contained in its unfathomed depths the only one for whom he cared to live on earth. As he was on the point of committing this rash act, there emerged out of the lake two most beautiful ladies, accompanied by a hoary-headed man of noble mien and extraordinary stature, but having otherwise all the force and strength of youth. This man addressed the almost bewildered youth in accents calculated to soothe his troubled mind, saying that as he proposed to marry one of his daughters, he consented to the union, provided the young man could distinguish which of the two ladies before him was the object of his affections. This was no easy task, as the maidens were such perfect counterparts of each other that it seemed quite impossible for him to choose his bride, and if perchance he fixed upon the wrong one all would be for ever lost.

‘Whilst the young man narrowly scanned the two ladies, he could not perceive the least difference betwixt the two, and was almost giving up the task in despair, when one of them thrust her foot a slight degree forward. The motion, simple as it was, did not escape the observation of the youth, and he discovered a trifling variation in the mode with which their sandals were tied. This at once put an end to the dilemma, for he, [8]who had on previous occasions been so taken up with the general appearance of the Lady of the Lake, had also noticed the beauty of her feet and ankles, and on now recognizing the peculiarity of her shoe-tie he boldly took hold of her hand.

‘ “Thou hast chosen rightly,” said her father; “be to her a kind and faithful husband, and I will give her, as a dowry, as many sheep, cattle, goats, and horses as she can count of each without heaving or drawing in her breath. But remember, that if you prove unkind to her at any time, and strike her three times without a cause, she shall return to me, and shall bring all her stock back with her.”

‘Such was the verbal marriage settlement, to which the young man gladly assented, and his bride was desired to count the number of sheep she was to have. She immediately adopted the mode of counting by fives, thus:—One, two, three, four, five—One, two, three, four, five; as many times as possible in rapid succession, till her breath was exhausted. The same process of reckoning had to determine the number of goats, cattle, and horses respectively; and in an instant the full number of each came out of the lake when called upon by the father.

‘The young couple were then married, by what ceremony was not stated, and afterwards went to reside at a farm called Esgair Ỻaethdy, somewhat more than a mile from the village of Myđfai, where they lived in prosperity and happiness for several years, and became the parents of three sons, who were beautiful children.

‘Once upon a time there was a christening to take place in the neighbourhood, to which the parents were specially invited. When the day arrived the wife appeared very reluctant to attend the christening, [9]alleging that the distance was too great for her to walk. Her husband told her to fetch one of the horses which were grazing in an adjoining field. “I will,” said she, “if you will bring me my gloves which I left in our house.” He went to the house and returned with the gloves, and finding that she had not gone for the horse jocularly slapped her shoulder with one of them, saying, “go! go!” (dos, dos), when she reminded him of the understanding upon which she consented to marry him:—That he was not to strike her without a cause; and warned him to be more cautious for the future.

‘On another occasion, when they were together at a wedding, in the midst of the mirth and hilarity of the assembled guests, who had gathered together from all the surrounding country, she burst into tears and sobbed most piteously. Her husband touched her on her shoulder and inquired the cause of her weeping: she said, “Now people are entering into trouble, and your troubles are likely to commence, as you have the second time stricken me without a cause.”

‘Years passed on, and their children had grown up, and were particularly clever young men. In the midst of so many worldly blessings at home the husband almost forgot that there remained only one causeless blow to be given to destroy the whole of his prosperity. Still he was watchful lest any trivial occurrence should take place which his wife must regard as a breach of their marriage contract. She told him, as her affection for him was unabated, to be careful that he would not, through some inadvertence, give the last and only blow, which, by an unalterable destiny, over which she had no control, would separate them for ever.

‘It, however, so happened that one day they were together at a funeral, where, in the midst of the mourning and grief at the house of the deceased, she appeared [10]in the highest and gayest spirits, and indulged in immoderate fits of laughter, which so shocked her husband that he touched her, saying, “Hush! hush! don’t laugh.” She said that she laughed “because people when they die go out of trouble,” and, rising up, she went out of the house, saying, “The last blow has been struck, our marriage contract is broken, and at an end! Farewell!” Then she started off towards Esgair Ỻaethdy, where she called her cattle and other stock together, each by name. The cattle she called thus:—

Mu wlfrech, Moelfrech,

Mu olfrech, Gwynfrech,

Pedair cae tonn-frech,

Yr hen wynebwen,

A’r las Geigen,

Gyda’r Tarw Gwyn

O lys y Brenin;

A’r ỻo du bach,

Syđ ar y bach,

Dere dithau, yn iach adre!

Brindled cow, white speckled,

Spotted cow, bold freckled,

The four field sward mottled,

The old white-faced,

And the grey Geingen,

With the white Bull,

From the court of the King;

And the little black calf

Tho’ suspended on the hook,

Come thou also, quite well home!

They all immediately obeyed the summons of their mistress. The “little black calf,” although it had been slaughtered, became alive again, and walked off with the rest of the stock at the command of the lady. This happened in the spring of the year, and there were four oxen ploughing in one of the fields; to these she cried:—

Pedwar eidion glas

Syđ ar y maes,

Denwch chwithan

Yn iach adre!

The four grey oxen,

That are on the field,

Come you also

Quite well home!

Away the whole of the live stock went with the Lady across Myđfai Mountain, towards the lake from whence they came, a distance of above six miles, where they disappeared beneath its waters, leaving no trace behind except a well-marked furrow, which was made by the plough the oxen drew after them into the lake, and [11]which remains to this day as a testimony to the truth of this story.

‘What became of the affrighted ploughman—whether he was left on the field when the oxen set off, or whether he followed them to the lake, has not been handed down to tradition; neither has the fate of the disconsolate and half-ruined husband been kept in remembrance. But of the sons it is stated that they often wandered about the lake and its vicinity, hoping that their mother might be permitted to visit the face of the earth once more, as they had been apprised of her mysterious origin, her first appearance to their father, and the untoward circumstances which so unhappily deprived them of her maternal care.

‘In one of their rambles, at a place near Dôl Howel, at the Mountain Gate, still called “Ỻidiad y Međygon,” The Physicians’ Gate, the mother appeared suddenly, and accosted her eldest son, whose name was Rhiwaỻon, and told him that his mission on earth was to be a benefactor to mankind by relieving them from pain and misery, through healing all manner of their diseases; for which purpose she furnished him with a bag full of medical prescriptions and instructions for the preservation of health. That by strict attention thereto he and his family would become for many generations the most skilful physicians in the country. Then, promising to meet him when her counsel was most needed, she vanished. But on several occasions she met her sons near the banks of the lake, and once she even accompanied them on their return home as far as a place still called “Pant-y-Međygon,” The dingle of the Physicians, where she pointed out to them the various plants and herbs which grew in the dingle, and revealed to them their medicinal qualities or virtues; and the knowledge she imparted to them, [12]together with their unrivalled skill, soon caused them to attain such celebrity that none ever possessed before them. And in order that their knowledge should not be lost, they wisely committed the same to writing, for the benefit of mankind throughout all ages.’

To the legend Mr. Rees added the following notes, which we reproduce also at full length:—

‘And so ends the story of the Physicians of Myđfai, which has been handed down from one generation to another, thus:—

Yr hên wr ỻwyd o’r cornel,

Gan ci dad a glywođ chwedel6,

A chan ci dad fe glywođ yntau

Ac ar ei ôl mi gofiais innau.

The grey old man in the corner

Of his father heard a story,

Which from his father he had heard,

And after them I have remembered.

As stated in the introduction of the present work [i.e. the Physicians of Myđvai], Rhiwaỻon and his sons became Physicians to Rhys Gryg, Lord of Ỻandovery and Dynefor Castles, “who gave them rank, lands, and privileges at Myđfai for their maintenance in the practice of their art and science, and the healing and benefit of those who should seek their help,” thus affording to those who could not afford to pay, the best medical advice and treatment gratuitously. Such a truly royal foundation could not fail to produce corresponding effects. So the fame of the Physicians of Myđfai was soon established over the whole country, and continued for centuries among their descendants.

‘The celebrated Welsh Bard, Dafyđ ap Gwilym, who flourished in the following century, and was buried at the Abbey of Tal-y-ỻychau7, in Carmarthenshire, [13]about the year 1368, says in one of his poems, as quoted in Dr. Davies’ dictionary—

Međyg ni wnai mođ y gwnaeth

Myđfai, o chai đyn međfaeth.

A Physician he would not make

As Myđfai made, if he had a mead fostered man.

Of the above lands bestowed upon the Međygon, there are two farms in Myđfai parish still called “Ỻwyn Ifan Feđyg,” the Grove of Evan the Physician; and “Ỻwyn Meredyđ Feđyg,” the Grove of Meredith the Physician. Esgair Ỻaethdy, mentioned in the foregoing legend, was formerly in the possession of the above descendants, and so was Ty newyđ, near Myđfai, which was purchased by Mr. Holford, of Cilgwyn, from the Rev. Charles Lloyd, vicar of Ỻandefaỻe, Breconshire, who married a daughter of one of the Međygon, and had the living of Ỻandefaỻe from a Mr. Vaughan, who presented him to the same out of gratitude, because Mr. Lloyd’s wife’s father had cured him of a disease in the eye. As Mr. Lloyd succeeded to the above living in 1748, and died in 1800, it is probable that the skilful oculist was John Jones, who is mentioned in the following inscription on a tombstone at present fixed against the west end of Myđfai Church:—

Lieth the body of Mr. DAVID JONES, of Mothvey, Surgeon,
who was an honest, charitable, and skilful man.
He died September 14th, Anno Dom̃ 1719, aged 61.

JOHN JONES, Surgeon,
Eldest son of the said David Jones, departed this life
the 25th of November, 1739, in the 44th year
of his Age, and also lyes interred hereunder.

These appear to have been the last of the Physicians who practised at Myđfai. The above John Jones resided for some time at Ỻandovery, and was a very eminent surgeon. One of his descendants, named [14]John Lewis, lived at Cwmbran, Myđfai, at which place his great-grandson, Mr. John Jones, now resides.

‘Dr. Morgan Owen, Bishop of Ỻandaff, who died at Glasaỻt, parish of Myđfai, in 1645, was a descendant of the Međygon, and an inheritor of much of their landed property in that parish, the bulk of which he bequeathed to his nephew, Morgan Owen, who died in 1667, and was succeeded by his son Henry Owen; and at the decease of the last of whose descendants, Robert Lewis, Esq., the estates became, through the will of one of the family, the property of the late D. A. S. Davies, Esq., M.P. for Carmarthenshire.

‘Bishop Owen bequeathed to another nephew, Morgan ap Rees, son of Rees ap John, a descendant of the Međygon, the farm of Rhyblid, and some other property. Morgan ap Rees’ son, Samuel Rice, resided at Loughor, in Gower, Glamorganshire, and had a son, Morgan Rice, who was a merchant in London, and became Lord of the Manor of Tooting Graveney, and High Sheriff in the year 1772, and Deputy Lieutenant of the county of Surrey, 1776. He resided at Hill House, which he built. At his death the whole of his property passed to his only child, John Rice, Esq., whose eldest son, the Rev. John Morgan Rice, inherited the greater portion of his estates. The head of the family is now the Rev. Horatio Morgan Rice, rector of South Hill with Callington, Cornwall, and J.P. for the county, who inherited, with other property, a small estate at Loughor. The above Morgan Rice had landed property in Ỻanmadock and Ỻangenith, as well as Loughor, in Gower, but whether he had any connexion with Howel the Physician (ap Rhys ap Ỻywelyn ap Philip the Physician, and lineal descendant from Einion ap Rhiwaỻon), who resided at Cilgwryd in Gower, is not known. [15]

‘Amongst other families who claim descent from the Physicians were the Bowens of Cwmydw, Myđfai; and Jones of Dollgarreg and Penrhock, in the same parish; the latter of whom are represented by Charles Bishop, of Dollgarreg, Esq., Clerk of the Peace for Carmarthenshire, and Thomas Bishop, of Brecon, Esq.

‘Rees Williams of Myđfai is recorded as one of the Međygon. His great-grandson was the late Rice Williams, M.D., of Aberystwyth, who died May 16, 1842, aged 85, and appears to have been the last, although not the least eminent, of the Physicians descended from the mysterious Lady of Ỻyn y Fan8.’

This brings the legend of the Lady of the Fan Lake into connexion with a widely-spread family. There is another connexion between it and modern times, as will be seen from the following statement kindly made to me by the Rev. A. G. Edwards, Warden of the Welsh College at Ỻandovery, since then appointed Bishop of St. Asaph: ‘An old woman from Myđfai, who is now, that is to say in January 1881, about eighty years of age, tells me that she remembers “thousands and thousands of people visiting the Lake of the Little Fan on the first Sunday or Monday in August, and when she was young she often heard old men declare that at that time a commotion took place in the lake, and that its waters boiled, which was taken to herald the approach of the Lake Lady and her Oxen.” ’ The custom of going up to the lake on the first Sunday in August was a very well known one in years gone by, as I have learned from a good many people, and it is corroborated by Mr. Joseph Joseph of Brecon, who kindly writes as follows, in reply to some queries [16]of mine: ‘On the first Sunday in the month of August, Ỻyn y Fan Fach is supposed to be boiling (berwi). I have seen scores of people going up to see it (not boiling though) on that day. I do not remember that any of them expected to see the Lady of the Lake.’ As to the boiling of the lake I have nothing to say, and I am not sure that there is anything in the following statement made as an explanation of the yearly visit to the lake by an old fisherwoman from Ỻandovery: ‘The best time for eels is in August, when the north-east wind blows on the lake, and makes huge waves in it. The eels can then be seen floating on the waves.’

Last summer I went myself to the village of Myđfai, to see if I could pick up any variants of the legend, but I was hardly successful; for though several of the farmers I questioned could repeat bits of the legend, including the Lake Lady’s call to her cattle as she went away, I got nothing new, except that one of them said that the youth, when he first saw the Lake Lady at a distance, thought she was a goose—he did not even rise to the conception of a swan—but that by degrees he approached her, and discovered that she was a lady in white, and that in due time they were married, and so on. My friend, the Warden of Ỻandovery College, seems, however, to have found a bit of a version which may have been still more unlike the one recorded by Mr. Rees of Tonn: it was from an old man at Myđfai last year, from whom he was, nevertheless, only able to extract the statement ‘that the Lake Lady got somehow entangled in a farmer’s “gambo,” and that ever after his farm was very fertile.’ A ‘gambo,’ I ought to explain, is a kind of a cart without sides, used in South Wales: both the name and the thing seem to have come from England, [17]though I cannot find such a word as gambo or gambeau in the ordinary dictionaries.

Among other legends about lake fairies, there are, in the third chapter of Mr. Sikes’ British Goblins, two versions of this story: the first of them differs but slightly from Mr. Rees’, in that the farmer used to go near the lake to see some lambs he had bought at a fair, and that whenever he did so three beautiful damsels appeared to him from the lake. They always eluded his attempts to catch them: they ran away into the lake, saying, Cras dy fara, &c. But one day a piece of moist bread came floating ashore, which he ate, and the next day he had a chat with the Lake Maidens. He proposed marriage to one of them, to which she consented, provided he could distinguish her from her sisters the day after. The story then, so far as I can make out from the brief version which Mr. Sikes gives of it, went on like that of Mr. Rees. The former gives another version, with much more interesting variations, which omit all reference, however, to the Physicians of Myđfai, and relate how a young farmer had heard of the Lake Maiden rowing up and down the lake in a golden boat with a golden scull. He went to the lake on New Year’s Eve, saw her, was fascinated by her, and left in despair at her vanishing out of sight, although he cried out to her to stay and be his wife. She faintly replied, and went her way, after he had gazed at her long yellow hair and pale melancholy face. He continued to visit the lake, and grew thin and negligent of his person, owing to his longing. But a wise man, who lived on the mountain, advised him to tempt her with gifts of bread and cheese, which he undertook to do on Midsummer Eve, when he dropped into the lake a large cheese and a loaf of bread. This he did repeatedly, until at last [18]his hopes were fulfilled on New Year’s Eve. This time he had gone to the lake clad in his best suit, and at midnight dropped seven white loaves and his biggest and finest cheese into the lake. The Lake Lady by-and-by came in her skiff to where he was, and gracefully stepped ashore. The scene need not be further described: Mr. Sikes gives a picture of it, and the story then proceeds as in the other version.

It is a pity that Mr. Rees did not preserve the Welsh versions out of which he pieced together the English one; but as to Mr. Sikes, I cannot discover whence his has been derived, for he seems not to have been too anxious to leave anybody the means of testing his work, as one will find on verifying his references, when he gives any. See also the allusions to him in Hartland’s Science of Fairy Tales, pp. 64, 123, 137, 165, 278.

Since writing the foregoing notes the following communication has reached me from a friend of my undergraduate days at Jesus College, Oxford, Mr. Ỻywarch Reynolds of Merthyr Tydfil. Only the first part of it concerns the legend of Ỻyn y Fan Fach; but as the rest is equally racy I make no apology for publishing it in full without any editing, except the insertion of the meaning of two or three of the Welsh words occurring in it:—

‘Tell Rhŷs that I have just heard a sequel to the Međygon Myđfai story, got from a rustic on Mynyđ y Banwen, between Glynnêđ and Glyntawë, on a ramble recently with David Lewis the barrister and Sidney Hartland the folklorist. It was to the effect that after the disappearance of the forwn, “the damsel,” into the lake, the disconsolate husband and his friends set to work to drain the lake in order to get at her, if possible. They made a great cutting into the bank, when suddenly a huge hairy monster of hideous aspect [19]emerged from the water and stormed at them for disturbing him, and wound up with this threat:—

Os na cha’i lonyđ yn ym ỻe,

Fi fođa dre’ ’Byrhonđu!

If I get no quiet in my place,

I shall drown the town of Brecon!

It was evidently the last braich, “arm,” of a Triban Morgannwg, but this was all my informant knew of it. From the allusion to Tre’ Byrhonđu, it struck me that there was here probably a tale of Ỻyn Safađon, which had migrated to Ỻyn y Fan; because of course there would have to be a considerable change in the “levels” before Ỻyn y Fan and the Sawđe could put Brecon in any great jeopardy9.

‘We also got another tale about a cwmshurwr, “conjurer,” who once lived in Ystradgyrlais (as the rustic pronounced it). The wizard was a dyn ỻaw-harn, “a man with an iron hand”; and it being reported that there was a great treasure hidden in Mynyđ y Drum, the wizard said he would secure it, if he could but get some plucky fellow to spend a night with him there. John Gethin was a plucky fellow (dyn “ysprydol”), and he agreed to join the dyn ỻaw-harn in his diablerie. The wizard traced two rings on the sward touching each other “like a number 8”; he went into one, and Gethin into the other, the wizard strictly charging him on no account to step out of the ring. The ỻaw-harn then proceeded to trafod ’i lyfrau, or “busy himself with his books”; and there soon appeared a monstrous bull, bellowing dreadfully; but the plucky Gethin held his ground, and the bull vanished. Next came a [20]terrible object, a “fly-wheel of fire,” which made straight for poor Gethin and made him swerve out of the ring. Thereupon the wheel assumed the form of the diawl, “devil,” who began to haul Gethin away. The ỻaw-harn seized hold of him and tried to get him back. The devil was getting the upper hand, when the ỻaw-harn begged the devil to let him keep Gethin while the piece of candle he had with him lasted. The devil consented, and let go his hold of Gethin, whereupon the cwmshurwr immediately blew out the candle, and the devil was discomfited. Gethin preserved the piece of candle very carefully, stowing it away in a cool place; but still it wasted away although it was never lighted. Gethin got such a fright that he took to his bed, and as the candle wasted away he did the same, and they both came to an end simultaneously. Gethin vanished—and it was not his body that was put into the coffin, but a lump of clay which was put in to save appearances! It is said that the wizard’s books are in an oaken chest at Waungyrlais farm house to this day.

‘We got these tales on a ramble to see “Maen y Gweđiau,” on the mountain near Coelbren Junction Station on the Neath and Brecon Railway (marked on the Ordnance Map), but we had to turn back owing to the fearful heat.’

Before dismissing Mr. Reynolds’ letter I may mention a story in point which relates to a lake on the Brecon side of the mountains. It is given at length by the Rev. Edward Davies in his Mythology and Rites of the British Druids (London, 1809), pp. 155–7. According to this legend a door in the rock was to be found open once a year—on May-day, as it is supposed—and from that door one could make one’s way to the garden of the fairies, which was an island in the middle of the lake. This paradise of [21]exquisite bliss was invisible, however, to those who stood outside the lake: they could only see an indistinct mass in the centre of the water. Once on a time a visitor tried to carry away some of the flowers given him by the fairies, but he was thereby acting against their law, and not only was he punished with the loss of his senses, but the door has never since been left open. It is also related that once an adventurous person attempted to drain the water away ‘in order to discover its contents, when a terrific form arose from the midst of the lake, commanding him to desist, or otherwise he would drown the country.’ This form is clearly of the same species as that which, according to Mr. Reynolds’ story, threatened to drown the town of Brecon. Subsequent inquiries have elicited more information, and I am more especially indebted to my friend Mr. Ivor James, who, as registrar of the University of Wales, has of late years been living at Brecon. He writes to the following effect:—‘The lake you want is Ỻyn Cwm Ỻwch, and the legend is very well known locally, but there are variants. Once on a time men and boys dug a gully through the dam in order to let the water out. A man in a red coat, sitting in an armchair, appeared on the surface of the water and threatened them in the terms which you quote from Mr. Reynolds. The red coat would seem to suggest that this form of the legend dates possibly from a time since our soldiers were first clothed in red. In another case, however, the spectre was that of an old woman; and I am told that a somewhat similar story is told in connexion with a well in the castle wall in the parish of Ỻanđew, to the north of this town—Giraldus Cambrensis’ parish. A friend of mine is employing his spare time at present in an inquiry into the origin of the lakes of this district, and he tells me that Ỻyn [22]Cwm Ỻwch is of glacial origin, its dam being composed, as he thinks, of glacial débris through which the water always percolates into the valley below. But storm water flows over the dam, and in the course of ages has cut for itself a gully, now about ten feet deep at the deepest point, through the embankment. The story was possibly invented to explain that fact. There is no cave to be seen in the rock, and probably there never was one, as the formation is the Old Red Sandstone; and the island was perhaps equally imaginary.’

That is the substance of Mr. James’ letter, in which he, moreover, refers to J. D. Rhys’ account of the lake in his Welsh introduction to his Grammar, published in London in 1592, under the title Cambrobrytannicæ Cymraecæve Linguæ Institutiones et Rudimenta. There the grammarian, in giving some account of himself, mentions his frequent sojourns at the hospitable residence of a nobleman, named M. Morgan Merêdydh, near y Bugeildy ynn Nyphryn Tabhîda o bhywn Swydh Bhaesybhed, that is, ‘near the Beguildy in the Valley of the Teme within the county of Radnor.’ Then he continues to the following effect:—‘But the latter part of this book was thought out under the bushes and green foliage in a bit of a place of my own called y Clun Hîr, at the top of Cwm y Ỻwch, below the spurs of the mountain of Bannwchdeni, which some call Bann Arthur and others Moel Arthur. Below that moel and in its lap there is a lake of pretty large size, unknown depth, and wondrous nature. For as the stories go, no bird has ever been seen to repair to it or towards it, or to swim on it: it is wholly avoided, and some say that no animals or beasts of any kind are wont to drink of its waters. The peasantry of that country, and especially the shepherds who are wont to frequent these moels and bans, relate many other wonders concerning it and [23]the exceeding strange things beheld at times in connexion with this loch. This lake or loch is called Ỻyn Cwm y Ỻwch10.’



Before dismissing the story of Ỻyn y Fan Fach I wish to append a similar one from the parish of Ystrad Dyfodwg in Glamorganshire. The following is a translation of a version given in Welsh in Cyfaiỻ yr Aelwyd a’r Frythones, edited by Elfed and Cadrawd, and published by Messrs. Williams and Son, Ỻaneỻy. The version in question is by Cadrawd, and it is to the following effect—see the volume for 1892, p. 59:—

‘Ỻyn y Forwyn, “the Damsel’s Pool,” is in the parish of Ystrad Tyfodwg: the inhabitants call it also Ỻyn Nelferch. It lies about halfway between the farm house of Rhonđa Fechan, “Little Rhonđa,” and the Vale of Safrwch. The ancient tradition concerning it is somewhat as follows:—

‘Once on a time a farmer lived at the Rhonđa Fechan: he was unmarried, and as he was walking by the lake early one morning in spring he beheld a young woman of beautiful appearance walking on the other side of it. He approached her and spoke to her: she gave him to understand that her home was in the lake, and that she owned a number of milch cows, that lived with her at the bottom of the water. The farmer fancied her so much that he fell in love with her over head and ears: he asked her on the spot for her hand and heart; and he invited her to come and spend her life with him as his wife at the Rhonđa Fechan. She declined at first, but as he was importunate she consented [24]at last on the following conditions, namely, that she would bring her cattle with her out of the lake, and live with him until he and she had three disputes with one another: then, she said, she and the cattle would return into the lake. He agreed to the conditions, and the marriage took place. They lived very happily and comfortably for long years; but the end was that they fell out with one another, and, when they happened to have quarrelled for the third time, she was heard early in the morning driving the cattle towards the lake with these words:—

Prw dre’, prw dre’, prw’r gwartheg i dre’;

Prw Milfach a Malfach, pedair Ỻualfach,

Alfach ac Ali, pedair Ladi,

Wynebwen drwynog, tro i’r waun lidiog,

Trech ỻyn y waun odyn, tair Pencethin,

Tair caseg đu draw yn yr eithin11.

And into the lake they went out of sight, and there they live to this day. And some believed that they had heard the voice and cry of Nelferch in the whisper of the breeze on the top of the mountain hard by—many a time after that—as an old story (weđal) will have it.’

From this it will be seen that the fairy wife’s name was supposed to have been Nelferch, and that the piece of water is called after her. But I find that great uncertainty prevails as to the old name of the lake, as I learn from a communication in 1894 from [25]Mr. Ỻewellyn Williams, living at Porth, only some five miles from the spot, that one of his informants assured him that the name in use among former generations was Ỻyn Alfach. Mr. Williams made inquiries at the Rhonđa Fechan about the lake legend. He was told that the water had long since been known as Ỻyn y Forwyn, from a morwyn, or damsel, with a number of cattle having been drowned in it. The story of the man who mentioned the name as Ỻyn Alfach was similar: the maid belonged to the farm of Penrhys, he said, and the young man to the Rhonđa Fechan, and it was in consequence of their third dispute, he added, that she left him and went back to her previous service, and afterwards, while taking the cattle to the water, she sank accidentally or purposely into the lake, so that she was never found any more. Here it will be seen how modern rationalism has been modifying the story into something quite uninteresting but without wholly getting rid of the original features, such as the three disputes between the husband and wife. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that this water appears to form part of a bit of very remarkable scenery, and that its waves strike on one side against a steep rock believed to contain caves, supposed to have been formerly inhabited by men and women. At present the place, I learn, is in the possession of Messrs. Davis and Sons, owners of the Ferndale collieries, who keep a pleasure boat on the lake. I have appealed to them on the question of the name Nelferch or Alfach, in the hope that their books would help to decide as to the old form of it. Replying on their behalf, Mr. J. Probert Evans informs me that the company only got possession of the lake and the adjacent land in 1862, and that ‘Ỻyn y Vorwyn’ is the name of the former in the oldest plan which they have. Inquiries have also been made [26]in the neighbourhood by my friend, Mr. Reynolds, who found the old tenants of the Rhonđa Fechan Farm gone, and the neighbouring farm house of Dyffryn Safrwch supplanted by colliers’ cottages. But he calls my attention to the fact, that perhaps the old name was neither Nelferch nor Alfach, as Elfarch, which would fit equally well, was once the name of a petty chieftain of the adjoining Hundred of Senghenyđ, for which he refers me to Clark’s Glamorgan Genealogies, p. 511. But I have to thank him more especially for a longer version of the fairy wife’s call to her cattle, as given in Glanffrwd’s Plwyf Ỻanwyno, ‘the Parish of Ỻanwynno’ (Pontypriđ, 1888), p. 117, as follows:—

Prw me, prw me,

Prw ’ngwartheg i dre’;

Prw Melen a Ioco,

Tegwen a Rhuđo,

Rhuđ-frech a Moel-frech,

Pedair Ỻiain-frech;

Ỻiain-frech ag Eli,

A phedair Wen-ladi,

Ladi a Chornwen,

A phedair Wynebwen;

Nepwen a Rhwynog,

Tali Lieiniog;

Brech yn y Glyn

Dal yn dyn;

Tair lygeityn,

Tair gyffredm,

Tair Caseg đu, draw yn yr eithin,

Deuwch i gyd i lys y Brenin;

Bwla, bwla,

Saif yn flaena’,

Saf yn ol y wraig o’r Ty-fry,

Fyth nis godri ngwartheg i!

The last lines—slightly mended—may be rendered:

Bull, bull!

Stand thou foremost.

Back! thou wife of the House up Hill:

Never shalt thou milk my cows.

This seems to suggest that the quarrel was about [27]another woman, and that by the time when the fairy came to call her live stock into the lake she had been replaced by another woman who came from the Ty-fry, or the House up Hill12. In that case this version comes closer than any other to the story of Undine supplanted by Bertalda as her knight’s favourite.

Mr. Probert Evans having kindly given me the address of an aged farmer who formerly lived in the valley, my friend, Mr. Ỻywarch Reynolds, was good enough to visit him. Mr. Reynolds shall report the result in his own words, dated January 9, 1899, as follows:—

‘I was at Pentyrch this morning, and went to see Mr. David Evans, formerly of Cefn Colston.

‘The old man is a very fine specimen of the better class of Welsh farmer; is in his eighty-third year; hale and hearty, intelligent, and in full possession of his faculties. He was born and bred in the Rhonđa Fechan Valley, and lived there until some forty years ago. He had often heard the lake story from an old aunt of his who lived at the Maerdy Farm (a short distance north of the lake), and who died a good many years ago, at a very advanced age. He calls the lake “Ỻyn Elferch,” and the story, as known to him, has several points in common with the Ỻyn y Fan legend, which, however, he did not appear to know. He could not give me many details, but the following is the substance of the story as he knows it:—The young farmer, who lived with his mother at the neighbouring farm, one day saw the lady on the bank of the lake, combing her hair, which reached down to her feet. He fell in love at [28]first sight, and tried to approach her; but she evaded him, and crying out, Đali di đim o fi, crâs dy fara! (Thou wilt not catch me, thou of the crimped bread), she sank into the water. He saw her on several subsequent occasions, and gave chase, but always with the same result, until at length he got his mother to make him some bread which was not baked (or not baked so hard); and this he offered to the lady. She then agreed to become his wife, subject to the condition that if he offended her, or disagreed with her three times (ar yr ammod, os byssa fa yn ’i chroesi hi dair gwaith) she would leave him and return into the lake with all her belongings.

‘1. The first disagreement (croes) was at the funeral of a neighbour, a man in years, at which the lady gave way to excessive weeping and lamentation. The husband expressed surprise and annoyance at this excessive grief for the death of a person not related to them, and asked the reason for it; and she replied that she grieved for the defunct on account of the eternal misery that was in store for him in the other world.

‘2. The second “croes” was at the death of an infant child of the lady herself, at which she laughed immoderately; and in reply to the husband’s remonstrance, she said she did so for joy at her child’s escape from this wicked world and its passage into a world of bliss.

‘3. The third “croes” Mr. Evans was unable to call to mind, but equally with the other two it showed that the lady was possessed of preternatural knowledge; and it resulted in her leaving her husband and returning into the lake, taking the cattle, &c., with her. The accepted explanation of the name of the lake was Ỻyn El-ferch13 (= Hela ’r ferch), “because of the young man chasing the damsel” (hela ’r ferch). [29]

‘The following is the cattle-call, as given to me by Mr. Evans’ aged housekeeper, who migrated with the family from Rhonđa Fechan to Pentyrch:

Prw i, prw e14,

Prw ’ngwartheg sha [= tua] thre’;

Mil a môl a melyn gwtta;

Milfach a malfach;

Petar [= pedair] llearfach;

Llearfach ag aeli;

Petar a lafi;

Lafi a chornwan [= -wèn];

[…] ’nepwan [= -wèn],

’Nepwan drwynog;

Drotwan [= droedwen] litiog;

Tair Bryncethin;

Tair gyffretin;

Tair casag đu

Draw yn yr ithin [= eithin],

Dewch i gyd i lys y brenin.

‘Mr. Evans told me that Dyffryn Safrwch was considered to be a corruption of Dyffryn Safn yr Hwch, “Valley of the Sow’s Mouth”; so that the explanation was not due to a minister with whom I foregathered on my tramp near the lake the other day, and from whom I heard it first.’

The similarity between Mr. Evans’ version of this legend and that of Ỻyn y Fan Fach, tends to add emphasis to certain points which I had been inclined to treat as merely accidental. In the Fan Fach legend the young man’s mother is a widow, and here he is represented living with his mother. Here also something [30]depends on the young man’s bread, but it is abruptly introduced, suggesting that a part of the story has been forgotten. Both stories, however, give one the impression that the bread of the fairies was regarded as always imperfectly baked. In both stories the young man’s mother comes to his help with her advice. Mr. Evans’ version ascribes supernatural knowledge to the fairy, though his version fails to support it; and her moralizings read considerably later than those which the Fan legend ascribes to the fairy wife. Some of these points may be brought under the reader’s notice later, when he has been familiarized with more facts illustrative of the belief in fairies.



On returning from South Wales to Carnarvonshire in the summer of 1881, I tried to discover similar legends connected with the lakes of North Wales, beginning with Geirionyđ, the waters of which form a stream emptying itself into the Conwy, near Trefriw, a little below Ỻanrwst. I only succeeded, however, in finding an old man of the name of Pierce Williams, about seventy years of age, who was very anxious to talk about ‘Bony’s’ wars, but not about lake ladies. I was obliged, in trying to make him understand what I wanted, to use the word morforwyn, that is to say in English, ‘mermaid’; he then told me, that in his younger days he had heard people say that somebody had seen such beings in the Trefriw river. But as my questions were leading ones, his evidence is not worth much; however, I feel pretty sure that one who knew the neighbourhood of Geirionyđ better would be able to find some fragments of interesting legends still existing in that wild district. [31]

I was more successful at Ỻanberis, though what I found, at first, was not much; but it was genuine, and to the point. This is the substance of it:—An old woman, called Siân15 Dafyđ, lived at Helfa Fawr, in the dingle called Cwm Brwynog, along the left side of which you ascend as you go to the top of Snowdon, from the village of lower Ỻanberis, or Coed y Đol, as it is there called. She was a curious old person, who made nice distinctions between the virtues of the respective waters of the district: thus, no other would do for her to cure her of the defaid gwyỻtion16, or cancerous warts, which she fancied that she had in her mouth, than that of the spring of Tai Bach, near the lake called Ỻyn Ffynnon y Gwas, though she seldom found it out, when she was deceived by a servant who cherished a convenient opinion of his own, that a drop from a nearer spring would do just as well. Old Siân has been dead over thirty-five years, but I have it, on the testimony of two highly trustworthy brothers, who are of her family, and now between sixty and seventy years of age, that she used to relate to them how a shepherd, once on a time, saw a fairy maiden (un o’r Tylwyth Teg) on the surface of the tarn called Ỻyn Du’r Arđu, and how, from bantering and [32]joking, their acquaintance ripened into courtship, when the father and mother of the lake maiden appeared to give the union their sanction, and to arrange the marriage settlement. This was to the effect that the husband was never to strike his wife with iron, and that she was to bring her great wealth with her, consisting of stock of all kinds for his mountain farm. All duly took place, and they lived happily together until one day, when trying to catch a pony, the husband threw a bridle to his wife, and the iron in that struck her. It was then all over with him, as the wife hurried away with her property into the lake, so that nothing more was seen or heard of her. Here I may as well explain that the Ỻanberis side of the steep, near the top of Snowdon, is called Clogwyn du’r Arđu, or the Black Cliff of the Arđu, at the bottom of which lies the tarn alluded to as the Black Lake of the Arđu, and near it stands a huge boulder, called Maen du’r Arđu, all of which names are curious, as involving the word du, black. Arđu itself has much the same meaning, and refers to the whole precipitous side of the summit with its dark shadows, and there is a similar Arđu near Nanmor on the Merionethshire side of Beđgelert.

One of the brothers, I ought to have said, doubts that the lake here mentioned was the one in old Siân’s tale; but he has forgotten which it was of the many in the neighbourhood. Both, however, remembered another short story about fairies, which they had heard another old woman relate, namely, Mari Domos Siôn, who died some thirty years ago: it was merely to the effect that a shepherd had once lost his way in the mist on the mountain on the land of Caeau Gwynion, towards Cweỻyn17 Lake, and got into a ring [33]where the Tylwyth Teg were dancing: it was only after a very hard struggle that he was able, at length, to get away from them.

To this I may add the testimony of a lady, for whose veracity I can vouch, to the effect that, when she was a child in Cwm Brwynog, from thirty to forty years ago, she and her brothers and sisters used to be frequently warned by their mother not to go far away from the house when there happened to be thick mist on the ground, lest they should come across the Tylwyth Teg dancing, and be carried away to their abode beneath the lake. They were always, she says, supposed to live in the lakes; and the one here alluded to was Ỻyn Dwythwch, which is one of those famous for its torgochiaid or chars. The mother is still living; but she seems to have long since, like others, lost her belief in the fairies.

After writing the above, I heard that a brother to the foregoing brothers, namely, Mr. Thomas Davies, of Mur Mawr, Ỻanberis, remembered a similar tale. Mr. Davies is now sixty-four, and the persons from whom he heard the tale were the same Siân Dafyđ of Helfa Fawr, and Mari Domos Siôn of Tyn18 Gadlas, Ỻanberis: the two women were about seventy years of age when he as a child heard it from them. At my request, a friend of mine, Mr. Hugh D. Jones, of Tyn Gadlas, also a member of this family, which is one of the oldest perhaps in the place, has taken down from Mr. Davies’ mouth all he could remember, word for word, as follows:—

Yn perthyn i ffarm Bron y Fedw yr oeđ dyn ifanc [34]wedi cael ei fagu, nis gwyđent faint cyn eu hamser hwy. Arferai pan yn hogyn fynd i’r mynyđ yn Cwm Drywenyđ a Mynyđ y Fedw ar ochr orỻewinol y Wyđfa i fugeilio, a byđai yn taro ar hogan yn y mynyđ; ac wrth fynychu gweld eu gilyđ aethant yn ffrindiau mawr. Arferent gyfarfod eu gilyđ mewn ỻe neiỻduol yn Cwm Drywenyđ, ỻe’r oeđ yr hogan a’r teulu yn byw, ỻe y byđai pob danteithion, chwareuyđiaethau a chanu dihafal; ond ni fyđai’r hogyn yn gwneyd i fyny a neb ohonynt ond yr hogan.

Diweđ y ffrindiaeth fu carwriaeth, a phan soniođ yr hogyn am iđi briodi, ni wnai ond ar un amod, sef y bywiai hi hefo fo hyd nes y tarawai ef hi a haiarn.

Priodwyd hwy, a buont byw gyda’u gilyđ am nifer o flynyđoeđ, a bu iđynt blant; ac ar đyđ marchnad yn Gaernarfon yr oeđ y gwr a’r wraig yn međwl mynd i’r farchnad ar gefn merlod, fel pob ffarmwr yr amser hwnnw. Awd i’r mynyđ i đal merlyn bob un.

Ar waelod Mynyđ y Fedw mae ỻyn o ryw dri-ugain neu gan ỻath o hyd ac ugain neu đeg ỻath ar hugain o led, ac y mae ar un ochr iđo le têg, fforđ y byđai’r ceffylau yn rhedeg.

Daliođ y gwr ferlyn a rhoes ef i’r wraig i’w đal heb ffrwyn, tra byđai ef yn dal merlyn araỻ. Ar ol rhoi ffrwyn yn mhen ei ferlyn ei hun, taflođ un araỻ i’r wraig i roi yn mhen ei merlyn hithau, ac wrth ei thaflu tarawođ bit y ffrwyn hi yn ei ỻaw. Goỻyngođ y wraig y merlyn, ac aeth ar ei phen i’r ỻyn, a dyna điweđ y briodas.

‘To the farm of Bron y Fedw there belonged a son, who grew up to be a young man, the women knew not how long before their time. He was in the habit of going up the mountain to Cwm Drywenyđ19 and Mynyđ [35]y Fedw, on the west side of Snowdon, to do the shepherding, and there he was wont to come across a lass on the mountain, so that as the result of frequently meeting one another, he and she became great friends. They usually met at a particular spot in Cwm Drywenyđ, where the girl and her family lived, and where there were all kinds of nice things to eat, of amusements, and of incomparable music; but he did not make up to anybody there except the girl. The friendship ended in courtship; but when the boy mentioned that she should be married to him, she would only do so on one condition, namely, that she would live with him until he should strike her with iron. They were wedded, and they lived together for a number of years, and had children. Once on a time it happened to be market day at Carnarvon, whither the husband and wife thought of riding on ponies, like all the farmers of that time. So they went to the mountain to catch a pony each. At the bottom of Mynyđ y Fedw there is a pool some sixty or one hundred yards long by twenty or thirty broad, and on one side of it there is a level space along which the horses used to run. The husband caught a pony, and gave it to the wife to hold fast without a bridle, while he should catch another. When he had bridled his own pony, he threw another bridle to his wife for her to secure hers; but as he threw it, the bit of the bridle struck her on one of her hands. The wife let go the pony, and went headlong into the pool, and that was the end of their wedded life.’

The following is a later tale, which Mr. Thomas Davies heard from his mother, who died in 1832: she would be ninety years of age had she been still living:—

Pan oeđ hi’n hogan yn yr Hafod, Ỻanberis, yr oeđ hogan at ei hoed hi’n cael ei magu yn Cwmglas, [36]Ỻanberis, ac arferai đweyd, pan yn hogan a thra y bu byw, y byđai yn cael arian gan y Tylwyth Teg yn Cwm Cwmglas.

Yr oeđ yn dweyd y byđai ar foreuau niwliog, tywyỻ, yn mynd i le penodol yn Cwm Cwmglas gyda dsygiad o lefrith o’r fuches a thywel glan, ac yn ei rođi ar garreg; ac yn mynd yno drachefn, ac yn cael y ỻestr yn wag, gyda darn deuswỻt neu hanner coron ac weithiau fwy wrth ei ochr.

‘When she was a girl, living at Yr Hafod, Ỻanberis, there was a girl of her age being brought up at Cwmglas in the same parish. The latter was in the habit of saying, when she was a girl and so long as she lived, that she used to have money from the Tylwyth Teg, in the Cwmglas Hollow. Her account was, that on dark, misty mornings she used to go to a particular spot in that Hollow with a jugful of sweet milk from the milking place, and a clean towel, and then place them on a stone. She would return, and find the jug empty, with a piece of money placed by its side: that is, two shillings or half a crown, or at times even more.’

A daughter of that woman lives now at a farm, Mr. Davies observes, called Plas Pennant, in the parish of Ỻanfihangel yn Mhennant, in Carnarvonshire; and he adds, that it was a tale of a kind that was common enough when he was a boy; but many laughed at it, though the old people believed it to be a fact. To this I may as well append another tale, which was brought to the memory of an old man who happened to be present when Mr. Jones and Mr. Davies were busy with the foregoing. His name is John Roberts, and his age is seventy-five: his present home is at Capel Sïon, in the neighbouring parish of Ỻanđeiniolen:—

Yr oeđ ef pan yn hogyn yn gweini yn Towyn Trewern, yn agos i Gaergybi, gyda hen wr o’r enw Owen Owens, oeđ yr adeg honno at ei oed ef yn bresennol. [37]

Yr oeđynt unwaith mewn hen adeilad ar y ffarm; a dywedođ yr hen wr ei fod ef wedi cael ỻawer o arian yn y ỻe hwnnw pan yn hogyn, a buasai wedi cael ychwaneg oni bai ei dad.

Yr oeđ wedi cuđio yr arian yn y ty, ond daeth ei fam o hyd iđynt, a dywedođ yr hanes wrth ei dad. Ofnai ei fod yn fachgen drwg, mai eu ỻadrata yr oeđ. Dywedai ei dad y gwnai iđo đweyd yn mha le yr oeđ yn eu cael, neu y tynnai ei groen tros ei ben; ac aeth aỻan a thorođ wialen bwrpasol at orchwyl o’r fath.

Yr oeđ y bachgen yn gwrando ar yr ymđiđan rhwng ei dad a’i fam, ac yr oeđ yn benderfynol o gadw’r peth yn đirgelwch fel yr oeđ wedi ei rybuđio gan y Tylwyth Teg.

Aeth i’r ty, a dechreuođ y tad ei holi, ac yntau yn gwrthod ateb; ymbiliai a’i dad, a dywedai eu bod yn berffaith onest iđo ef, ac y cai ef ychwaneg os cadwai’r peth yn đirgelwch; ond os dywedai, nad oeđ dim ychwaneg i’w gael. Mođ bynnag ni wrandawai y tad ar ei esgusion na’i resymau, a’r wialen a orfu; dywedođ y bachgen mai gan y Tylwyth Teg yr oeđ yn eu cael, a hynny ar yr amod nad oeđ i đweyd wrth neb. Mawr oeđ edifeirwch yr hen bobl am lađ yr wyđ oeđ yn dodwy.

Aeth y bachgen i’r hen adeilad lawer gwaith ar ol hyn, ond ni chafođ byth ychwaneg o arian yno.

‘When a lad, he was a servant at Towyn Trewern, near Holyhead, to an old man about his own age at present. They were one day in an old building on the farm, and the old man told him that he had had much money in that place when he was a lad, and that he would have had more had it not been for his father. He had hidden the money at home, where his mother found it and told his father of the affair: she feared he was a bad boy, and that it was by theft he got it. His father said that he would make him say where he got it, [38]or else that he would strip him of the skin of his back, at the same time that he went out and cut a rod fit for effecting a purpose of the kind. The boy heard all this talk between his father and his mother, and felt determined to keep the matter a secret, as he had been warned by the Tylwyth Teg. He went into the house, and his father began to question him, while he refused to answer. He supplicatingly protested that the money was honestly got, and that he should get more if he kept it a secret, but that, if he did not, there would be no more to be got. However, the father would give no ear to his excuses or his reasons, and the rod prevailed; so that the boy said that it was from the Tylwyth Teg he used to get it, and that on condition of his not telling anybody. Greatly did the old folks regret having killed the goose that laid the eggs. The boy went many a time afterwards to the old building, but he never found any more money there.’



Through the Rev. Daniel Lewis, incumbent of Bettws Garmon, I was directed to Mr. Samuel Rhys Williams, of the Post Office of that place, who has kindly given me the result of his inquiries when writing on the subject of the antiquities of the neighbourhood for a competition at a literary meeting held there a few years ago. He tells me that he got the following short tale from a native of Drws y Coed, whose name is Margaret Williams. She has been living at Bettws Garmon for many years, and is now over eighty. He does not know whether the story is in print or not, but he is certain that Margaret Williams never saw it, even if it be. He further thinks he has heard it from another person, to wit a man over seventy-seven years [39]of age, who has always lived at Drws y Coed, in the parish of Beđgelert:—

Y mae hanes am fab i amaethwr a breswyliai yn yr Ystrad20, Betws Garmon21, pan yn dychwelyd adref o daith yn hwyr un noswaith, đarfod iđo weled cwmni o’r Tylwyth Teg ynghanol eu hafiaeth a’u glođest. Syfrdanwyd y ỻanc yn y fan gan degwch anghymarol un o’r rhianod hyn, fel y beiđiođ neidio i ganol y cylch, a chymeryd ei eilun gydag ef. Wedi iđi fod yn trigo gydag ef yn ei gartref am ysbaid, cafođ ganđi ađaw bod yn wraig iđo ar amodau neiỻduol. Un o’r amodau hyn ydoeđ, na byđai iđo gyffwrđ ynđi ag un math o haiarn. Bu yn wraig iđo, a ganwyd iđynt đau o blant. Un diwrnod yr oeđ y gwr yn y maes yn ceisio dal y ceffyl; wrth ei weled yn ffaelu, aeth y wraig ato i’w gynorthwyo, a phan oeđ y march yn carlamu heibio goỻyngođ yntau y ffrwyn o’i law, er mwyn ceisio ei atal heibio; a phwy a darawođ ond ei wraig, yr hon a điflannođ yn y fan aỻan o’i olwg?

‘The story goes, that the son of a farmer, who lived at the Ystrad in Bettws Garmon, when returning home from a journey, late in the evening, beheld a company of fairies in the middle of their mirth and jollity. The youth was at once bewildered by the incomparable beauty of one of these ladies, so that he ventured to leap into the circle and take his idol away with him. After she had tarried awhile with him at his home, he prevailed on her, on special conditions, to become his wife. One of these conditions was that he should not touch her with iron of any description. She became [40]his wife, and two children were born to them. One day the husband was in the field trying to catch the horse; seeing him unsuccessful, the wife went to him to help him, and, when the horse was galloping past him, he let go the bridle at him in order to prevent him from passing; but whom should he strike but his wife, who vanished out of his sight on the spot.’

Just as I was engaged in collecting these stories in 1881, a correspondent sent me a copy of the Ystrad tale as published by the late bard and antiquary, the Rev. Owen Wyn Jones, better known in Wales by his bardic name of Glasynys22, in the Brython23 for 1863, p. 193. I will not attempt to translate Glasynys’ poetic prose with all its compound adjectives, but it comes to this in a few words. One fine sunny morning, as the young heir of Ystrad was busied with his sheep on the side of Moel Eilio, he met a very pretty girl, and when he got home he told the folks there of it. A few days afterwards he met her again, and this happened several times, when he mentioned it to his father, who advised [41]him to seize her when he next met her. The next time he met her he proceeded to do so, but before he could take her away, a little fat old man came to them and begged him to give her back to him, to which the youth would not listen. The little man uttered terrible threats, but the heir of Ystrad would not yield, so an agreement was made between them, that the latter was to have the girl to wife until he touched her skin with iron, and great was the joy both of the son and his parents in consequence. They lived together for many years; but once on a time, on the evening of the Bettws Fair, the wife’s horse became restive, and somehow, as the husband was attending to the horse, the stirrup touched the skin of her bare leg, and that very night she was taken away from him. She had three or four children, and more than one of their descendants, as Glasynys maintains, were known to him at the time he wrote in 1863. Glasynys regards this as the same tale which is given by Williams of Ỻandegai, to whom we shall refer later; and he says that he heard it scores of times when he was a lad.

Lastly, I happened to mention these legends last summer among others to the Rev. Owen Davies, curate of Ỻanberis, a man who is well versed in Welsh literature, and thoroughly in sympathy with everything Welsh. Mr. Davies told me that he knew a tale of the sort from his youth, as current in the parishes of Ỻanỻechid and Ỻandegai, near Bangor. Not long afterwards he visited his mother at his native place, in Ỻanỻechid, in order to have his memory of it refreshed; and he also went to the Waen Fawr, on the other side of Carnarvon, where he had the same legend told him with the different localities specified. The following is the Waen Fawr version, of which I give the Welsh as I have had it from Mr. Davies, and as it was [42]related, according to him, some forty years ago in the valley of Nant y Bettws, near Carnarvon:—

Ar brydnawngwaith hyfryd yn Hefin, aeth ỻanc ieuanc gwrol-đewr ac anturiaethus, sef etifeđ a pherchennog yr Ystrad, i lan afon Gwyrfai, heb fod yn nepeỻ o’i chychwyniad o lyn Caweỻyn, ac a ymguđiođ yno mewn dyryslwyn, sef ger y fan y byđai poblach y cotiau cochion—y Tylwyth Teg—yn arfer dawnsio. Yr ydoeđ yn noswaith hyfryd loergannog, heb un cwmwl i gau ỻygaid y Ỻoer, ac anian yn đistaw dawedog, ođigerth murmuriad ỻeđf y Wyrfai, a swn yr awel ysgafndroed yn rhodio brigau deiliog y coed. Ni bu yn ei ymguđfa ond dros ychydig amser, cyn cael difyrru o hono ei olygon a dawns y teulu dedwyđ. Wrth syỻu ar gywreinrwyđ y đawns, y chwim droadau cyflym, yr ymgyniweiriad ysgafn-droediog, tarawođ ei lygaid ar las lodes ieuanc, dlysaf, harđaf, lunieiđiaf a welođ er ei febyd. Yr oeđ ei chwim droadau a ỻedneisrwyđ ei hagweđion wedi tanio ei serch tu ag ati i’r fath rađau, fel ag yr oeđ yn barod i unrhyw anturiaeth er mwyn ei henniỻ yn gydymaith iđo ei hun. O’i ymguđfa dywyỻ, yr oeđ yn gwylio pob ysgogiad er mwyn ei gyfleustra ei hun. Mewn mynud, yn đisymwth đigon, rhwng pryder ac ofn, ỻamneidiođ fel ỻew gwrol i ganol cylch y Tylwyth Teg, ac ymafaelođ a dwylaw cariad yn y fun luniaiđ a daniođ ei serch, a hynny, pan oeđ y Tylwyth dedwyđ yn nghanol nwyfiant eu dawns. Cofleidiođ hi yn dyner garedig yn ei fynwes wresog, ac aeth a hi i’w gartref—i’r Ystrad. Ond diflannođ ei chyd-đawnsyđion fel anadl Gorphennaf, er ei chroch đolefau am gael ei rhyđhau, a’i hymegnion diflino i đianc o afael yr hwn a’i hoffođ. Mewn anwylder mawr, ymđygođ y ỻanc yn dyner odiaethol tu ag at y fun deg, ac yr oeđ yn orawyđus i’w chadw yn ei olwg ac yn ei feđiant. Ỻwyđođ drwy ei dynerwch tu ag ati i gael ganđi ađaw dyfod yn forwyn iđo yn yr Ystrad. A morwyn ragorol oeđ hi. Godrai deirgwaith y swm arferol o laeth ođiar [43]bob buwch, ac yr oeđ yr ymenyn heb bwys arno. Ond er ei hoỻ daerni, nis gaỻai mewn un mođ gael ganđi đyweud ei henw wrtho. Gwnaeth lawer cais, ond yn gwbl ofer. Yn đamweiniol ryw dro, wrth yrru

Brithen a’r Benwen i’r borfa,

a hi yn noswaith loergan, efe a aeth i’r man ỻe yr arferai y Tylwyth Teg fyned drwy eu campau yng ngoleuni’r Ỻoer wen. Y tro hwn eto, efe a ymguđiođ mewn dyryslwyn, a chlywođ y Tylwyth Teg yn dywedyd y naiỻ wrth y ỻaỻ—‘Pan oeđym ni yn y ỻe hwn y tro diweđaf, dygwyd ein chwaer Penelope ođiarnom gan un o’r marwolion.’ Ar hynny, dychwelođ y ỻencyn adref, a’i fynwes yn ỻawn o falchder cariad, o herwyđ iđo gael gwybod enw ei hoff forwyn, yr hon a synnođ yn aruthr, pan glywođ ei meistr ieuanc yn ei galw wrth ei henw. Ac am ei bod yn odiaethol dlos, a ỻuniaiđ, yn fywiog-weithgar, a medrus ar bob gwaith, a bod popeth yn ỻwyđo dan ei ỻaw, cynygiođ ei hun iđi yn wr—y celai fod yn feistres yr Ystrad, yn ỻe bod yn forwyn. Ond ni chydsyniai hi a’i gais ar un cyfrif; ond bod braiđ yn bendrist oherwyđ iđo wybod ei henw. Fođ bynnag, gwedi maith amser, a thrwy ei daerineb diflino, cydsyniođ, ond yn amodol. Ađawođ đyfod yn wraig iđo, ar yr amod canlynol, sef, ‘Pa bryd bynnag y tarawai ef hi â haiarn, yr elai ymaith ođi wrtho, ac na đychwelai byth ato mwy.’ Sicrhawyd yr amod o’i du yntau gyda pharodrwyđ cariad. Buont yn cyd-fyw a’u gilyđ yn hapus a chysurus lawer o flynyđoeđ, a ganwyd iđynt fab a merch, y rhai oeđynt dlysaf a ỻunieiđiaf yn yr hoỻ froyđ. Ac yn rhinweđ ei medrusrwyđ a’i deheurwyđ fel gwraig gaỻ, rinweđol, aethant yn gyfoethog iawn—yn gyfoethocach na neb yn yr hoỻ wlad. Heblaw ei etifeđiaeth ei hun—Yr Ystrad, yr oeđ yn ffarmio hoỻ ogleđ-barth Nant y Betws, ac ođi yno i ben yr Wyđfa, ynghyd a hoỻ Gwm Brwynog, yn mhlwyf Ỻanberis. Ond, ryw điwrnod, [44]yn anffortunus đigon aeth y đau i’r đol i đal y ceffyl, a chan fod y ceffylyn braiđ yn wyỻt ac an-nof, yn rhedeg ođi arnynt, taflođ y gwr y ffrwyn mewn gwyỻtineb yn ei erbyn, er ei atal, ac ar bwy y disgynnođ y ffrwyn, ond ar Penelope, y wraig! Diflannođ Penelope yn y fan, ac ni welođ byth mo honi. Ond ryw noswaith, a’r gwynt yn chwythu yn oer o’r gogleđ, daeth Penelope at ffenestr ei ystafeỻ wely, a dywedođ wrtho am gymmeryd gofal o’r plant yn y geiriau hyn:

Rhag bod anwyd ar fy mab,

Yn rhođ rhowch arno gób ei dad;

Rhag bod anwyd ar liw’r can,

Rhođwch arni bais ei mham.

Ac yna ciliođ, ac ni chlywyd na siw na miw byth yn ei chylch.

For the sake of an occasional reader who does not know Welsh, I add a summary of it in English.

One fine evening in the month of June a brave, adventurous youth, the heir of Ystrad, went to the banks of the Gwyrfai, not far from where it leaves Cweỻyn Lake, and hid himself in the bushes near the spot where the folks of the Red Coats—the fairies—were wont to dance. The moon shone forth brightly without a cloud to intercept her light; all was quiet save where the Gwyrfai gently murmured on her bed, and it was not long before the young man had the satisfaction of seeing the fair family dancing in full swing. As he gazed on the subtle course of the dance, his eyes rested on a damsel, the most shapely and beautiful he had seen from his boyhood. Her agile movements and the charm of her looks inflamed him with love for her, to such a degree that he felt ready for any encounter in order to secure her to be his own. From his hiding place he watched every move for his opportunity; at last, with feelings of anxiety and dread, [45]he leaped suddenly into the middle of the circle of the fairies. There, while their enjoyment of the dance was at its height, he seized her in his arms and carried her away to his home at Ystrad. But, as she screamed for help to free her from the grasp of him who had fallen in love with her, the dancing party disappeared like one’s breath in July. He treated her with the utmost kindness, and was ever anxious to keep her within his sight and in his possession. By dint of tenderness he succeeded so far as to get her to consent to be his servant at Ystrad. And such a servant she turned out to be! Why, she was wont to milk the cows thrice a day, and to have the usual quantity of milk each time, so that the butter was so plentiful that nobody thought of weighing it. As to her name, in spite of all his endeavours to ascertain it, she would never tell it him. Accidentally, however, one moonlight night, when driving two of his cows to the spot where they should graze, he came to the place where the fairies were wont to enjoy their games in the light of the moon. This time also he hid himself in a thicket, when he overheard one fairy saying to another, ‘When we were last here our sister Penelope was stolen from us by a man.’ As soon as he heard this off he went home, full of joy because he had discovered the name of the maid that was so dear to him. She, on the other hand, was greatly astonished to hear him call her by her own name. As she was so charmingly pretty, so industrious, so skilled in every work, and so attended by luck in everything she put her hand to, he offered to make her his wife instead of being his servant. At first she would in no wise consent, but she rather gave way to grief at his having found her name out. However, his importunity at length brought her to consent, but on the condition that he should not [46]strike her with iron; if that should happen, she would quit him never to return. The agreement was made on his side with the readiness of love, and after this they lived in happiness and comfort together for many years, and there were born to them a son and a daughter, who were the handsomest children in the whole country. Owing, also, to the skill and good qualities of the woman, as a shrewd and virtuous wife, they became very rich—richer, indeed, than anybody else in the country around; for, besides the husband’s own inheritance of Ystrad, he held all the northern part of Nant y Bettws, and all from there to the top of Snowdon, together with Cwm Brwynog in the parish of Ỻanberis. But one day, as bad luck would have it, they went out together to catch a horse in the field, and, as the animal was somewhat wild and untamed, they had no easy work before them. In his rashness the man threw a bridle at him as he was rushing past him, but alas! on whom should the bridle fall but on the wife! No sooner had this happened than she disappeared, and nothing more was ever seen of her. But one cold night, when there was a chilling wind blowing from the north, she came near the window of his bedroom, and told him in these words to take care of the children:—

Lest my son should find it cold,

Place on him his father’s coat:

Lest the fair one find it cold,

Place on her my petticoat.

Then she withdrew, and nothing more was heard of her.

In reply to some queries of mine, Mr. O. Davies tells me that Penelope was pronounced in three syllables, Pénĕlôp—so he heard it from his grandfather: he goes on to say that the offspring of the Lake Lady is supposed to be represented by a family called Pellings, [47]which was once a highly respected name in those parts, and that there was a Lady Bulkeley who was of this descent, not to mention that several people of a lower rank, both in Anglesey and Arfon, claimed to be of the same origin. I am not very clear as to how the name got into this tale, nor have I been able to learn anything about the Pellings; but, as the word appears to have been regarded as a corrupt derivative from Penelope, that is, perhaps, all the connexion, so that it may be that it has really nothing whatever to do with the legend. This is a point, however, which the antiquaries of North Wales ought to be able to clear up satisfactorily.

In reply to queries of mine, Mr. O. Davies gave me the following particulars:—‘I am now (June, 1881) over fifty-two years of age, and I can assure you that I have heard the legend forty years ago. I do not remember my father, as he died when I was young, but my grandfather was remarkable for his delight in tales and legends, and it was his favourite pastime during the winter nights, after getting his short black pipe ready, to relate stories about struggles with robbers, about bogies, and above all about the Tylwyth Teg; for they were his chief delight. He has been dead twenty-six years, and he had almost reached eighty years of age. His father before him, who was born about the year 1740, was also famous for his stories, and my grandfather often mentioned him as his authority in the course of his narration of the tales. Both he and the rest of the family used to look at Corwrion, to be mentioned presently, as a sacred spot. When I was a lad and happened to be reluctant to leave off playing at dusk, my mother or grandfather had only to say that ‘the Pellings were coming,’ in order to induce me to come into the house at once: indeed, this announcement had [48]the same effect on persons of a much riper age than mine then was.’

Further, Mr. Davies kindly called my attention to a volume, entitled Observations on the Snowdon Mountains, by Mr. William Williams, of Ỻandegai, published in London in 1802. In that work this tale is given somewhat less fully than by Mr. Davies’ informant, but the author makes the following remarks with regard to it, pp. 37, 40:—‘A race of people inhabiting the districts about the foot of Snowdon, were formerly distinguished and known by the nickname of Pellings, which is not yet extinct. There are several persons and even families who are reputed to be descended from these people …. These children [Penelope’s] and their descendants, they say, were called Pellings, a word corrupted from their mother’s name, Penelope. The late Thomas Rowlands, Esq., of Caerau, in Anglesey, the father of the late Lady Bulkeley, was a descendant of this lady, if it be true that the name Pellings came from her; and there are still living several opulent and respectable people who are known to have sprung from the Pellings. The best blood in my own veins is this fairy’s.’

Lastly, it will be noticed that these last versions do not distinctly suggest that the Lake Lady ran into the lake, that is into Cweỻyn, but rather that she disappeared in the same way as the dancing party by simply becoming invisible like one’s breath in July. The fairies are called in Welsh, Y Tylwyth Teg, or the Fair Family; but the people of Arfon have been so familiarized with the particular one I have called the Lake Lady, that, according to one of my informants, they have invented the term Y Dylwythes Deg, or even Y Dylwythen Deg, to denote her; but it is unknown to the others, so that the extent of its use is not very considerable. [49]

This is, perhaps, the place to give another tale, according to which the man goes to the Lake Maiden’s country, instead of her settling with him at his home. I owe it to the kindness of Mr. William Jones, of Regent Place, Ỻangoỻen, a native of Beđgelert. He heard it from an old man before he left Beđgelert, but when he sent a friend to inquire some time afterwards, the old man was gone. According to Mr. Jones, the details of the tale are, for that reason, imperfect, as some of the incidents have faded from his memory; but such as he can still remember the tale, it is here given in his own words:—

Ryw noson lawn ỻoer ac un o feibion Ỻwyn On yn Nant y Betws yn myned i garu i Glogwyn y Gwin, efe a welođ y Tylwyth yn ymlođestu a dawnsio ei hochr hi ar weirglođ wrth lan Ỻyn Caweỻyn. Efe a nesaođ tuag atynt; ac o dipyn i beth fe’i ỻithiwyd gan bereiđdra swynol eu canu a hoender a bywiogrwyđ eu chwareu, nes myned o hono tu fewn i’r cylch; ac yn fuan fe đaeth rhyw hud drosto, fel y coỻođ adnabyđiaeth o bobman; a chafođ ei hun mewn gwlad harđaf a welođ erioed, ỻe’r oeđ pawb yn treulio eu hamser mewn afiaeth a gorfoleđ. Yr oeđ wedi bod yno am saith mlyneđ, ac eto nid oeđ đim ond megis breuđwyd nos; ond daeth adgof i’w feđwl am ei neges, a hiraeth ynđo am weled ei anwylyd. Feỻy efe a ofynođ ganiatad i đychwelyd adref, yr hyn a rođwyd ynghyd a ỻu o gymdeithion i’w arwain tua’i wlad; ac yn đisymwth cafođ ei hun fel yn deffro o freuđwyd ar y đol, ỻe gwelođ y Tylwyth Teg yn chwareu. Trođ ei wyneb tuag adref; ond wedi myned yno yr oeđ popeth wedi newid, ei rieni wedi meirw, ei frodyr yn ffaelu ei adnabod, a’i gariad wedi priodi un araỻ.—Ar ol y fath gyfnewidiadau efe a dorođ ei galon, ac a fu farw mewn ỻai nag wythnos ar ol ei đychweliad.

‘One bright moonlight night, as one of the sons of the [50]farmer who lived at Ỻwyn On in Nant y Bettws was going to pay his addresses to a girl at Clogwyn y Gwin, he beheld the Tylwyth Teg enjoying themselves in full swing on a meadow close to Cweỻyn Lake. He approached them, and little by little he was led on by the enchanting sweetness of their music and the liveliness of their playing until he had got within their circle. Soon some kind of spell passed over him, so that he lost his knowledge of the place, and found himself in a country, the most beautiful he had ever seen, where everybody spent his time in mirth and rejoicing. He had been there seven years, and yet it seemed to him but a night’s dream; but a faint recollection came to his mind of the business on which he had left home, and he felt a longing to see his beloved one. So he went and asked for permission to return home, which was granted him, together with a host of attendants to lead him to his country; and, suddenly, he found himself, as if waking from a dream, on the bank where he had seen the fair family amusing themselves. He turned towards home, but there he found everything changed: his parents were dead, his brothers could not recognize him, and his sweetheart was married to another man. In consequence of such changes he died broken-hearted in less than a week after coming back.’



The Rev. O. Davies regarded the Ỻanỻechid legend as so very like the one he got about Cweỻyn Lake and the Waen Fawr, that he has not written the former out at length, but merely pointed out the following differences: (1) Instead of Cweỻyn, the lake in the former is the pool of Corwrion, in the parish of Ỻandegai, near Bangor. (2) What the Lake Lady was struck with was [51]not a bridle, but an iron fetter: the word used is ỻyfether, which probably means a long fetter connecting a fore-foot and a hind-foot of a horse together. In Arfon, the word is applied also to a cord tying the two fore-feet together, but in Cardiganshire this would be called a hual, the other word, there pronounced llowethir, being confined to the long fetter. In books, the word is written llywethair, llefethair and llyffethair or llyffethar, which is possibly the pronunciation in parts of North Wales, especially Arfon. This is an interesting word, as it is no other than the English term ‘long fetter,’ borrowed into Welsh; as, in fact, it was also into Irish early enough to call for an article on it in Cormac’s Irish Glossary, where langfiter is described as an English word for a fetter between the fore and the hind legs: in Anglo-Manx it is become lanketer. (3) The field in which they were trying to catch the horse is, in the Ỻanỻechid version, specified as that called Maes Madog, at the foot of the Ỻefn. (4) When the fairy wife ran away, it was headlong into the pool of Corwrion, calling after her all her milch cows, and they followed her with the utmost readiness.

Before going on to mention bits of information I have received from others about the Ỻanỻechid legend, I think it best here to finish with the items given me by Mr. O. Davies, whom I cannot too cordially thank for his readiness to answer my questions. Among other things, he expresses himself to the following effect:— ‘It is to this day a tradition—and I have heard it a hundred times—that the dairy of Corwrion excelled all other dairies in those parts, that the milk was better and more plentiful, and that the cheese and butter were better there than in all the country round, the reason assigned being that the cattle on the farm of Corwrion had mixed with the breed belonging to the fairy, who [52]had run away after being struck with the iron fetter. However that may be, I remember perfectly well the high terms of praise in which the cows of Corwrion used to be spoken of as being remarkable for their milk and the profit they yielded; and, when I was a boy, I used to hear people talk of Tarw Penwyn Corwrion, or “the White-headed Bull of Corwrion,” as derived from the breed of cattle which had formed the fairy maiden’s dowry.’

My next informant is Mr. Hugh Derfel Hughes, of Pendinas, Ỻandegai24, who has been kind enough to give me the version, of which I here give the substance in English, premising that Mr. Hughes says that he has lived about thirty-four years within a mile of the pool and farm house called Corwrion, and that he has refreshed his memory of the legend by questioning separately no less than three old people, who had been bred and born at or near that spot. He is a native of Merioneth, but has lived at Ỻandegai for the last thirty-seven years, his age now being sixty-six. I may add that Mr. Hughes is a local antiquary of great industry and zeal; and that he published a book on the antiquities of the district, under the title of Hynafiaethau Ỻandegai a Ỻanỻechid, that is ‘the Antiquities of Ỻandegai and Ỻanỻechid’ (Bethesda, 1866); but it is out of print, and I have had some trouble to procure a copy:—

‘In old times, when the fairies showed themselves much oftener to men than they do now, they made their home in the bottomless pool of Corwrion, in Upper Arỻechweđ, in that wild portion of Gwyneđ called [53]Arfon. On fine mornings in the month of June these diminutive and nimble folk might be seen in a regular line vigorously engaged in mowing hay, with their cattle in herds busily grazing in the fields near Corwrion. This was a sight which often met the eyes of the people on the sides of the hills around, even on Sundays; but when they hurried down to them they found the fields empty, with the sham workmen and their cows gone, all gone. At other times they might be heard hammering away like miners, shovelling rubbish aside, or emptying their carts of stones. At times they took to singing all the night long, greatly to the delight of the people about, who dearly loved to hear them; and, besides singing so charmingly, they sometimes formed into companies for dancing, and their movements were marvellously graceful and attractive. But it was not safe to go too near the lake late at night, for once a brave girl, who was troubled with toothache, got up at midnight and went to the brink of the water in search of the root of a plant that grows there full of the power to kill all pain in the teeth. But, as she was plucking up a bit of it, there burst on her ear, from the depths of the lake, such a shriek as drove her back into the house breathless with fear and trembling; but whether this was not the doing of a stray fairy, who had been frightened out of her wits at being suddenly overtaken by a damsel in her nightdress, or the ordinary fairy way of curing the toothache, tradition does not tell. For sometimes, at any rate, the fairies busied themselves in doing good to the men and women who were their neighbours, as when they tried to teach them to keep all promises and covenants to which they pledged themselves. A certain man and his wife, to whom they wished to teach this good habit, have never been forgotten. The husband had been behaving as [54]he ought, until one day, as he held the plough, with the wife guiding his team, he broke his covenant towards her by treating her harshly and unkindly. No sooner had he done so, than he was snatched through the air and plunged in the lake. When the wife went to the brink of the water to ask for him back, the reply she had was, that he was there, and that there he should be.

‘The fairies when engaged in dancing allowed themselves to be gazed at, a sight which was wont greatly to attract the young men of the neighbourhood, and once on a time the son and heir of the owner of Corwrion fell deeply in love with one of the graceful maidens who danced in the fairy ring, for she was wondrously beautiful and pretty beyond compare. His passion for her ere long resulted in courtship, and soon in their being married, which took place on the express understanding, that firstly the husband was not to know her name, though he might give her any name he chose; and, secondly, that he might now and then beat her with a rod, if she chanced to misbehave towards him; but he was not to strike her with iron on pain of her leaving him at once. This covenant was kept for some years, so that they lived happily together and had four children, of whom the two youngest were a boy and a girl. But one day as they went to one of the fields of Bryn Twrw in the direction of Pennarđ Gron, to catch a pony, the fairy wife, being so much nimbler than her husband, ran before him and had her hand in the pony’s mane in no time. She called out to her husband to throw her a halter, but instead of that he threw towards her a bridle with an iron bit, which, as bad luck would have it, struck her. The wife at once flew through the air, and plunged headlong into Corwrion Pool. The husband returned [55]sighing and weeping towards Bryn Twrw, “Noise Hill,” and when he had reached it, the twrw, “noise,” there was greater than had ever been heard before, namely that of weeping after “Belenë”; and it was then, after he had struck her with iron, that he first learnt what his wife’s name was. Belenë never came back to her husband, but the feelings of a mother once brought her to the window of his bedroom, where she gave him the following order:—

Os byđ anwyd ar fy mab,

Rho’wch am dano gob ei dad;

Os anwydog a fyđ can25,

Rho’wch am dani bais ei mam.

If my son should feel it cold,

Let him wear his father’s coat;

If the fair one feel the cold,

Let her wear my petticoat.

‘As years and years rolled on a grandson of Belenë’s fell in love with a beautiful damsel who lived at a neighbouring farm house called Tai Teulwriaid, and against the will of his father and mother they married, but they had nothing to stock their land with. So one morning what was their astonishment, when they got up, to see grazing quietly in the field six black cows and a white-headed bull, which had come up out of the lake as stock for them from old grannie Belenë? They served them well with milk and butter for many a long year, but on the day the last of the family died, the six black cows and the white-headed bull disappeared into the lake, never more to be seen.’

Mr. Hughes referred to no less than three other versions, as follows:—(1) According to one account, the husband was ploughing, with the wife leading the team, when by chance he came across her and the accident happened. The wife then flew away like a wood-hen (iar goed) into the lake. (2) Another says that they were in a stable trying to bridle one of the [56]horses, when the misfortune took place through inadvertence. (3) A third specifies the field in front of the house at Corwrion as the place where the final accident took place, when they were busied with the cows and horses.

To these I would add the following traditions, which Mr. Hughes further gives. Sometimes the inhabitants, who seem to have been on the whole on good terms with the fairies, used to heat water and leave it in a vessel on the hearth overnight for the fairies to wash their children in it. This they considered such a kindness that they always left behind them on the hearth a handful of their money. Some pieces are said to have been sometimes found in the fields near Corwrion, and that they consisted of coins which were smaller than our halfpennies, but bigger than farthings, and had a harp on one side. But the tradition is not very definite on these points.

Here also I may as well refer to a similar tale which I got last year at Ỻanberis from a man who is a native of the Ỻanỻechid side of the mountain, though he now lives at Ỻanberis. He is about fifty-five years of age, and remembers hearing in his youth a tale connected with a house called Hafoty’r Famaeth, in a very lonely situation on Ỻanỻechid Mountain, and now represented only by some old ruined walls. It was to the effect that one night, when the man who lived there was away from home, his wife, who had a youngish baby, washed him on the hearth, left the water there, and went to bed with her little one: she woke up in the night to find that the Tylwyth Teg were in possession of the hearth, and busily engaged in washing their children. That is all I got of this tale of a well-known type.

To return to Mr. Hughes’ communications, I would select from them some remarks on the topography of [57]the teeming home of the fairies. He estimated the lake or pool of Corwrion to be about 120 yards long, and adds that it is nearly round; but he thinks it was formerly considerably larger, as a cutting was made some eighty or a hundred years ago to lead water from it to Penrhyn Castle; but even then its size would not approach that ascribed to it by popular belief, according to which it was no less than three miles long. In fact it was believed that there was once a town of Corwrion which was swallowed up by the lake, a sort of idea which one meets with in many parts of Wales, and some of the natives are said to be able to discern the houses under the water. This must have been near the end which is not bottomless, the latter being indicated by a spot which is said never to freeze even in hard winters. Old men remember it the resort of herons, cormorants, and the water-hen (hobi wen). Near the banks there grew, besides the water-lily, various kinds of rushes and sedges, which were formerly much used for making mats and other useful articles. It was also once famous for eels of a large size, but it is not supposed to have contained fish until Lord Penrhyn placed some there in recent years. It teemed, however, with leeches of three different kinds so recently that an old man still living describes to Mr. Hughes his simple way of catching them when he was a boy, namely, by walking bare-legged in the water: in a few minutes he landed with nine or ten leeches sticking to his legs, some of which fetched a shilling each from the medical men of those days. Corwrion is now a farm house occupied by Mr. William Griffiths, a grandson of the late bard Gutyn Peris. When Mr. Hughes called to make inquiries about the legend, he found there the foundations of several old buildings, and several pieces of old querns about the place. He [58]thinks that there belonged to Corwrion in former times, a mill and a fuller’s house, which he seems to infer from the names of two neighbouring houses called ‘Y Felin Hen,’ the Old Mill, and ‘Pandy Tre Garth,’ the Fulling Mill of Tregarth, respectively. He also alludes to a gefail or smithy there, in which one Rhys ab Robert used to work, not to mention that a great quantity of ashes, such as come from a smithy, are found at the end of the lake furthest from the farm house. The spot on which Corwrion stands is part of the ground between the Ogwen and another stream which bears the name of ‘Afon Cegin Arthur,’ or the River of Arthur’s Kitchen, and most of the houses and fields about have names which have suggested various notions to the people there: such are the farms called ‘Coed Howel,’ whence the belief in the neighbourhood that Howel Đa, King of Wales, lived here. About him Mr. Hughes has a great deal to say: among other things, that he had boats on Corwrion lake, and that he was wont to present the citizens of Bangor yearly with 300 fat geese reared on the waters of the same. I am referred by another man to a lecture delivered in the neighbourhood on these and similar things by the late bard and antiquary the Rev. Robert Ellis (Cynđelw), but I have never come across a copy. A field near Corwrion is called ‘Cae Stabal,’ or the Field of the Stable, which contains the remains of a row of stables, as it is supposed, and of a number of mangers where Howel’s horses were once fed. In a neighbouring wood, called ‘Parc y Geỻi’ or ‘Hopiar y Geỻi,’ my informant goes on to say, there are to be seen the foundations of seventeen or eighteen old hut-circles, and near them some think they see the site of an old church. About a mile to the south-east of Corwrion is Pendinas, which Mr. Hughes describes as [59]an old triangular Welsh fortress, on the bank of the Ogwen; and within two stone’s-throws or so of Corwrion on the south side of it, and a little to the west of Bryn Twrw mentioned in the legend, is situated Penarđ Gron, a caer or fort, which he describes as being, before it was razed in his time, forty-two yards long by thirty-two wide, and defended by a sort of rampart of earth and stone several yards wide at the base. It used to be the resort of the country people for dancing, cock-fighting26, and other amusements on Sundays. Near it was a cairn, which, when it was dug into, was found to cover a kistvaen, a pot, and a quern: a variety of tales attaching to it are told concerning ghosts, caves, and hidden treasures. Altogether Mr. Hughes is strongly of opinion that Corwrion and its immediate surroundings represent a spot which at one time had great importance; and I see no reason wholly to doubt the correctness of that conclusion, but it would be interesting to know whether Penrhyn used, as Mr. Hughes suggests, to be called Penrhyn Corwrion; there ought, perhaps, to be no great difficulty in ascertaining this, as some of the Penrhyn estate appears to have been the subject of litigation in times gone by.

Before leaving Mr. Hughes’ notes, I must here give his too brief account of another thing connected with Corwrion, though, perhaps, not with the legends here in question. I allude to what he calls the Lantern Ghost (Ysbryd y Lantar):—‘There used to be formerly,’ he says, ‘and there is still at Corwrion, a good-sized sour apple-tree, which during the winter half of the year used to be lit up by fire. It began slowly and [60]grew greater until the whole seemed to be in a blaze. He was told by an old woman that she formerly knew old people who declared they had seen it. In the same way the trees in Hopiar y Geỻi appeared, according to them, to be also lit up with fire.’ This reminds me of Mr. Fitzgerald’s account of the Irish Bile-Tineadh in the Revue Celtique, iv. 194.

After communicating to me the notes of which the foregoing are abstracts, Mr. Hughes kindly got me a version of the legend from Mr. David Thomas, of Pont y Wern, in the same neighbourhood, but as it contains nothing which I have not already given from Mr. Hughes’ own, I pass it by. Mr. Thomas, however, has heard that the number of the houses making up the town of Corwrion some six or seven centuries ago was about seventy-five; but they were exactly seventy-three according to my next informant, Mr. David Evan Davies, of Treflys, Bethesda, better known by his bardic name of Dewi Glan Ffrydlas. Both these gentlemen have also heard the tradition that there was a church at Corwrion, where there used to be every Sunday a single service, after which the people went to a spot not far off to amuse themselves, and at night to watch the fairies dancing, or to mix with them while they danced in a ring around a glow-worm. According to Dewi Glan Ffrydlas, the spot was the Pen y Bonc, already mentioned, which means, among other things, that they chose a rising ground. This is referred to in a modern rhyme, which runs thus:—

A’r Tylwyth Teg yn dawnsio’n sionc

O gylch magïen Pen y Bonc.

With the fairies nimbly dancing round

The glow-worm on the Rising Ground.

Dewi Glan Ffrydlas has kindly gone to the trouble of giving me a brief, but complete, version of the legend as he has heard it. It will be noticed that the discovering [61]of the fairy’s name is an idle incident in this version: it is brought in too late, and no use is made of it when introduced. This is the substance of his story in English:—‘At one of the dances at Pen y Bonc, the heir of Corwrion’s eyes fell on one of the damsels of the fair family, and he was filled with love for her. Courtship and marriage in due time ensued, but he had to agree to two conditions, namely, that he was neither to know her name nor to strike her with iron. By-and-by they had children, and when the husband happened to go, during his wife’s confinement, to a merry-making at Pen y Bonc, the fairies talked together concerning his wife, and in expressing their feelings of sympathy for her, they inadvertently betrayed the mystery of her name by mentioning it within his hearing. Years rolled on, when the husband and wife went out together one day to catch a colt of theirs that had not been broken in, their object being to go to Conway Fair. Now, as she was swifter of foot than her husband, she got hold of the colt by the mane, and called out to him to throw her a halter, but instead of throwing her the one she asked for, he threw another with iron in it, which struck her. Off she went into the lake. A grandson of this fairy many years afterwards married one of the girls of Corwrion. They had a large piece of land, but no means of stocking it, so that they felt rather distressed in their minds. But lo and behold! one day a white-headed bull came out of the lake, bringing with him six black cows to their land. There never were the like of those cows for milk, and great was the prosperity of their owners, as well as the envy it kindled in their neighbours’ breasts. But when they both grew old and died, the bull and the cows went back into the lake.’

Now I add the other sayings about the Tylwyth Teg, [62]which Dewi Glan Ffrydlas has kindly collected for me, beginning with a blurred story about changelings:—

‘Once on a time, in the fourteenth century, the wife of a man at Corwrion had twins, and she complained one day to a witch, who lived close by, at Tyđyn y Barcud, that the children were not getting on, but that they were always crying day and night. “Are you sure that they are your children?” asked the witch, adding that it did not seem to her that they were like hers. “I have my doubts also,” said the mother. “I wonder if somebody has exchanged children with you,” said the witch. “I do not know,” said the mother. “But why do you not seek to know?” asked the other. “But how am I to go about it?” said the mother. The witch replied, “Go and do something rather strange before their eyes and watch what they will say to one another.” “Well, I do not know what I should do,” said the mother. “Well,” said the other, “take an egg-shell, and proceed to brew beer in it in a chamber aside, and come here to tell me what the children will say about it.” She went home and did as the witch had directed her, when the two children lifted their heads out of the cradle to find what she was doing—to watch and to listen. Then one observed to the other, “I remember seeing an oak having an acorn,” to which the other replied, “And I remember seeing a hen having an egg”; and one of the two added, “But I do not remember before seeing anybody brew beer in the shell of a hen’s egg.” The mother then went to the witch and told her what the twins had said one to the other; and she directed her to go to a small wooden bridge, not far off, with one of the strange children under each arm, and there to drop them from the bridge into the river beneath. The mother went back home again and did as she had been directed. When she reached home [63]this time, she found to her astonishment that her own children had been brought back.’

Next comes a story about a midwife who lived at Corwrion. ‘One of the fairies called to ask her to come and attend on his wife. Off she went with him, and she was astonished to be taken into a splendid palace. There she continued to go night and morning to dress the baby for some time, until one day the husband asked her to rub her eyes with a certain ointment he offered her. She did so, and found herself sitting on a tuft of rushes, and not in a palace. There was no baby: all had disappeared. Some time afterwards she happened to go to the town, and whom should she there see busily buying various wares, but the fairy on whose wife she had been attending. She addressed him with the question, “How are you to-day?” Instead of answering her, he asked, “How do you see me?” “With my eyes,” was the prompt reply. “Which eye?” he asked. “This one,” said the woman, pointing to it; and instantly he disappeared, never more to be seen by her.’ This tale, as will be seen on comparison later, is incomplete, and probably incorrect.

Here is another from Mr. D. E. Davies:—‘One day Guto, the farmer of Corwrion, complained to his wife that he lacked men to mow his hay, when she replied, “Why fret about it? look yonder! There you have a field full of them at it, and stripped to their shirt-sleeves (yn ỻewys eu crysau).” When he went to the spot the sham workmen of the fairy family had disappeared. This same Guto—or somebody else—happened another time to be ploughing, when he heard some person he could not see, calling out to him, “I have got the bins (that is the vice) of my plough broken.” “Bring it to me,” said the driver of Guto’s team, “that I may mend it.” When they finished the furrow, they found the [64]broken vice, with a barrel of beer placed near it. One of the men sat down and mended the vice. Then they made another furrow, and when they returned to the spot they found there a two-eared dish filled to the brim with bara a chwrw, or “bread and beer.” The word vice, I may observe, is an English term, which is applied in Carnarvonshire to a certain part of the plough: it is otherwise called bins, but neither does this seem to be a Welsh word, nor have I heard either used in South Wales.

At times one of the fairies was in the habit, as I was told by more than one of my informants, of coming out of Ỻyn Corwrion with her spinning-wheel (troeỻ bach) on fine summer days and betaking herself to spinning. While at that work she might be heard constantly singing or humming, in a sort of round tune, the words sìli ffrit. So that sìli ffrit Leisa Bèla may now be heard from the mouths of the children in that neighbourhood. But I have not been successful in finding out what Liza Bella’s ‘silly frit’ exactly means, though I am, on the whole, convinced that the words are other than of Welsh origin. The last of them, ffrit, is usually applied in Cardiganshire to anything worthless or insignificant, and the derivative, ffrityn, means one who has no go or perseverance in him: the feminine is ffriten. In Carnarvonshire my wife has heard ffrityn and ffritan applied to a small man and a small woman respectively. Mr. Hughes says that in Merioneth and parts of Powys sìli ffrit is a term applied to a small woman or a female dwarf who happens to be proud, vain, and fond of the attentions of the other sex (benyw fach neu goraches falch a hunanol a fyđai hoff o garu); but he thinks he has heard it made use of with regard to the gipsies, and possibly also to the Tylwyth Teg. The Rev. O. [65]Davies thinks the words sìli ffrit Leisa Bèla to be very modern, and that they refer to a young woman who lived at a place in the neighbourhood, called Bryn Bèla or Brymbèla, ‘Bella’s Hill,’ the point being that this Bella was ahead, in her time, of all the girls in those parts in matters of taste and fashion. This however does not seem to go far enough back, and it is possible still that in Bèla, that is, in English spelling, Bella, we have merely a shortening of some such a name as Isabella or Arabella, which were once much more popular in the Principality than they are now: in fact, I do not feel sure that Leisa Bèla is not bodily a corruption of Isabella. As to sìli ffrit, one might at first have been inclined to render it by small fry, especially in the sense of the French ‘de la friture’ as applied to young men and boys, and to connect it with the Welsh sil and silod, which mean small fish; but the pronunciation of silli or sìli being nearly that of the English word silly, it appears, on the whole, to belong to the host of English words to be found in colloquial Welsh, though they seldom find their way into books. Students of English ought to be able to tell us whether frit had the meaning here suggested in any part of England, and how lately; also, whether there was such a phrase as ‘silly frit’ in use. After penning this, I received the following interesting communication from Mr. William Jones, of Ỻangoỻen:—The term sìli ffrit was formerly in use at Beđgelert, and what was thereby meant was a child of the Tylwyth Teg. It is still used for any creature that is smaller than ordinary. ‘Pooh, a silly frit like that!’ (Pw, rhyw sìli ffrit fel yna!). ‘Mrs. So-and-So has a fine child.’ ‘Ha, do you call a silly frit like that a fine child?’ (Mae gan hon a hon blentyn braf. Ho, a ydych chwi’n galw rhyw sìli ffrit fel hwnna’n [66]braf?) To return to Leisa Bèla and Belenë, it may be that the same person was meant by both these names, but I am in no hurry to identify them, as none of my correspondents knows the latter of them except Mr. Hughes, who gives it on the authority of the bard Gutyn Peris, and nothing further so far as I can understand, whereas Bèla will come before us in another story, as it is the same name, I presume, which Glasynys has spelled Bella in Cymru Fu.

So I wrote in 1881: since then I have ascertained from Professor Joseph Wright, who is busily engaged on his great English Dialect Dictionary, that frit27 is the same word, in the dialects of Cheshire, Shropshire, and Pembrokeshire, as fright in literary English; and that the corresponding verb to frighten is in them fritten, while a frittenin (= the book English frightening) means a ghost or apparition. So sìli ffrit is simply the English silly frit, and means probably a silly sprite or silly ghost, and sìli ffrit Leisa Bèla would mean the silly ghost of a woman called Liza Bella. But the silly frit found spinning near Corwrion Pool will come under notice again, for that fairy belongs to the Rumpelstiltzchen group of tales, and the fragment of a story about her will be seen to have treated Silly Frit as her proper name, which she had not intended to reach the ears of the person of whom she was trying to get the better.

These tales are brought into connexion with the present day in more ways than one, for besides the various accounts of the bwganod or bogies of Corwrion frightening people when out late at night, Mr. D. E. Davies knows a man, who is still living, and who [67]well remembers the time when the sound of working used to be heard in the pool, and the voices of children crying somewhere in its depths, but that when people rushed there to see what the matter was, all was found profoundly quiet and still. Moreover, there is a family or two, now numerously represented in the parishes of Ỻandegai and Ỻanỻechid, who used to be taunted with being the offspring of fairy ancestors. One of these families was nicknamed ‘Simychiaid’ or ‘Smychiaid’; and my informant, who is not yet quite forty, says that he heard his mother repeat scores of times that the old people used to say, that the Smychiaid, who were very numerous in the neighbourhood, were descended from fairies, and that they came from Ỻyn Corwrion. At all this the Smychiaid were wont to grow mightily angry. Another tradition, he says, about them was that they were a wandering family that arrived in the district from the direction of Conway, and that the father’s name was a Simwch, or rather that was his nickname, based on the proper name Simwnt, which appears to have once been the prevalent name in Ỻandegai. The historical order of these words would in that case have been Simwnt, Simwch, Simychiaid, Smychiaid. Now Simwnt seems to be merely the Welsh form given to some such English name as Simond, just as Edmund or Edmond becomes in North Wales Emwnt. The objection to the nickname seems to lie in the fact, which one of my correspondents points out to me, that Simwch is understood to mean a monkey, a point on which I should like to have further information. Pughe gives simach, it is true, as having the meaning of the Latin simia. A branch of the same family is said to be called ‘y Cowperiaid’ or the Coopers, from an ancestor who was either by name or by trade a cooper. [68]Mr. Hughes’ account of the Smychiaid was, that they are the descendants of one Simonds, who came to be a bailiff at Bodysgaỻan, near Deganwy, and moved from there to Coetmor in the neighbourhood of Corwrion. Simonds was obnoxious to the bards, he goes on to say, and they described the Smychiaid as having arrived in the parish at the bottom of a caweỻ, ‘a creel or basket carried on the back,’ when chance would have it that the caweỻ cord snapped just in that neighbourhood, at a place called Pont y Ỻan. That accident is described, according to Mr. Hughes, in the following doggerel, the origin of which I do not know—

E dorai ’r arwest, ede wan,

Brwnt y ỻe, ar Bont y Ỻan.

The cord would snap, feeble yarn,

At that nasty spot, Pont y Ỻan.

Curiously enough, the same caweỻ story used to be said of a widely spread family in North Cardiganshire, whose surname was pronounced Massn and written Mason or Mazon: as my mother was of this family, I have often heard it. The caweỻ, if I remember rightly, was said, in this instance, to have come from Scotland, to which were traced three men who settled in North Cardiganshire. One had no descendants, but the other two, Mason and Peel—I think his name was Peel, but I am only sure that it was not Welsh—had so many, that the Masons, at any rate, are exceedingly numerous there; but a great many of them, owing to some extent, probably, to the caweỻ story, have been silly enough to change their name into that of Jones, some of them in my time. The three men came there probably for refuge in the course of troubles in Scotland, as a Frazer and a Francis did to Anglesey. At any rate, I have never heard it suggested that they were of aquatic origin, but, taking the caweỻ into consideration, and the popular account of [69]the Smychiaid, I should be inclined to think that the caweỻ originally referred to some such a supposed descent. I only hope that somebody will help us with another and a longer caweỻ tale, which will make up for the brevity of these allusions. We may, however, assume, I think, that there was a tendency at one time in Gwyneđ, if not in other parts of the Principality, to believe, or pretend to believe, that the descendants of an Englishman or Scotsman, who settled among the old inhabitants, were of fairy origin, and that their history was somehow uncanny, which was all, of course, duly resented. This helps, to some extent, to explain how names of doubtful origin have got into these tales, such as Smychiaid, Cowperiaid, Pellings, Penelope, Leisa Bèla or Isabella, and the like. This association of the lake legends with intruders from without is what has, perhaps, in a great measure served to rescue such legends from utter oblivion.

As to a church at Corwrion, the tradition does not seem to be an old one, and it appears founded on one of the popular etymologies of the word Corwrion, which treats the first syllable as cor in the sense of a choir; but the word has other meanings, including among them that of an ox-stall or enclosure for cattle. Taking this as coming near the true explanation, it at once suggests itself, that Creuwyryon in the Mabinogi of Math ab Mathonwy is the same place, for creu or crau also meant an enclosure for animals, including swine. In Irish the word is cró, an enclosure, a hut or hovel. The passage in the Mabinogi28 relates to Gwydion returning with the swine he had got by dint of magic and deceit from Pryderi, prince of Dyfed, and runs thus in Lady Charlotte Guest’s translation: ‘So they journeyed on to the highest town of Arỻechweđ, [70]and there they made a sty (creu) for the swine, and therefore was the name of Creuwyryon given to that town.’ As to wyryon or wyrion, which we find made into wrion in Corwrion according to the modern habit, it would seem to be no other word than the usual plural of wyr, a grandson, formerly also any descendant in the direct line. If so, the name of an ancestor must have originally followed, just as one of the places called Bettws was once Betws Wyrion Iđon, ‘the Bettws of Iđon’s Descendants’; but it is possible that wyrion in Creu- or Cor-wyrion was itself a man’s name, though I have never met with it. It is right to add that the name appears in the Record of Carnarvon (pp. 12, 25, 26) as Creweryon, which carries us back to the first half of the fourteenth century. There it occurs as the name of a township containing eight gavels, and the particulars about it might, in the hand of one familiar with the tenures of that time, perhaps give us valuable information as to what may have been its status at a still earlier date.



Here, for the sake of comparison with the Northwalian stories in which the fairy wife runs away from her husband in consequence of his having unintentionally touched or hit her with the iron in the bridle, the fetter, or the stirrup, as on pp. 35, 40, 46, 50, 54, 61. I wish to cite the oldest recorded version, namely from Walter Mapes’ curious miscellany of anecdotes and legends entitled De Nugis Curialium Distinctiones Quinque. Mapes flourished in the latter part of the twelfth century, and in Distinctio ii. 11 of Thomas Wright’s edition, published in the year 1850, one reads the following story, which serves the purpose there of [71]giving the origin of a certain Trinio, of whom Mapes had more to say:—

Aliud non miraculum sed portentum nobis Walenses referunt. Wastinum Wastiniauc secus stagnum Brekeinauc [read Brecheinauc], quod in circuitu duo miliaria tenet, mansisse aiunt et vidisse per tres claras a luna noctes choreas fæminarum in campo avenæ suæ, et secutum eum eas fuisse donec in aqua stagni submergerentur, unam tamen quarta vice retinuisse. Narrabat etiam ille raptor illius quod eas noctibus singulis post submersionem earum murmurantes audisset sub aqua et dicentes, ‘Si hoc fecisset, unam de nobis cepisset,’ et se ab ipsis edoctum quomodo hanc adepta [read -us] sit, quæ et consensit et nupsit ei, et prima verba sua hæc ad virum suum, ‘Libens tibi serviam, et tota obedientiæ devotione usque in diem illum prosilire volens ad clamores ultra Lenem [read Leueni] me freno tuo percusseris.’ Est autem Leueni aqua vicina stagno. Quod et factum est; post plurimæ prolis susceptionem ab eo freno percussa est, et in reditu suo inventam eam fugientem cum prole, insecutus est, et vix unum ex filiis suis arripuit, nomine Triunem Uagelauc.

‘The Welsh relate to us another thing, not so much a miracle as a portent, as follows. They say that Gwestin of Gwestiniog dwelt beside Brecknock Mere, which has a circumference of two miles, and that on three moonlight nights he saw in his field of oats women dancing, and that he followed them until they sank in the water of the mere; but the fourth time they say that he seized hold of one of them. Her captor further used to relate that on each of these nights he had heard the women, after plunging into the mere, murmuring beneath the water and saying, “If he had done so and so, he would have caught one of us,” and that he had been instructed by their own words, [72]as to the manner in which he caught her. She both yielded and became his wife, and her first words to her husband were these: “Willingly will I serve thee, and with whole-hearted obedience, until that day when, desirous of sallying forth in the direction of the cries beyond the Ỻyfni, thou shalt strike me with thy bridle”—the Ỻyfni is a burn near the mere. And this came to pass: after presenting him with a numerous offspring she was struck by him with the bridle, and on his returning home, he found her running away with her offspring, and he pursued her, but it was with difficulty that he got hold even of one of his sons, and he was named Trinio (?) Faglog.’

The story, as it proceeds, mentions Trinio engaged in battle with the men of a prince who seems to have been no other than Brychan of Brycheiniog, supposed to have died about the middle of the fifth century. The battle was disastrous to Trinio and his friends, and Trinio was never seen afterwards; so Walter Mapes reports the fact that people believed him to have been rescued by his mother, and that he was with her living still in the lake. Giraldus calls it lacus ille de Brecheniauc magnus et famosus, quem et Clamosum dicunt, ‘that great and famous lake of Brecknock which they also call Clamosus,’ suggested by the Welsh Ỻyn Ỻefni, so called from the river Ỻefni, misinterpreted as if derived from ỻef ‘a cry.’ With this lake he connects the legend, that at the bidding of the rightful Prince of Wales, the birds frequenting it would at once warble and sing. This he asserts to have been proved in the case of Gruffuđ, son of Rhys, though the Normans were at the time masters of his person and of his territory29. After dwelling on the varying colours of the lake he adds the following statement:—Ad hæc [73]etiam totus ædificiis consertus, culturis egregiis, hortis ornatus et pomeriis, ab accolis quandoque conspicitur, ‘Now and then also it is seen by the neighbouring inhabitants to be covered with buildings, and adorned with excellent farming, gardens, and orchards.’ It is remarkable as one of the few lakes in Wales where the remains of a crannog have been discovered, and while Mapes gives it as only two miles round, it is now said to be about five; so it has sometimes30 been regarded as a stockaded island rather than as an instance of pile dwellings.

In the Brython for 1863, pp. 114–15, is to be found what purports to be a copy of a version of the Legend of Ỻyn Syfađon, as contained in a manuscript of Hugh Thomas’ in the British Museum. It is to the effect that the people of the neighbourhood have a story that all the land now covered by the lake belonged to a princess, who had an admirer to whom she would not be married unless he procured plenty of gold: she did not care how. So he one day murdered and robbed a man who had money, and the princess then accepted the murderer’s suit, but she felt uneasy on account of the reports as to the murdered man’s ghost haunting the place where his body had been buried. So she made her admirer go at night to interview the ghost and lay it. Whilst he waited near the grave he heard a voice inquiring whether the innocent man was not to be avenged, and another replying that it would not be avenged till the ninth generation. The princess and her lover felt safe enough and were married: they multiplied and became numerous, while their town grew to be as it were another Sodom; and the original pair lived on so [74]astonishingly long that they saw their descendants of the ninth generation. They exulted in their prosperity, and one day held a great feast to celebrate it; and when their descendants were banqueting with them, and the gaiety and mirth were at their zenith, ancestors and descendants were one and all drowned in a mighty cataclysm which produced the present lake.

Lastly may be briefly mentioned the belief still lingering in the neighbourhood, to the effect that there is a town beneath the waters of the lake, and that in rough weather the bells from the church tower of that town may be heard ringing, while in calm weather the spire of the church may be distinctly seen. My informant, writing in 1892, added the remark: ‘This story seems hardly creditable to us, but many of the old people believe it.’

I ought to have mentioned that the fifteenth-century poet Lewis Glyn Cothi connects with Syfađon31 Lake an afanc legend; but this will be easier to understand in the light of the more complete one from the banks of the river Conwy. So the reader will find Glyn Cothi’s words given in the next chapter. [75]

1 As to the spelling of Welsh names, it may be pointed out for the benefit of English readers that Welsh f has the sound of English v, while the sound of English f is written ff (and ph) in Welsh, and however strange it may seem to them that the written f should be sounded v, it is borrowed from an old English alphabet which did so likewise more or less systematically. Th in such English words as thin and breath is written th, but the soft sound as in this and breathe is usually printed in Welsh dd and written in modern Welsh manuscript sometimes δ, like a small Greek delta: this will be found represented by đ in the Welsh extracts edited by me in this volume.—J. R. 

2 ‘Blaensawđe, or the upper end of the river Sawđe, is situate about three-quarters of a mile south-east from the village of Ỻanđeusant. It gives its name to one of the hamlets of that parish. The Sawđe has its source in Ỻyn y Fan Fach, which is nearly two miles distant from Blaensawđe House.’ 

3 The rendering might be more correctly given thus: ‘O thou of the crimped bread, it is not easy to catch me.’—J. R. 

4 ‘Myđfai parish was, in former times, celebrated for its fair maidens, but whether they were descendants of the Lady of the Lake or otherwise cannot be determined. An old penniỻ records the fact of their beauty thus:—

Mae eira gwyn

Ar ben y bryn,

A’r glasgoed yn y Ferdre,

Mae bedw mân

Ynghoed Cwm-brân,

A merched glân yn Myđfe.

Which may be translated,

There is white snow

On the mountain’s brow,

And greenwood at the Verdre,

Young birch so good

In Cwm-brân wood,

And lovely girls in Myđfe.’


5 Similarly this should be rendered: ‘O thou of the moist bread, I will not have thee.’—J. R. 

6 In the best Demetian Welsh this word would be hweđel, and in the Gwentian of Glamorgan it is gweđel, mutated weđel, as may be heard in the neighbourhood of Bridgend.—J. R. 

7 This is not generally accepted, as some Welsh antiquarians find reasons to believe that Dafyđ ap Gwilym was buried at Strata Florida.—J. R. 

8 This is not quite correct, as I believe that Dr. C. Rice Williams, who lives at Aberystwyth, is one of the Međygon. That means the year 1881, when this chapter was written, excepting the portions concerning which the reader is apprised of a later date.—J. R. 

9 Later it will be seen that the triban in the above form was meant for neither of the two lakes, though it would seem to have adapted itself to several. In the case of the Fan Fach Lake the town meant must have been Carmarthen, and the couplet probably ran thus:

Os na cha’i lonyđ yn ym ỻe,

Fi fođa dre’ Garfyrđin.


10 Ỻwch is the Goidelic word loch borrowed, and Ỻyn Cwm y Ỻwch literally means the Lake of the Loch Dingle. 

11 I make no attempt to translate these lines, but I find that Mr. Ỻewellyn Williams has found a still more obscure version of them, as follows:—

Prw međ, prw međ, prw’r gwartheg i dre’,

Prw milfach a malfach, pedair ỻualfach,

Ỻualfach ac Acli, pedair lafi,

Lafi a chromwen, pedair nepwen,

Nepwen drwynog, brech yn ỻyn a gwaun dodyn,

Tair bryncethin, tair cyffredin,

Tair caseg đu, draw yn yr eithin;

Dewch i gyd i lys y brenin.


12 The Ty-fry is a house said to be some 200 years old, and situated about two miles from Rhonđa Fechan: more exactly it is about one-fourth of a mile from the station of Ystrad Rhonđa, and stands at the foot of Mynyđ yr Eglwys on the Treorky side. It is now surrounded by the cottages of colliers, one of whom occupies it. For this information I have to thank Mr. Probert Evans. 

13 It is to be borne in mind that the sound of h is uncertain in Glamorgan [29]pronunciation, whether the language used is Welsh or English. The pronunciation indicated, however, by Mr. Evans comes near enough to the authentic form written Elfarch

14 In the Snowdon district of Gwyneđ the call is drwi, drwi, drŵ-i bach, while in North Cardiganshire it is trwi, trwi, trw-e fach, also pronounced sometimes with a surd r, produced by making the breath cause both lips to vibrate—tR′wi, tR′wi, which can hardly be distinguished from pR′wi, pR′wi. For the more forcibly the lips are vibrated the more difficult it becomes to start by closing them to pronounce p: so the tendency with R′ is to make the preceding consonant into some kind of a t

15 This is the Welsh form of the borrowed name Jane, and its pronunciation in North Cardiganshire is Si̯ân, with si̯ pronounced approximately like the ti of such French words as nation and the like; but of late years I find the si̯ made into English sh under the influence, probably, to some extent of the English taught at school. This happens in North Wales, even in districts where there are still plenty of people who cannot approach the English words fish and shilling nearer than fiss and silling. Si̯ôn and Si̯ân represent an old importation of English John and Jane, but they are now considered old-fashioned and superseded by John and Jane, which I learned to pronounce Dsi̯òn and Dsi̯ên, except that Si̯ôn survives as a family name, written Shone, in the neighbourhood of Wrexham. 

16 This term dafad (or dafaden), ‘a sheep,’ also used for ‘a wart,’ and dafad (or dafaden) wyỻt, literally ‘a wild sheep,’ for cancer or epithelioma, raises a question which I am quite unable to answer: why should a wart have been likened to a sheep? 

17 The name is probably a shortening of Caweỻyn, and that perhaps of Caweỻ-lyn, ‘Creel or Basket Lake.’ Its old name is said to have been Ỻyn Tarđenni

18 Tyn is a shortening of tyđyn, which is not quite forgotten in the case of Tyn Gadlas or Tyn Siarlas (for Tyđyn Siarlys), ‘Charles’ Tenement,’ in the immediate neighbourhood. Similarly the Anglesey Farm of Tyn yr Onnen used at one time to be Tyđyn yr Onnen in the books of Jesus College, Oxford, to which it belongs. 

19 That is the pronunciation which I have learnt at Ỻanberis, but there is another, which I have also heard, namely Derwenyđ

20 Ystrad is the Welsh corresponding to Scotch strath, and it is nearly related to the English word strand. It means the flat land near a river. 

21 Betws (or Bettws) Garmon seems to mean Germanus’s Bede-hūs or House of Prayer, but Garmon can hardly have come down in Welsh from the time of the famous saint in the fifth century, as it would then have probably yielded Gerfon and not Garmon: it looks as if it had come through the Goidelic of this country. 

22 One of the rare merits of our Welsh bards is their habit of assuming permanent noms de plume, by means of which they prevent a number of excellent native names from falling into utter oblivion in the general chaos of Anglo-Hebrew ones, such as Jones, Davies, and Williams, which cover the Principality. Welsh place-names have similarly been threatened by Hebrew names of chapels, such as Bethesda, Rehoboth, and Jerusalem, but in this direction the Jewish mania has only here and there effected permanent mischief. 

23 The Brython was a valuable Welsh periodical published by Mr. Robert Isaac Jones, at Tremadoc, in the years 1858–1863, and edited by the Rev. Chancellor Silvan Evans, who was then the curate of Ỻangïan in Ỻeyn: in fact he was curate for fourteen years! His excellent work in editing the Brython earned for him his diocesan’s displeasure, but it is easier to imagine than to describe how hard it was for him to resign the honorarium of £24 derived from the Brython when his stipend as a clergyman was only £92, at the same time that he had dependent on him a wife and six children. However much some people affect to laugh at the revival of the national spirit in Wales, we have, I think, got so far as to make it, for some time to come, impossible for a Welsh clergyman to be snubbed on account of his literary tastes or his delight in the archæology of his country. 

24 This parish is called after a saint named Tegái or Tygái, like Tyfaelog and Tysilio, and though the accent rests on the final syllable nothing could prevent the grammarian Huw Tegai and his friends from making it into Tégai in Huw’s name. 

25 For can they now usually put Ann, and Mr. Hughes remembers hearing it so many years ago. 

26 I remember seeing a similar mound at Ỻanfyrnach, in Pembrokeshire; and the last use made of the hollow on the top of this also is supposed to have been for cock-fights. 

27 My attention has also been called to freit, frete, freet, fret, ‘news, inquiry, augury,’ corresponding to Anglo-Saxon freht, ‘divination.’ But the disparity of meaning seems to stand in the way of our ffrit being referred to this origin. 

28 The Oxford Mabinogion, p. 63; Guest, iii. 223. 

29 See the Itinerarium Kambriæ, i. 2 (pp. 33–5), and Celtic Britain, p. 64. 

30 As for example in the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1870, pp. 192–8; see also 1872, pp. 146–8. 

31 Howells has also an account of Ỻyn Savadhan, as he writes it: see his Cambrian Superstitions, pp. 100–2, where he quaintly says that the story of the wickedness of the ancient lord of Syfađon is assigned as the reason why ‘the superstitious little river Lewenny will not mix its water with that of the lake.’ Lewenny is a reckless improvement of Mapes’ Leueni (printed Lenem); and Giraldus’ Clamosum implies an old spelling Ỻefni, pronounced the same as the later spelling Ỻyfni, which is now made into Ỻynfi or Ỻynvi: the river so called flows through the lake and into the Wye at Glasbury. As to Safađan or Syfađon, it is probably of Goidelic origin, and to be identified with such an Irish name as the feminine Samthann: see Dec. 19 in the Martyrologies. To keep within our data, we are at liberty to suppose that this was the name of the wicked princess in the story, and that she was the ancestress of a clan once powerful on and around the lake, which lies within a Goidelic area indicated by its Ogam inscriptions. 



The Fairies’ Revenge

In th’olde dayes of the king Arthour,

Of which that Britons speken greet honour,

Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.

The elf-queen, with hir joly companye,

Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede;

This was the olde opinion, as I rede.

I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.




The best living authority I have found on the folklore of Beđgelert, Drws y Coed, and the surrounding district, is Mr. William Jones, of Ỻangoỻen. He has written a good deal on the subject in the Brython, and in essays intended for competition at various literary meetings in Wales. I had the loan from him of one such essay, and I have referred to the Brython; and I have also had from Mr. Jones a number of letters, most of which contain some additional information. In harmony, moreover, with my usual practice, I have asked Mr. Jones to give me a little of his own history. This he has been kind enough to do; and, as I have so far followed no particular order in these jottings, I shall now give the reader the substance of his letters in English, as I am anxious that no item should be lost or left inaccessible to English students of folklore. What is unintelligible to me may not be so to those who have made a serious study of the subject. Mr. Jones’ words are in substance to the following effect:—

‘I was bred and born in the parish of Beđgelert, [76]one of the most rustic neighbourhoods and least subject to change in the whole country. Some of the old Welsh customs remained within my memory, in spite of the adverse influence of the Calvinistic Reformation, as it is termed, and I have myself witnessed several Knitting Nights and Nuptial Feasts (Neithiorau), which, be it noticed, are not to be confounded with weddings, as they were feasts which followed the weddings, at the interval of a week. At these gatherings song and story formed an element of prime importance in the entertainment at a time when the Reformation alluded to had already blown the blast of extinction on the Merry Nights (Noswyliau Ỻawen) and Saints’ Fêtes1 (Gwyliau Mabsant) before the days of my youth, though many of my aged acquaintances remembered them well, and retained a vivid recollection of scores of the amusing tales which used to be related for the best at the last mentioned long-night meetings. I have heard not a few of them reproduced by men of that generation. As an example of the old-fashioned habits of the people of Beđgelert in my early days, I may mention the way in which wives and children used to be named. The custom was that the wife never took her husband’s family name, but retained the one she had as a spinster. Thus my grandmother on my mother’s side was called Ellen Hughes, daughter to Hugh Williams, [77]of Gwastad Annas. The name of her husband, my grandfather, was William Prichard [= W. ab Rhisiart, or Richard’s son], son to Richard William, of the Efail Newyđ. The name of their eldest son, my uncle (brother to my mother), was Hugh Hughes, and the second son’s name was Richard William. The mother had the privilege of naming her first-born after her own family in case it was a boy; but if it happened to be a girl, she took her name from the father’s family, for which reason my mother’s maiden name was Catharine Williams. This remained her name to the day of her death: and the old people at Beđgelert persisted in calling me, so long as I was at home, William Prichard, after my grandfather, as I was my mother’s eldest child.

‘Most of the tales I have collected,’ says Mr. Jones, ‘relate to the parishes of Beđgelert and Dolwyđelen. My kindred have lived for generations in those two parishes, and they are very numerous: in fact, it used to be said that the people of Dolwyđelen and Beđgelert were all cousins. They were mostly small farmers, and jealous of all strangers, so that they married almost without exception from the one parish into the other. This intermixture helped to carry the tales of the one parish to the other, and to perpetuate them on the hearths of their homes from generation to generation, until they were swept away by another influence in this century. Many of my ancestors seem to have been very fond of stories, poetry, and singing, and I have been told that some of them were very skilled in these things. So also, in the case of my parents, the memory of the past had a great charm for them on both sides; and when the relatives from Dolwyđelen and Beđgelert met in either parish, there used to be no end to the recounting of pedigrees and the repeating of tales for [78]the best. By listening to them, I had been filled with desire to become an adept in pedigrees and legends. My parents used to let me go every evening to the house of my grandfather, William ab Rhisiart, the clerk, to listen to tales, and to hear edifying books read. My grandfather was a reader “without his rival,” and “he used to beat the parson hollow.” Many people used to meet at Pen y Bont in the evenings to converse together, and the stories of some of them were now and then exceedingly eloquent. Of course, I listened with eager ears and open mouth, in order, if I heard anything new, to be able to repeat it to my mother. She, unwilling to let herself be beaten, would probably relate another like it, which she had heard from her mother, her grandmother, or her old aunt of Gwastad Annas, who was a fairly good verse-wright of the homely kind. Then my father, if he did not happen to be busy with his music-book, would also give us a tale which he had heard from his grandmother or grandfather, the old John Jones, of Tyn Ỻan Dolwyđelen, or somebody else would do so. That is one source from which I got my knowledge of folklore; but this ceased when we moved from Beđgelert to Carnarvon in the year 1841. My grandfather died in 1844, aged seventy-eight.

‘Besides those,’ Mr. Jones goes on to say, ‘who used to come to my grandfather’s house and to his workshop to relate stories, the blacksmith’s shop used to be, especially on a rainy day, a capital place for a story, and many a time did I lurk there instead of going to school, in order to hear old William Dafyđ, the sawyer, who, peace be to his ashes! drank many a hornful from the Big Quart without ever breaking down, and old Ifan Owen, the fisherman, tearing away for the best at their yarns, sometimes a tissue of lies and sometimes truth. The former was funny, and a great wag, up to all kinds [79]of tricks. He made everybody laugh, whereas the latter would preserve the gravity of a saint, however lying might be the tale which he related. Ifan Owen’s best stories were about the Water Spirit, or, as he called it, Ỻamhigyn y Dwr, “the Water Leaper.” He had not himself seen the Ỻamhigyn, but his father had seen it “hundreds of times.” Many an evening it had prevented him from catching a single fish in Ỻyn Gwynan, and, when the fisherman got on this theme, his eloquence was apt to become highly polysyllabic in its adjectives. Once in particular, when he had been angling for hours towards the close of the day, without catching anything, he found that something took the fly clean off the hook each time he cast it. After moving from one spot to another on the lake, he fished opposite the Benlan Wen, when something gave his line a frightful pull, “and, by the gallows, I gave another pull,” the fisherman used to say, “with all the force of my arm: out it came, and up it went off the hook, whilst I turned round to see, as it dashed so against the cliff of Benlan that it blazed like a lightning.” He used to add, “If that was not the Ỻamhigyn, it must have been the very devil himself.” That cliff must be two hundred yards at least from the shore. As to his father, he had seen the Water Spirit many times, and he had also been fishing in the Ỻyn Glâs or Ffynnon Lâs, once upon a time, when he hooked a wonderful and fearful monster: it was not like a fish, but rather resembled a toad, except that it had a tail and wings instead of legs. He pulled it easily enough towards the shore, but, as its head was coming out of the water, it gave a terrible shriek that was enough to split the fisherman’s bones to the marrow, and, had there not been a friend standing by, he would have fallen headlong into the lake, and been possibly dragged like a sheep into [80]the depth; for there is a tradition that if a sheep got into the Ỻyn Glâs, it could not be got out again, as something would at once drag it to the bottom. This used to be the belief of the shepherds of Cwm Dyli, within my memory, and they acted on it in never letting their dogs go after the sheep in the neighbourhood of this lake. These two funny fellows, William Dafyđ and Ifan Owen, died long ago, without leaving any of their descendants blessed with as much as the faintest gossamer thread of the story-teller’s mantle. The former, if he had been still living, would now be no less than 129 years of age, and the latter about 120.’

Mr. Jones proceeds to say that he had stories from sources besides those mentioned, namely, from Lowri Robart, wife of Rhisiart Edwart, the ‘Old Guide’; from his old aunt of Gwastad Annas; from William Wmffra, husband to his grandmother’s sister; from his grandmother, who was a native of Dolwyđelen, but had been brought up at Pwỻgwernog, in Nanmor; from her sister; and from Gruffuđ Prisiart, of Nanmor, afterwards of Glan Colwyn, who gave him the legend of Owen Lawgoch of which I shall have something to say later, and the story of the bogie of Pen Pwll Coch, which I do not know. ‘But the chief story-teller of his time at Beđgelert,’ Mr. Jones goes on to say, ‘was Twm Ifan Siams (pronounced Si̯ăms or Shăms), brother, I believe, to Dafyđ Siôn Siams, of the Penrhyn, who was a bard and pedigree man. Twm lived at Nanmor, but I know not what his vocation was; his relatives, however, were small farmers, carpenters, and masons. It is not improbable that he was also an artisan, as he was conversant with numbers, magnitude, and letters, and left behind him a volume forming a pedigree book known at Nanmor as the Barcud Mawr, or “Great Kite,” as Gruffuđ Prisiart told me. The latter had been reading it many [81]a time in order to know the origin of somebody or other. All I can remember of this character is that he was very old—over 90—and that he went from house to house in his old age to relate tales and recount pedigrees: great was the welcome he had from everybody everywhere. I remember, also, that he was small of stature, nimble, witty, exceedingly amusing, and always ready with his say on every subject. He was in the habit of calling on my grandfather in his rambles, and very cordial was the reception which my parents always gave him on account of his tales and his knowledge of pedigrees. The story of the afanc, as given in my collection, is from his mouth. You will observe how little difference there is between his version2 and that known to Edward Ỻwyd in the year 1695. I had related this story to a friend of mine at Portmadoc, who was grandson or great-grandson to Dafyđ Siôn Siams, of Penrhyn, in 1858, when he called my attention to the same story in the Cambrian Journal from the correspondence of Edward Ỻwyd. I was surprised at the similarity between the two versions, and I went to Beđgelert to Gruffuđ Rhisiart, who was related to Twm Siôn Siams. I read the story to him, and I found that he had heard it related by his uncle just as it was by me, and as given in the Cambrian Journal. Twm Ifan Siams had funny stories about the tricks of Gwrach y Rhibyn, the Bodach3 Glas, and the Bwbach Ỻwyd, which he localized in Nanmor and Ỻanfrothen; he had, also, a very eloquent tale about the courtship between a sailor from Moel y Gest, near Portmadoc, and a mermaid, of which I retain a fairly [82]good recollection. I believe Twm died in the year 1835–6, aged about ninety-five.’

So far, I have merely translated Mr. Jones’ account of himself and his authorities as given me in the letter I have already referred to, dated in June of last year, 1881. I would now add the substance of his general remarks about the fairies, as he had heard them described, and as he expressed himself in his essay for the competition on folklore at the Carnarvon Eisteđfod of 1880:—The traditions, he says, respecting the Tylwyth Teg vary according to the situation of the districts with which they are connected, and many more such traditions continue to be remembered among the inhabitants of the mountains than by those of the more level country. In some places the Tylwyth Teg are described as a small folk of a thieving nature, living in summer among the fern bushes in the mountains, and in winter in the heather and gorse. These were wont to frequent the fairs and to steal money from the farmers’ pockets, where they placed in its stead their own fairy money, which looked like the coin of the realm, but when it was paid for anything bought it would vanish in the pockets of the seller. In other districts the fairies were described as a little bigger and stronger folk; but these latter were also of a thieving disposition. They would lurk around people’s houses, looking for an opportunity to steal butter and cheese from the dairies, and they skulked about the cow-yards, in order to milk the cows and the goats, which they did so thoroughly that many a morning there was not a drop of milk to be had. The principal mischief, however, which those used to do, was to carry away unbaptized infants, and place in their stead their own wretched and peevish offspring. They were said to live in hidden caves in the mountains, and he had heard one old man asserting his firm [83]belief that it was beneath Moel Eilio, also called Moel Eilian, a mountain lying between Ỻanberis and Cweỻyn, the Tylwyth Teg of Nant y Bettws lived, whom he had seen many a time when he was a lad; and, if any one came across the mouth of their cave, he thought that he would find there a wonderful amount of wealth, ‘for they were thieves without their like.’ There is still another species of Tylwyth Teg, very unlike the foregoing ones in their nature and habits. Not only was this last kind far more beautiful and comely than the others, but they were honest and good towards mortals. Their whole nature was replete with joy and fun, nor were they ever beheld hardly, except engaged in some merry-making or other. They might be seen on bright moonlight nights at it, singing and carolling playfully on the fair meadows and the green slopes, at other times dancing lightly on the tops of the rushes in the valleys. They were also wont to be seen hunting in full force on the backs of their grey horses; for this kind were rich, and kept horses and servants. Though it used to be said that they were spiritual and immortal beings, still they ate and drank like human beings: they married and had children. They were also remarkable for their cleanliness, and they were wont to reward neat maid-servants and hospitable wives. So housewives used to exhort their maids to clean their houses thoroughly every night before going to bed, saying that if the Tylwyth Teg happened to enter, they would be sure to leave money for them somewhere; but they were to tell no one in case they found any, lest the Tylwyth should be offended and come no more. The mistresses also used to order a tinful of water to be placed at the foot of the stairs, a clean cloth on the table, with bread and its accompaniments (bara ac enỻyn) placed on it, so that, if the Tylwyth came in to eat, the maids should [84]have their recompense on the hob as well as unstinted praise for keeping the house clean, or, as Mr. Jones has it in a couplet from Goronwy Owen’s Cywyđ y Cynghorfynt

Cael eu rhent ar y pentan,

A ỻwyr glod o bai ỻawr glân.

Finding the fairies’ pay on the hob,

With full credit for a clean floor.

Thus, whether the fairies came or not to pay a visit to them during their sleep, the house would be clean by the morning, and the table ready set for breakfast. It appears that the places most frequently resorted to by this species were rushy combes surrounded by smooth hills with round tops, also the banks of rivers and the borders of lakes; but they were seldom seen at any time near rocks or cliffs. So more tales about them are found in districts of the former description than anywhere else, and among them may be mentioned Penmachno, Dolwyđelan, the sides of Moel Siabod, Ỻandegái Mountain, and from there to Ỻanberis, to Nantỻe Lakes, to Moel Tryfan4 and Nant y Bettws, the upper portion of the parish of Beđgelert from Drws y Coed to the Pennant, and the district beginning from there and including the level part of Eifion, on towards Celynnog Fawr. I have very little doubt that there are many traditions about them in the neighbourhood of the Eifl and in Ỻeyn; I know but little, however, about these last. This kind of fairies was said to live underground, and the way to their country lay under hollow banks that overhung the deepest parts of the lakes, or the deepest pools in the rivers, so that mortals could not follow them further than the water, should they try to go after them. They used to come out in broad daylight, [85]two or three together, and now and then a shepherd, so the saying went, used to talk and chat with them. Sometimes, moreover, he fell over head and ears in love with their damsels, but they did not readily allow a mortal to touch them. The time they were to be seen in their greatest glee was at night when the moon was full, when they celebrated a merry night (noswaith lawen). At midnight to the minute, they might be seen rising out of the ground in every combe and valley; then, joining hands, they would form into circles, and begin to sing and dance with might and main until the cock crew, when they would vanish. Many used to go to look at them on those nights, but it was dangerous to go too near them, lest they should lure the spectator into their circle; for if that happened, they would throw a charm over him, which would make him invisible to his companions, and he would be detained by the fairies as long as he lived. At times some people went too near to them, and got snatched in; and at other times a love-inspired youth, fascinated by the charms of one of their damsels, rushed in foolhardily to try to seize one of them, and became instantly surrounded and concealed from sight. If he could be got out before the cock crew he would be no worse; but once the fairies disappeared without his having been released, he would never more be seen in the land of the living. The way to get the captured man out was to take a long stick of mountain ash (pren criafol), which two or more strong men had to hold with one of its ends in the middle of the circle, so that when the man came round in his turn in the dance he might take hold of it, for he is there bodily though not visible, so that he cannot go past without coming across the stick. Then the others pull him out, for the fairies, no more than any other spirit, dare touch the mountain ash. [86]

We now proceed to give some of Mr. Jones’ legends. The first is one which he published in the fourth volume of the Brython, p. 70, whence the following free translation is made of it:—

‘In the north-west corner of the parish of Beđgelert there is a place which used to be called by the old inhabitants the Land of the Fairies, and it reaches from Cwm Hafod Ruffyđ along the slope of the mountain of Drws y Coed as far as Ỻyn y Dywarchen. The old people of former times used to find much pleasure and amusement in this district in listening every moonlight night to the charming music of the fair family, and in looking at their dancing and their mirthful sports. Once on a time, a long while ago, there lived at upper Drws y Coed a youth, who was joyous and active, brave and determined of heart. This young man amused himself every night by looking on and listening to them. One night they had come to a field near the house, near the shore of Ỻyn y Dywarchen, to pass a merry night. He went, as usual, to look at them, when his glances at once fell on one of the ladies, who possessed such beauty as he had never seen in a human being. Her appearance was like that of alabaster; her voice was as agreeable as the nightingale’s, and as unruffled as the zephyr in a flower-garden at the noon of a long summer’s day; and her gait was pretty and aristocratic; her feet moved in the dance as lightly on the grass as the rays of the sun had a few hours before on the lake hard by. He fell in love with her over head and ears, and in the strength of that passion—for what is stronger than love!—he rushed, when the bustle was at its height, into the midst of the fair crowd, and snatched the graceful damsel in his arms, and ran instantly with her to the house. When the fair family saw the violence used by a mortal, they broke up the dance and ran after her [87]towards the house; but, when they arrived, the door had been bolted with iron, wherefore they could not get near her or touch her in any way; and the damsel had been placed securely in a chamber. The youth, having her now under his roof, as is the saying, endeavoured, with all his talent, to win her affection and to induce her to wed. But at first she would on no account hear of it; on seeing his persistence, however, and on finding that he would not let her go to return to her people, she consented to be his servant if he could find out her name; but she would not be married to him. As he thought that was not impossible, he half agreed to the condition; but, after bothering his head with all the names known in that neighbourhood, he found himself no nearer his point, though he was not willing to give up the search hurriedly. One night, as he was going home from Carnarvon market, he saw a number of the fair folks in a turbary not far from his path. They seemed to him to be engaged in an important deliberation, and it struck him that they were planning how to recover their abducted sister. He thought, moreover, that if he could secretly get within hearing, he might possibly find her name out. On looking carefully around, he saw that a ditch ran through the turbary and passed near the spot where they stood. So he made his way round to the ditch, and crept, on all fours, along it until he was within hearing of the family. After listening a little, he found that their deliberation was as to the fate of the lady he had carried away, and he heard one of them crying, piteously, “O Penelop, O Penelop, my sister, why didst thou run away with a mortal!” “Penelop,” said the young man to himself, “that must be the name of my beloved: that is enough.” At once he began to creep back quietly, and he returned home safely without having been seen by the fairies. [88]When he got into the house, he called out to the girl, saying, “Penelop, my beloved one, come here!” and she came forward and asked, in astonishment, “O mortal, who has betrayed my name to thee?” Then, lifting up her tiny folded hands, she exclaimed, “Alas, my fate, my fate!” But she grew contented with her fate, and took to her work in earnest. Everything in the house and on the farm prospered under her charge. There was no better or cleanlier housewife in the neighbourhood around, or one that was more provident than she. The young man, however, was not satisfied that she should be a servant to him, and, after he had long and persistently sought it, she consented to be married, on the one condition, that, if ever he should touch her with iron, she would be free to leave him and return to her family. He agreed to that condition, since he believed that such a thing would never happen at his hands. So they were married, and lived several years happily and comfortably together. Two children were born to them, a boy and a girl, the picture of their mother and the idols of their father. But one morning, when the husband wanted to go to the fair at Carnarvon, he went out to catch a filly that was grazing in the field by the house; but for the life of him he could not catch her, and he called to his wife to come to assist him. She came without delay, and they managed to drive the filly to a secure corner, as they thought; but, as the man approached to catch her, she rushed past him. In his excitement, he threw the bridle after her; but, who should be running in the direction of it, but his wife! The iron bit struck her on the cheek, and she vanished out of sight on the spot. Her husband never saw her any more; but one cold frosty night, a long time after this event, he was awakened from his sleep by somebody rubbing the glass of his window, and, after he had given [89]a response, he recognized the gentle and tender voice of his wife saying to him:—

Lest my son should find it cold,

Place on him his father’s coat;

Lest the fair one find it cold,

Place on her my petticoat.

It is said that the descendants of this family still continue in these neighbourhoods, and that they are easy to be recognized by their light and fair complexion. A similar story is related of the son of the farmer of Braich y Dinas, in Ỻanfihangel y Pennant, and it used to be said that most of the inhabitants of that neighbourhood were formerly of a light complexion. I have often heard old people saying, that it was only necessary, within their memory, to point out in the fair at Penmorfa any one as being of the breed of the Tylwyth, to cause plenty of fighting that day at least.’

The reader may compare with this tale the following, for which I have to thank Mr. Samuel Rhys Williams, whose words I give, followed by a translation:—

Yr oeđ gwr ieuanc o gymydogaeth Drws y Coed yn dychwelyd adref o Beđgelert ar noswaith loergan ỻeuad; pan ar gyfer Ỻyn y Gader gwelai nifer o’r boneđigesau a elwir y Tylwyth Teg yn myned trwy eu chwareuon nosawl. Swynwyd y ỻanc yn y fan gan brydferthwch y rhianod hyn, ac yn neiỻduol un o honynt. Coỻođ y ỻywodraeth arno ei hunan i’r fath rađau fel y penderfynođ neidio i’r cylch a dwyn yn ysbail iđo yr hon oeđ wedi myned a’i galon mor ỻwyr. Cyflawnođ ei fwriad a dygođ y foneđiges gydag ef adref. Bu yn wraig iđo, a ganwyd plant iđynt. Yn đamweiniol, tra yn cyflawni rhyw orchwyl, digwyđođ iđo ei tharo a haiarn ac ar amrantiad diflannođ ei anwylyd o’i olwg ac nis gwelođ hi mwyach, ond đarfod iđi đyfod at ffenestr ei ystafeỻ wely un noswaith ar ol hyn a’i annog i fod yn dirion wrth y plant a’i bod hi yn aros gerỻaw y ty [90]yn Ỻyny Dywarchen. Y mae y trađodiad hefyd yn ein hysbysu đarfod i’r gwr hwn symud i fyw o Đrws y Coed i Ystrad Betws Garmon.

‘A young man, from the neighbourhood of Drws y Coed, was returning home one bright moonlight night, from Beđgelert; when he came opposite the lake called Ỻyn y Gader, he saw a number of the ladies known as the Tylwyth Teg going through their nightly frolics. The youth was charmed at once by the beauty of these ladies, and especially by one of them. He so far lost his control over himself, that he resolved to leap into the circle and carry away as his spoil the one who had so completely robbed him of his heart. He accomplished his intention, and carried the lady home with him. She became his wife, and children were born to them. Accidentally, while at some work or other, it happened to him to strike her with iron, and, in the twinkling of an eye, his beloved one disappeared from his sight. He saw her no more, except that she came to his bedroom window one night afterwards, and told him to be tender to the children, and that she was staying, near the house, in the lake called Ỻyn y Dywarchen. The tradition also informs us that this man moved from Drws y Coed to live at Ystrad near Bettws Garmon.’

The name Ỻyn y Dywarchen, I may add, means the Lake of the Sod or Turf: it is the one with the floating island, described thus by Giraldus, ii. 9 (p. 135):—Alter enim insulam habet erraticam, vi ventorum impellentium ad oppositas plerumque lacus partes errabundam. Hic armenta pascentia nonnunquam pastores ad longinquas subito partes translata mirantur. ‘For one of the two lakes holds a wandering island, which strays mostly with the force of the winds impelling it to the opposite parts of the lake. Sometimes cattle grazing on it are, [91]to the surprise of the shepherds, suddenly carried across to the more distant parts.’ Sheep are known to get on the floating islet, and it is still believed to float them away from the shore. Mr. S. Rhys Williams, it will be noticed, has given the substance of the legend rather than the story itself. I now proceed to translate the same tale as given in Welsh in Cymru Fu (pp. 474–7 of the edition published by Messrs. Hughes and Son, Wrexham), in a very different dress—it is from Glasynys’ pen, and, as might be expected, decked out with all the literary adornments in which he delighted. The language he used was his own, but there is no reason to think that he invented any of the incidents:—‘The farmer of Drws y Coed’s son was one misty day engaged as a shepherd on the side of the mountain, a little below Cwm Marchnad, and, as he crossed a rushy flat, he saw a wonderfully handsome little woman standing under a clump of rushes. Her yellow and curly hair hung down in ringed locks, and her eyes were as blue as the clear sky, while her forehead was as white as the wavy face of a snowdrift that has nestled on the side of Snowdon only a single night. Her two plump cheeks were each like a red rose, and her pretty-lipped mouth might make an angel eager to kiss her. The youth approached her, filled with love for her, and, with delicacy and affection, asked her if he might converse with her. She smiled kindly, and reaching out her hand, said to him, “Idol of my hopes, thou hast come at last!” They began to associate secretly, and to meet one another daily here and there on the moors around the banks of Ỻyn y Gader; at last, their love had waxed so strong that the young man could not be at peace either day or night, as he was always thinking of Bella or humming to himself a verse of poetry about her charms. The yellow-haired youth was now and [92]then lost for a long while, and nobody could divine his history. His acquaintances believed that he had been fascinated: at last the secret was found out. There were about Ỻyn y Dywarchen shady and concealing copses: it was there he was wont to go, and the she-elf would always be there awaiting him, and it was therefore that the place where they used to meet got to be called Ỻwyn y Forwyn, the Maiden’s Grove. After fondly loving for a long time, it was resolved to wed; but it was needful to get the leave of the damsel’s father. One moonlight night it was agreed to meet in the wood, and the appointment was duly kept by the young man, but there was no sign of the subterranean folks coming, until the moon disappeared behind the Garn. Then the two arrived, and the old man at once proceeded to say to the suitor: “Thou shalt have my daughter on the condition that thou do not strike her with iron. If thou ever touch her with iron, she will no longer be thine, but shall return to her own.” The man consented readily, and great was his joy. They were betrothed, and seldom was a handsomer pair seen at the altar. It was rumoured that a vast sum of money as dowry had arrived with the pretty lady at Drws y Coed on the evening of her nuptials. Soon after, the mountain shepherd of Cwm Marchnad passed for a very rich and influential man. In the course of time they had children, and no happier people ever lived together than their parents. Everything went on regularly and prosperously for a number of years: they became exceedingly wealthy, but the sweet is not to be had without the bitter. One day they both went out on horseback, and they happened to go near Ỻyn y Gader, when the wife’s horse got into a bog and sank to his belly. After the husband had got Bella off his back, he succeeded with much trouble in getting the horse out, and then [93]he let him go. Then he lifted her on the back of his own, but, unfortunately, in trying quickly to place her foot in the stirrup, the iron part of the same slipped, and struck her—or, rather, it touched her at the knee-joint. Before they had made good half their way home, several of the diminutive Tylwyth began to appear to them, and the sound of sweet singing was heard on the side of the hill. Before the husband reached Drws y Coed his wife had left him, and it is supposed that she fled to Ỻwyn y Forwyn, and thence to the world below to Faery. She left her dear little ones to the care of her beloved, and no more came near them. Some say, however, that she sometimes contrived to see her beloved one in the following manner. As the law of her country did not permit her to frequent the earth with an earthly being, she and her mother invented a way of avoiding the one thing and of securing the other. A great piece of sod was set to float on the surface of the lake, and on that she used to be for long hours, freely conversing in tenderness with her consort on shore; by means of that plan they managed to live together until he breathed his last. Their descendants owned Drws y Coed for many generations, and they intermarried and mixed with the people of the district. Moreover, many a fierce fight took place in later times at the Gwyl-fabsant at Dolbenmaen or at Penmorfa, because the men of Eifionyđ had a habit of annoying the people of Pennant by calling them Bellisians.’

In a note, Glasynys remarks that this tale is located in many districts without much variation, except in the names of the places; this, however, could not apply to the latter part, which suits Ỻyn y Dywarchen alone. With this account of the fairy wife frequenting a lake island to converse with her husband on shore, compare the Irish story of the Children of Lir, who, though [94]transformed into swans, were allowed to retain their power of reasoning and speaking, so that they used to converse from the surface of the water with their friends on the dry land: see Joyce’s Old Celtic Romances, pp. x, 1–36. Now I return to another tale which was sent me by Mr. William Jones: unless I am mistaken it has not hitherto been published; so I give the Welsh together with a free translation of it:—

Yr oeđ ystori am fab Braich y Dinas a adrođai y diweđar hybarch Elis Owen o Gefn y Meusyđ yn ỻed debyg i chwedl mab yr Ystrad gan Glasynys, sef iđo hudo un o ferched y Tylwyth Teg i lawr o Foel Hebog, a’i chipio i mewn i’r ty drwy orthrech; ac wedi hynny efe a’i perswadiođ i ymbriodi ag ef ar yr un telerau ag y gwnaeth mab yr Ystrad. Ond clywais hen foneđiges o’r enw Mrs. Roberts, un o ferched yr Isaỻt, oeđ lawer hyn na Mr. Owen, yn ei hadrođ yn wahanol. Yr oeđ yr hen wreigan hon yn credu yn nilysrwyđ y chwedl, oblegid yr oeđ hi ‘yn cofio rhai o’r teulu, waeth be’ đeudo neb.’ Dirwynnai ei hedau yn debyg i hyn:—Yn yr amser gynt—ond o ran hynny pan oeđ hi yn ferch ifanc—yr oeđ ỻawer iawn o Dylwyth Teg yn trigo mewn rhyw ogofau yn y Foel o Gwm Ystradỻyn hyd i flaen y Pennant. Yr oeđ y Tylwyth hwn yn ỻawer iawn harđach na dim a welid mewn un rhan araỻ o’r wlad. Yr oeđynt o ran maint yn fwy o lawer na’r rhai cyffredin, yn lan eu pryd tu hwnt i bawb, eu gwaỻt yn oleu fel ỻin, eu ỻygaid yn loyw leision. Yr oeđynt yn ymđangos mewn rhyw le neu gilyđ yn chwareu, canu ac ymđifyru bob nos deg a goleu; a byđai swn eu canu yn denu y ỻanciau a’r merched ifainc i fyned i’w gweled; ac os byđent yn digwyđ bod o bryd goleu hwy a ymgomient a hwynt, ond ni adawent i un person o liw tywyỻ đod yn agos atynt, eithr cilient ymaith o fforđ y cyfryw un. Yrŵan yr oeđ mab Braich y Dinas yn ỻanc harđ, heini, bywiog ac o bryd glan, goleu a serchiadol. Yr oeđ [95]hwn yn hoff iawn o edrych ar y Tylwyth, a byđai yn cael ymgom a rhai o honynt yn aml, ond yn bennaf ag un o’r merched oeđ yn rhagori arnynt oỻ mewn glendid a synwyr; ac o fynych gyfarfod syrthiođ y đau mewn cariad a’u gilyđ, eithr ni fynai hi ymbriodi ag ef, ond ađawođ fyned i’w wasanaeth, a chydunođ i’w gyfarfod yn Mhant—nid wyf yn cofio yr enw i gyd—drannoeth, oblegid nid oeđ wiw iđi geisio myned gydag ef yn ngwyđ y ỻeiỻ. Feỻy drannoeth aeth i fynu i’r Foel, a chyfarfyđođ y rhian ef yn ol ei hađewid, ag aeth gydag ef adref, ac ymgymerođ a’r swyđ o laethwraig, a buan y dechreuođ popeth lwyđo o dan ei ỻaw: yr oeđ yr ymenyn a’r caws yn cynhyđu beunyđ. Hir a thaer y bu’r ỻanc yn ceisio ganđi briodi. A hi a ađawođ, os medrai ef gael aỻan ei henw. Ni wyđai Mrs. Roberts drwy ba ystryw y ỻwyđođ i gael hwnnw, ond hynny a fu, a daeth ef i’r ty un noswaith a galwođ ar ‘Sibi,’ a phan glywođ hi ei henw, hi a aeth i lewygfa; ond pan đaeth ati ei hun, hi a ymfođlonođ i briodi ar yr amod nad oeđ ef i gyffwrđ a hi a haiarn ac nad oeđ boỻt haiarn i fod ar y drws na chlo ychwaith, a hynny a fu: priodwyd hwynt, a buont fyw yn gysurus am lawer o flynyđoeđ, a ganwyd iđynt amryw blant. Y diweđ a fu fel hyn: yr oeđ ef wedi myned un diwrnod i dori baich o frwyn at doi, a tharawođ y cryman yn y baich i fyned adref; fel yr oeđ yn nesu at y gadlas, rhedođ Sibi i’w gyfarfod, a thaflođ ynteu y baich brwyn yn đireidus tu ag ati, a rhag iđo đyfod ar ei thraws ceisiođ ei atal a’i ỻaw, yr hon a gyffyrđođ a’r cryman; a hi a điflannođ o’r golwg yn y fan yn nghysgod y baich brwyn: ni welwyd ac ni chlywyd dim ođiwrthi mwyach.

‘There was a story respecting the son of the farmer of Braich y Dinas, which used to be told by the late respected Mr. Ellis Owen, of Cefn y Meusyđ, somewhat in the same way as that about the Ystrad youth, as told by Glasynys; that is to say, the young man enticed one [96]of the damsels of the fair family to come down from Moel Hebog, and then he carried her by force into the house, and afterwards persuaded her to become his wife on the same conditions as the heir of Ystrad did. But I have heard an old lady called Mrs. Roberts, who had been brought up at Isaỻt, and who was older than Mr. Owen, relating it differently. This old woman believed in the truth of the story, as “she remembered some of the family, whatever anybody may say.” She used to spin her yarn somewhat as follows:—In old times—but, for the matter of that, when she was a young woman—there were a great many of the fair family living in certain caves in the Foel from Cwm Stráỻyn5 down to the upper part of Pennant. This Tylwyth was much handsomer than any seen in any other part of the country. In point of stature they were much bigger than the ordinary ones, fair of complexion beyond everybody, with hair that was as light as flax, and eyes that were of a clear blue colour. They showed themselves in one spot or another, engaged in playing, singing, and jollity every light night. The sound of their singing used to draw the lads and the young women to look at them; and, should they be of clear complexion, the fairies would chat with them; but they would let no person of a dark hue come near them: they moved away from such a one. Now the young man of Braich y Dinas was a handsome, vigorous, and lively stripling of fair, clear, and attractive complexion. He was very fond of looking at the fair family, and had a chat with some of them often, [97]but chiefly with one of the damsels, who surpassed all the rest in beauty and good sense. The result of frequently meeting was that they fell in love with one another, but she would not marry him. She promised, however, to go to service to him, and agreed to meet him at Pant y—I have forgotten the rest of the name—the day after, as it would not do for her to go with him while the others happened to be looking on. So he went up the next day to the Foel, and the damsel met him according to her promise, and went with him home, where she took to the duties of a dairymaid. Soon everything began to prosper under her hand; the butter and the cheese were daily growing in quantity. Long and importunately did the youth try to get her to marry him. She promised to do so provided he could find out her name. Mrs. Roberts did not know by what manœuvre he succeeded in discovering it, but it was done, and he came into the house one night and called to “Sibi,” and when she heard her name she fainted away. When, however, she recovered her consciousness, she consented to marry on the condition that he was not to touch her with iron, and that there was not to be a bolt of iron on the door, or a lock either. It was agreed, and they were married; they lived together comfortably many years, and had children born to them. The end came thus: he had gone one day to cut a bundle of rushes for thatching, and planted the reaping-hook in the bundle to go home. As he drew towards the haggard, Sibi ran out to meet him, and he wantonly threw the bundle of rushes towards her, when she, to prevent its hitting her, tried to stop it with her hand, which touched the reaping-hook. She vanished on the spot out of sight behind the bundle of rushes, and nothing more was seen or heard of her.’ [98]

Mr. Ellis Owen, alluded to above, was a highly respected gentleman, well known in North Wales for his literary and antiquarian tastes. He was born in 1789 at Cefn y Meusyđ near Tremadoc, where he continued to live till the day of his death, which was January 27, 1868. His literary remains, preceded by a short biography, were published in 1877 by Mr. Robert Isaac Jones of Tremadoc; but it contains no fairy tales so far as I have been able to find.

A tale which partially reminds one of that given by Dewi Glan Ffrydlas respecting the Corwrion midwife, referred to at p. 63 above, was published by Mr. W. Jones in the fourth volume of the Brython, p. 251: freely rendered into English, it runs thus:—

‘Once on a time, when a midwife from Nanhwynan had newly got to the Hafođyđ Brithion to pursue her calling, a gentleman came to the door on a fine grey steed and bade her come with him at once. Such was the authority with which he spoke, that the poor midwife durst not refuse to go, however much it was her duty to stay where she was. So she mounted behind him, and off they went, like the flight of a swallow, through Cwmỻan, over the Bwlch, down Nant yr Aran, and over the Gader to Cwm Hafod Ruffyđ, before the poor woman had time even to say Oh! When they reached there, she saw before her a magnificent mansion, splendidly lit up with such lamps as she had never seen before. They entered the court, and a crowd of servants in expensive liveries came to meet them, and she was at once led through the great hall into a bed-chamber, the like of which she had never seen. There the mistress of the house, to whom she had been fetched, was awaiting her. The midwife got through her duties successfully, and stayed there until the lady had completely recovered, nor had she spent any part of her [99]life so merrily, for there nought but festivity went on day and night: dancing, singing, and endless rejoicing reigned there. But merry as it was, she found that she must go, and the nobleman gave her a large purse, with the order not to open it until she had got into her own house. Then he bade one of his servants escort her the same way that she had come. When she reached home she opened the purse, and, to her great joy, it was full of money: she lived happily on those earnings to the end of her life.’

With this ending of the story one should contrast Dewi Glan Ffrydlas’ tale to which I have already alluded; and I may here refer to Mr. Sikes’ British Goblins, pp. 86–8, for a tale differing from both Dewi’s and Jones’, in that the fairies are there made to appear as devils to the nurse, who had accidentally used a certain ointment which she was not to place near her own eyes. Instead of being rewarded for her services she was only too glad to be deposited anyhow near her home. ‘But,’ as the story goes on to relate, ‘very many years afterwards, being at a fair, she saw a man stealing something from a stall, and, with one corner of her eye, beheld her old master pushing the man’s elbow. Unthinkingly she said, “How are you, master? how are the children?” He said, “How did you see me?” She answered, “With the corner of my left eye.” From that moment she was blind of her left eye, and lived many years with only her right.’ Such is the end of this tale given by Mr. Sikes.

‘But the fair family did not,’ Mr. William Jones goes on to say, ‘always give mortals the means of good living: sometimes they made no little fun of them. Once on a time the Drws y Coed man was going home from Beđgelert Fair, rather merry than sad, along the old road over the Gader, when he saw, on coming near [100]the top of the Gader, a fine, handsome house near the road, in which there was a rare merrymaking. He knew perfectly well that there was no such a building anywhere on his way, and it made him think that he had lost his way and gone astray; so he resolved to turn into the house to ask for lodgings, which were given him. At once, when he entered, he took it to be a nuptial feast (neithior) by reason of the jollity, the singing, and the dancing. The house was full of young men, young women, and children, all merry, and exerting themselves to the utmost. The company began to disappear one by one, and he asked if he might go to bed, whereupon he was led to a splendid chamber, where there was a bed of the softest down with snow-white clothes on it. He stripped at once, went into it, and slept quietly enough till the morning. The first thing to come to his mind when he lay half asleep, half awake, was the jollity of the night before, and the fact of his sleeping in a splendid chamber in the strange house. He opened his eyes to survey his bedroom, but it was too wide: he was sleeping on the bare swamp, with a clump of rushes as his pillow, and the blue sky as his coverlet.’

Mr. Jones mentions that, within his memory, there were still people in his neighbourhood who believed that the fairies stole unbaptized children and placed their own in their stead: he gives the following story about the farmer’s wife of Dyffryn Mymbyr, near Capel Curig, and her infant:—

Yr oeđ y wraig hon wedi rhođi genedigaeth i blentyn iach a heinif yn nechreu y cynheuaf ryw haf blin a thymhestlog: ac o herwyđ fod y tyđyn getyn o fforđ ođiwrth lan na chapel, a’r hin mor hynod o lawiog, esgeuluswyd bedyđio y plentyn yn yr amser arferol, sef cyn ei fod yn wyth niwrnod oed. Ryw điwrnod teg yn [101]nghanol y cynheuaf blin aeth y wraig aỻan i’r maes gyda’r rhelyw o’r teulu i geisio achub y cynheuaf, a gadawođ y baban yn cysgu yn ei gryd o dan ofal ei nain, yr hon oeđ hen a methiantus, ac yn anaỻuog i fyned lawer o gwmpas. Syrthiođ yr hen wreigan i gysgu, a thra yr oeđ hi feỻy, daeth y Tylwyth i fewn, a chymerasant y baban o’r cryd, a dodasant un araỻ yn ei le. Yn mhen ennyd dechreuođ hwn erain a chwyno nes deffro y nain, ac aeth at y cryd, ỻe y gwelođ gleiriach hen eiđil crebachlyd yn ymstwyrian yn flin. ‘O’r wchw!’ ebai hi, ‘y mae yr hen Dylwyth wedi bod yma;’ ac yn đioed chwythođ yn y corn i alw y fam, yr hon a đaeth yno yn điatreg; a phan glywođ y crio yn y cryd, rhedođ ato, a chodođ y bychan i fynu heb sylwi arno, a hi a’i cofleidiođ, a’i suođ ac a’i swcrođ at ei bronnau, ond nid oeđ dim yn tycio, parhau i nadu yn đidor yr oeđ nes bron a hoỻti ei chalon; ac ni wyđai pa beth i wneud i’w đistewi. O’r diweđ hi a edrychođ arno, a gwelođ nad oeđ yn debyg i’w mhebyn hi, ac aeth yn loes i’w chalon: edrychođ arno drachefn, ond po fwyaf yr edrychai arno, hyỻaf yn y byd oeđ hi yn ei weled; anfonođ am ei gwr o’r cae, a gyrrođ ef i ymholi am wr cyfarwyđ yn rhywle er mwyn cael ei gynghor; ac ar ol hir holi dywedođ rhywun wrtho fod person Trawsfynyđ yn gyfarwyđ yn nghyfrinion yr ysprydion; ac efe a aeth ato, ac archođ hwnnw iđo gymeryd rhaw a’i gorchuđio a halen, a thori ỻun croes yn yr halen; yna ei chymeryd i’r ystafeỻ ỻe yr oeđ mab y Tylwyth, ac ar ol agor y ffenestr, ei rhođi ar y tan hyd nes y ỻosgai yr halen; a hwy a wnaethant feỻy, a phan aeth yr halen yn eiriasboeth fe aeth yr erthyl croes ymaith yn anweledig iđynt hwy, ac ar drothwy y drws hwy a gawsant y baban araỻ yn iach a dianaf.

‘This woman had given birth to a healthy and vigorous child at the beginning of the harvest, one wretched and [102]inclement summer. As the homestead was a considerable distance from church or chapel, and the weather so very rainy, it was neglected to baptize the child at the usual6 time, that is to say, before it was eight days old. One fine day, in the middle of this wretched harvest, the mother went to the field with the rest of the family to try to save the harvest, and left her baby sleeping in its cradle in its grandmother’s charge, who was so aged and decrepit as to be unable to go much about. The old woman fell asleep, and, while she was in that state, the Tylwyth Teg came in and took away the baby, placing another in its stead. Very shortly the latter began to whine and groan, so that the grandmother awoke: she went to the cradle, where she saw a slender, wizened old man moving restlessly and peevishly about. “Alas! alas!” said she, “the old Tylwyth have been here”; and she at once blew in the horn to call the mother home, who came without delay. As she heard the crying in the cradle, she ran towards it, and lifted the little one without looking at him; she hugged him, put him to her breast, and sang lullaby to him, but nothing was of any avail, as he continued, without stopping, to scream enough to break her heart; and she knew not what to do to calm him. At last she looked at him: she saw that he was not like her dear little boy, and her heart was pierced with agony. She looked at him again, and the more she examined him the uglier he seemed to her. She sent for her husband home from the field, and told him to search for a skilled man somewhere or other; and, after a long search, he was told by somebody that the parson of Trawsfynyđ was skilled in the secrets of the spirits; [103]so he went to him. The latter bade him take a shovel and cover it with salt, and make the figure of the cross in the salt; then to take it to the chamber where the fairy child was, and, after taking care to open the window, to place the shovel on the fire until the salt was burnt. This was done, and when the salt had got white hot, the peevish abortion went away, seen of no one, and they found the other baby whole and unscathed at the doorstep.’ Fire was also made use of in Scotland in order to detect a changeling and force him to quit: see the British Association’s Report, 1896, p. 650, where Mr. Gomme refers to Mr. Gregor’s Folk-lore of the North-east of Scotland, pp. 8–9.

In answer to a question of mine with regard to gossamer, which is called in North Wales edafeđ gwawn, ‘gwawn yarn,’ Mr. Jones told me in a letter, dated April, 1881, that it used to be called Rhaffau’r Tylwyth Teg, that is to say, the Ropes of the Fair Family, which were associated with the diminutive, mischievous, and wanton kind of fairies who dwelt in marshy and rushy places, or among the fern and the heather. It used to be said that, if a man should lie down and fall asleep in any such a spot, the fairies would come and bind him with their ropes so that he could not move, and that they would then cover him with a sheet made of their ropes, which would make him invisible. This was illustrated by him by the following tale he had heard from his mother:—

Clywais fy mam yn adrođ chwedl am fab y Ffriđ, yr hwn wrth đychwelyd adref o ffair Beđgelert yn rhywle ođeutu Pen Cae’r Gors a welođ beth afrifed o’r Tylwyth Bach yn neidio a phrancio ar bennau y grug. Efe a eisteđođ i lawr i edrych arnynt, a daeth hun drosto; ymoỻyngođ i lawr a chysgođ yn drwm. A phan oeđ feỻy, ymosodođ yr hoỻ lu arno a rhwymasant ef mor dyn fel [104]na aỻasai symud; yna hwy a’i cuđiasant ef a’r tuđed gwawn fel na aỻai neb ei weled os digwyđai iđo lefain am help. Yr oeđ ei deulu yn ei đisgwyl adref yn gynnar y nos honno, ac wrth ei weled yn oedi yn hwyr, aethant yn anesmwyth am dano ac aethpwyd i’w gyfarfod, eithr ni welent đim ođiwrtho, ac aed gan beỻed a’r pentref, ỻe en hyspyswyd ei fod wedi myned tuag adref yn gynnar gyda gwr Hafod Ruffyđ. Feỻy aed tua’r Hafod i edrych a oeđ yno; ond dywedođ gwr yr Hafod eu bod wedi ymwahanu ar Bont Glan y Gors, pawb tua’i fan ei hun. Yna chwiliwyd yn fanwl bob ochr i’r fforđ ođiyno i’r Ffriđ heb weled dim ođiwrtho. Buwyd yn chwilio yr hoỻ ardal drwy y dyđ drannoeth ond yn ofer. Fođ bynnag ođeutu yr un amser nos drannoeth daeth y Tylwyth ac a’i rhyđhasant, ac yn fuan efe a đeffrôđ wedi cysgu o hono drwy y nos a’r dyđ blaenorol. Ar ol iđo đeffro ni wyđai amcan daear yn mha le yr oeđ, a chrwydro y bu hyd ochrau y Gader a’r Gors Fawr hyd nes y canođ y ceiliog, pryd yr adnabu yn mha le yr oeđ, sef o fewn ỻai na chwarter miỻtir i’w gartref.

‘I have heard my mother relating a tale about the son of the farmer of the Ffriđ, who, while on his way home from Beđgelert Fair, saw, somewhere near Pen Cae’r Gors, an endless number of the diminutive family leaping and capering on the heather tops. He sat him down to look at them, and sleep came over him; he let himself down on the ground, and slept heavily. When he was so, the whole host attacked him, and they bound him so tightly that he could not have stirred; then they covered him with the gossamer sheet, so that nobody could see him in case he called for help. His people expected him home early that evening, and, as they found him delaying till late, they got uneasy about him. They went to meet him, but no trace of him was seen, [105]and they went as far as the village, where they were informed that he had started home in good time with the farmer of Hafod Ruffyđ. So they went to the Hafod to see if he was there; but the farmer told them that they had parted on Glan y Gors Bridge to go to their respective homes. A minute search was then made on both sides of the road from there to the Ffriđ, but without finding any trace of him. They kept searching the whole neighbourhood during the whole of the next day, but in vain. However, about the same time the following night the Tylwyth came and liberated him, and he shortly woke up, after sleeping through the previous night and day. When he woke he had no idea where on earth he was; so he wandered about on the slopes of the Gader and near the Gors Fawr until the cock crew, when he found where he was, namely, less than a quarter of a mile from his home.’

The late Mr. Owen, of Cefn Meusyđ, has already been alluded to. I have not been able to get at much of the folklore with which he was familiar, but, in reply to some questions of mine, Mr. Robert Isaac Jones of Tremadoc, his biographer, and the publisher of the Brython, so long as it existed, has kindly ransacked his memory. He writes to me in Welsh to the following effect:—

‘I will tell you what I heard from Mr. Owen and my mother when I was a lad, about fifty-seven years ago. The former used to say that the people of Pennant in Eifionyđ had a nickname, to wit, that of Belsiaid y Pennant, “the Bellisians of the Pennant”; that, when he was a boy, if anybody called out Belsiaid y Pennant at the Penmorfa Fair, every man jack of them would come out, and fighting always ensued. The antiquary used to explain it thus. Some two or three hundred years ago, Sir Robert of the Nant, one of Sir Richard Bulkeley’s ancestors, had a son and heir who was extravagant [106]and wild. He married a gipsy, and they had children born to them; but, as the family regarded this marriage as a disgrace to their ancient stem, it is said that the father, the next time the vagabonds came round, gave a large sum of money to the father of the girl for taking her away with him. This having been done, the rumour was spread abroad that it was one of the fairies the youth had married, and that she had gone with him to catch a pony, when he threw the bridle at the beast to prevent it passing, and the iron of the bridle touched the wife; then that she at once disappeared, as the fairies always do so when touched with iron. However, the two children were put out to nurse, and the one of them, who was a girl, was brought up at Plas y Pennant, and her name was Pelisha7; her descendants remain to this day in the Nant, and are called Bellis, who are believed there, to this day, to be derived from the Tylwyth Teg. Nothing offends them more than to be reminded of this.’

Mr. R. I. Jones goes on to relate another tale as follows:—

Dywedir fod ỻe a elwir yr Hafod Rugog mewn cwm anial yn y mynyđ ỻe y byđai y Tylwyth Teg yn arferol a mynychu; ac y byđent yn trwblio’r hen wraig am fenthyg rhywbeth neu gilyđ. Dywedođ hithau, ‘Cewch os caniatewch đau beth cyntaf—i’r peth cyntaf y cyffyrđaf ag ef wrth y drws dorri, a’r peth cyntaf y rhof fy ỻaw arno yn y ty estyn hanner ỻath.’ Yr oeđ carreg afael, fel ei gelwir, yn y mur wrth y drws ar ei fforđ, ac yr oeđ ganđi đefnyđ syrcyn gwlanen yn rhy fyr o hanner ỻath. Ond yn anffodus wrth đod a’i chaweỻad mawn i’r ty bu agos iđi a syrthio: rhoes ei ỻaw ar ben ei chlun i ymarbed a thorođ honno, a chan faint y boen cyffyrđođ yny ty a’i thrwyn yr hwn a estynnođ hanner ỻath. [107]

‘It is said that there was a place called Hafod Rugog in a wild hollow among the mountains, where the fair family were in the habit of resorting, and that they used to trouble the old woman of Hafod for the loan of one thing and another. So she said, one day, “You shall have the loan if you will grant me two first things—that the first thing I touch at the door break, and that the first thing I put my hand on in the house be lengthened half a yard.” There was a grip stone (carreg afael), as it is called, in the wall near the door, which was in her way, and she had in the house a piece of flannel for a jerkin which was half a yard too short. But, unfortunately, as she came, with her kreel full of turf on her back, to the house, she nearly fell down: she put her hand, in order to save herself, to her knee-joint, which then broke; and, owing to the pain, when she had got into the house, she touched her nose with her hand, when her nose grew half a yard longer.’

Mr. Jones went on to notice how the old folks used to believe that the fairies were wont to appear in the marshes near Cweỻyn Lake, not far from Rhyd-Đu, to sing and dance, and that it was considered dangerous to approach them on those occasions lest one should be fascinated. As to the above-mentioned flannel and stone a folklorist asks me, why the old woman did not definitely mention them and say exactly what she wanted. The question is worth asking: I cannot answer it, but I mention it in the hope that somebody else will.



Early in the year 18998 I had a small group of stories communicated to me by the Rev. W. Evans Jones, rector of Dolbenmaen, who tells me that the neighbourhood [108]of the Garn abounds in fairy tales. The scene of one of these is located near the source of Afon fach Blaen y Cae, a tributary of the Dwyfach. ‘There a shepherd while looking after his flock came across a ring of rushes which he accidentally kicked, as the little people were coming out to dance. They detained him, and he married one of their number. He was told that he would live happily with them as long as he would not touch any instrument of iron. For years nothing happened to mar the peace and happiness of the family. One day, however, he unknowingly touched iron, with the consequence that both the wife and the children disappeared.’ This differs remarkably from stories such as have been already mentioned at pp. 32, 35; but until it is countenanced by stories from other sources, I can only treat it as a blurred version of a story of the more usual type, such as the next one which Mr. Evans Jones has sent me as follows:—

‘A son of the farmer of Blaen Pennant married a fairy and they lived together happily for years, until one day he took a bridle to catch a horse, which proved to be rather an obstreperous animal, and in trying to prevent the horse passing, he threw the bridle at him, which, however, missed the animal and hit the wife so that the bit touched her, and she at once disappeared. The tradition goes, that their descendants are to this day living in the Pennant Valley; and if there is any unpleasantness between them and their neighbours they are taunted with being of the Tylwyth Teg family.’ These are, I presume, the people nicknamed Belsiaid, to which reference has already been made.

The next story is about an old woman from Garn Dolbenmaen who was crossing y Graig Goch, ‘the Red Rock,’ ‘when suddenly she came across a fairy sitting down with a very large number of gold coins by [109]her. The old woman ventured to remark how wealthy she was: the fairy replied, Wele dacw, “Lo there!” and immediately disappeared.’ This looks as if it ought to be a part of a longer story which Mr. Evans Jones has not heard.

The last bit of folklore which he has communicated is equally short, but of a rarer description: ‘A fairy was in the habit of attending a certain family in the Pennant Valley every evening to put the children to bed; and as the fairy was poorly clad, the mistress of the house gave her a gown, which was found in the morning torn into shreds.’ The displeasure of the fairy at being offered the gown is paralleled by that of the fenodyree or the Manx brownie, described in chapter iv. As for the kind of service here ascribed to the Pennant fairy, I know nothing exactly parallel.



The next four stories are to be found in Cymru Fu at pp. 175–9, whence I have taken the liberty of translating them into English. They were contributed by Glasynys, whose name has already occurred so often in connexion with these Welsh legends, that the reader ought to know more about him; but I have been disappointed in my attempt to get a short account of his life to insert here. All I can say is, that I made his acquaintance in 1865 in Anglesey: at that time he had a curacy near Holyhead, and he was in the prime of life. He impressed me as an enthusiast for Welsh antiquities: he was born and bred, I believe, in the neighbourhood of Snowdon, and his death took place about ten years ago. It would be a convenience to the student of Welsh folklore to have a brief biography of Glasynys, but as yet nothing of the kind seems to have been written. [110]

(1) ‘When the people of the Gors Goch one evening had just gone to bed, they heard a great row and disturbance around the house. One could not comprehend at all what it was that made a noise at that time of night. Both the husband and the wife had waked up, quite unable to make out what it might be. The children also woke, but no one could utter a word: their tongues had all stuck to the roof of their mouths. The husband, however, at last managed to move, and to ask, “Who is there? What do you want?” Then he was answered from without by a small silvery voice, “It is room we want to dress our children.” The door was opened: a dozen small beings came in, and began to search for an earthen pitcher with water; there they remained for some hours, washing and titivating themselves. As the day was breaking, they went away, leaving behind them a fine present for the kindness they had received. Often afterwards did the Gors Goch folks have the company of this family. But once there happened to be there a fine plump and pretty baby in his cradle. The fair family came, and, as the baby had not been baptized, they took the liberty of changing him for one of their own. They left behind in his stead an abominable creature that would do nothing but cry and scream every day of the week. The mother was nearly breaking her heart on account of the misfortune, and greatly afraid of telling anybody about it. But everybody got to see that there was something wrong at the Gors Goch, which was proved before long by the mother dying of longing for her child. The other children died broken-hearted after their mother, and the husband was left alone with the little elf without any one to comfort them. But shortly after, one began to resort again to the hearth of the Gors Goch to dress children, and the gift, which had formerly been silver money, [111]became henceforth pure gold. In the course of a few years the elf became the heir of a large farm in North Wales, and that is why the old people used to say, “Shoe the elf with gold and he will grow” (Fe đaw gwiđon yn fawr ond ei bedoli ag aur). That is the legend of the Gors Goch.’

(2) ‘Once when William Ellis, of the Gilwern, was fishing on the bank of Cwm Silin Lake on a dark misty day, he had seen no living Christian from the time when he left Nantỻe. But as he was in a happy mood, throwing his line, he beheld over against him in a clump of rushes a large crowd of people, or things in the shape of people about a foot in stature: they were engaged in leaping and dancing. He looked on for hours, and he never heard, as he said, such music in his life before. But William went too near them, when they threw a kind of dust into his eyes, and, while he was wiping it away, the little family took the opportunity of betaking themselves somewhere out of his sight, so that he neither saw nor heard anything more of them.’

(3) ‘There is a similar story respecting a place called Ỻyn y Ffynhonnau. There was no end of jollity there, of dancing, harping, and fiddling, with the servant man of Geỻi Ffrydau and his two dogs in the midst of the crowd, leaping and capering as nimbly as anybody else. At it they were for three days and three nights, without stopping; and had it not been for a skilled man, who lived not far off, and came to know how things were going on, the poor fellow would, without doubt, have danced himself to death. But he was rescued that time.’

(4) The fourth story is one, of which he says, that he heard it from his mother; but he has elaborated it in his usual fashion, and the proper names are undoubtedly his own:—‘Once on a time, a shepherd boy had gone [112]up the mountain. That day, like many a day before and after, was exceedingly misty. Now, though he was well acquainted with the place, he lost his way, and walked backwards and forwards for many a long hour. At last he got into a low rushy spot, where he saw before him many circular rings. He at once recalled the place, and began to fear the worst. He had heard, many hundreds of times, of the bitter experiences, in those rings, of many a shepherd who had happened to chance on the dancing place or the circles of the fair family. He hastened away as fast as ever he could, lest he should be ruined like the rest; but, though he exerted himself to the point of perspiring and losing his breath, there he was, and there he continued to be, a long time. At last he was met by an old fat little man, with merry blue eyes, who asked him what he was doing. He answered that he was trying to find his way home. “Oh,” said he, “come after me, and do not utter a word until I bid thee.” This he did, following him on and on until they came to an oval stone; and the old fat little man lifted it, after tapping the middle of it three times with his walking-stick. There was there a narrow path with stairs visible here and there; and a sort of whitish light, inclining to grey and blue, was to be seen radiating from the stones. “Follow me fearlessly,” said the fat man; “no harm will be done thee.” So on the poor youth went, as reluctantly as a dog to be hanged. But presently a fine, wooded, fertile country spread itself out before them, with well arranged mansions dotting it all over, while every kind of apparent magnificence met the eye and seemed to smile in the landscape; the bright waters of the rivers meandered in twisted streams, and the hills were covered with the luxuriant verdure of their grassy growth, and the mountains with a glossy fleece of smooth pasture. By the time they had [113]reached the stout gentleman’s mansion, the young man’s senses had been bewildered by the sweet cadence of the music which the birds poured forth from the groves: then there was gold dazzling his eyes, and silver flashing on his sight. He saw there all kinds of musical instruments and all sorts of things for playing; but he could discern no inhabitant in the whole place; and, when he sat down to eat, the dishes on the table came to their places of themselves, and disappeared when one had done with them. This puzzled him beyond measure; moreover, he heard people talking together around him, but for the life of him he could see no one but his old friend. At length the fat man said to him: “Thou canst now talk as much as it may please thee;” but, when he attempted to move his tongue, it would no more stir than if it had been a lump of ice, which greatly frightened him. At this point, a fine old lady, with health and benevolence beaming in her face, came to them and slightly smiled at the shepherd: the mother was followed by her three daughters, who were remarkably beautiful. They gazed with somewhat playful looks at him, and at length began to talk to him; but his tongue would not wag. Then one of the girls came to him, and, playing with his yellow and curly locks, gave him a smart kiss on his ruddy lips. This loosened the string that bound his tongue, and he began to talk freely and eloquently. There he was, under the charm of that kiss, in the bliss of happiness; and there he remained a year and a day without knowing that he had passed more than a day among them; for he had got into a country where there was no reckoning of time. But by-and-by he began to feel somewhat of a longing to visit his old home, and asked the stout man if he might go. “Stay a little yet,” said he, “and thou shalt go for awhile.” That passed: he stayed on, but Olwen, [114]for that was the name of the damsel that had kissed him, was very unwilling that he should depart. She looked sad every time he talked of going away; nor was he himself without feeling a sort of a cold thrill passing through him at the thought of leaving her. On condition, however, of returning, he obtained leave to go, provided with plenty of gold and silver, of trinkets and gems. When he reached home, nobody knew who he was: it had been the belief that he had been killed by another shepherd, who found it necessary to betake himself hastily far away to America, lest he should be hanged without delay. But here is Einion Lâs at home, and everybody wonders especially to see that the shepherd had got to look like a wealthy man: his manners, his dress, his language, and the treasure he had with him, all conspired to give him the air of a gentleman. He went back one Thursday night, the first of the moon of that month, as suddenly as he had left the first time, and nobody knew whither. There was great joy in the country below when Einion returned thither, and nobody was more rejoiced at it than Olwen his beloved. The two were right impatient to get married; but it was necessary to do that quietly, for the family below hated nothing more than fuss and noise; so, in a sort of a half-secret fashion, they were wedded. Einion was very desirous to go once more among his own people, accompanied, to be sure, by his wife. After he had been long entreating the old man for leave, they set out on two white ponies, that were, in fact, more like snow than anything else in point of colour. So he arrived with his consort in his old home, and it was the opinion of all that Einion’s wife was the handsomest person they had anywhere seen. Whilst at home, a son was born to them, to whom they gave the name of Taliessin. Einion was now in the enjoyment of high [115]repute, and his wife received due respect. Their wealth was immense, and soon they acquired a large estate; but it was not long till people began to inquire after the pedigree of Einion’s wife: the country was of opinion that it was not the right thing to be without a pedigree. Einion was questioned about it, but without giving any satisfactory answer, and one came to the conclusion that she was one of the fair family (Tylwyth Teg). “Certainly,” replied Einion, “there can be no doubt that she comes from a very fair family; for she has two sisters who are as fair as she, and, if you saw them together, you would admit that name to be a most fitting one.” This, then, is the reason why the remarkable family in the Land of Enchantment and Glamour (Hud a Ỻedrith) is called the fair family.’

The two next tales of Glasynys’ appear in Cymru Fu, at pp. 478–9; the first of them is to be compared with one already related (pp. 99, 100), while the other is unlike anything that I can now recall:—

(5) ‘Cwmỻan was the principal resort of the fair family, and the shepherds of Hafod Ỻan used to see them daily in the ages of faith gone by. Once, on a misty afternoon, one of them had been searching for sheep towards Nant y Bettws. When he had crossed Bwlch Cwmỻan, and was hastening laboriously down, he saw an endless number of little folks singing and dancing in a lively and light-footed fashion, while the handsomest girls he had ever seen anywhere were at it preparing a banquet. He went to them and had a share of their dainties, and it seemed to him that he had never in his life tasted anything approaching their dishes. When the twilight came, they spread their tents, and the man never before saw such beauty and ingenuity. They gave him a soft bed of yielding down, with sheets of the finest linen, and he went to rest as proud as if he had [116]been a prince. But, alas! next morning, after all the jollity and sham splendour, the poor man, when he opened his eyes, found that his bed was but a bush of bulrushes, and his pillow a clump of moss. Nevertheless, he found silver money in his shoes, and afterwards he continued for a long time to find, every week, a piece of coined money between two stones near the spot where he had slept. One day, however, he told a friend of his the secret respecting the money, and he never found any more.’

(6) ‘Another of these shepherds was one day urging his dog at the sheep in Cwmỻan, when he heard a kind of low noise in the cleft of a rock. He turned to look, when he found there some kind of a creature weeping plenteously. He approached, and drew out a wee lass; very shortly afterwards two middle-aged men came to him to thank him for his kindness, and, when about to part, one of them gave him a walking-stick, as a souvenir of his good deed. The year after this, every sheep in his possession had two ewe-lambs; and so his sheep continued to breed for some years. But he had stayed one evening in the village until it was rather late, and there hardly ever was a more tempestuous night than that: the wind howled, and the clouds shed their contents in sheets of rain, while the darkness was such that next to nothing could be seen. As he was crossing the river that comes down from Cwmỻan, where its flood was sweeping all before it in a terrible current, he somehow let go the walking-stick from his hand; and when one went next morning up the Cwm, it was found that nearly all the sheep had been swept away by the flood, and that the farmer’s wealth had gone almost as it came—with the walking-stick.’

The shorter versions given by Glasynys are probably more nearly given as he heard them, than the longer [117]ones, which may be suspected of having been a good deal spun out by him; but there is probably very little in any of them of his own invention, though the question whence he got his materials in each instance may be difficult to answer. In one this is quite clear, though he does not state it, namely the story of the sojourn of Elfod the Shepherd in Fairyland, as given in Cymru Fu, p. 477: it is no other than a second or third-hand reproduction of that recorded by Giraldus concerning a certain Eliodorus, a twelfth-century cleric in the diocese of St. David’s9. But the longest tale published by Glasynys is the one about a mermaid: see Cymru Fu, pp. 434–44. Where he got this from I have not been able to find out, but it has probably been pieced together from various sources. I feel sure that some of the materials at least were Welsh, besides the characters known to Welsh mythology as Nefyđ Naf Neifion, Gwyn ab Nuđ, Gwydion ab Dôn, Dylan, and Ceridwen, who have been recklessly introduced into it. He locates it, apparently, somewhere on the coast of Carnarvonshire, the chief scene being called Ogof Deio or David’s Cave, which so far as I know is not an actual name, but one suggested by ‘David Jones’ locker’ as sailors’ slang for the sea. In hopes that somebody will communicate to me any bits of this tale that happen to be still current on the Welsh coast, I give an abstract of it here:—

‘Once upon a time, a poor fisherman made the acquaintance of a mermaid in a cave on the sea-coast; at first she screeched wildly, but, when she got a little calmer, she told him to go off out of the way of her brother, and to return betimes the day after. In getting away, he was tossed into the sea, and tossed out on the [118]land with a rope, which had got wound about his waist; and on pulling at this he got ashore a coffer full of treasure, which he spent the night in carrying home. He was somewhat late in revisiting the cave the next day, and saw no mermaid come there to meet him according to her promise. But the following night he was roused out of his sleep by a visit from her at his home, when she told him to come in time next day. On his way thither, he learnt from some fishermen that they had been labouring in vain during the night, as a great big mermaid had opened their nets in order to pick the best fish, while she let the rest escape. When he reached the cave he found the mermaid there combing her hair: she surprised him by telling him that she had come to live among the inhabitants of the land, though she was, according to her own account, a king’s daughter. She was no longer stark naked, but dressed like a lady: in one hand she held a diadem of pure gold, and in the other a cap of wonderful workmanship, the former of which she placed on her head, while she handed the latter to Ifan Morgan, with the order that he should keep it. Then she related to him how she had noticed him when he was a ruddy boy, out fishing in his father’s white boat, and heard him sing a song which made her love him, and how she had tried to repeat this song at her father’s court, where everybody wanted to get it. Many a time, she said, she had been anxiously listening if she might hear it again, but all in vain. So she had obtained permission from her family to come with her treasures and see if he would not teach it her; but she soon saw that she would not succeed without appearing in the form in which she now was. After saying that her name was Nefyn, daughter of Nefyđ Naf Neifion, and niece to Gwyn son of Nuđ, and Gwydion son of Dôn, she calmed his feelings on [119]the subject of the humble cottage in which he lived. Presently he asked her to be his wife, and she consented on the condition that he should always keep the cap she had given him out of her sight and teach her the song. They were married and lived happily together, and had children born them five times, a son and a daughter each time; they frequently went to the cave, and no one knew what treasures they had there; but once on a time they went out in a boat pleasuring, as was their wont, with six or seven of the children accompanying them, and when they were far from the land a great storm arose; besides the usual accompaniments of a storm at sea, most unearthly screeches and noises were heard, which frightened the children and made their mother look uncomfortable; but presently she bent her head over the side of the boat, and whispered something they did not catch: to their surprise the sea was instantly calm. They got home comfortably, but the elder children were puzzled greatly by their mother’s influence over the sea, and it was not long after this till they so teased some ill-natured old women, that the latter told them all about the uncanny origin of their mother. The eldest boy was vexed at this, and remembered how his mother had spoken to somebody near the boat at sea, and that he was never allowed to go with his parents to Ogof Deio. He recalled, also, his mother’s account of the strange countries she had seen. Once there came also to Ifan Morgan’s home, which was now a mansion, a visitor whom the children were not even allowed to see; and one night, when the young moon had sunk behind the western horizon, Ifan and his wife went quietly out of the house, telling a servant that they would not return for three weeks or a month: this was overheard by the eldest son. So he followed them very quietly until he saw them on the strand, where he [120]beheld his mother casting a sort of leather mantle round herself and his father, and both of them threw themselves into the hollow of a billow that came to fetch them. The son went home, broke his heart, and died in nine days at finding out that his mother was a mermaid; and, on seeing her brother dead, his twin sister went and threw herself into the sea; but, instead of being drowned, she was taken up on his steed by a fine looking knight, who then galloped away over the waves as if they had been dry and level land. The servants were in doubt what to do, now that Nefyđ Morgan was dead and Eilonwy had thrown herself into the sea; but Tegid, the second son, who feared nothing, said that Nefyđ’s body should be taken to the strand, as somebody was likely to come to fetch it for burial among his mother’s family. At midnight a knight arrived, who said the funeral was to be at three that morning, and told them that their brother would come back to them, as Gwydion ab Dôn was going to give him a heart that no weight could break, that Eilonwy was soon to be wedded to one of the finest and bravest of the knights of Gwerđonau Ỻion, and that their parents were with Gwyn ab Nuđ in the Gwaelodion. The body was accordingly taken to the beach, and, as soon as the wave touched it, out of his coffin leaped Nefyđ like a porpoise. He was seen then to walk away arm in arm with Gwydion ab Dôn to a ship that was in waiting, and most enchanting music was heard by those on shore; but soon the ship sailed away, hardly touching the tops of the billows. After a year and a day had elapsed Ifan Morgan, the father, came home, looking much better and more gentlemanly than he had ever done before; he had never spoken of Nefyn, his wife, until Tegid one day asked him what about his mother; she had gone, he said, in search of Eilonwy, who had run away from her husband in [121]Gwerđonau Ỻion, with Glanfryd ab Gloywfraint. She would be back soon, he thought, and describe to them all the wonders they had seen. Ifan Morgan went to bed that night, and was found dead in it in the morning; it was thought that his death had been caused by a Black Knight, who had been seen haunting the place at midnight for some time, and always disappearing, when pursued, into a well that bubbled forth in a dark recess near at hand. The day of Ifan Morgan’s funeral, Nefyn, his wife, returned, and bewailed him with many tears; she was never more seen on the dry land. Tegid had now the charge of the family, and he conducted himself in all things as behoved a man and a gentleman of high principles and great generosity. He was very wealthy, but often grieved by the thought of his father’s murder. One day, when he and two of his brothers were out in a boat fishing in the neighbouring bay, they were driven by the wind to the most wonderful spot they had ever seen. The sea there was as smooth as glass, and as bright as the clearest light, while beneath it, and not far from them, they saw a most splendid country with fertile fields and dales covered with pastures, with flowery hedges, groves clad in their green foliage, and forests gently waving their leafy luxuriance, with rivers lazily contemplating their own tortuous courses, and with mansions here and there of the most beautiful and ingenious description; and presently they saw that the inhabitants amused themselves with all kinds of merriment and frolicking, and that here and there they had music and engaged themselves in the most energetic dancing; in fact, the rippling waves seemed to have absorbed their fill of the music, so that the faint echo of it, as gently given forth by the waves, never ceased to charm their ears until they reached the shore. That night the three brothers [122]had the same dream, namely that the Black Knight who had throttled their father was in hiding in a cave on the coast: so they made for the cave in the morning, but the Black Knight fled from them and galloped off on the waves as if he had been riding for amusement over a meadow. That day their sisters, on returning home from school, had to cross a piece of sea, when a tempest arose and sunk the vessel, drowning all on board, and the brothers ascribed this to the Black Knight. About this time there was great consternation among the fishermen on account of a sea-serpent that twined itself about the rocks near the caves, and nothing would do but that Tegid and his brothers should go forth to kill it; but when one day they came near the spot frequented by it, they heard a deep voice saying to them, “Do not kill your sister,” so they wondered greatly and suddenly went home. But that night Tegid returned there alone, and called his sister by her name, and after waiting a long while she crept towards him in the shape of a sea-serpent, and said that she must remain some time in that form on account of her having run away with one who was not her husband; she went on to say that she had seen their sisters walking with their mother, and their father would soon be in the cave. But all of a sudden there came the Black Knight, who unsheathed a sword that looked like a flame of fire, and began to cut the sea-serpent into a thousand bits, which united, however, as fast as he cut it, and became as whole as before. The end was that the monster twisted itself in a coil round his throat and bit him terribly in his breast. At this point a White Knight comes and runs him through with his spear, so that he fell instantly, while the White Knight went off hurriedly with the sea-serpent in a coil round his neck. Tegid ran away for his life, but not before a monster more terrible than [123]anything he had ever seen had begun to attack him. It haunted him in all kinds of ways: sometimes it would be like a sea, but Tegid was able to swim: sometimes it would be a mountain of ice, but Tegid was able to climb it: and sometimes it was like a furnace of intense fire, but the heat had no effect on him. But it appeared mostly as a combination of the beast of prey and the venomous reptile. Suddenly, however, a young man appeared, taking hold of Tegid’s arm and encouraging him, when the monster fled away screeching, and a host of knights in splendid array and on proudly prancing horses came to him: among them he found his brothers, and he went with them to his mother’s country. He was especially welcome there, and he found all happy and present save his father only, whom he thought of fetching from the world above, having in fact got leave to do so from his grandfather. His mother and his brothers went with him to search for his father’s body, and with him came Gwydion ab Dôn and Gwyn ab Nuđ, but he would not be wakened. So Tegid, who loved his father greatly, asked leave to remain on his father’s grave, where he remains to this day. His mother is wont to come there to soothe him, and his brothers send him gifts, while he sends his gifts to Nefyđ Naf Neifion, his grandfather; it is also said that his twin-sister, Ceridwen, has long since come to live near him, to make the glad gladder and the pretty prettier, and to maintain her dignity and honour in peace and tranquillity.’

The latter part of this tale, the mention of Ceridwen, invoked by the bards as the genius presiding over their profession, and of Tegid remaining on his father’s grave, is evidently a reference to Ỻyn Tegid, or Bala Lake, and to the legend of Taliessin in the so-called Hanes or history of Taliessin, published at the end of the third volume of Lady Charlotte Guest’s Mabinogion. So the [124]story has undoubtedly been pieced together, but not all invented, as is proved by the reference to the curious cap which the husband was to keep out of the sight of his mermaid wife. In Irish legends this cap has particular importance attached to it, of which Glasynys cannot have been aware, for he knew of no use to make of it. The teaching of the song to the wife is not mentioned after the marriage; and the introduction of it at all is remarkable: at any rate I have never noticed anything parallel to it in other tales. The incident of the tempest, when the mermaid spoke to somebody by the side of the boat, reminds one of Undine during the trip on the Danube. It is, perhaps, useless to go into details till one has ascertained how much of the story has been based on genuine Welsh folklore. But, while I am on this point, I venture to append here an Irish tale, which will serve to explain the meaning of the mermaid’s cap, as necessary to her comfort in the water world. I am indebted for it to the kindness of Dr. Norman Moore, of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, who tells me, in a letter dated March 7, 1882, that he and the Miss Raynells of Killynon heard it from an old woman named Mrs. Dolan, who lived on the property of the late Mr. Cooke of Cookesborough, in Westmeath. The following was her tale:—‘There was a man named Mahon had a farm on the edge of Loch Owel. He noticed that his corn was trampled, and he sat up all night to watch it. He saw horses, colts and fillies rather, come up out of the lake and trample it. He chased them, and they fled into the lake. The next night he saw them again, and among them a beautiful girl with a cap of salmon skin on her head, and it shone in the moonlight; and he caught her and embraced her, and carried her off to his house and married her, and she was a very good housewife, as all those lake people are, and kept his house [125]beautifully; and one day in the harvest, when the men were in the fields, she went into the house, and there she looked on the hurdle for some lard to make colcannon10 for the men, and she saw her old cap of fish skin, and she put it on her head and ran straight down into the lake and was never seen any more, and Mahon he was terribly grieved, and he died soon after of a decline. She had had three children, and I often saw them in the Mullingar market. They were farmers, too, on Loch Owel.’



Let me now return to the fresh-water fairies of Snowdon and give a reference to Pennant’s Tours in Wales: in the edition published at Carnarvon in 1883 we are told, ii. 326, how Mr. Pennant learned ‘that, in fairy days, those diminutive gentry kept their revels’ on the margins of the Snowdon lake, called Ỻyn Coch. There is no legend now extant, so far as I can ascertain, about the Ỻyn Coch fairies. So I proceed to append a legend differing considerably from all the foregoing: I owe it to the kindness of my friend Mr. Howell Thomas, of the Local Government Board. It was written out by Mr. G. B. Gattie, and I take the liberty of prefixing to it his letter to Mr. Thomas, dated Walham Grove, London, S.W., April 27, 1882. The letter runs as follows:—

‘I had quite forgotten the enclosed, which I had jotted down during my recent illness, and ought to have sent you long ago. Of course, the wording is very rough, as no care has been taken on that point. It is interesting, as being another version of a very pretty old legend which my mother used to repeat. She was descended from a very old north Welsh family; indeed, [126]I believe my esteemed grandfather went so far as to trace his descent from the great patriot, Owen Glendower himself! My mother delighted not only in the ancient folklore legends and fairy tales of the Principality, with which she was perfectly familiar, but especially in the lovely national melodies, all of which she knew by heart; and, being highly accomplished, would never tire of playing or singing them. You will see the legend is, in the main, much as related by Professor Rhys, though differing somewhat in the singular terms of the marriage contract. The scene of the legend, as related by my late mother, was, of course, a lake, the Welsh name of which I have, unfortunately, forgotten, but it was somewhere, I think, near Ỻanberis, and the hero a stalwart young farmer.’

The legend itself reads as follows:—

‘One hot day, the farmer, riding by the lake, took his horse into the water to drink, and, whilst looking straight down over his horse’s ears into the smooth surface, he became aware of a most lovely face, just beneath the tide, looking up archly at him. Quite bewildered, he earnestly beckoned, and by degrees the head and shoulders which belonged to the face emerged from the water. Overcome with emotion, and nearly maddened by the blaze of beauty so suddenly put before him, he leaped from his horse and rushed wildly into the lake to try to clasp the lovely vision to his heart. As this was a clear case of “love at first sight,” the poor young man was not, of course, answerable for his actions. But the vision had vanished beneath the waves, to instantly reappear, however, a yard or two off, with the most provoking of smiles, and holding out her beautiful white hands towards her admirer, but slipping off into deep water the moment he approached.

‘For many days the young farmer frequented the [127]lake, but without again seeing the beautiful Naiad, until one day he sat down by the margin hoping that she would appear, and yet dreading her appearance, for this latter to him simply meant loss of all peace. Yet he rushed on his fate, like the love-sick shepherd in the old Italian romance, who watched the sleeping beauty, yet dreaded her awakening:—Io perderò la pace, quando si sveglierà!

‘The young man had brought the remains of his frugal dinner with him, and was quietly munching, by way of dessert, an apple of rare and delicious quality, from a tree which grew upon a neighbouring estate. Suddenly the lady appeared in all her rare beauty almost close to him, and begged him to “throw” her one of his apples. This was altogether too much, and he replied by holding out the tempting morsel, exhibiting its beautiful red and green sides, saying that, if she really wanted it, she must fetch it herself. Upon this she came up quite close, and, as she took the apple from his left hand, he dexterously seized tight hold of her with his right, and held her fast. She, however, nothing daunted, bawled lustily, at the top of her voice, for help, and made such an outrageous noise, that at length a most respectable looking old gentleman appeared suddenly out of the midst of the lake. He had a superb white beard, and was simply and classically attired merely in a single wreath of beautiful water-lilies wound round his loins, which was possibly his summer costume, the weather being hot. He politely requested to know what was the matter, and what the young farmer wanted with his daughter. The case was thereupon explained, but not without the usual amount of nervous trepidation which usually happens to love-sick swains when called into the awful presence of “Papa” to “explain their intentions!”

‘After a long parley the lady, at length, agreed to [128]become the young man’s wife on two conditions, which he was to solemnly promise to keep. These conditions were that he was never to strike her with steel or clay (earth), conditions to which the young man very readily assented. As these were primitive days, when people were happy and honest, there were no lawyers to encumber the Holy Estate with lengthy settlements, and to fill their own pockets with heavy fees; matters were therefore soon settled, and the lady married to the young farmer on the spot by the very respectable old lake deity, her papa.

‘The story goes on to say that the union was followed by two sons and two daughters. The eldest son became a great physician, and all his descendants after him were celebrated for their great proficiency in the noble healing art. The second son was a mighty craftsman in all works appertaining to the manufacture and use of iron and metals. Indeed it has been hinted that, his little corracle of bull’s hide having become old and unsafe, he conceived the brilliant idea of making one of thin iron. This he actually accomplished, and, to the intense amazement of the wondering populace, he constantly used it for fishing, or other purposes, on the lake, where he paddled about in perfect security. This important fact ought to be more generally known, as it gives him a fair claim to the introduction of iron ship-building, pace the shades of Beaufort and Brunel.

‘Of the two daughters, one is said to have invented the small ten-stringed harp, and the other the spinning-wheel. Thus were introduced the arts of medicine, manufactures, music, and woollen work.

‘As the old ballad says, applying the quotation to the father and mother:—

They lived for more than forty year

Right long and happilie!


‘One day it happened that the wife expressed a great wish for some of those same delicious apples of which she was so fond, and of which their neighbour often sent them a supply. Off went the farmer, like a good husband that he was, and brought back, not only some apples, but a beautiful young sapling, seven or eight feet high, bearing the same apple, as a present from their friend. This they at once proceeded to set, he digging and she holding; but the hole not being quite deep enough he again set to work, with increased energy, with his spade, and stooping very low threw out the last shovelful over his shoulder—alas! without looking—full into the breast of his wife. She dropped the sapling and solemnly warned him that one of the two conditions of their marriage contract had been broken. Accident was pleaded, but in vain; there was the unfortunate fact—he had struck her with clay! Looking upon the sapling as the cause of this great trouble he determined to return it forthwith to his kind neighbour. Taking a bridle in his hand he proceeded to the field to catch his horse, his wife kindly helping him. They both ran up, one on each side, and, as the unruly steed showed no signs of stopping, the husband attempted to throw the bridle over his head. Not having visited Mexico in his travels, and thereby learned the use of the lasso, he missed his horse’s head and—misfortune of misfortunes—struck his wife in the face with the iron bit, thus breaking the second condition. He had struck her with steel. She no sooner received the blow than—like Esau—she “cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry,” and bidding her husband a last farewell, fled down the hill with lightning speed, dashed into the lake, and disappeared beneath the smooth and glassy waters! Thus, it may be said that, if an apple—indirectly—occasioned the beginning [130]of her married life, so an apple brought about its sad termination.’

Such is Mr. Gattie’s tale, and to him probably is to be traced its literary trimming; but even when it is stripped of that accessory, it leaves us with difficulties of somewhat the same order as those attaching to some of the stories which have passed through the hands of Glasynys. However, the substance of it seems to be genuine, and to prove that there has been a Northwalian tradition which traced the medical art to a lake lady like the Egeria of the Physicians of Myđfai.



Allusion has already been made to the afanc story, and it is convenient to give it before proceeding any further. The Cambrian Journal for 1859, pp. 142–6, gives it in a letter of Edward Ỻwyd’s dated 1693, and contributed to that periodical by the late Canon Robert Williams, of Rhyd y Croesau, who copied it from the original letter in his possession11, and here follows a translation into English of the part of it which concerns Ỻyn yr Afanc12, a pool on the river Conwy, above Bettws y Coed and opposite Capel Garmon:—

‘I suppose it very probable that you have heard speak of Ỻyn yr Afanc, “the Afanc’s Pool,” and that I therefore need not trouble to inform you where it stands. I think, also, that you know, if one may trust what the country people say, that it was a girl that enticed the afanc to come out of his abode, namely the pool, so as to be bound with iron chains, whilst he [131]slumbered with his head on her knees, and with the grip of one hand on her breast. When he woke from his nap and perceived what had been done to him, he got up suddenly and hurried to his old refuge, taking with him in his claw the breast of his sweetheart. It was then seen that it was well the chain was long enough to be fastened to oxen that pulled him out of the pool. Thereupon a considerable dispute arose among some of the people, each asserting that he had taken a great weight on himself and pulled far harder than anybody else. “No,” said another, “it was I,” &c. And whilst they were wrangling in this way, the report goes that the afanc answered them, and silenced their discontent by saying—

Oni bae y dai ag a dyn

Ni đactha’r afanc byth o’r ỻyn.

Had it not been for the oxen pulling,

The afanc had never left the pool.

‘You must understand that some take the afanc to be a corporeal demon; but I am sufficiently satisfied that there is an animal of the same name, which is called in English a bever, seeing that the term ceiỻie’r afanc signifies bever stones. I know not what kind of oxen those in question were, but it is related that they were twins; nor do I know why they were called Ychain Mannog or Ychain Bannog. But peradventure they were called Ychain Bannog in reference to their having had many a fattening, or fattening on fattening (having been for many a year fattened). Yet the word bannog is not a good, suitable word to signify fattened, as bannog is nought else than what has been made exceeding thick by beating [or fulling], as one says of a thick blanket made of coarse yarn (y gwrthban tew-bannog), the thick bannog13 blanket. Whilst I was dawdling [132]behind talking about this, the oxen had proceeded very far, and I did not find their footmarks as they came through portions of the parish of Dolyđ-Elan (Lueđog) until I reached a pass called ever since Bwlch Rhiw’r Ychen, “the Pass of the Slope of the Oxen,” between the upper parts of Dolyđelan and the upper part of Nanhwynen. In coming over this pass one of the oxen dropped one of its eyes on an open spot, which for that reason is called Gwaun Lygad Ych, “the Moor of the Ox’s Eye.” The place where the eye fell has become a pool, which is by this time known as Pwỻ Ỻygad Ych, “the Pool of the Ox’s Eye,” which is at no time dry, though no water rises in it or flows into it except when rain falls; nor is there any flowing out of it during dry weather. It is always of the same depth; that is, it reaches about one’s knee-joint, according to those who have paid attention to that for a considerable number of years. There is a harp melody, which not all musicians know: it is known as the Ychain Mannog air, and it has a piteous effect on the ear, being as plaintive as were the groanings of these Ychain under the weight of the afanc, especially when one of the pair lost an eye. They pulled him up to Ỻyn Cwm Ffynnon Las, “the Lake of the Dingle of the Green Well,” to which he was consigned, for the reason, peradventure, that some believed that there were in that lake uncanny things already in store. In fact, it was but fitting that he should be permitted to go to his kind. But whether there were uncanny things in it before or not, many think that there is nothing good in it now, as you will understand from what follows. There is much talk of Ỻyn Cwm Ffynnon Las besides the fact that it is always free from ice, except in one corner where the peat water of clear pools comes into it, and that it has also a variety of dismal hues. The cause of this is, as I suppose, to be [133]sought in the various hues of the rocks surrounding it; and the fact that a whirlwind makes its water mixed, which is enough to give any lake a disagreeable colour. Nothing swims on it without danger, and I am not sure that it would be very safe for a bird to fly across it or not. Throw a rag into its water and it will go to the bottom, and I have with my own ears heard a man saying that he saw a goat taking to this lake in order to avoid being caught, and that as soon as the animal went into the water, it turned round and round, as if it had been a top, until it was drowned …. Some mention that, as some great man was hunting in the Snowdon district (Eryri), a stag, to avoid the hounds when they were pressing on him, and as is the habit of stags to defend themselves, made his escape into this lake: the hunters had hardly time to turn round before they saw the stag’s antlers (mwnglws) coming to the surface, but nothing more have they ever seen …. A young woman has been seen to come out of this lake to wash clothes, and when she had done she folded the clothes, and taking them under her arm went back into the lake. One man, whose brother is still alive and well, beheld in a canoe, on this same lake still, an angler with a red cap on his head; but the man died within a few days, having not been in his right mind during that time. Most people regard this as the real truth, and, as for myself, I cannot refuse to believe that such a vision might not cause a man to become so bewildered as to force on a disease ending with his death ….’

The name Ỻyn Cwm Ffynnon Las would have led one to suppose that the pool meant is the one given in the ordnance maps as Ỻyn y Cwm Ffynnon, and situated in the mountains between Pen y Gwryd and the upper valley of Ỻanberis; but from the writer on the parish of [134]Beđgelert in the Brython for 1861, pp. 371–2, it appears that this is not so, and that the tarn meant was in the upper reach of Cwm Dyli, and was known as Ỻyn y Ffynnon Las, ‘Lake of the Green Well,’ about which he has a good deal to say in the same strain as that of Ỻwyd in the letter already cited. Among other things he remarks that it is a very deep tarn, and that its bottom has been ascertained to be lower than the surface of Ỻyn Ỻydaw, which lies 300 feet lower. And as to the afanc, he remarks that the inhabitants of Nant Conwy and the lower portions of the parish of Dolwyđelan, having frequent troubles and losses inflicted on them by a huge monster in the river Conwy, near Bettws y Coed, tried to kill it but in vain, as no harpoon, no arrow or spear made any impression whatsoever on the brute’s hide; so it was resolved to drag it away as in the Ỻwyd story. I learn from Mr. Pierce (Elis o’r Nant), of Dolwyđelan, that the lake is variously known as Ỻyn (Cwm) Ffynnon Las, and Ỻyn Glas or Glaslyn: this last is the form which I find in the maps. It is to be noticed that the Nant Conwy people, by dragging the afanc there, got him beyond their own watershed, so that he could no more cause floods in the Conwy.

Here, as promised at p. 74, I append Lewis Glyn Cothi’s words as to the afanc in Ỻyn Syfađon. The bard is dilating in the poem, where they occur, on his affection for his friend Ỻywelyn ab Gwilym ab Thomas Vaughan, of Bryn Hafod in the Vale of Towy, and averring that it would be as hard to induce him to quit his friend’s hospitable home, as it was to get the afanc away from the Lake of Syfađon, as follows:—

Yr avanc er ei ovyn

Wyv yn ỻech ar vin y ỻyn;

O dòn Ỻyn Syfađon vo [135]

Ni thynwyd ban aeth yno:

Ni’m tỳn mèn nag ychain gwaith,

Ođiyma heđyw ymaith.14

The afanc am I, who, sought for, bides

In hiding on the edge of the lake;

Out of the waters of Syfađon Mere

Was he not drawn, once he got there.

So with me: nor wain nor oxen wont to toil

Me to-day will draw from here forth.

From this passage it would seem that the Syfađon story contemplated the afanc being taken away from the lake in a cart or waggon drawn by oxen; but whether driven by Hu, or by whom, one is not told. However, the story must have represented the undertaking as a failure, and the afanc as remaining in his lake: had it been otherwise it would be hard to see the point of the comparison.



The parish of Ỻanfachreth and its traditions have been the subject of some contributions to the first volume of the Taliesin published at Ruthin in 1859–60, pp. 132–7, by a writer who calls himself Cofiadur. It was Glasynys, I believe, for the style seems to be his: he pretends to copy from an old manuscript of Hugh Bifan’s—both the manuscript and its owner were fictions of Glasynys’ as I am told. These jottings contain two or three items about the fairies which seem to be genuine:—

‘The bottom of Ỻyn Cynnwch, on the Nannau estate, is level with the hearth-stone of the house of Dôl y Clochyđ. Its depth was found out owing to the sweetheart of one of Siwsi’s girls having lost his way to her from Nannau, where he was a servant. The [136]poor man had fallen into the lake, and gone down and down, when he found it becoming clearer the lower he got, until at last he alighted on a level spot where everybody and everything looked much as he had observed on the dry land. When he had reached the bottom of the lake, a short fat old gentleman came to him and asked his business, when he told him how it happened that he had come. He met with great welcome, and he stayed there a month without knowing that he had been there three days, and when he was going to leave, he was led out to his beloved by the inhabitants of the lake bottom. He asserted that the whole way was level except in one place, where they descended about a fathom into the ground; but, he added, it was necessary to ascend about as much to reach the hearth-stone of Dôl y Clochyđ. The most wonderful thing, however, was that the stone lifted itself as he came up from the subterranean road towards it. It was thus the sweetheart arrived there one evening, when the girl was by the fire weeping for him. Siwsi had been out some days before, and she knew all about it though she said nothing to anybody. This, then, was the way in which the depth of Ỻyn Cynnwch came to be known.’

Then he has a few sentences about an old house called Ceimarch:—‘Ceimarch was an old mansion of considerable repute, and in old times it was considered next to Nannau in point of importance in the whole district. There was a deep ditch round it, which was always kept full of water, with the view of keeping off vagabonds and thieves, as well as other lawless folks, that they might not take the inmates by surprise. But, in distant ages, this place was very noted for the frequent visits paid it by the fair family. They used to come to the ditch to wash themselves, and to cross the water [137]in boats made of the bark of the rowan-tree15, or else birch, and they came into the house to pay their rent for trampling the ground around the place. They always placed a piece of money under a pitcher, and the result was that the family living there became remarkably rich. But somehow, after the lapse of many years, the owner of the place offended them, by showing disrespect for their diminutive family: soon the world began to go against him, and it was not long before he got low in life. Everything turned against him, and in times past everybody believed that he incurred all this because he had earned the displeasure of the fair family.’

In the Brython for the year 1862, p. 456, in the course of an essay on the history of the Lordship of Mawđwy in Merioneth, considered the best in a competition at an Eisteđfod held at Dinas Mawđwy, August 2, 1855, Glasynys gives the following bit about the fairies of that neighbourhood:—‘The side of Aran Fawđwy is a great place for the fair family: they are ever at it playing their games on the hillsides about this spot. It is said that they are numberless likewise about Bwlch y Groes. Once a boy crossed over near the approach of night, one summer eve, from the Gadfa to Mawđwy, and on his return he saw near Aber Rhiwlech a swarm of the little family dancing away full pelt. The boy began to run, with two of the maidens in pursuit of him, entreating him to stay; but Robin, for that was his name, kept running, and the two elves failed altogether to catch him, otherwise he would have been taken a prisoner of love. There are plenty of their dancing-rings to be seen on the hillsides between Aber Rhiwlech and Bwlch y Groes.’ [138]

Here I would introduce two other Merionethshire tales, which I have received from Mr. E. S. Roberts, master of the Ỻandysilio School, near Ỻangoỻen. He has learnt them from one Abel Evans, who lives at present in the parish of Ỻandysilio: he is a native of the parish of Ỻandriỻo on the slopes of the Berwyn, and of a glen in the same, known as Cwm Pennant, so called from its being drained by the Pennant on its way to join the Dee. Now Cwm Pennant was the resort of fairies, or of a certain family of them, and the occurrence, related in the following tale, must have taken place no less than seventy years ago: it was well known to the late Mrs. Ellen Edwards of Ỻandriỻo:—

Ryw điwrnod aeth dau gyfaiỻ i hela dwfrgwn ar hyd lannau afon Pennant, a thra yn cyfeirio eu camrau tuagat yr afon gwelsant ryw greadur bychan ỻiwgoch yn rhedeg yn gyflym iawn ar draws un o’r dolyđ yn nghyfeiriad yr afon. Ymaeth a nhw ar ei ol. Gwelsant ei fod wedi myned ođitan wraiđ coeden yn ochr yr afon i ymguđio. Yr oeđ y đau đyn yn međwl mae dwfrgi ydoeđ, ond ar yr un pryd yn methu a deaỻ paham yr ymđanghosai i’w ỻygaid yn ỻiwgoch. Yr oeđynt yn dymuno ei đal yn fyw, ac ymaith yr aeth un o honynt i ffarmdy gerỻaw i ofyn am sach, yr hon a gafwyd, er mwyn rhoi y creadur ynđi. Yr oeđ yno đau dwỻ o tan wraiđ y pren, a thra daliai un y sach yn agored ar un twỻ yr oeđ y ỻaỻ yn hwthio ffon i’r twỻ araỻ, ac yn y man aeth y creadur i’r sach. Yr oeđ y đau đyn yn međwl eu bod wedi dal dwfrgi, yr hyn a ystyrient yn orchest nid bychan. Cychwynasant gartref yn ỻawen ond cyn eu myned hyd ỻed cae, ỻefarođ ỻetywr y sach mewn ton drist gan đywedyd—‘Y mae fy mam yn galw am danaf, O, mae fy mam yn galw am danaf,’ yr hyn a rođođ fraw mawr i’r đau heliwr, ac yn y man taflasant [139]y sach i lawr, a mawr oeđ eu rhyfeđod a’u dychryn pan welsant đyn bach mewn gwisg goch yn rhedeg o’r sach tuagat yr afon. Fe a điflannođ o’i golwg yn mysg y drysni ar fin yr afon. Yr oeđ y đau wedi eu brawychu yn đirfawr ac yn teimlo mae doethach oeđ myned gartref yn hytrach nag ymyrraeth yn mheỻach a’r Tylwyth Teg.

‘One day, two friends went to hunt otters on the banks of the Pennant, and when they were directing their steps towards the river, they beheld some small creature of a red colour running fast across the meadows in the direction of the river. Off they ran after it, and saw that it went beneath the roots of a tree on the brink of the river to hide itself. The two men thought it was an otter, but, at the same time, they could not understand why it seemed to them to be of a red colour. They wished to take it alive, and off one of them went to a farm house that was not far away to ask for a sack, which he got, to put the creature into it. Now there were two holes under the roots of the tree, and while one held the sack with its mouth open over one of them, the other pushed his stick into the other hole, and presently the creature went into the sack. The two men thought they had caught an otter, which they looked upon as no small feat. They set out for home, but before they had proceeded the width of one field, the inmate of the sack spoke to them in a sad voice, and said, “My mother is calling for me; oh, my mother is calling for me!” This gave the two hunters a great fright, so that they at once threw down the sack; and great was their surprise to see a little man in a red dress running out of the sack towards the river. He disappeared from their sight in the bushes by the river. The two men were greatly terrified, and felt that it was more prudent to go home than meddle any further with the fair family.’ So far as I know, [140]this story stands alone in Welsh folklore; but it has an exact parallel in Lancashire16.

The other story, which I now reproduce, was obtained by Mr. Roberts from the same Abel Evans. He learnt it from Mrs. Ellen Edwards, and it refers to a point in her lifetime, which Abel Evans fixes at ninety years ago. Mr. Roberts has not succeeded in recovering the name of the cottager of whom it speaks; but he lived on the side of the Berwyn, above Cwm Pennant, where till lately a cottage used to stand, near which the fairies had one of their resorts:—

Yr oeđ perchen y bwthyn wedi amaethu rhyw ran fychan o’r mynyđ ger ỻaw y ty er mwyn plannu pytatws ynđo. Feỻy y gwnaeth. Mewn coeden yn agos i’r fan canfyđođ nyth bran. Fe feđyliođ mae doeth fuasai iđo đryỻio y nyth cyn amlhau o’r brain. Fe a esgynnođ y goeden ac a đryỻiođ y nyth, ac wedi disgyn i lawr canfyđođ gylch glas (fairy ring) ođiamgylch y pren, ac ar y cylch fe welođ hanner coron er ei fawr lawenyđ. Wrth fyned heibio yr un fan y boreu canlynol fe gafođ hanner coron yn yr un man ag y cafođ y dyđ o’r blaen. Hynna fu am amryw đyđiau. Un diwrnod dywedođ wrth gyfaiỻ am ei hap đa a đangosođ y fan a’r ỻe y cawsai yr hanner coron bob boreu. Wel y boreu canlynol nid oeđ yno na hanner coron na dim araỻ iđo, oherwyđ yr oeđ wedi torri rheolau y Tylwythion trwy wneud eu haelioni yn hysbys. Y mae y Tylwythion o’r farn na đylai y ỻaw aswy wybod yr hyn a wna y ỻaw đehau.

‘The occupier of the cottage had tilled a small portion of the mountain side near his home in order to plant potatoes, which he did. He observed that there was a rook’s nest on a tree which was not far from this spot, and it struck him that it would be prudent to break [141]the nest before the rooks multiplied. So he climbed the tree and broke the nest, and, after coming down, he noticed a green circle (a fairy ring) round the tree, and on this circle he espied, to his great joy, half a crown. As he went by the same spot the following morning, he found another half a crown in the same place as before. So it happened for several days; but one day he told a friend of his good luck, and showed him the spot where he found half a crown every morning. Now the next morning there was for him neither half a crown nor anything else, because he had broken the rule of the fair folks by making their liberality known, they being of opinion that the left hand should not know what the right hand does.’

So runs this short tale, which the old lady, Mrs. Edwards, and the people of the neighbourhood explained as an instance of the gratitude of the fairies to a man who had rendered them a service, which in this case was supposed to have consisted in ridding them of the rooks, that disturbed their merry-makings in the green ring beneath the branches of the tree.



It would be unpardonable to pass away from Merioneth without alluding to the stray cow of Ỻyn Barfog. The story appears in Welsh in the Brython for 1860, pp. 183–4, but the contributor, who closely imitates Glasynys’ style, says that he got his materials from a paper by the late Mr. Pughe of Aberdovey, by which he seems to have meant an article contributed by the latter to the Archæologia Cambrensis, and published in the volume for 1853, pp. 201–5. Mr. Pughe dwells in that article a good deal on the scenery of the corner of Merioneth in the rear of Aberdovey; but the chief thing in his [142]paper is the legend connected with Ỻyn Barfog, which he renders into English as the Bearded Lake17. It is described as a mountain lake in a secluded spot in the upland country behind Aberdovey; but I shall let Mr. Pughe speak for himself:—

‘The lovers of Cambrian lore are aware that the Triads in their record of the deluge affirm that it was occasioned by a mystic Afanc y Ỻyn, crocodile18 of the lake, breaking the banks of Ỻyn Ỻion, the lake of waters; and the recurrence of that catastrophe was prevented only by Hu Gadarn, the bold man of power, dragging away the afanc by aid of his Ychain Banawg, or large horned oxen. Many a lakelet in our land has put forward its claim to the location of Ỻyn Ỻion; amongst the rest, this lake. Be that as it may, King Arthur and his war-horse have the credit amongst the mountaineers here of ridding them of the monster, in place of Hu the Mighty, in proof of which is shown an impression on a neighbouring rock bearing a resemblance to those made by the shoe or hoof of a horse, as having been left there by his charger when our British Hercules was engaged in this redoubtable act of prowess, and this impression has been given the name of Carn March Arthur, the hoof of Arthur’s horse, which it retains to this day. It is believed to be very perilous to let the waters out of the lake, and recently an aged inhabitant of the district informed the writer that she recollected this being done during a period of long [143]drought, in order to procure motive power for Ỻyn Pair Mill, and that long-continued heavy rains followed. No wonder our bold but superstitious progenitors, awe-struck by the solitude of the spot—the dark sepial tint of its waters, unrelieved by the flitting apparition of a single fish, and seldom visited by the tenants of the air—should have established it as a canon in their creed of terror that the lake formed one of the many communications between this outward world of ours and the inner or lower one of Annwn—the unknown world19—the dominion of Gwyn ap Nuđ, the mythic king of the fabled realm, peopled by those children of mystery, Plant Annwn; and the belief is still current amongst the inhabitants of our mountains in the occasional visitations of the Gwrageđ Annwn, or dames of Elfin land, to this upper world of ours. A shrewd old hill farmer (Thomas Abergraes by name), well skilled in the folk-lore of the district, informed me that, in years gone by, though when, exactly, he was too young to remember, those dames were wont to make their appearance, arrayed in green, in the neighbourhood of Ỻyn Barfog, chiefly at eventide, accompanied by their kine and hounds, and that on quiet summer nights in particular, these ban-hounds were often to be heard in full cry pursuing their prey—the souls of doomed men dying without baptism and penance—along the upland township of Cefnrhosucha. Many a farmer had a sight of their comely milk-white kine; many a swain had his soul turned to romance and poesy by a sudden vision of themselves in the guise of damsels arrayed in green, and radiant in beauty and grace; and many a sportsman had his path crossed by their white hounds of supernatural [144]fleetness and comeliness, the Cwn Annwn; but never had any one been favoured with more than a passing view of either, till an old farmer residing at Dyssyrnant, in the adjoining valley of Dyffryn Gwyn, became at last the lucky captor of one of their milk-white kine. The acquaintance which the Gwartheg y Ỻyn, the kine of the lake, had formed with the farmer’s cattle, like the loves of the angels for the daughters of men, became the means of capture; and the farmer was thereby enabled to add the mystic cow to his own herd, an event in all cases believed to be most conducive to the worldly prosperity of him who should make so fortunate an acquisition. Never was there such a cow, never such calves, never such milk and butter, or cheese, and the fame of the Fuwch Gyfeiliorn, the stray cow, was soon spread abroad through that central part of Wales known as the district of Rhwng y đwy Afon, from the banks of the Mawđach to those of the Dofwy20—from Aberdiswnwy21 to Abercorris. The farmer, from a small beginning, rapidly became, like Job, a man of substance, possessed of thriving herds of cattle—a very patriarch among the mountains. But, alas! wanting Job’s restraining grace, his wealth made him proud, his pride made him forget his obligation to the Elfin cow, and fearing she might soon become too old to be profitable, he fattened her for the butcher, and then even she did not fail to distinguish herself, for a more monstrously fat beast was never seen. At last the day of slaughter came—an eventful day in the annals of a mountain farm—the killing of a fat cow, and such a monster of obesity! No wonder all the neighbours were gathered together [145]to see the sight. The old farmer looked upon the preparations in self-pleased importance—the butcher felt he was about no common feat of his craft, and, baring his arms, he struck the blow—not now fatal, for before even a hair had been injured, his arm was paralysed—the knife dropped from his hand, and the whole company was electrified by a piercing cry that awakened echo in a dozen hills, and made the welkin ring again; and lo and behold! the whole assemblage saw a female figure clad in green, with uplifted arms, standing on one of the craigs overhanging Ỻyn Barfog, and heard her calling with a voice loud as thunder:—

Dere di velen Einion,

Cyrn Cyveiliorn—braith y Ỻyn,

A’r voel Dodin,

Codwch, dewch adre.

Come yellow Anvil, stray horns,

Speckled one of the lake,

And of the hornless Dodin,

Arise, come home22.

And no sooner were these words of power uttered than the original lake cow and all her progeny, to the third and fourth generations, were in full flight towards the heights of Ỻyn Barfog, as if pursued by the evil one. Self-interest quickly roused the farmer, who followed in pursuit, till breathless and panting he gained an eminence overlooking the lake, but with no better success than to behold the green attired dame leisurely descending mid-lake, accompanied by the fugitive cows and their calves formed in a circle around her, they tossing their tails, she waving her hands in scorn as much as to say, “You may catch us, my friend, if you can,” as they disappeared beneath the dark waters of the lake, leaving only the yellow water-lily to mark the spot where they [146]vanished, and to perpetuate the memory of this strange event. Meanwhile the farmer looked with rueful countenance upon the spot where the Elfin herd disappeared, and had ample leisure to deplore the effects of his greediness, as with them also departed the prosperity which had hitherto attended him, and he became impoverished to a degree below his original circumstances; and, in his altered circumstances, few felt pity for one who in the noontide flow of prosperity had shown himself so far forgetful of favours received, as to purpose slaying his benefactor.’

Mr. Pughe did a very good thing in saving this legend from oblivion, but it would be very interesting to know how much of it is still current among the inhabitants of the retired district around Ỻyn Barfog, and how the story would look when stripped of the florid language in which Mr. Pughe thought proper to clothe it. Lastly, let me add a reference to the Iolo Manuscripts, pp. 85, 475, where a short story is given concerning a certain Milkwhite Sweet-milk Cow (y Fuwch Laethwen Lefrith) whose milk was so abundant and possessed of such virtues as almost to rival the Holy Grail. Like the Holy Grail also this cow wandered everywhere spreading plenty, until she chanced to come to the Vale of Towy, where the foolish inhabitants wished to kill and eat her: the result was that she vanished in their hands and has never since been heard of.



Here I wish to add some further stories connected with Merionethshire which have come under my notice lately. I give them chiefly on the authority of Mr. Owen M. Edwards of Lincoln College, who is a native of Ỻanuwchỻyn, and still spends a considerable part of his [147]time there; and partly on that of Hywel’s essay on the folklore of the county, which was awarded the prize at the National Eisteđfod of 189823. A story current at Ỻanuwchỻyn, concerning a midwife who attends on a fairy mother, resembles the others of the same group: for one of them see p. 63 above. In the former, however, one misses the ointment, and finds instead of it that the midwife was not to touch her eyes with the water with which she washed the fairy baby. But as might be expected one of her eyes happened to itch, and she touched it with her fingers straight from the water. It appears that thenceforth she was able to see the fairies with that eye; at any rate she is represented some time afterwards recognizing the father of the fairy baby at a fair at Bala, and inquiring of him kindly about his family. The fairy asked with which eye she saw him, and when he had ascertained this, he at once blinded it, so that she never could see with it afterwards. Hywel also has it that the Tylwyth Teg formerly used to frequent the markets at Bala, and that they used to swell the noise in the market-place without anybody being able to see them: this was a sign that prices were going to rise.

The shepherds of Ardudwy are familiar, according to Hywel, with a variant of the story in which a man married a fairy on condition that he did not touch her with iron. They lived on the Moelfre and dwelt happily together for years, until one fine summer day, when the husband was engaged in shearing his sheep, he put the gweỻe, ‘shears,’ in his wife’s hand: she then instantly disappeared. The earlier portions of this story are unknown to me, but they are not hard to guess. [148]

Concerning Ỻyn Irđyn, between the western slopes of the Ỻawỻech, Hywel has a story the like of which I am not acquainted with: walking near that lake you shun the shore and keep to the grass in order to avoid the fairies, for if you take hold of the grass no fairy can touch you, or dare under any circumstances injure a blade of grass.

Lastly, Hywel speaks of several caves containing treasure, as for instance a telyn aur, or golden harp, hidden away in a cave beneath Casteỻ Carn Dochan in the parish of Ỻanuwchỻyn. Lewis Morris, in his Celtic Remains, p. 100, calls it Casteỻ Corndochen, and describes it as seated on the top of a steep rock at the bottom of a deep valley: it appears to have consisted of a wall surrounding three turrets, and the mortar seems composed of cockle-shells: see also the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1850, p. 204. Hywel speaks also of a cave beneath Casteỻ Dinas Brân, near Ỻangoỻen, as containing much treasure, which will only be disclosed to a boy followed by a white dog with ỻygaid arian, ‘silver eyes,’ explained to mean light eyes: every such dog is said to see the wind. So runs this story, but it requires more exegesis than I can supply. One may compare it at a distance with Myrđin’s arrangement that the treasure buried by him at Dinas Emrys should only be found by a youth with yellow hair and blue eyes, and with the belief that the cave treasures of the Snowdon district belong to the Gwyđyl or Goidels, and that Goidels will eventually find them: see chapter viii.

The next three stories are from Mr. Owen Edwards’ Cymru for 1897, pp. 188–9, where he has published them from a collection made for a literary competition or local Eisteđfod by his friend J. H. Roberts, who died in early manhood. The first is a blurred version of the story of the Lake Lady and her dowry of cattle, but [149]enough of the story remains to show that, had we got it in its original form, it would be found to differ somewhat on several points from all the other versions extant. I summarize the Welsh as follows:—In ages gone by, as the shepherd of Hafod y Garreg was looking after his sheep on the shores of the Arennig Lake, he came across a young calf, plump, sleek, and strong, in the rushes. He could not guess whence the beast could have come, as no cattle were allowed to approach the lake at that time of the year. He took it home, however, and it was reared until it was a bull, remarkable for his fine appearance. In time his offspring were the only cattle on the farm, and never before had there been such beasts at Hafod y Garreg. They were the wonder and admiration of the whole country. But one summer afternoon in June, the shepherd saw a little fat old man playing on a pipe, and then he heard him call the cows by their names—

Mulican, Molican, Malen, Mair,

Dowch adre’r awrhon ar fy ngair.

Mulican, Molican, Malen and Mair,

Come now home at my word.

He then beheld the whole herd running to the little man and going into the lake. Nothing more was heard of them, and it was everybody’s opinion that they were the Tylwyth Teg’s cattle.

The next is a quasi fairy tale, the outcome of which recalls the adventure of the farmer of Drws y Coed on his return from Beđgelert Fair, p. 99 above. It is told of a young harpist who was making his way across country from his home at Yspyty Ifan to the neighbourhood of Bala, that while crossing the mountain he happened in the mist to lose his road and fall into the Gors Fawr, ‘the big bog.’ There he wallowed for hours, quite unable to extricate himself in spite of all his efforts. But when he was going to give up in [150]despair, he beheld close to him, reaching him her hand, a little woman who was wondrous fair beyond all his conception of beauty, and with her help he got out of the Gors. The damsel gave him a jolly sweet kiss that flashed electricity through his whole nature: he was at once over head and ears in love. She led him to the hut of her father and mother: there he had every welcome, and he spent the night singing and dancing with Olwen, for that was her name. Now, though the harpist was a mere stripling, he thought of wedding at once—he was never before in such a heaven of delight. But next morning he was waked, not by a kiss from Olwen, but by the Plas Drain shepherd’s dog licking his lips: he found himself sleeping against the wall of a sheepfold (corlan), with his harp in a clump of rushes at his feet, without any trace to be found of the family with whom he had spent such a happy night.

The next story recalls Glasynys’ Einion Las, as given at pp. 111–5 above: its peculiarity is the part played by the well introduced. The scene was a turbary near the river called Afon Mynach, so named from Cwm Tir Mynach, behind the hills immediately north of Bala:—Ages ago, as a number of people were cutting turf in a place which was then moorland, and which is now enclosed ground forming part of a farm called Nant Hir, one of them happened to wash his face in a well belonging to the fairies. At dinner-time in the middle of the day they sat down in a circle, while the youth who had washed his face went to fetch the food, but suddenly both he and the box of food were lost. They knew not what to do, they suspected that it was the doing of the fairies; but the wise man (gwr hyspys) came to the neighbourhood and told them, that, if they would only go to the spot on the night of full moon in June, they would [151]behold him dancing with the fairies. They did as they were told, and found the moor covered with thousands of little agile creatures who sang and danced with all their might, and they saw the missing man among them. They rushed at him, and with a great deal of trouble they got him out. But oftentimes was Einion missed again, until at the time of full moon in another June he returned home with a wondrously fair wife, whose history or pedigree no one knew. Everybody believed her to be one of the Tylwyth Teg.



There is a kind of fairy tale of which I think I have hitherto not given the reader a specimen: a good instance is given in the third volume of the Brython, at p. 459, by a contributor who calls himself Idnerth ab Gwgan, who, I learn from the Rev. Chancellor Silvan Evans, the editor, was no other than the Rev. Benjamin Williams, best known to Welsh antiquaries by his bardic name of Gwynionyđ. The preface to the tale is also interesting, so I am tempted to render the whole into English, as follows:—

‘The fair family were wonderful creatures in the imaginary world: they encamped, they walked, and they capered a great deal in former ages in our country, according to what we learn from some of our old people. It may be supposed that they were very little folks like the children of Rhys Đwfn; for the old people used to imagine that they were wont to visit their hearths in great numbers in ages gone by. The girls at the farm houses used to make the hearths clean after supper, and to place a cauldron full of water near the fire; and so they thought that the fair family came there to play at night, bringing sweethearts for the young women, and [152]leaving pieces of money on the hob for them in the morning. Sometimes they might be seen as splendid hosts exercising themselves on our hills. They were very fond of the mountains of Dyfed; travellers between Lampeter and Cardigan used to see them on the hill of Ỻanwenog, but by the time they had reached there the fairies would be far away on the hills of Ỻandyssul, and when one had reached the place where one expected to see the family together in tidy array, they would be seen very busily engaged on the tops of Crug y Balog; when one went there they would be on Blaen Pant ar Fi, moving on and on to Bryn Bwa, and, finally, to some place or other in the lower part of Dyfed. Like the soldiers of our earthly world, they were possessed of terribly fascinating music; and in the autumnal season they had their rings, still named from them, in which they sang and danced. The young man of Ỻech y Derwyđ24 was his father’s only son, as well as heir to the farm; so he was very dear to his father and his mother, indeed he was the light of their eyes. Now, the head servant and the son were bosom friends: they were like brothers together, or rather twin brothers. As the son and the servant were such friends, the farmer’s wife used to get exactly the same kind of clothes prepared for the servant as for her son. The two fell in love with two handsome young women of very good reputation in the neighbourhood. The two couples were soon joined in honest wedlock, and great was the merry-making on the occasion. The servant had a suitable place to live in on the farm of Ỻech y Derwyđ; but about half a year after the son’s marriage, [153]he and his friend went out for sport, when the servant withdrew to a wild and retired corner to look for game. He returned presently for his friend, but when he got there he could not see him anywhere: he kept looking around for some time for him, shouting and whistling, but there was no sign of his friend. By-and-by, he went home to Ỻech y Derwyđ expecting to see him, but no one knew anything about him. Great was the sorrow of his family through the night; and next day the anxiety was still greater. They went to see the place where his friend had seen him last: it was hard to tell whether his mother or his wife wept the more bitterly; but the father was a little better, though he also looked as if he were half mad with grief. The spot was examined, and, to their surprise, they saw a fairy ring close by, and the servant recollected that he had heard the sound of very fascinating music somewhere or other about the time in question. It was at once agreed that the man had been unfortunate enough to have got into the ring of the Tylwyth, and to have been carried away by them, nobody knew whither. Weeks and months passed away, and a son was born to the heir of Ỻech y Derwyđ, but the young father was not there to see his child, which the old people thought very hard. However, the little one grew up the very picture of his father, and great was his influence over his grandfather and grandmother; in fact he was everything to them. He grew up to be a man, and he married a good-looking girl in that neighbourhood; but her family did not enjoy the reputation of being kind-hearted people. The old folks died, and their daughter-in-law also. One windy afternoon in the month of October, the family of Ỻech y Derwyđ beheld a tall thin old man, with his beard and hair white as snow, coming towards the house, and they thought he was [154]a Jew. The servant maids stared at him, and their mistress laughed at the “old Jew,” at the same time that she lifted the children up one after another to see him. He came to the door and entered boldly enough, asking about his parents. The mistress answered him in an unusually surly and contemptuous tone, wondering why the “drunken old Jew had come there,” because it was thought he had been drinking, and that he would otherwise not have spoken so. The old man cast wondering and anxious looks around on everything in the house, feeling as he did greatly surprised; but it was the little children about the floor that drew his attention most: his looks were full of disappointment and sorrow. He related the whole of his account, saying that he had been out the day before and that he was now returning. The mistress of the house told him that she had heard a tale about her husband’s father, that he had been lost years before her birth while out sporting, whilst her father maintained that it was not true, but that he had been killed. She became angry, and quite lost her temper at seeing “the old Jew” not going away. The old man was roused, saying that he was the owner of the house, and that he must have his rights. He then went out to see his possessions, and presently went to the house of the servant, where, to his surprise, things had greatly changed; after conversing with an aged man, who sat by the fire, the one began to scrutinize the other more and more. The aged man by the fire told him what had been the fate of his old friend, the heir of Ỻech y Derwyđ. They talked deliberately of the events of their youth, but it all seemed like a dream; in short, the old man in the corner concluded that his visitor was his old friend, the heir of Ỻech y Derwyđ, returning from the land of the Tylwyth Teg after spending half a hundred years there. [155]The other old man, with the snow-white beard, believed in his history, and much did they talk together and question one another for many hours. The old man by the fire said that the master of Ỻech y Derwyđ was away from home that day, and he induced his aged visitor to eat some food, but, to the horror of all, the eater fell down dead on the spot25. There is no record that an inquest was held over him, but the tale relates that the cause of it was, that he ate food after having been so long in the world of the fair family. His old friend insisted on seeing him buried by the side of his ancestors; but the rudeness of the mistress of Ỻech y Derwyđ to her father-in-law brought a curse on the family that clung to it to distant generations, and until the place had been sold nine times.’

A tale like this is to be found related of Idwal of Nantclwyd, in Cymru Fu, p. 85. I said ‘a tale like this,’ but, on reconsidering the matter, I should think it is the very same tale passed through the hands of Glasynys or some one of his imitators. Another of this kind will be found in the Brython, ii. 170, and several similar ones also in Wirt Sikes’ book, pp. 65–90, either given at length, or merely referred to. There is one kind of variant which deserves special notice, as making the music to which the sojourner in Faery listens for scores of years to be that of a bird singing on a tree. A story of the sort is located by Howells, in his Cambrian Superstitions, pp. 127–8, at Pant Shon Shencin, near Pencader, in Cardiganshire. This latter kind of story leads easily up to another development, namely, to substituting for the bird’s warble the song and felicity of heaven, and for the simple shepherd a pious monk. In [156]this form it is located at a place called Ỻwyn y Nef, or ‘Heaven’s Grove,’ near Celynnog Fawr, in Carnarvonshire. It is given by Glasynys in Cymru Fu, pp. 183–4, where it was copied from the Brython, iii. 111, in which he had previously published it. Several versions of it in rhyme came down from the eighteenth century, and Silvan Evans has brought together twenty-six stanzas in point in St. David’s College Magazine for 1881, pp. 191–200, where he has put into a few paragraphs all that is known about the song of the Hen Wr o’r Coed, or the Old Man of the Wood, in his usually clear and lucid style.

A tale from the other end of the tract of country once occupied by a sprinkling, perhaps, of Celts among a population of Picts, makes the man, and not the fairies, supply the music. I owe it to the kindness of the Rev. Andrew Clark, Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford, who heard it from the late sexton of the parish of Dollar, in the county of Clackmannan. The sexton died some twelve years ago, aged seventy: he had learnt the tale from his father. The following are Mr. Clark’s words:—

‘Glendevon is a parish and village in the Ochils in County Perth, about five miles from Dollar as you come up Glen Queich and down by Gloomhill. Glen Queich is a narrowish glen between two grassy hills—at the top of the glen is a round hill of no great height, but very neat shape, the grass of which is always short and trim, and the ferns on the shoulder of a very marked green. This, as you come up the glen, seems entirely to block the way. It is called the “Maiden Castle.” Only when you come quite close do you see the path winding round the foot of it. A little further on is a fine spring bordered with flat stones, in the middle of a neat, turfy spot, called the “Maiden’s Well.” This road, till the new toll-road was made on the other side [157]of the hills, was the thoroughfare between Dollar and Glendevon.’

The following is the legend, as told by the ‘Bethrel’:—‘A piper, carrying his pipes, was coming from Glendevon to Dollar in the grey of the evening. He crossed the Garchel (a little stream running into the Queich burn), and looked at the “Maiden Castle,” and saw only the grey hillside and heard only the wind soughing through the bent. He had got beyond it when he heard a burst of lively music: he turned round, and instead of the dark knoll saw a great castle, with lights blazing from the windows, and heard the noise of dancing issuing from the open door. He went back incautiously, and a procession issuing forth at that moment, he was caught and taken into a great hall ablaze with lights, and people dancing on the floor. He had to pipe to them for a day or two, but he got anxious, because he knew his people would be wondering why he did not come back in the morning as he had promised. The fairies seemed to sympathize with his anxiety, and promised to let him go if he played a favourite tune of his, which they seemed fond of, to their satisfaction. He played his very best, the dance went fast and furious, and at its close he was greeted with loud applause. On his release he found himself alone, in the grey of the evening, beside the dark hillock, and no sound was heard save the purr of the burn and the soughing of the wind through the bent. Instead of completing his journey to Dollar, he walked hastily back to Glendevon to relieve his folk’s anxiety. He entered his father’s house and found no kent face there. On his protesting that he had gone only a day or two before, and waxing loud in his bewildered talk, a grey old man was roused from a doze behind the fire; and told how he had heard when a boy from his father that [158]a piper had gone away to Dollar on a quiet evening, and had never been heard or seen since, nor any trace of him found. He had been in the “castle” for a hundred years.’

The term Plant Rhys Đwfn has already been brought before the reader: it means ‘the Children of Rhys Đwfn,’ and Rhys Đwfn means literally Rhys the Deep, but the adjective in Welsh connotes depth of character in the sense of shrewdness or cunning. Nay, even the English deep is often borrowed for use in the same sense, as when one colloquially says un dîp iawn yw e, ‘he is a very calculating or cunning fellow.’ The following account of Rhys and his progeny is given by Gwynionyđ in the first volume of the Brython, p. 130, which deserves being cited at length:—‘There is a tale current in Dyfed, that there is, or rather that there has been, a country between Cemmes, the northern Hundred of Pembrokeshire, and Aberdaron in Ỻeyn. The chief patriarch of the inhabitants was Rhys Đwfn, and his descendants used to be called after him the Children of Rhys Đwfn. They were, it is said, a handsome race enough, but remarkably small in size. It is stated that certain herbs of a strange nature grew in their land, so that they were able to keep their country from being seen by even the most sharp sighted of invaders. There is no account that these remarkable herbs grew in any other part of the world excepting on a small spot, about a square yard in area, in a certain part of Cemmes. If it chanced that a man stood alone on it, he beheld the whole of the territory of Plant Rhys Đwfn; but the moment he moved he would lose sight of it altogether, and it would have been utterly vain for him to look for his footprints. In another story, as will be seen presently, the requisite platform was a turf from St. David’s churchyard. The Rhysians had not much land—they [159]lived in towns. So they were wont in former times to come to market to Cardigan, and to raise the prices of things terribly. They were seen of no one coming or going, but only seen there in the market. When prices happened to be high, and the corn all sold, however much there might have been there in the morning, the poor used to say to one another on the way home, “Oh! they were there to-day,” meaning Plant Rhys Đwfn. So they were dear friends in the estimation of Siôn Phil Hywel, the farmer; but not so high in the opinion of Dafyđ, the labourer. It is said, however, that they were very honest and resolute men. A certain Gruffyđ ab Einon was wont to sell them more corn than anybody else, and so he was a great friend of theirs. He was honoured by them beyond all his contemporaries by being led on a visit to their home. As they were great traders like the Phœnicians of old, they had treasures from all countries under the sun. Gruffyđ, after feasting his eyes to satiety on their wonders, was led back by them loaded with presents. But before taking leave of them, he asked them how they succeeded in keeping themselves safe from invaders, as one of their number might become unfaithful, and go beyond the virtue of the herbs that formed their safety. “Oh!” replied the little old man of shrewd looks, “just as Ireland has been blessed with a soil on which venomous reptiles cannot live, so with our land: no traitor can live here. Look at the sand on the sea-shore: perfect unity prevails there, and so among us. Rhys, the father of our race, bade us, even to the most distant descendant, honour our parents and ancestors; love our own wives without looking at those of our neighbours; and do our best for our children and grandchildren. And he said that if we did so, no one of us would ever prove unfaithful to another, or [160]become what you call a traitor. The latter is a wholly imaginary character among us; strange pictures are drawn of him with his feet like those of an ass, with a nest of snakes in his bosom, with a head like the devil’s, with hands somewhat like a man’s, while one of them holds a large knife, and the family lies dead around the figure. Good-bye!” When Gruffyđ looked about him he lost sight of the country of Plant Rhys, and found himself near his home. He became very wealthy after this, and continued to be a great friend of Plant Rhys as long as he lived. After Gruffyđ’s death they came to market again, but such was the greed of the farmers, like Gruffyđ before them, for riches, and so unreasonable were the prices they asked for their corn, that the Rhysians took offence and came no more to Cardigan to market. The old people used to think that they now went to Fishguard market, as very strange people were wont to be seen there.’ On the other hand, some Fishguard people were lately of opinion that it was at Haverfordwest the fairies did their marketing: I refer to a letter of Mr. Ferrar Fenton’s, in the Pembroke County Guardian of October 31, 1896, in which he mentions a conversation he had with a Fishguard woman as to the existence of fairies: ‘There are fairies,’ she asserted, ‘for they came to Ha’rfordwest market to buy things, so there must be.’

With this should be compared pp. 9–10 of Wirt Sikes’ British Goblins, where mention is made of sailors on the coast of Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, ‘who still talk of the green meadows of enchantment lying in the Irish Channel to the west of Pembrokeshire,’ and of men who had landed on them, or seen them suddenly vanishing. The author then proceeds to abstract from Howells’ Cambrian Superstitions, p. 119, the following paragraph:—‘The fairies inhabiting these [161]islands are said to have regularly attended the markets at Milford Haven and Laugharne. They made their purchases without speaking, laid down their money and departed, always leaving the exact sum required, which they seemed to know without asking the price of anything. Sometimes they were invisible; but they were often seen by sharp-eyed persons. There was always one special butcher at Milford Haven upon whom the fairies bestowed their patronage instead of distributing their favours indiscriminately. The Milford Haven folk could see the green Fairy Islands distinctly, lying out a short distance from land; and the general belief was that they were densely peopled with fairies. It was also said that the latter went to and fro between the islands and the shore, through a subterranean gallery under the bottom of the sea.’

Another tale given in the Brython, ii. 20, by a writer who gives his name as B. Davies26, will serve to show, short though it be, that the term Plant Rhys Đwfn was not confined to those honestly dealing fairies, but was used in a sense wholly synonymous with that of Tylwyth Teg, as understood in other parts of Wales. The story runs as follows, and should be compared with the Dyffryn Mymbyr one given above, pp. 100–3:—‘One calm hot day, when the sun of heaven was brilliantly shining, and the hay in the dales was being busily made by lads and lasses, and by grown-up people of both sexes, a woman in the neighbourhood of Emlyn placed her one-year-old infant in the gader, or chair, as the cradle is called in these parts, and out she went to the field for a while, intending to return, when her [162]neighbour, an old woman overtaken by the decrepitude of eighty summers, should call to her that her darling was crying. It was not long before she heard the old woman calling to her; she ran hurriedly, and as soon as she set foot on the kitchen floor she took her little one in her arms as usual, saying to him, “O my little one! thy mother’s delight art thou! I would not take the world for thee, &c.” But to her surprise he had a very old look about him, and the more the tender-hearted mother gazed at his face, the stranger it seemed to her, so that at last she placed him in the cradle and told her trouble and sorrow to her relatives and acquaintances. And after this one and the other had given his opinion, it was agreed at last that it was one of Rhys Đwfn’s children that was in the cradle, and not her dearly loved baby. In this distress there was nothing to do but to fetch a sorcerer, as fast as the fastest horse could gallop. He said, when he saw the child, that he had seen his like before, and that it would be a hard job to get rid of him, though not such a very hard job this time. The shovel was made red hot in the fire by one of the Cefnarth27 boys, and held before the child’s face; and in an instant the short little old man took to his heels, and neither he nor his like was seen afterwards from Aber Cuch to Aber Bargoed at any rate. The mother, it is said, found her darling unscathed the next moment. I remember also hearing that the strange child was as old as the grandfather of the one that had been lost.’

As I see no reason to make any profound distinction between lake maidens and sea maidens, I now give Gwynionyđ’s account of the mermaid who was found [163]by a fisherman from Ỻandydoch or St. Dogmael’s28, near Cardigan: see the Brython, i. 82:—

‘One fine afternoon in September, in the beginning of the last century, a fisherman, whose name was Pergrin29, went to a recess in the rock near Pen Cemmes, where he found a sea maiden doing her hair, and he took the water lady prisoner to his boat …. We know not what language is used by sea maidens … but this one, this time at any rate, talked, it is said, very good Welsh; for when she was in despair in Pergrin’s custody, weeping copiously, and with her tresses all dishevelled, she called [164]out: ‘Pergrin, if thou wilt let me go, I will give thee three shouts in the time of thy greatest need.’ So, in wonder and fear, he let her go to walk the streets of the deep, and visit her sweethearts there. Days and weeks passed without Pergrin seeing her after this; but one hot afternoon, when the sea was pretty calm, and the fishermen had no thought of danger, behold his old acquaintance showing her head and locks, and shouting out in a loud voice: ‘Pergrin! Pergrin! Pergrin! take up thy nets, take up thy nets, take up thy nets!’ Pergrin and his companion instantly obeyed the message, and drew their nets in with great haste. In they went, past the bar, and by the time they had reached the Pwll Cam the most terrible storm had overspread the sea, while he and his companion were safe on land. Twice nine others had gone out with them, but they were all drowned without having the chance of obeying the warning of the water lady.’ Perhaps it is not quite irrelevant to mention here the armorial bearings which Drayton ascribes to the neighbouring county of Cardigan in the following couplet in his Battaile of Agincourt (London, 1631), p. 23:—

As Cardigan the next to them that went,

Came with a Mermayd sitting on a Rock.

A writer in the Brython, iv. 194, states that the people of Nefyn in Ỻeyn claim the story of the fisher and the mermaid as belonging to them, which proves that a similar legend has been current there: add to this the fact mentioned in the Brython, iii. 133, that a red mermaid with yellow hair, on a white field, figures in the coat of arms of the family resident at Glasfryn in the parish of Ỻangybi, in Eifionyđ or the southern portion of Carnarvonshire; and we have already suggested that Glasynys’ story (pp. 117–25) was made [165]up, to a certain extent, of materials found on the coasts of Carnarvonshire. A small batch of stories about South Wales mermaids is given by a writer who calls himself Ab Nadol30, in the Brython, iv. 310, as follows:—

‘A few rockmen are said to have been working, about eighty years ago, in a quarry near Porth y Rhaw, when the day was calm and clear, with nature, as it were, feasting, the flowers shedding sweet scent around, and the hot sunshine beaming into the jagged rocks. Though an occasional wave rose to strike the romantic cliffs, the sea was like a placid lake, with its light coverlet of blue attractive enough to entice one of the ladies of Rhys Đwfn forth from the town seen by Daniel Huws off Trefin as he was journeying between Fishguard and St. David’s in the year 1858, to make her way to the top of a stone and to sit on it to disentangle her flowing silvery hair. Whilst she was cleaning herself, the rockmen went down, and when they got near her they perceived that, from her waist upwards, she was like the lasses of Wales, but that, from her waist downwards, she had the body of a fish. And, when they began to talk to her, they found she spoke Welsh, though she only uttered the following few words to them: “Reaping in Pembrokeshire and weeding in Carmarthenshire.” Off she then went to walk in the depth of the sea towards her home. Another tale is repeated about a mermaid, said to have been caught by men below the land of Ỻanwnda, near the spot, if not on the spot, where the French made their landing afterwards, and three miles to the west of Fishguard. It then goes on to say that they carried her to their home, and kept her in a secure place for [166]some time; before long, she begged to be allowed to return to the brine land, and gave the people of the house three bits of advice; but I only remember one of them,’ he writes, ‘and this is it: “Skim the surface of the pottage before adding sweet milk to it: it will be whiter and sweeter, and less of it will do.” I was told that this family follow the three advices to this day.’ A somewhat similar advice to that about the pottage is said to have been given by a mermaid, under similar circumstances, to a Manxman.

After putting the foregoing bits together, I was favoured by Mr. Benjamin Williams with notes on the tales and on the persons from whom he heard them: they form the contents of two or three letters, mostly answers to queries of mine, and the following is the substance of them:—Mr. Williams is a native of the valley of Troed yr Aur31, in the Cardiganshire parish of that name. He spent a part of his youth at Verwig, in the angle between the northern bank of the Teifi and Cardigan Bay. He heard of Rhys Đwfn’s Children first from a distant relative of his father’s, a Catherine Thomas, who came to visit her daughter, who lived not far from his father’s house: that would now be from forty-eight to fifty years ago. He was very young at the time, and of Rhys Đwfn’s progeny he formed a wonderful idea, which was partly due also to the talk of one James Davies or Siàms Mocyn, who was very well up in folklore, and was one of his father’s next-door neighbours. He was an old man, and nephew to the musician, David [167]Jenkin Morgan. The only spot near Mr. Williams’ home, that used to be frequented by the fairies, was Cefn y Ceirw, ‘the Stag’s Ridge,’ a large farm, so called from having been kept as a park for their deer by the Lewises of Aber Nant Bychan. He adds that the late Mr. Philipps, of Aberglasney, was very fond of talking of things in his native neighbourhood, and of mentioning the fairies at Cefn y Ceirw. It was after moving to Verwig that Mr. Williams began to put the tales he heard on paper: then he came in contact with three brothers, whose names were John, Owen, and Thomas Evans. They were well-to-do and respectable bachelors, living together on the large farm of Hafod Ruffyđ. Thomas was a man of very strong common sense, and worth consulting on any subject: he was a good arithmetician, and a constant reader of the Baptist periodical, Seren Gomer, from its first appearance. He thoroughly understood the bardic metres, and had a fair knowledge of music. He was well versed in Scripture, and filled the office of deacon at the Baptist Chapel. His death took place in the year 1864. Now, the eldest of the three brothers, the one named John, or Siôn, was then about seventy-five years of age, and he thoroughly believed in the tales about the fairies, as will be seen from the following short dialogue:—

Siôn: Williams bach, ma’n rhaid i bod nhw’i gâl: yr w i’n cofio yn amser Bone fod marchnad Aberteifi yn ỻawn o lafir yn y bore—digon yno am fis—ond cin pen hanner awr yr ôđ y cwbwl wedi darfod. Nid ôđ possib i gweld nhwi: mâ gida nhwi faint a fynnon nhwi o arian.

Williams: Siwt na fyse dynion yn i gweld nhwi ynte, Siôn?

Siôn: O mâ gida nhwi đynion fel ninne yn pryni [168]drostyn nhwi; ag y mâ nhwi fel yr hen siówmin yna yn geỻi gneid pob tric.

John: ‘My dear Williams, it must be that they exist: I remember Cardigan market, in the time of Bonaparte, full of corn in the morning—enough for a month—but in less than half an hour it was all gone. It was impossible to see them: they have as much money as they like.’

Williams: ‘How is it, then, that men did not see them, John?’

John: ‘Oh, they have men like us to do the buying for them; and they can, like those old showmen, do every kind of trick.’

At this kind of display of simplicity on the part of his brother, Thomas used to smile and say: ‘My brother John believes such things as those;’ for he had no belief in them himself. Still it is from his mouth that Mr. Williams published the tales in the Brython, which have been reproduced here, that of ‘Pergrin and the Mermaid,’ and all about the ‘Heir of Ỻech y Derwyđ,’ not to mention the ethical element in the account of Rhys Đwfn’s country and its people, the product probably of his mind. Thomas Evans, or as he was really called, Tommos Ifan, was given rather to grappling with the question of the origin of such beliefs; so one day he called Mr. Williams out, and led him to a spot about four hundred yards from Bol y Fron, where the latter then lived: he pointed to the setting sun, and asked Mr. Williams what he thought of the glorious sunset before them. ‘It is all produced,’ he then observed, ‘by the reflection of the sun’s rays on the mist: one might think,’ he went on to say, ‘that there was there a paradise of a country full of fields, forests, and everything that is desirable.’ And before they had moved away the grand scene had disappeared, when [169]Thomas suggested that the idea of the existence of the country of Rhys Đwfn’s Children arose from the contemplation of that phenomenon. One may say that Thomas Evans was probably far ahead of the Welsh historians who try to extract history from the story of Cantre’r Gwaelod, ‘the Bottom Hundred,’ beneath the waves of Cardigan Bay; but what was seen was probably an instance of the mirage to be mentioned presently. Lastly, besides Mr. Williams’ contributions to the Brython, and a small volume of poetry, entitled Briaỻen glan Ceri, some tales of his were published by Ỻaỻawg in Bygones some years ago, and he had the prize at the Cardigan Eisteđfod of 1866 for the best collection in Welsh of the folklore of Dyfed: his recollection was that it contained in all thirty-six tales of all kinds; but since the manuscript, as the property of the Committee of that Eisteđfod, was sold, he could not now consult it: in fact he is not certain as to who the owner of it may now be, though he has an idea that it is either the Rev. Rees Williams, vicar of Whitchurch, near Solva, Pembrokeshire, or R. D. Jenkins, Esq., of Cilbronnau, Cardiganshire. Whoever the owner may be, he would probably be only too glad to have it published, and I mention this merely to call attention to it. The Eisteđfod is to be commended for encouraging local research, and sometimes even for burying the results in obscurity, but not always.



Before leaving Dyfed I wish to revert to the extract from Mr. Sikes, p. 161 above. He had been helped partly by the article on Gavran, in the Cambrian Biography, by William Owen, better known since as William Owen Pughe and Dr. Pughe, and partly by a note of Southey’s [170]on the following words in his Madoc (London, 1815), i. III:—

Where are the sons of Gavran? where his tribe,

The faithful? following their beloved Chief,

They the Green Islands of the Ocean sought;

Nor human tongue hath told, nor human ear,

Since from the silver shores they went their way,

Hath heard their fortunes.

The Gavran story, I may premise, is based on one of the Welsh Triads—i. 34, ii. 41, iii. 80—and Southey cites the article in the Cambrian Biography; but he goes on to give the following statements without indicating on what sources he was drawing—the reader has, however, been made acquainted already with the virtue of a blade of grass, by the brief mention of Ỻyn Irđyn above, p. 148:—

‘Of these Islands, or Green Spots of the Floods, there are some singular superstitions. They are the abode of the Tylwyth Teg, or the fair family, the souls of the virtuous Druids, who, not having been Christians, cannot enter the Christian heaven, but enjoy this heaven of their own. They however discover a love of mischief, neither becoming happy spirits, nor consistent with their original character; for they love to visit the earth, and, seizing a man, inquire whether he will travel above wind, mid wind, or below wind; above wind is a giddy and terrible passage, below wind is through bush and brake, the middle is a safe course. But the spell of security is, to catch hold of the grass, for these Beings have not power to destroy a blade of grass. In their better moods they come over and carry the Welsh in their boats. He who visits these Islands imagines on his return that he has been absent only a few hours, when, in truth, whole centuries have passed away. If you take a turf from St. David’s churchyard, and stand upon it on the sea shore, you behold these Islands. A [171]man once, who thus obtained sight of them, immediately put to sea to find them; but they disappeared, and his search was in vain. He returned, looked at them again from the enchanted turf, again set sail, and failed again. The third time he took the turf into his vessel, and stood upon it till he reached them.’

A correspondent signing himself ‘the Antient Mariner,’ and writing, in the Pembroke County Guardian, from Newport, Pembrokeshire, Oct. 26, 1896, cites Southey’s notes, and adds to them the statement, that some fifty years ago there was a tradition amongst the inhabitants of Trevine (Trefin) in his county, that these Islands could be seen from Ỻan Non, or Eglwys Non, in that neighbourhood. To return to Madoc, Southey adds to the note already quoted a reference to the inhabitants of Arran More, on the coast of Galway, to the effect that they think that they can on a clear day see Hy-Breasail, the Enchanted Island supposed to be the Paradise of the Pagan Irish: compare the Phantom City seen in the same sea from the coast of Clare. Then he asks a question suggestive of the explanation, that all this is due to ‘that very extraordinary phenomenon, known in Sicily by the name of Morgaine le Fay’s works.’ In connexion with this question of mirage I venture to quote again from the Pembroke County Guardian. Mr. Ferrar Fenton, already mentioned, writes in the issue of Nov. 1, 1896, giving a report which he had received one summer morning from Captain John Evans, since deceased. It is to the effect ‘that once when trending up the Channel, and passing Grasholm Island, in what he had always known as deep water, he was surprised to see to windward of him a large tract of land covered with a beautiful green meadow. It was not, however, above water, but just a few feet below, say two or three, so that the grass waved and swam about [172]as the ripple flowed over it, in a most delightful way to the eye, so that as watched it made one feel quite drowsy. You know, he continued, I have heard old people say there is a floating island off there, that sometimes rises to the surface, or nearly, and then sinks down again fathoms deep, so that no one sees it for years, and when nobody expects it comes up again for a while. How it may be, I do not know, but that is what they say.’

Lastly, Mr. E. Perkins, of Penysgwarne, near Fishguard, wrote on Nov. 2, 1896, as follows, of a changing view to be had from the top of the Garn, which means the Garn Fawr, one of the most interesting prehistoric sites in the county, and one I have had the pleasure of visiting more than once in the company of Henry Owen and Edward Laws, the historians of Pembrokeshire:—

‘May not the fairy islands referred to by Professor Rhys have originated from mirages? During the glorious weather we enjoyed last summer, I went up one particularly fine evening to the top of the Garn behind Penysgwarne to view the sunset. It would have been worth a thousand miles’ travel to go to see such a scene as I saw that evening. It was about half an hour before sunset—the bay was calm and smooth as the finest mirror. The rays of the sun made

A golden path across the sea,

and a picture indescribable. As the sun neared the horizon the rays broadened until the sheen resembled a gigantic golden plate prepared to hold the brighter sun. No sooner had the sun set than I saw a striking mirage. To the right I saw a stretch of country similar to a landscape in this country. A farmhouse and out-buildings were seen, I will not say quite as distinct as I can see the upper part of St. David’s parish from this Garn, but much more detailed. We could see fences, [173]roads, and gateways leading to the farmyard, but in the haze it looked more like a panoramic view than a veritable landscape. Similar mirages may possibly have caused our old tadau to think these were the abode of the fairies.’

To return to Mr. Sikes, the rest of his account of the Pembrokeshire fairies and their green islands, of their Milford butcher, and of the subterranean gallery leading into their home, comes, as already indicated, for the most part from Howells. But it does not appear on what authority Southey himself made departed druids of the fairies. One would be glad to be reassured on this last point, as such a hypothesis would fit in well enough with what we are told of the sacrosanct character of the inhabitants of the isles on the coast of Britain in ancient times. Take, for instance, the brief account given by Plutarch of one of the isles explored by a certain Demetrius in the service of the Emperor of Rome: see chapter viii.



Mr. Craigfryn Hughes, the author of a Welsh novelette32 with its scene laid in Glamorgan, having induced me to take a copy, I read it and found it full of local colouring. Then I ventured to sound the author on the question of fairy tales, and the reader will be able to judge how hearty the response has been. Before reproducing the tale which Mr. Hughes has sent me, I will briefly put into English his account of himself and his authorities. Mr. Hughes lives at the Quakers’ Yard in the neighbourhood of Pontypriđ, in Glamorganshire. His father was not a believer33 in [174]tales about fairies or the like, and he learned all he knows of the traditions about them in his father’s absence, from his grandmother and other old people. The old lady’s name was Rachel Hughes. She was born at Pandy Pont y Cymmer, near Pontypool, or Pont ap Hywel as Mr. Hughes analyses the name, in the year 1773, and she had a vivid recollection of Edmund Jones of the Tranch, of whom more anon, coming from time to time to preach to the Independents there. She came, however, to live in the parish of Ỻanfabon, near the Quakers’ Yard, when she was only twelve years of age; and there she continued to live to the day of her death, which took place in 1864, so that she was about ninety-one years of age at the time. Mr. Hughes adds that he remembers many of the old inhabitants besides his grandmother, who were perfectly familiar with the story he has put on record; but only two of them were alive when he wrote to me in 1881, and these were both over ninety years old, with their minds overtaken by the childishness of age; but it was only a short time since the death of another, who was, as he says, a walking library of tales about corpse candles, ghosts, and Bendith y Mamau34, or ‘The Mothers’ Blessing,’ as the fairies are usually called in Glamorgan. Mr. Hughes’ father tried to prevent his children being taught any tales about ghosts, corpse [175]candles, or fairies; but the grandmother found opportunities of telling them plenty, and Mr. Hughes vividly describes the effect on his mind when he was a boy, how frightened he used to feel, how he pulled the clothes over his head in bed, and how he half suffocated himself thereby under the effects of the fear with which the tales used to fill him. Then, as to the locality, he makes the following remarks:—‘There are few people who have not heard something or other about the old graveyard of the Quakers, which was made by Lydia Phil, a lady who lived at a neighbouring farm house, called Cefn y Fforest. This old graveyard lies in the eastern corner of the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, on land called Pantannas, as to the meaning of which there is much controversy. Some will have it that it is properly Pant yr Aros, or the Hollow of the Staying, because travellers were sometimes stopped there overnight by the swelling of the neighbouring river; others treat it as Pant yr Hanes, the Hollow of the Legend, in allusion to the following story. But before the graveyard was made, the spot was called Rhyd y Grug, or the Ford of the Heather, which grows thereabouts in abundance. In front of the old graveyard towards the south the rivers Taff and Bargoed, which some would make into Byrgoed or Short-Wood, meet with each other, and thence rush in one over terrible cliffs of rock, in the recesses of which lie huge cerwyni or cauldron-like pools, called respectively the Gerwyn Fach, the Gerwyn Fawr, and the Gerwyn Ganol, where many a drowning has taken place. As one walks up over Tarren y Crynwyr, “the Quakers’ Rift,” until Pantannas is reached, and proceeds northwards for about a mile and a half, one arrives at a farm house called Pen Craig Daf35, “the Top of the [176]Taff Rock.” The path between the two houses leads through fertile fields, in which may be seen, if one has eyes to observe, small rings which are greener than the rest of the ground. They are, in fact, green even as compared with the greenness around them—these are the rings in which Bendith y Mamau used to meet to sing and dance all night. If a man happened to get inside one of these circles when the fairies were there, he could not be got out in a hurry, as they would charm him and lead him into some of their caves, where they would keep him for ages, unawares to him, listening to their music. The rings vary greatly in size, but in point of form they are all round or oval. I have heard my grandmother,’ says Mr. Hughes, ‘reciting and singing several of the songs which the fairies sang in these rings. One of them began thus:—

Canu, canu, drwy y nos,

Dawnsio, dawnsio, ar Waen y Rhos

Y’ ngoleuni’r ỻeuad dlos:

Hapus ydym ni!

Pawb ohonom syđ yn ỻon

Heb un gofid dan ei fron:

Canu, dawnsio, ar y ton36

Dedwyđ ydym ni!

Singing, singing, through the night,

Dancing, dancing with our might,

Where the moon the moor doth light,

Happy ever we!

One and all of merry mien,

Without sorrow are we seen,

Singing, dancing on the green,

Gladsome ever we!

Here follows, in Mr. Hughes’ own Welsh, a remarkable story of revenge exacted by the fairies:—

Yn un o’r canrifoeđ a aethant heibio, preswyliai amaethwr yn nhyđyn Pantannas, a’r amser hwnnw yr [177]oeđ bendith y mamau yn ymwelwyr aml ag amryw gaeau perthynol iđo ef, a theimlai yntau gryn gasineb yn ei fynwes at yr ‘atras fwstrog, leisiog, a chynỻwynig,’ fel y galwai hwynt, a mynych yr hiraethai am aỻu dyfod o hyd i ryw lwybr er cael eu gwared ođiyno. O’r diweđ hysbyswyd ef gan hen reibwraig, fod y fforđ i gael eu gwared yn đigon hawđ, ac ond iđo ef rođi godro un hwyr a boreu iđi hi, yr hysbysai y fforđ iđo gyrraeđ yr hyn a fawr đymunai. Bođlonođ i’w thelerau a derbyniođ yntau y cyfarwyđyd, yr hyn ydoeđ fel y canlyn:—Ei fod i aredig yr hoỻ gaeau i ba rai yr oeđ eu hoff ymgyrchfan, ac ond iđynt hwy unwaith goỻi y ton glas, y digient, ac na đeuent byth mwy i’w boeni drwy eu hymweliadau a’r ỻe.

Dilynođ yr amaethwr ei chyfarwyđyd i’r ỻythyren, a choronwyd ei waith a ỻwyđiant. Nid oeđ yr un o honynt i’w weled ođeutu y caeau yn awr; ac yn ỻe sain eu caniadau soniarus, a glywid bob amser yn dyrchu o Waen y Rhos, nid oeđ dim ond y distawrwyđ trylwyraf yn teyrnasu o gylch eu hen a’u hoff ymgyrchfan.

Hauođ yr amaethwr wenith, &c., yn y caeau, ac yr oeđ y gwanwyn gwyrđlas wedi gwthio y gauaf ođiar ei seđ, ac ymđangosai y maesyđ yn arđerchog yn eu ỻifrai gwyrđleision a gwanwynol.

Ond un prydnawn, ar ol i’r haul ymgilio i yst feỻoeđ y gorỻewin, tra yr oeđ amaethwr Pantannas yn dychwelyd tua ei gartref cyfarfyđwyd ag ef gan fod bychan ar ffurf dyn, yn gwisgo hugan goch; a phan đaeth gyferbyn ag ef dadweiniođ ei gleđ bychan, gan gyfeirio ei flaen at yr amaethwr, a dywedyd,

Dial a đaw,

Y mae gerỻaw.

Ceisiođ yr amaethwr chwerthin, ond yr oeđ rhywbeth yn edrychiad sarrug a ỻym y gwr bychan ag a barođ iđo deimlo yn hynod o annymunol. [178]

Ychydig o nosweithiau yn điweđarach, pan oeđ y teulu ar ymneiỻduo i’w gorphwysleoeđ, dychrynwyd hwy yn fawr iawn gan drwst, fel pe byđai y ty yn syrthio i lawr bendramwnwgl, ac yn union ar ol i’r twrf beidio, clywent y geiriau bygythiol a ganlyn—a dim yn rhagor—yn cael eu parablu yn uchel,

Daw dial.

Pan oeđ yr yd wedi cael ei fedi ac yn barod i gael ei gywain i’r ysgubor, yn sydyn ryw noswaith ỻosgwyd ef fel nad oeđ yr un dywysen na gweỻtyn i’w gael yn un man o’r caeau, ac nis gaỻasai neb fod wedi gosod yr yd ar dan ond Bendith y Mamau.

Fel ag y mae yn naturiol i ni feđwl teimlođ yr amaethwr yn fawr oherwyđ y tro, ac edifarhaođ yn ei galon đarfod iđo erioed wrando a gwneuthur yn ol cyfarwyđyd yr hen reibwraig, ac feỻy đwyn arno đigofaint a chasineb Bendith y Mamau.

Drannoeth i’r noswaith y ỻosgwyd yr yd fel yr oeđ yn arolygu y difrod achoswyd gan y tan, wele’r gwr bychan ag ydoeđ wedi ei gyfarfod ychydig o điwrnodau yn flaenorol yn ei gyfarfod eilwaith a chyda threm herfeiđiol pwyntiođ ei gleđyf ato gan đywedyd,

Nid yw ond dechreu.

Trođ gwyneb yr amaethwr cyn wynned a’r marmor, a safođ gan alw y gwr bychan yn ol, ond bu y còr yn hynod o wydn ac anewyỻysgar i droi ato, ond ar ol hir erfyn arno trođ yn ei ol gan ofyn yn sarrug beth yr oeđ yr amaethwr yn ei geisio, yr hwn a hysbysođ iđo ei fod yn berffaith fođlon i adael y caeau ỻe yr oeđ eu hoff ymgyrchfan i dyfu yn don eilwaith, a rhođi caniatad iđynt i đyfod iđynt pryd y dewisent, ond yn unig iđynt beidio dial eu ỻid yn mheỻach arno ef.

‘Na,’ oeđ yr atebiad penderfynol, ‘y mae gair y brenin wedi ei roi y byđ iđo ymđial arnat hyd eithaf ei aỻu ac [179]nid oes dim un gaỻu ar wyneb y greadigaeth a bair iđo gael ei dynnu yn ol.’

Dechreuođ yr amaethwr wylo ar hyn, ond yn mhen ychydig hysbysođ y gwr bychan y byđai iđo ef siarad a’i bennaeth ar y mater, ac y cawsai efe wybod y canlyniad ond iđo đyfod i’w gyfarfod ef yn y fan honno amser machludiad haul drennyđ.

Ađawođ yr amaethwr đyfod i’w gyfarfod, a phan đaeth yr amser apwyntiedig o amgylch iđo i gyfarfod a’r bychan cafođ ef yno yn ei aros, ac hysbysođ iđo fod y pennaeth wedi ystyried ei gais yn đifrifol, ond gan fod ei air bob amser yn anghyfnewidiol y buasai y dialeđ bygythiedig yn rhwym o gymeryd ỻe ar y teulu, ond ar gyfrif ei edifeirwch ef na chawsai đigwyđ yn ei amser ef nac eiđo ei blant.

Llonyđođ hynny gryn lawer ar feđwl terfysglyd yr amaethwr, a dechreuođ Bendith y Mamau dalu eu hymweliadau a’r ỻe eilwaith a mynych y clywid sain eu cerđoriaeth felusber yn codi o’r caeau amgylchynol yn ystod y nos.

Pasiođ canrif heibio heb i’r dialeđ bygythiedig gael ei gyflawni, ac er fod teulu Pantannas yn cael eu hadgofio yn awr ac eilwaith, y buasai yn sicr o đigwyđ hwyr neu hwyrach, eto wrth hir glywed y waeđ,

Daw dial,

ymgynefinasant a hi nes eu bod yn barod i gredu na fuasai dim yn dyfod o’r bygythiad byth.

Yr oeđ etifeđ Pantannas yn caru a merch i dirfeđiannyđ cymydogaethol a breswyliai mewn tyđyn o’r enw Pen Craig Daf. Yr oeđ priodas y par dedwyđ i gymeryd ỻe yn mhen ychydig wythnosau ac ymđangosai rhieni y cwpl ieuanc yn hynod o fođlon i’r ymuniad teuluol ag oeđ ar gymeryd ỻe. [180]

Yr oeđ yn amser y Nadolig—a thalođ y đarpar wraig ieuanc ymweliad a theulu ei darpar wr, ac yr oeđ yno wleđ o wyđ rostiedig yn baratoedig gogyfer a’r achlysur.

Eisteđai y cwmni ođeutu y tan i adrođ rhyw chwedlau difyrrus er mwyn pasio yr amser, pryd y cawsant eu dychrynu yn fawr gan lais treiđgar yn dyrchafu megis o wely yr afon yn gwaeđi

Daeth amser ymdïal.

Aethant oỻ aỻan i wrando a glywent y ỻeferyđ eilwaith, ond nid oeđ dim i’w glywed ond brochus drwst y dwfr wrth raiadru dros glogwyni aruthrol y cerwyni. Ond ni chawsant aros i wrando yn hir iawn cyn iđynt glywed yr un ỻeferyđ eilwaith yn dyrchafu i fyny yn uwch na swn y dwfr pan yn bwrlymu dros ysgwyđau y graig, ac yn gwaeđi,

Daeth yr amser.

Nis gaỻent đyfalu beth yr oeđ yn ei arwyđo, a chymaint ydoeđ eu braw a’u syndod fel nad aỻent lefaru yr un gair a’u gilyđ. Yn mhen ennyd dychwelasant i’r ty a chyn iđynt eisteđ credent yn đios fod yr adeilad yn cael ei ysgwyd iđ ei sylfeini gan ryw dwrf y tu aỻan. Pan yr oeđ yr oỻ wedi cael eu parlysio gan fraw, wele fenyw fechan yn gwneuthur ei hymđangosiad ar y bwrđ o’u blaen, yr hwn oeđ yn sefyỻ yn agos i’r ffenestr.

‘Beth yr wyt yn ei geisio yma, y peth bychan hagr?’ holai un o’r gwyđfodolion.

Nid oes gennyf unrhyw neges a thi, y gwr hir dafod,’ oeđ atebiad y fenyw fechan. ‘Ond yr wyf wedi cael fy anfon yma i adrođ rhyw bethau ag syđ ar đigwyđ i’r teulu hwn, a theulu araỻ o’r gymydogaeth ag a đichon fod o đyđordeb iđynt, ond gan i mi đerbyn y fath sarhad ođiar law y gwr du ag syđ yn eisteđ yn y cornel, ni fyđ i mi godi y ỻen ag oeđ yn cuđio y dyfodol aỻan o’u golwg.’ [181]

‘Atolwg os oes yn dy feđiant ryw wybodaeth parth dyfodol rhai o honom ag a fyđai yn đyđorol i ni gael ei glywed, dwg hi aỻan,’ ebai un araỻ o’r gwyđfodolion.

‘Na wnaf, ond yn unig hysbysu, fod calon gwyryf fel ỻong ar y traeth yn methu cyrraeđ y porthlad oherwyđ digalondid y pilot.’

A chyda ei bod yn ỻefaru y gair diweđaf diflannođ o’u gwyđ, na wyđai neb i ba le na pha fođ!

Drwy ystod ci hymweliad hi, peidiođ y waeđ a godasai o’r afon, ond yn fuan ar ol iđi điflannu, dechreuođ eilwaith a chyhoeđi

Daeth amser dial,

ac ni pheidiođ am hir amser. Yr oeđ y cynuỻiad wedi cael eu međiannu a gormod o fraw i fedru ỻefaru yr un gair, ac yr oeđ ỻen o bruđder yn daenedig dros wyneb pob un o honynt. Daeth amser iđynt i ymwahanu, ac aeth Rhyđerch y mab i hebrwng Gwerfyl ei gariadferch tua Phen Craig Daf, o ba siwrnai ni đychwelođ byth.

Cyn ymadael a’i fun dywedir iđynt dyngu bythol ffyđlondeb i’w gilyđ, pe heb weled y naiỻ y ỻaỻ byth ond hynny, ac nad oeđ dim a aỻai beri iđynt anghofio eu gilyđ.

Mae yn debygol i’r ỻanc Rhyđerch pan yn dychwelyd gartref gael ei hun ođifewn i un o gylchoeđ Bendith y Mamau, ac yna iđynt ei hud-đenu i mewn i un o’u hogofau yn Nharren y Cigfrain, ac yno y bu.

Y mae yn ỻawn bryd i ni droi ein gwynebau yn ol tua Phantannas a Phen Craig Daf. Yr oeđ rhieni y bachgen anffodus yn mron gwaỻgofi. Nid oeđ ganđynt yr un drychfeđwl i ba le i fyned i chwilio am dano, ac er chwilio yn mhob man a phob ỻe methwyd yn glir a dyfod o hyd iđo, na chael gair o’i hanes. [182]

Ychydig i fyny yn y cwm mewn ogof danđaearol trigfannai hen feudwy oedrannus, yr hwn hefyd a ystyrrid yn đewin, o’r enw Gweiryđ. Aethant yn mhen ychydig wythnosau i ofyn iđo ef, a fedrai rođi iđynt ryw wybodaeth parthed i’w mab coỻedig—ond i ychydig bwrpas. Ni wnaeth yr hyn a adrođođ hwnnw wrthynt ond dyfnhau y clwyf a rhoi golwg fwy anobeithiol fyth ar yr amgylchiad. Ar ol iđynt ei hysbysu ynghylch ymđangosiad y fenyw fechan ynghyd a’r ỻais wylofus a glywsent yn dyrchafu o’r afon y nos yr aeth ar goỻ, hysbysođ efe iđynt mai y farn fygythiedig ar y teulu gan Fendith y Mamau oeđ wedi gođiweđid y ỻanc, ac nad oeđ o un diben iđynt feđwl cael ei weled byth mwyach! Ond feaỻai y gwnelai ei ymđangosiad yn mhen oesau, ond đim yn eu hamser hwy.

Pasiai yr amser heibio, a chwyđođ yr wythnosau i fisoeđ, a’r misoeđ i flynyđoeđ, a chasglwyd tad a mam Rhyđerch at eu tadau. Yr oeđ y ỻe o hyd yn parhau yr un, ond y preswylwyr yn newid yn barhaus, ac yr oeđ yr adgofion am ei goỻedigaeth yn darfod yn gyflym, ond er hynny yr oeđ un yn disgwyl ei đychweliad yn ol yn barhaus, ac yn gobeithio megis yn erbyn gobaith am gael ei weled eilwaith. Bob boreu gyda bod dorau y wawr yn ymagor dros gaerog fynyđoeđ y dwyrain gwelid hi bob tywyđ yn rhedeg i ben bryn bychan, a chyda ỻygaid yn orlawn o đagrau hiraethlon syỻai i bob cyfeiriad i edrych a ganfyđai ryw argoel fod ei hanwylyd yn dychwelyd; ond i đim pwrpas. Canol dyđ gwelid hi eilwaith yn yr un man, a phan ymgoỻai yr haul fel pelen eiriasgoch o dân dros y terfyngylch, yr oeđ hi yno.

Edrychai nes yn agos bod yn đaỻ, ac wylai ei henaid aỻan o đyđ i đyđ ar ol anwylđyn ei chalon. O’r diweđ aeth y rhai syđ yn edrych drwy y ffenestri i omeđ eu gwasanaeth iđi, ac yr oeđ y pren almon yn coroni ei [183]phen a’i flagur gwyryfol, ond parhai hi i edrych, ond nid oeđ neb yn dod. Yn ỻawn o đyđiau ac yn aeđfed i’r beđ rhođwyd terfyn ar ei hoỻ obeithion a’i disgwyliadau gan angeu, a chludwyd ei gweđiỻion marwol i fynwent hen Gapel y Fan.

Pasiai blynyđoeđ heibio fel mwg, ac oesau fel cysgodion y boreu, ac nid oeđ neb yn fyw ag oeđ yn cofio Rhyđerch, ond adrođid ei goỻiad disymwyth yn aml. Dylasem fynegu na welwyd yr un o Fendith y Mamau ođeutu y gymydogaeth wedi ei goỻiad, a pheidiođ sain eu cerđoriaeth o’r nos honno aỻan.

Yr oeđ Rhyđerch wedi cael ei hud-đenu i fyned gyda Bendith y Mamau—ac aethant ag ef i ffwrđ i’w hogof. Ar ol iđo aros yno dros ychydig o điwrnodau fel y tybiai, gofynnođ am ganiatad i đychwelyd, yr hyn a rwyđ ganiatawyd iđo gan y brenin. Daeth aỻan o’r ogof, ac yr oeđ yn ganol dyđ braf, a’r haul yn ỻewyrchu ođiar fynwes ffurfafen đigwmwl. Cerđođ yn mlaen o Darren y Cigfrain hyd nes iđo đyfod i olwg Capel y Fan, ond gymaint oeđ ei syndod pan y gwelođ nad oeđ yr un capel yno! Pa le yr oeđ wedi bod, a pha faint o amser? Gyda theimladau cymysgedig cyfeiriođ ei gamrau tua Phen Craig Daf, cartref-le ei anwylyd, ond nid oeđ hi yno, ac nid oeđ yn adwaen yr un dyn ag oeđ yno chwaith. Ni fedrai gael gair o hanes ei gariad a chymerođ y rhai a breswylient yno mai gwaỻgofđyn ydoeđ.

Prysurođ eilwaith tua Phantannas, ac yr oeđ ei syndod yn fwy fyth yno! Nid oeđ yn adwaen yr un o honynt, ac ni wyđent hwythau đim am dano yntau. O’r diweđ daeth gwr y ty i fewn, ac yr oeđ hwnnw yn cofio clywed ei dad cu yn adrođ am lanc ag oeđ wedi myned yn đisymwyth i goỻ er ys peth cannoeđ o flynyđoeđ yn ol, ond na wyđai neb i ba le. Rywfođ neu gilyđ tarawođ gwr y tŷ ei ffon yn erbyn Rhyđerch, pa un a điflannođ [184]mewn cawod o lwch, ac ni chlywyd air o son beth đaeth o hono mwyach.

‘In one of the centuries gone by, there lived a husbandman on the farm of Pantannas; and at that time the fairies used to pay frequent visits to several of the fields which belonged to him. He cherished in his bosom a considerable hatred for the “noisy, boisterous, and pernicious tribe,” as he called them, and often did he long to be able to discover some way to rid the place of them. At last he was told by an old witch that the way to get rid of them was easy enough, and that she would tell him how to attain what he so greatly wished, if he gave her one evening’s milking37 on his farm, and one morning’s. He agreed to her conditions, and from her he received advice, which was to the effect that he was to plough all the fields where they had their favourite resorts, and that, if they found the green sward gone, they would take offence, and never return to trouble him with their visits to the spot.

‘The husbandman followed the advice to the letter, and his work was crowned with success. Not a single one of them was now to be seen about the fields, and, instead of the sound of their sweet music, which used to be always heard rising from the Coarse Meadow Land, the most complete silence now reigned over their favourite resort.

‘He sowed his land with wheat and other grain; the verdant spring had now thrust winter off its throne, and the fields appeared splendid in their vernal and green livery.

‘But one evening, when the sun had retired to the chambers of the west, and when the farmer of Pantannas [185]was returning home, he was met by a diminutive being in the shape of a man, with a red coat on. When he had come right up to him, he unsheathed his little sword, and, directing the point towards the farmer, he said:—

Vengeance cometh,

Fast it approacheth.

‘The farmer tried to laugh, but there was something in the surly and stern looks of the little fellow which made him feel exceedingly uncomfortable.

‘A few nights afterwards, as the family were retiring to rest, they were very greatly frightened by a noise, as though the house was falling to pieces; and, immediately after the noise, they heard a voice uttering loudly the threatening words—and nothing more:—

Vengeance cometh.

‘When, however, the corn was reaped and ready to be carried to the barn, it was, all of a sudden, burnt up one night, so that neither an ear nor a straw of it could be found anywhere in the fields; and now nobody could have set the corn on fire but the fairies.

‘As one may naturally suppose, the farmer felt very much on account of this event, and he regretted in his heart having done according to the witch’s direction, and having thereby brought upon him the anger and hatred of the fairies.

‘The day after the night of the burning of the corn, as he was surveying the destruction caused by the fire, behold the little fellow, who had met him a few days before, met him again, and, with a challenging glance, he pointed his sword towards him, saying:—

It but beginneth.

The farmer’s face turned as white as marble, and he stood calling the little fellow to come back; but the [186]dwarf proved very unyielding and reluctant to turn to him; but, after long entreaty, he turned back, asking the farmer, in a surly tone, what he wanted, when he was told by the latter that he was quite willing to allow the fields, in which their favourite resorts had been, to grow again into a green sward, and to let them frequent them as often as they wished, provided they would no further wreak their anger on him.

‘ “No,” was the determined reply, “the word of the king has been given, that he will avenge himself on thee to the utmost of his power; and there is no power on the face of creation that will cause it to be withdrawn.”

‘The farmer began to weep at this, and, after a while, the little fellow said that he would speak to his lord on the matter, and that he would let him know the result, if he would come there to meet him at the hour of sunset on the third day after.

‘The farmer promised to meet him; and, when the time appointed for meeting the little man came, he found him awaiting him, and he was told by him that his lord had seriously considered his request, but that, as the king’s word was ever immutable, the threatened vengeance was to take effect on the family. On account, however, of his repentance, it would not be allowed to happen in his time or that of his children.

‘That calmed the disturbed mind of the farmer a good deal. The fairies began again to pay frequent visits to the place, and their melodious singing was again heard at night in the fields around.

‘A century passed by without seeing the threatened vengeance carried into effect; and, though the Pantannas family were reminded now and again that it was certain [187]sooner or later to come, nevertheless, by long hearing the voice that said—

Vengeance cometh,

they became so accustomed to it, that they were ready to believe that nothing would ever come of the threat.

‘The heir of Pantannas was paying his addresses to the daughter of a neighbouring landowner who lived at the farm house called Pen Craig Daf, and the wedding of the happy pair was to take place in a few weeks, and the parents on both sides appeared exceedingly content with the union that was about to take place between the two families.

‘It was Christmas time, and the intended wife paid a visit to the family of her would-be husband. There they had a feast of roast goose prepared for the occasion.

‘The company sat round the fire to relate amusing tales to pass the time, when they were greatly frightened by a piercing voice, rising, as it were, from the bed of the river38, and shrieking:—

The time for revenge is come.

‘They all went out to listen if they could hear the voice a second time, but nothing was to be heard save the angry noise of the water as it cascaded over the dread cliffs of the kerwyni; they had not long, however, to wait till they heard again the same voice rising above the noise of the waters, as they boiled over the shoulders of the rock, and crying:—

The time is come.

‘They could not guess what it meant, and so great was their fright and astonishment, that no one could utter a word to another. Shortly they returned to the [188]house, when they believed that beyond doubt the building was being shaken to its foundations by some noise outside. When all were thus paralysed by fear, behold a little woman made her appearance on the table, which stood near the window.

‘ “What dost thou, ugly little thing, want here? asked one of those present.

‘ “I have nothing to do with thee, O man of the meddling tongue,” said the little woman, “but I have been sent here to recount some things that are about to happen to this family and another family in the neighbourhood, things that might be of interest to them; but, as I have received such an insult from the black fellow that sits in the corner, the veil that hides them from their sight shall not be lifted by me.”

‘ “Pray,” said another of those present, “if thou hast in thy possession any knowledge with regard to the future of any one of us that would interest us to hear, bring it forth.”

‘ “No, I will but merely tell you that a certain maiden’s heart is like a ship on the coast, unable to reach the harbour because the pilot has lost heart.”

‘As soon as she had cried out the last word, she vanished, no one knew whither or how.

‘During her visit, the cry rising from the river had stopped, but soon afterwards it began again to proclaim:—

The time of vengeance is come;

nor did it cease for a long while. The company had been possessed by too much terror for one to be able to address another, and a sheet of gloom had, as it were, been spread over the face of each. The time for parting came, and Rhyđerch the heir went to escort Gwerfyl, his lady-love, home towards Pen Craig Daf, a journey from which he never returned. [189]

‘Before bidding one another “Good-bye,” they are said to have sworn to each other eternal fidelity, even though they should never see one another from that moment forth, and that nothing should make the one forget the other.

‘It is thought probable that the young man Rhyđerch, on his way back towards home, got into one of the rings of the fairies, that they allured him into one of their caves in the Ravens’ Rift, and that there he remained.

‘It is high time for us now to turn back towards Pantannas and Pen Craig Daf. The parents of the unlucky youth were almost beside themselves: they had no idea where to go to look for him, and, though they searched every spot in the place, they failed completely to find him or any clue to his history.

‘A little higher up the country, there dwelt, in a cave underground, an aged hermit called Gweiryđ, who was regarded also as a sorcerer. They went a few weeks afterwards to ask him whether he could give them any information about their lost son; but it was of little avail. What that man told them did but deepen the wound and give the event a still more hopeless aspect. When they had told him of the appearance of the little woman, and the doleful cry heard rising from the river on the night when their son was lost, he informed them that it was the judgement threatened to the family by the fairies that had overtaken the youth, and that it was useless for them to think of ever seeing him again: possibly he might make his appearance after generations had gone by, but not in their lifetime.

‘Time rolled on, weeks grew into months, and months into years, until Rhyđerch’s father and [190]mother were gathered to their ancestors. The place continued the same, but the inhabitants constantly changed, so that the memory of Rhyđerch’s disappearance was fast dying away. Nevertheless there was one who expected his return all the while, and hoped, as it were against hope, to see him once more. Every morn, as the gates of the dawn opened beyond the castellated heights of the east, she might be seen, in all weathers, hastening to the top of a small hill, and, with eyes full of the tears of longing, gazing in every direction to see if she could behold any sign of her beloved’s return; but in vain. At noon, she might be seen on the same spot again; she was also there at the hour when the sun was wont to hide himself, like a red-hot ball of fire, below the horizon. She gazed until she was nearly blind, and she wept forth her soul from day to day for the darling of her heart. At last they that looked out at the windows began to refuse their service, and the almond tree commenced to crown her head with its virgin bloom. She continued to gaze, but he came not. Full of days, and ripe for the grave, death put an end to all her hopes and all her expectations. Her mortal remains were buried in the graveyard of the old Chapel of the Fan39.

‘Years passed away like smoke, and generations like the shadows of the morning, and there was no longer anybody alive who remembered Rhyđerch, but the tale of his sudden missing was frequently in people’s mouths. And we ought to have said that after the event no one of the fairies was seen about the neighbourhood, and the sound of their music ceased from that night. [191]

‘Rhyđerch had been allured by them, and they took him away into their cave. When he had stayed there only a few days, as he thought, he asked for permission to return, which was readily granted him by the king. He issued from the cave when it was a fine noon, with the sun beaming from the bosom of a cloudless firmament. He walked on from the Ravens’ Rift until he came near the site of the Fan Chapel; but what was his astonishment to find no chapel there! Where, he wondered, had he been, and how long away? So with mixed feelings he directed his steps towards Pen Craig Daf, the home of his beloved one, but she was not there nor any one whom he knew either. He could get no word of the history of his sweetheart, and those who dwelt in the place took him for a madman.

‘He hastened then to Pantannas, where his astonishment was still greater. He knew nobody there, and nobody knew anything about him. At last the man of the house came in, and he remembered hearing his grandfather relating how a youth had suddenly disappeared, nobody knew whither, some hundreds of years previously. Somehow or other the man of the house chanced to knock his walking-stick against Rhyđerch, when the latter vanished in a shower of dust. Nothing more was ever heard of him.’

Before leaving Glamorgan, I may add that Mr. Sikes associates fairy ladies with Crymlyn Lake, between Briton Ferry and Swansea; but, as frequently happens with him, he does not deign to tell us whence he got the legend. ‘It is also believed,’ he says at p. 35, ‘that a large town lies swallowed up there, and that the Gwrageđ Annwn have turned the submerged walls to use as the superstructure of their fairy palaces. Some claim to have seen the towers of beautiful castles lifting their battlements beneath the surface of the dark [192]waters, and fairy bells are at times heard ringing from those towers.’ So much by the way: we shall return to Crymlyn in chapter vii.



The other day, as I was going to Gwent, I chanced to be in the Golden Valley in Herefordshire, where the names in the churchyards seem largely to imply a Welsh population, though the Welsh language has not been heard there for ages. Among others I noticed Joneses and Williamses in abundance at Abbey Dore, Evanses and Bevans, Morgans, Prossers and Prices, not to mention Sayces—that is to say, Welshmen of English extraction or education—a name which may also be met with in Little England in Pembrokeshire, and probably on other English-Welsh borders. Happening to have to wait for a train at the Abbey Dore station, I got into conversation with the tenants of a cottage hard by, and introduced the subject of the fairies. The old man knew nothing about them, but his wife, Elizabeth Williams, had been a servant girl at a place called Pen Pôch, which she pronounced with the Welsh guttural ch: she said that it is near Ỻandeilo Cressenny in Monmouthshire. It was about forty years ago when she served at Pen Pôch, and her mistress’ name was Evans, who was then about fifty years of age. Now Mrs. Evans was in the habit of impressing on her servant girls’ minds, that, unless they made the house tidy before going to bed, and put everything in its place overnight, the little people—the fairies, she thinks she called them—would leave them no rest in bed at night, but would come and ‘pinch them like.’ If they put everything in its place, and left the house ‘tidy like,’ it would be all [193]right, and ‘nobody would do anything to them like.’ That is all I could get from her without prompting her, which I did at length by suggesting to her that the fairies might leave the tidy servants presents, a shilling ‘on the hearth or the hob like.’ Yes, she thought there was something of that sort, and her way of answering me suggested that this was not the first time she had heard of the shilling. She had never been lucky enough to have had one herself, nor did she know of anybody else that ‘had got it like.’

During a brief but very pleasant sojourn at Ỻanover in May, 1883, I made some inquiries about the fairies, and obtained the following account from William Williams, who now, in his seventieth year, works in Lady Ỻanover’s garden:—‘I know of a family living a little way from here at ——, or as they would now call it in English ——, whose ancestors, four generations ago, used to be kind to Bendith y Mamau, and always welcomed their visits by leaving at night a basinful of bread and milk for them near the fire. It always used to be eaten up before the family got up in the morning. But one night a naughty servant man gave them instead of milk a bowlful of urine40. They, on finding it out, threw it about the house and went away disgusted. But the servant watched in the house the following night. They found him out, and told him that he had made fools of them, and that in punishment for his crime there would always be a fool, i.e. an idiot, in his family. As a matter of fact, there was one among his children afterwards, and there is one in the family now. They have always been in a bad way ever since, and they never prosper. The name of the man who originally [194]offended the fairies was ——; and the name of the present fool among his descendants is ——.’ For evident reasons it is not desirable to publish the names.

Williams spoke also of a sister to his mother, who acted as servant to his parents. There were, he said, ten stepping stones between his father’s house and the well, and on every one of these stones his aunt used to find a penny every morning, until she made it known to others, when, of course, the pennies ceased coming. He did not know why the fairies gave money to her, unless it was because she was a most tidy servant.

Another Ỻanover gardener remembered that the fairies used to change children, and that a certain woman called Nani Fach in that neighbourhood was one of their offspring; and he had been told that there were fairy rings in certain fields not far away in Ỻanover parish.

A third gardener, who is sixty-eight years of age, and is likewise in Lady Ỻanover’s employ, had heard it said that servant girls about his home were wont to sweep the floor clean at night, and to throw crumbs of bread about on it before going to bed.

Lastly, Mrs. Gardner of Ty Uchaf Ỻanover, who is ninety years of age, remembers having a field close to Capel Newyđ near Blaen Afon, in Ỻanover Uchaf, pointed out to her as containing fairy rings; and she recollects hearing, when she was a child, that a man had got into one of them. He remained away from home, as they always did, she said, a whole year and a day; but she has forgotten how he was recovered. Then she went on to say that her father had often got up in the night to see that his horses were not taken out and ridden about the fields by Bendith y Mamau; for they were wont to ride people’s horses late at night round the four corners of the fields, and thereby they often [195]broke the horses’ wind. This, she gave me to understand, was believed in the parish of Ỻanover and that part of the country generally. So here we have an instance probably of confounding fairies with witches.

I have not the means at my command of going at length into the folklore of Gwent, so I will merely mention where the reader may find a good deal about it. I have already introduced the name of the credulous old Christian, Edmund Jones of the Tranch: he published at Trefecca in the year 1779 a small volume entitled, A Geographical, Historical, and Religious Account of the Parish of Aberystruth in the County of Monmouth, to which are added Memoirs of several Persons of Note who lived in the said Parish. In 1813, by which time he seems to have left this world for another, where he expected to understand all about the fairies and their mysterious life, a small volume of his was published at Newport, bearing the title, A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the County of Monmouth and the Principality of Wales, with other notable Relations from England, together with Observations about them, and Instructions from them, designed to confute and to prevent the Infidelity of denying the Being and Apparition of Spirits, which tends to Irreligion and Atheism. By the late Rev. Edmund Jones, of the Tranch. Naturally those volumes have been laid under contribution by Mr. Sikes, though the tales about apparitions in them are frequently of a ghastly nature, and sometimes loathsome: on the whole, they remind me more than anything else I have ever read of certain Breton tales which breathe fire and brimstone: all such begin to be now out of fashion in Protestant countries. I shall at present only quote a passage of quite a different nature from the earlier volume, p. 72—it is an interesting one, and it runs thus:—‘It was the general opinion in times past, when these things were very [196]frequent, that the fairies knew whatever was spoken in the air without the houses, not so much what was spoken in the houses. I suppose they chiefly knew what was spoken in the air at night. It was also said that they rather appeared to an uneven number of persons, to one, three, five, &c.; and oftener to men than to women. Thomas William Edmund, of Havodavel, an honest pious man, who often saw them, declared that they appeared with one bigger than the rest going before them in the company.’ With the notion that the fairies heard everything uttered out of doors may be compared the faculty attributed to the great magician king, Math ab Mathonwy, of hearing any whisper whatsoever that met the wind: see the Oxford Mabinogion, p. 60, and Guest’s Mabinogion, iii. 219; see also respectively pp. 94, 96, and pp. 308, 310, as to the same faculty belonging to the fairy people of the Corannians, and the strange precautions taken against them by the brothers Ỻûđ and Ỻevelys. [197]

1 These were held, so far as I can gather from the descriptions usually given of them, exactly as I have seen a kermess or kirchmesse celebrated at Heidelberg, or rather the village over the Neckar opposite that town. It was in 1869, but I forget what saint it was with whose name the kermess was supposed to be connected: the chief features of it were dancing and beer drinking. It was by no means unusual for a Welsh Gwyl Fabsant to bring together to a rural neighbourhood far more people than could readily be accommodated; and in Carnarvonshire a hurriedly improvised bed is to this day called gwely g’l’absant, as it were ‘a bed (for the time) of a saint’s festival.’ Rightly or wrongly the belief lingers that these merry gatherings were characterized by no little immorality, which made the better class of people set their faces against them. 

2 Since the editing of this volume was begun I have heard that it is intended to publish the Welsh collection which Mr. Jones has made: so I shall only give a translation of the Edward Ỻwyd version of the afanc story: see section v. of this chapter. 

3 This word is not in Welsh dictionaries, but it is Scotch and Manx Gaelic, and is possibly a remnant of the Goidelic once spoken in Gwyneđ. 

4 Our charlatans never leave off trying to make this into Tryfaen so as to extract maen, ‘stone,’ from it. They do not trouble themselves to find out whether it ever was Tryfaen or not: in fact they rather like altering everything as much as they can. 

5 Ystrádỻyn, with the accent on the penult, is commonly pronounced Stráỻyn, and means ‘the strand of the lake,’ and the hollow is named after it Cwm Stráỻyn, and the lake in it Ỻyn Cwm Stráỻyn, which literally means ‘the Lake of the Combe of the Strand of the Lake’—all seemingly for the luxury of forgetting the original name of the lake, which I have never been able to ascertain. 

6 So Mr. Jones puts it: I have never heard of any other part of the Principality where the children are usually baptized before they are eight days old. 

7 I cannot account for this spelling, but the ll in Bellis is English ll, not the Welsh , which represents a sound very different from that of l

8 Where not stated otherwise, as in this instance, the reader is to regard this chapter as written in the latter part of the year 1881. 

9 See Giraldus’ Itinerarium Kambriæ, i. 8 (pp. 75–8); some discussion of the whole story will be found in chapter iii of this volume. 

10 Dr. Moore explains this to be cabbages and potatoes, pounded and mixed with butter or lard. 

11 It would be interesting to know what has become of this letter and others of Ỻwyd’s once in the possession of the canon, for it is not to be supposed that the latter ever took the trouble to make an accurate copy of them any more than he did of any other MSS. 

12 There is also a Sarn yr Afanc, ‘the Afanc’s Stepping Stones,’ on the Ogwen river in Nant Ffrancon: see Pennant’s Tours in Wales, iii. 101. 

13 The oxen should accordingly have been called Ychain Pannog; but the explanation is not to be taken seriously. These oxen will come under the reader’s notice again, to wit in chapter x. 

14 The lines are copied exactly as given at p. 189 (I. vi. 25–30) of The Poetical Works of Lewis Glyn Cothi, edited for the Cymmrodorion by Gwaỻter Mechain and Tegid, and printed at Oxford in the year 1837. 

15 This, I should say, must be a mistake, as it contradicts all the folklore which makes the rowan an object of dread to the fairies. 

16 See Choice Notes from ‘Notes and Queries’ (London, 1859), p. 147. 

17 It is more likely that it is a shortening of Ỻyn y Barfog, meaning the Lake of the Bearded One, Lacus Barbati as it were, the Bearded One being somebody like the hairy monster of another lake mentioned at p. 18 above, or him of the white beard pictured at p. 127. 

18 So far from afanc meaning a crocodile, an afanc is represented in the story of Peredur as a creature that would cast at every comer a poisoned spear from behind a pillar standing at the mouth of the cave inhabited by it; see the Oxford Mabinogion, p. 224. The corresponding Irish word is abhac, which according to O’Reilly means ‘a dwarf, pigmy, manikin; a sprite.’ 

19 I should not like to vouch for the accuracy of Mr. Pughe’s rendering of this and the other Welsh names which he has introduced: that involves difficult questions. 

20 The writer meant the river known as Dyfi or Dovey; but he would seem to have had a water etymology on the brain. 

21 This involves the name of the river called Disynni, and Diswnwy embodies a popular etymology which is not worth discussing. 

22 It would, I think, be a little nearer the mark as follows:—

Come thou, Einion’s Yellow One,

Stray-horns, the Particoloured Lake Cow,

And the Hornless Dodin:

Arise, come home.

But one would like to know whether Dodin ought not rather to be written Dodyn, to rhyme with Ỻyn

23 Hywel’s real name is William Davies, Tal y Bont, Cardiganshire. As adjudicator I became acquainted with several stories which Mr. Davies has since given me permission to use, and I have to thank him for clues to several others. 

24 Or Ỻech y Deri, as Mr. Williams tells me in a letter, where he adds that he does not know the place, but that he took it to be in the Hundred of Cemmes, in North-west Pembrokeshire. I take Ỻech y Derwyđ to be fictitious; but I have not succeeded in finding any place called by the other name either. 

25 Perhaps the more usual thing is for the man returning from Faery to fall into dust on the spot: see later in this chapter the Curse of Pantannas, which ends with an instance in point, and compare Howells, pp. 142, 146. 

26 B. Davies, that is, Benjamin Davies, who gives this tale, was, as I learn from Gwynionyđ, a native of Cenarth. He was a schoolmaster for about twelve years, and died in October, 1859, at Merthyr, near Carmarthen: he describes him as a good and intelligent man. 

27 This is ordinarily written Cenarth, the name of a parish on the Teifi, where the three counties of Cardigan, Pembroke, and Carmarthen meet. 

28 The name Ỻan Dydoch occurs in the Bruts, A.D. 987 and 1089, and is the one still in use in Welsh; but the English St. Dogmael’s shows that it is derived from that of Dogfael’s name when the mutation consonant f or v was still written m. In Welsh the name of the saint has been worn down to Dogwel, as in St. Dogwell’s near Fishguard, and Ỻanđogwel in Ỻanrhuđlad parish in Anglesey: see Reece’s Welsh Saints, p. 211. It points back to an early Brythonic form Doco-maglos, with doco of the same origin as Latin dux, dŭcis, ‘a leader,’ and maglo-s = Irish māl, ‘a lord or prince.’ Dogfael’s name assumes in Ỻan Dydoch a Goidelic form, for Dog-fael would have to become in Irish Doch-mhāl, which, cut down to Doch with the honorific prefix to, has yielded Ty-doch; but I am not clear why it is not Ty-đoch. Another instance of a Goidelic form of a name having the local preference in Wales to this day offers itself in Cyfelach and Ỻan Gyfelach in Glamorganshire. The Welsh was formerly Cimeliauc (Reece, p. 274). Here may also be mentioned St. Cyngar, otherwise called Docwinnus (Reece, p. 183), but the name occurs in the Liber Landavensis in the genitive both as Docunn-i and Docguinni, the former of which seems easily explained as Goidelic for an early form of Cyngar, namely Cuno-caros, from which would be formed To-chun or Do-chun. This is what seems to underlie the Latin Docunnus, while Docguinni is possibly a Goidelic modification of the written Docunni, unless some such a name as Doco-vindo-s has been confounded with Docunnus. In one instance the Book of Ỻan Dâv has instead of Abbas Docunni or Docguinni, the shorter designation, Abbas Dochou (p. 145), which one must not unhesitatingly treat as Dochon, seeing that Dochou would be in later book Welsh Dochau, and in the dialect of the district Docha; and that this occurs in the name of the church of Ỻandough near Cardiff, and Ỻandough near Cowbridge. The connexion of a certain saint Dochdwy with these churches does not appear at all satisfactorily established, but more light is required to help one to understand these and similar church names. 

29 This name which may have come from Little England below Wales, was once not uncommon in South Cardiganshire, as Mr. Williams informs me, but it is now mostly changed as a surname into Davies and Jones! Compare the similar fortunes of the name Mason mentioned above, p. 68. 

30 I have not succeeded in discovering who the writer was, who used this name. 

31 This name as it is now written should mean ‘the Gold’s Foot,’ but in the Demetian dialect aur is pronounced oer, and I learn from the rector, the Rev. Rhys Jones Lloyd, that the name has sometimes been written Tref Deyrn, which I regard as some etymologist’s futile attempt to explain it. More importance is to be attached to the name on the communion cup, dating 1828, and reading, as Mr. Lloyd kindly informs me, Poculum Eclyseye de Tre-droyre. Beneath Droyre some personal name possibly lies concealed. 

32 Y Ferch o Gefn Ydfa (‘The Maid of Cefn Ydfa’), by Isaac Craigfryn Hughes, published by Messrs. Daniel Owen, Howell & Co., Cardiff, 1881. 

33 In a letter dated February 9, 1899, he states, however, that as regards folklore the death of his father at the age of seventy-six, in the year 1889, had been a great loss to him; for he adds that he was perfectly familiar [174]with the traditions of the neighbourhood and had associated with older men. Among the latter he had been used to talk with an old man whose father remembered Cromwell passing on his way to destroy the Iron Works of Pant y Gwaith, where the Cavaliers had had a cannon cast, which was afterwards used in the engagement at St. Fagan’s. 

34 This term is sometimes represented as being Bendith eu Mamau, ‘their Mother’s Blessing,’ as if each fairy were such a delightful offspring as to constitute himself or herself a blessing to his or her mother; but I have not found satisfactory evidence to the currency of Bendith eu Mamau, or, as it would be pronounced in Glamorgan, Béndith ĭ Máma. On the whole, therefore, perhaps one may regard the name as pointing back to the Celtic goddesses known in Gaul in Roman times as the Mothers. 

35 On Pen Craig Daf Mr. Hughes gives the following note:—It was the residence of Dafyđ Morgan or ‘Counsellor Morgan,’ who, he says, was [176]executed on Kennington Common for taking the side of the Pretender. He had retreated to Pen y Graig, where his abode was, in order to conceal himself; but he was discovered and carried away at night. Here follows a verse from an old ballad about him:—

Dafyđ Morgan ffel a ffol,

Fe aeth yn ol ei hyder:

Fe neidod naid at rebel haid

Pan drođ o blaid Pretender.

Taffy Morgan, sly and daft,

He did his bent go after:

He leaped a leap to a rebel swarm,

To arm for a Pretender.


36 A tòn is any green field that is used for grazing and not meant to be mown, land which has, as it were, its skin of grassy turf unbroken for years by the plough. 

37 On this Mr. Hughes has a note to the effect that the whole of one milking used to be given in Glamorgan to workmen for assistance at the harvest or other work, and that it was not unfrequently enough for the making of two cheeses. 

38 Since this was first printed I have learnt from Mr. Hughes that the first cry issued from the Black Cauldron in the Taff (o’r Gerwyn Đu ar Daf), which I take to be a pool in that river. 

39 The Fan is the highest mountain in the parish of Merthyr Tydfil, Mr. Hughes tells me: he adds that there was on its side once a chapel with a burial ground. Its history seems to be lost, but human bones have, as he states, been frequently found there. 

40 The above, I am sorry to say, is not the only instance of this nasty trick associating itself with Gwent, as will be seen from the story of Bwca’r Trwyn in chapter x. 



Fairy Ways and Words

Heavens defend me from that Welsh fairy!


In the previous chapters, the fairy lore of the Principality was hastily skimmed without any method; and I fear that, now I have to reproduce some of the things which I gleaned somewhat later, there will be, if possible, still less method. The general reader, in case he chances on these pages, will doubtless feel that, as soon as he has read a few of the tales, the rest seem to be familiar to him, and exceedingly tiresome. It may be, however, presumed that all men anxious to arrive at an idea as to the origin among us of the belief in fairies, will agree that we should have as large and exhaustive a collection as possible of facts on which to work. If we can supply the data without stint, the student of anthropology may be trusted in time to discover their value for his inductions, and their place in the history of the human race.



In the course of the summer of 18821 I was a good deal in Wales, especially Carnarvonshire, and I made notes of a great many scraps of legends about the fairies, and other bits of folklore. I will now string [198]some of them together as I found them. I began at Trefriw2, in Nant Conwy, where I came across an old man, born and bred there, called Morris Hughes. He appears to be about seventy years of age: he formerly worked as a slater, but now he lives at Ỻanrwst, and tries to earn a livelihood by angling. He told me that fairies came a long while ago to Cowlyd Farm, near Cowlyd Lake, with a baby to dress, and asked to be admitted into the house, saying that they would pay well for it. Their request was granted, and they used to leave money behind them. One day the servant girl accidentally found they had also left some stuff they were in the habit of using in washing their children. She examined it, and, one of her eyes happening to itch, she rubbed it with the finger that had touched the stuff; so when she went to Ỻanrwst Fair she saw the same fairy folks there stealing cakes from a standing, and asked them why they did that. They inquired with what eye she saw them: she put her hand to the eye, and one of the fairies quickly rubbed it, so that she never saw any more of them. They were also very fond of bringing their children to be dressed in the houses between Trefriw and Ỻanrwst; and on the flat land bordering on the Conwy they used to dance, frolic, and sing every moonlight night. Evan Thomas of Sgubor Gerrig used to have money from them. He has been dead, Morris Hughes said, over sixty years: he had on his land a sort of cowhouse where the fairies had shelter, and hence the pay.

Morris, when a boy, used to be warned by his parents [199]to take care lest he should be stolen by the fairies. He knew Thomas Williams of Bryn Syỻty, or, as he was commonly called, Twm Bryn Syỻty, who was a changeling. He was a sharp, small man, afraid of nothing. He met his death some years ago by drowning near Eglwys Fach, when he was about sixty-three years of age. There are relatives of his about Ỻanrwst still: that is, relatives of his mother, if indeed she was his mother (os oeđ hi’n fam iđo fo, ynté). Lastly, Morris had a tale about a mermaid cast ashore by a storm near Conway. She entreated the fishermen who found her to help her back into her native element; and on their refusing to comply she prayed them to place her tail at least in the water. A very crude rhyme describes her dying of exposure to the cold, thus:—

Y forforwyn ar y traeth,

Crio gwaeđu’n arw wnaeth,

Ofn y deuai drycin drannoeth:

Yr hin yn oer a rhewi wnaeth.

The stranded mermaid on the beach

Did sorely cry and sorely screech,

Afraid to bide the morrow’s breeze:

The cold it came, and she did freeze.

But before expiring, the mermaid cursed the people of Conway to be always poor, and Conway has ever since, so goes the tale, laboured under the curse; so that when a stranger happens to bring a sovereign there, the Conway folk, if silver is required, have to send across the water to Ỻansanffraid for change.

My next informant was John Duncan Maclaren, who was born in 1812, and lives at Trefriw. His father was a Scotsman, but Maclaren is in all other respects a Welshman. He also knew the Sgubor Gerrig people, and that Evan Thomas and Lowri his wife had exceeding great trouble to prevent their son Roger from being carried away by the fairies. For the fairy maids were always trying to allure him away, and he was constantly finding fairy money. The fairy dance, and the playing and singing that accompanied it, used to take place in [200]a field in front of his father’s house; but Lowri would never let her son go out after the sun had gone to his battlements (ar ol i’r haul fyn’d i lawr i gaera). The most dangerous nights were those when the moon shone brightly, and pretty wreaths of mist adorned the meadows by the river. Maclaren had heard of a man, whom he called Siôn Catrin of Tyn Twỻ, finding a penny every day at the pistyỻ or water-spout near the house, when he went there to fetch water. The flat land between Trefriw and Ỻanrwst had on it a great many fairy rings, and some of them are, according to Maclaren, still to be seen. There the fairies used to dance, and when a young man got into one of the rings the fairy damsels took him away; but he could be got out unharmed at the end of a year and a day, when he would be found dancing with them in the same ring: he must then be dexterously touched by some one of his friends with a piece of iron and dragged out at once. This is the way in which a young man whom my notes connect with a place called Bryn Glas was recovered. He had gone out with a friend, who lost him, and he wandered into a fairy ring. He had new shoes on at the time, and his friends brought him out at the end of the interval of a year and a day; but he could not be made to understand that he had been away more than five minutes, until he was asked to look at his new shoes, which were by that time in pieces. Maclaren had also something to say concerning the history and habitat of the fairies. Those of Nant Conwy dress in green; and his mother, who died about sixty-two years ago, aged forty-seven, had told him that they lived seven years on the earth, seven years in the air, and seven years underground. He also had a mermaid tale, like that of Pergrin from Dyfed, p. 163. A fisherman from Ỻandriỻo yn Rhos, between Colwyn and Ỻandudno, had caught [201]a mermaid in his net. She asked to be set free, promising that she would, in case he complied, do him a kindness. He consented, and one fine day, a long while afterwards, she suddenly peeped out of the water near him, and shouted: Siôn Ifan, cwyd dy rwyda’ a thyn tua’r lan, ‘John Evans, take up thy nets and make for the shore.’ He obeyed, and almost immediately there was a terrible storm, in which many fishermen lost their lives. The river Conwy is the chief haunt of the mysterious afanc, already mentioned, p. 130, and Maclaren stated that its name used to be employed within his memory to frighten girls and children: so much was it still dreaded. Perhaps I ought to have stated that Maclaren is very fond of music, and that he told me of a gentleman at Conway who had taken down in writing a supposed fairy tune. I have made inquiries of the latter’s son, Mr. Hennessy Hughes of Conway; but his father’s papers seem to have been lost, so that he cannot find the tune in question, though he has heard of it.

Whilst on this question of music let me quote from the Ỻwyd letter in the Cambrian Journal for 1859, pp. 145–6, on which I have already drawn, pp. 130–3, above. The passage in point is to the following effect:—

‘I will leave these tales aside whilst I go as far as the Ogo Đu, “the Black Cave,” which is in the immediate vicinity of Crigcieth3, and into which the musicians [202]entered so far that they lost their way back. One of them was heard to play on his pipe, and another on his horn, about two miles from where they went in; and the place where the piper was heard is called Braich y Bib, and where the man with the horn was heard is called Braich y Cornor. I do not believe that even a single man doubts but that this is all true, and I know not how the airs called Ffarwel Dic y Pibyđ, “Dick the Piper’s Farewell,” and Ffarwel Dwm Bach, “Little Tom’s Farewell,” had those names, unless it was from the musicians above mentioned. Nor do I know that Ned Puw may not have been the third, and that the air called Ffarwel Ned Puw, “Ned Pugh’s Farewell,” may not have been the last he played before going into the cave. I cannot warrant this to be true, as I have only heard it said by one man, and he merely held it as a supposition, which had been suggested by this air of Ffarwel Dic y Pibyđ.’

A story, however, mentioned by Cynđelw in the Brython for 1860, p. 57, makes Ned Pugh enter the cave of Tal y Clegyr, which the writer in his article identifies with Ness Cliff, near Shrewsbury. In that cave, which was regarded as a wonderful one, he says the musician disappeared, while the air he was playing, Ffarwel Ned Puw, Ned Pugh’s Farewell,” was retained in memory of him. Some account of the departure of Ned Pugh and of the interminable cave into which he entered, will be found given in a rambling fashion in the Cambrian Quarterly Magazine (London, 1829), vol. i, pp. 40–5, where the minstrel’s Welsh name is given as Iolo ap Huw. There we are told that he was last seen in the twilight of a misty Halloween, and the notes of the tune he was last heard to play are duly given. One of the surmises as to Iolo’s ultimate fate is also recorded, namely, that in the other world he has exchanged his [203]fiddle for a bugle, and become huntsman-in-chief to Gwyn ab Nûđ, so that every Halloween he may be found cheering Cwn Annwn, ‘the Hounds of the Other World,’ over Cader Idris4.

The same summer I fell in with Mr. Morris Evans, of Cerrig Mân, near Amlwch. He is a mining agent on the Gwydir Estate in the Vale of Conwy, but he is a native of the neighbourhood of Parys Mountain, in Anglesey, where he acquired his knowledge of mining. He had heard fairy tales from his grandmother, Grace Jones, of Ỻwyn Ysgaw near Mynyđ Mecheỻ, between Amlwch and Holyhead. She died, nearly ninety years of age, over twenty years ago. She used to relate how she and others of her own age were wont in their youth to go out on bright moonlight nights to a spot near Ỻyn y Bwch. They seldom had to wait there long before they would hear exquisite music and behold a grand palace standing on the ground. The diminutive folks of fairyland would then come forth to dance and frolic. The next morning the palace would be found gone, but the grandmother used to pick up fairy money on the spot, and this went on regularly so long as she did not tell others of her luck. My informant, who is himself a man somewhat over fifty-two, tells me that at a place not far from Ỻyn y Bwch there were [204]plenty of fairy rings to be seen in the grass; and it is in them the fairies were supposed to dance5.

From Ỻanrwst I went up to see the bard and antiquary, Mr. Gethin Jones. His house was prettily situated on the hillside on the left of the road as you approach the village of Penmachno. I was sorry to find that his memory had been considerably impaired by a paralytic stroke from which he had suffered not long before. However, from his room he pointed out to me a spot on the other side of the Machno, called Y Werđon, which means ‘The Green Land,’ or more literally, ‘The Greenery,’ so to say. It was well known for its green, grassy fairy rings, formerly frequented by the Tylwyth Teg; and he said he could distinguish some of the rings even then from where he stood. The Werđon is on the Bennar, and the Bennar is the high ground between Penmachno and Dolwyđelan. The spot in question is on the part nearest to the Conwy Falls. This name, Y Werđon, is liable to be confounded with Iwerđon, ‘Ireland,’ which is commonly treated as if it began with the definite article, so that it is made into Y Werđon and Werđon. The fairy Werđon, in the radical form Gwerđon, not only recalls to my mind the Green Isles called Gwerđonau Ỻïon, but also the saying, common in North Wales, that a person in great anxiety ‘sees Y Werđon.’ Thus, for instance, a man who fails to return to his family at the hour expected, and believes his people to be in great anxiety about him, expresses himself by saying that they will have ‘seen the Werđon on my account’ (mi fyđan’ wedi gwel’d y Werđon am dana’i). Is that Ireland, or is it the land of the fairies, the other world, in fact? [205]If the latter, it might simply mean they will have died of anxiety; but I confess I have not so far been able to decide. I am not aware that the term occurs in any other form of expression than the one I have given; if it had, and if the Werđon were spoken of in some other way, that might possibly clear up the difficulty. If it refers to Ireland, it must imply that sighting Ireland is equivalent to going astray at sea, meaning in this sort of instance, getting out of one’s senses; but the Welsh are not very much given to nautical expressions. It reminds me somewhat of Gerald Griffin’s allusion to the Phantom City, and the penalty paid by those who catch a glimpse of its turrets as the dividing waves expose them for a moment to view on the western coast of Ireland:—

Soon close the white waters to screen it,

And the bodement, they say, of the wonderful sight,

Is death to the eyes that have seen it.

The Fairy Glen above Bettws y Coed is called in Welsh Ffos ‘Nođyn, ‘the Sink of the Abyss’; but Mr. Gethin Jones told me that it was also called Glyn y Tylwyth Teg, which is very probable, as some such a designation is required to account for the English name, ‘the Fairy Glen.’ People on the Capel Garmon side used to see the Tylwyth playing there, and descending into the Ffos or Glen gently and lightly without occasioning themselves the least harm. The Fairy Glen was, doubtless, supposed to contain an entrance to the world below. This reminds one of the name of the pretty hollow running inland from the railway station at Bangor. Why should it be called Nant Uffern, or ‘The Hollow of Hell’? Can it be that there was a supposed entrance to the fairy world somewhere there? In any case, I am quite certain that Welsh place-names involve allusions to the fairies [206]much oftener than has been hitherto supposed; and I should be inclined to cite, as a further example, Moel Eilio6 or Moel Eilian, from the personal name Eilian, to be mentioned presently. Moel Eilian is a mountain under which the fairies were supposed to have great stores of treasure. But to return to Mr. Gethin Jones, I had almost forgotten that I have another instance of his in point. He showed me a passage in a paper which he wrote in Welsh some time ago on the antiquities of Yspyty Ifan. He says that where the Serw joins the Conwy there is a cave, to which tradition asserts that a harpist was once allured by the Tylwyth Teg. He was, of course, not seen afterwards, but the echo of the music made by him and them on their harps is still to be heard a little lower down, under the field called to this day Gweirglođ y Telynorion, ‘The Harpers’ Meadow’: compare the extract from Edward Ỻwyd’s correspondence at p. 202 above.

Mr. Gethin Jones also spoke to me of the lake called Ỻyn Pencraig, which was drained in hopes of finding lead underneath it, an expectation not altogether doomed to disappointment, and he informed me that its old name was Ỻyn Ỻifon; so the moor around it was called Gwaen Ỻifon. It appears to have been a large lake, but only in wet weather, and to have no deep bed. The names connected with the spot are now Nant Gwaen Ỻifon and the Gwaith (or Mine) of Gwaen Ỻifon: they are, I understand, within the township of Trefriw. The name Ỻyn Ỻifon is of great interest when taken in connexion with the Triadic account of the cataclysm called the Bursting of Ỻyn Ỻiƒon. Mr. Gethin Jones, however, believed himself that Ỻyn [207]Ỻïon was no other than Bala Lake, through which the Dee makes her way.



One day in August of the same year, I arrived at Dinas Station, and walked down to Ỻandwrog in order to see Dinas Dinỻe, and to ascertain what traditions still existed there respecting Caer Arianrhod, Ỻew Ỻawgyffes, Dylan Eilton, and other names that figure in the Mabinogi of Math ab Mathonwy. I called first on the schoolmaster, and he kindly took me to the clerk, Hugh Evans, a native of the neighbourhood of Ỻangefni, in Anglesey. He had often heard people talk of some women having once on a time come from Tregar Anthreg to Cae’r ’Loda’, a place near the shore, to fetch food or water, and that when they looked back they beheld the town overflowed by the sea: the walls can still be seen at low water. Gwennan was the name of one of the women, and she was buried at the place now called Beđ Gwennan, or Gwennan’s Grave. He had also heard the fairy tales of Waen Fawr and Nant y Bettws, narrated by the antiquary, Owen Williams of the former place. For instance, he had related to him the tale of the man who slept on a clump of rushes, and thought he was all the while in a magnificent mansion; see p. 100, above. Now I should explain that Tregar Anthreg is to be seen at low water from Dinas Dinỻe as a rock not far from the shore. The Caranthreg which it implies is one of the modern forms to which Caer Arianrhod has been reduced; and to this has been prefixed a synonym of caer, namely, tref, reduced to tre’, just as Carmarthen is frequently called Tre’ Gaerfyrđin. Cae’r ’Loda’ is explained as Cae’r Aelodau’, ‘The Field of the Limbs’; but I am sorry to say that I forgot to [208]note the story explanatory of the name. It is given, I think, to a farm, and so is Beđ Gwennan likewise the name of a farm house. The tenant of the latter, William Roberts, was at home when I visited the spot. He told me the same story, but with a variation: three sisters had come from Tregan Anrheg to fetch provisions, when their city was overflowed. Gwen fled to the spot now called Beđ Gwennan, Elan to Tyđyn Elan, or Elan’s Holding, and Maelan to Rhos Maelan, or Maelan’s Moor; all three are names of places in the immediate neighbourhood.

From Dinas Dinỻe I was directed across Lord Newborough’s grounds at Glynỻifon to Pen y Groes Station; but on my way I had an opportunity of questioning several of the men employed at Glynỻifon. One of these was called William Thomas Solomon, an intelligent middle-aged man, who works in the garden there. He said that the three women who escaped from the submerged city were sisters, and that he had learned in his infancy to call them Gwennan bi Dôn, Elan bi Dôn, and Maelan bi Dôn. Lastly, the name of the city, according to him, was Tregan Anthrod. I had the following forms of the name that day:—Tregar Anrheg, Tregar Anthreg, Tregan Anrheg, Tregan Anthreg, and Tregan Anthrod. All these are attempts to reproduce what might be written Tre’-Gaer-Arianrhod. The modification of nrh into nthr is very common in North Wales, and Tregar Anrheg seems to have been fashioned on the supposition that the name had something to do with anrheg, ‘a gift.’ Tregan Anthrod is undoubtedly the Caer Arianrhod, or ‘fortress of Arianrhod,’ in the Mabinogi, and it is duly marked as such in a map of Speede’s at the spot where it should be. Now the Arianrhod of the Mabinogi of Math could hardly be called a lady of rude virtue, and it is the idea in the [209]neighbourhood that the place was inundated on account of the wickedness of the inhabitants. So it would appear that Gwennan, Elan, and Maelan, Arianrhod’s sisters, were the just ones allowed to escape. Arianrhod was probably drowned as the principal sinner in possession; but I did not find, as I expected, that the crime which called for such an expiation was in this instance that of playing cards on Sunday. In fact, this part of the legend does not seem to have been duly elaborated as yet.

I must now come back to Solomon’s bi Dôn, which puzzles me not a little. Arianrhod was daughter of Dôn, and so several other characters in the same Mabinogi were children of Dôn. But what is bi Dôn? I have noticed that all the Welsh antiquaries who take Don out of books invariably call that personage Dòn or Donn with a short o, which is wrong, and this has saved me from being deceived once or twice: so I take it that bi Dôn is, as Solomon asserted, a local expression of which he did not know the meaning. I can only add, in default of a better explanation, that bi Dôn recalled to my mind what I had shortly before heard on my trip from Aberdaron to Bardsey Island. My wife and I, together with two friends, engaged, after much eloquent haggling, a boat at the former place, but one of the men who were to row us insinuated a boy of his, aged four, into the boat, an addition which did not exactly add to the pleasures of that somewhat perilous trip amidst incomprehensible currents. But the Aberdaron boatmen always called that child bi Donn, which I took to have been a sort of imitation of an infantile pronunciation of ‘baby John,’ for his name was John, which Welsh infants as a rule first pronounce Donn: I can well remember the time when I did. This, applied to Gwennan bi Dôn, would imply that Solomon heard it as a piece of nursery lore when he was a child, [210]and that it meant simply—Gwennan, baby or child of Dôn. Lastly, the only trace of Dylan I could find was in the name of a small promontory, called variously by the Glynỻifon men Pwynt Maen Tylen, which was Solomon’s pronunciation, and Pwynt Maen Dulan. It is also known, as I was given to understand, as Pwynt y Wig: I believe I have seen it given in maps as Maen Dylan Point.

Solomon told me the following fairy tale, and he was afterwards kind enough to have it written out for me. I give it in his own words, as it is peculiar in some respects:—

Mi’r oeđ gwr a gwraig yn byw yn y Garth Dorwen7 ryw gyfnod maith yn ol, ag aethant i Gaer’narfon i gyflogi morwyn ar đyđ ffair G’langaeaf, ag yr oeđ yn arferiad gan feibion a merched y pryd hynny i’r rhai oeđ yn sefyỻ aỻan am lefyđ aros yn top y maes presennol wrth boncan las oeđ yn y fan y ỻe saif y Post-office presennol; aeth yr hen wr a’r hen wraig at y fan yma a gwelent eneth lan a gwaỻt melyn yn sefyỻ ’chydig o’r neiỻdu i bawb araỻ; aeth yr hen wraig ati a gofynnođ i’r eneth oeđ arni eisiau ỻe. Atebođ fod, ag feỻy cyflogwyd yr eneth yn đioed a daeth i’w ỻe i’r amser penodedig. Mi fyđai yn arferiad yr adeg hynny o nyđu ar ol swper yn hirnos y gauaf, ag fe fyđai y forwyn yn myn’d i’r weirglođ i nyđu wrth oleu y ỻoer; ag fe fyđai tylwyth teg yn dwad ati hi i’r weirglođ i ganu a dawnsio. A ryw bryd yn y gwanwyn pan esdynnođ y dyđ diangođ Eilian gyd a’r tylwythion teg i ffwrđ, ag ni welwyd ’mo’ni mwyach. Mae y cae y gwelwyd hi điwethaf yn cael ei alw hyd y dyđ heđyw yn Gae Eilian a’r weirglođ yn Weirglođ y Forwyn. Mi’r oeđ hen [211]wraig y Garth Dorwen yn arfer rhoi gwrageđ yn eu gwlâu, a byđai pawb yn cyrchu am dani o bob cyfeiriad; a rhyw bryd dyma wr boneđig ar ei geffyl at y drws ar noswaith loergan ỻeuad, a hithau yn glawio ’chydig ag yn niwl braiđ, i ’nol yr hen wreigan at ei wraig; ag feỻy aeth yn sgil y gwr dïarth ar gefn y march i Ros y Cowrt. Ar ganol y Rhos pryd hynny ’r oeđ poncan ỻed uchel yn debyg i hen amđiffynfa a ỻawer o gerrig mawrion ar ei phen a charneđ fawr o gerrig yn yr ochor ogleđol iđi, ag mae hi i’w gwel’d hyd y dyđ heđyw dan yr enw Bryn y Pibion. Pan gyrhaeđasan’ y ỻe aethan’ i ogo’ fawr ag aethan’ i ’stafeỻ ỻe’r oeđ y wraig yn ei gwely, a’r ỻe crandia’ a welođ yr hen wraig yrioed. Ag fe roth y wraig yn ei gwely ag aeth at y tan i drin y babi; ag ar ol iđi orphen dyna y gwr yn dod a photel i’r hen wraig i hiro ỻygaid y babi ag erfyn arni beidio a’i gyffwr’ a’i ỻygaid ei hun. Ond ryw fođ ar ol rhoi y botel heibio fe đaeth cosfa ar lygaid yr hen wraig a rhwbiođ ei ỻygaid â’r un bys ag oeđ wedi bod yn rhwbio ỻygaid y baban a gwelođ hefo ’r ỻygad hwnnw y wraig yn gorfeđ ar docyn o frwyn a rhedyn crinion mewn ogo’ fawr o gerrig mawr o bob tu iđi a ’chydig bach o dan mewn rhiw gornel, a gwelođ mai Eilian oeđ hi, ei hen forwyn, ag hefo’r ỻygad araỻ yn gwel’d y ỻe crandia’ a welođ yrioed. Ag yn mhen ychydig ar ol hynny aeth i’r farchnad i Gaer’narfon a gwelođ y gwr a gofynnođ iđo—‘Pa sud mae Eilian?’ ‘O y mae hi yn bur đa,’ međai wrth yr hen wraig: ‘a pha lygad yr ydych yn fy ngwel’d?’ ‘Hefo hwn,’ međai hithau. Cymerođ babwyren ag a’i tynođ aỻan ar unwaith.

‘An old man and his wife lived at the Garth Dorwen in some period a long while ago. They went to Carnarvon to hire a servant maid at the Allhallows’8 fair; [212]and it was the custom then for young men and women who stood out for places to station themselves at the top of the present Maes, by a little green eminence which was where the present Post-office stands. The old man and his wife went to that spot, and saw there a lass with yellow hair, standing a little apart from all the others; the old woman went to her and asked her if she wanted a place. She replied that she did, and so she hired herself at once and came to her place at the time fixed. In those times it was customary during the long winter nights that spinning should be done after supper. Now the maid servant would go to the meadow to spin by the light of the moon, and the Tylwyth Teg used to come to her to sing and dance. But some time in the spring, when the days had grown longer, Eilian escaped with the Tylwyth Teg, so that she was seen no more. The field where she was last seen is to this day called Eilian’s Field, and the meadow is known as the Maid’s Meadow. The old woman of Garth Dorwen was in the habit of putting women to bed, and she was in great request far and wide. Some time after Eilian’s escape there came a gentleman on horseback to the door one night when the moon was full, while there was a slight rain and just a little mist, to fetch the old woman to his wife. So she rode off behind the stranger on his horse, and came to Rhos y Cowrt. Now there was at that time, in the centre of the rhos, somewhat of a rising ground that looked like an old fortification, with many big stones on the top, and a large cairn of stones on the northern side: it is to be seen there to this day, and it goes by the name of Bryn y Pibion, but I have never visited the spot. When they [213]reached the spot, they entered a large cave, and they went into a room where the wife lay in her bed; it was the finest place the old woman had seen in her life. When she had successfully brought the wife to bed, she went near the fire to dress the baby; and when she had done, the husband came to the old woman with a bottle of ointment9 that she might anoint the baby’s eyes; but he entreated her not to touch her own eyes with it. Somehow after putting the bottle by, one of the old woman’s eyes happened to itch, and she rubbed it with the same finger that she had used to rub the baby’s eyes. Then she saw with that eye how the wife lay on a bundle of rushes and withered ferns in a large cave, with big stones all round her, and with a little fire in one corner; and she saw also that the lady was only Eilian, her former servant girl, whilst, with the other eye, she beheld the finest place she had ever seen. Not long afterwards the old midwife went to Carnarvon to market, when she saw the husband, and said to him, “How is Eilian?” “She is pretty well,” said he to the old woman, “but with what eye do you see me?” “With this one,” was the reply; and he took a bulrush and put her eye out at once.’

That is exactly the tale, my informant tells me, as he heard it from his mother, who heard it from an old woman who lived at Garth Dorwen when his mother was a girl, about eighty-four years ago, as he guessed it to have been; but in his written version he has omitted one thing which he told me at Glynỻifon, namely, that, when the servant girl went out to the fairies to spin, an enormous amount of spinning used to be done. [214]I mention this as it reminds me of the tales of other nations, where the girl who cannot spin straw into gold is assisted by a fairy, on certain conditions which are afterwards found very inconvenient. It may be guessed that in the case of Eilian the conditions involved her becoming a fairy’s wife, and that she kept to them. Lastly, I should like the archæologists of Carnarvonshire to direct their attention to Bryn y Pibion; for they might be expected to come across the remains there of a barrow or of a fort.



The same summer I happened to meet the Rev. Robert Hughes, of Uwchlaw’r Ffynnon, near Ỻanaelhaearn, a village on which Tre’r Ceiri, or the Town of the Keiri, looks down in its primitive grimness from the top of one of the three heights of the Eifl, or Rivals as English people call them. The district is remarkable for the longevity of its inhabitants, and Mr. Hughes counted fifteen farmers in his immediate neighbourhood whose average age was eighty-three; and four years previously the average age of eighteen of them was no less than eighty-five. He himself was, when I met him, seventy-one years of age, and he considered that he represented the traditions of more than a century and a half, as he was a boy of twelve when one of his grandfathers died at the age of ninety-two: the age reached by one of his grandmothers was all but equal, while his father died only a few years ago, after nearly reaching his ninety-fifth birthday.

Story-telling was kept alive in the parish of Ỻanaelhaearn by the institution known there as the pilnos, or [215]peeling night, when the neighbours met in one another’s houses to spend the long winter evenings dressing hemp and carding wool, though I guess that a pilnos was originally the night when people met to peel rushes for rushlights. When they left these merry meetings they were ready, as Mr. Hughes says, to see anything. In fact, he gives an instance of some people coming from a pilnos across the mountain from Nant Gwrtheyrn to Ỻithfaen, and finding the fairies singing and dancing with all their might: they were drawn in among them and found themselves left alone in the morning on the heather. Indeed, Mr. Hughes has seen the fairies himself: it was on the Pwỻheli road, as he was returning in the grey of the morning from the house of his fiancée when he was twenty-seven. The fairies he saw came along riding on wee horses: his recollection is that he now and then mastered his eyes and found the road quite clear, but the next moment the vision would return, and he thought he saw the diminutive cavalcade as plainly as possible. Similarly, a man of the name of Solomon Evans, when, thirty years ago, making his way home late at night through Glynỻifon Park, found himself followed by quite a crowd of little creatures, which he described as being of the size of guinea pigs and covered with red and white spots. He was an ignorant man, who knew no better than to believe to the day of his death, some eight or nine years ago, that they were demons. This is probably a blurred version of a story concerning Cwn Annwn, ‘Hell hounds,’ such as the following, published by Mr. O. M. Edwards in his Cymru for 1897, p. 190, from Mr. J. H. Roberts’ essay mentioned above at p. 148:—‘Ages ago as a man who had been engaged on business, not the most creditable in the world, was returning in the depth of night across Cefn Creini, and thinking in a downcast frame of mind [216]over what he had been doing, he heard in the distance a low and fear-inspiring bark; then another bark, and another, and then half a dozen and more. Ere long he became aware that he was being pursued by dogs, and that they were Cwn Annwn. He beheld them coming: he tried to flee, but he felt quite powerless and could not escape. Nearer and nearer they came, and he saw the shepherd with them: his face was black and he had horns on his head. They had come round him and stood in a semicircle ready to rush upon him, when he had a remarkable deliverance: he remembered that he had in his pocket a small cross, which he showed them. They fled in the greatest terror in all directions, and this accounts for the proverb, Mwy na’r cythraul at y groes (Any more than the devil to the cross).’ That is Mr. Roberts’ story; but several allusions have already been made to Cwn Annwn. It would be right probably to identify them in the first instance with the pack with which Arawn, king of Annwn, is found hunting by Pwyỻ, king of Dyfed, when the latter happens to meet him in Glyn Cuch in his own realm. Then in a poem in the Black Book of Carmarthen we find Gwyn ab Nûđ with a pack led by Dormarth, a hound with a red snout which he kept close to the ground when engaged in the chase; similarly in the story of Iolo ab Huw the dogs are treated as belonging to Gwyn. But on the whole the later idea has more usually been, that the devil is the huntsman, that his dogs give chase in the air, that their quarry consists of the souls of the departed, and that their bark forebodes a death, since they watch for the souls of men about to die. This, however, might be objected to as pagan; so I have heard the finishing touch given to it in the neighbourhood of Ystrad Meurig, by one who, like Mr. Pughe, explained that it is the souls only of notoriously wicked men and well-known evil livers. [217]With this limitation the pack10 seems in no immediate danger of being regarded as poaching.

To return to Ỻanaelhaearn, it is right to say that good spirits too, who attend on good Calvinists, are there believed in. Morris Hughes, of Cwm Corryn, was the first Calvinistic Methodist at Ỻanaelhaearn; he was great-grandfather to Robert Hughes’ wife; and he used to be followed by two pretty little yellow birds. He would call to them, ‘Wryd, Wryd!’ and they would come and feed out of his hand, and when he was dying they came and flapped their wings against his window. This was testified to by John Thomas, of Moelfre Bach, who was present at the time. Thomas died some twenty-five years ago, at the age of eighty-seven. I have heard this story from other people, but I do not know what to make of it, though I may add that the little birds are believed to have been angels. In Mr. Rees’ Welsh Saints, pp. 305–6, Gwryd is given as the name of a friar who lived about the end of the twelfth century, and has been commemorated on November 1; and the author adds a note referring to the Cambrian Register for 1800, vol. iii. p. 221, where it is said that Gwryd relieved the bard Einion ab Gwalchmai of some oppression, probably mental, which had afflicted him for seven years. Is one to suppose that Gwryd sent two angels in the form of little birds to protect the first Ỻanaelhaearn Methodist? The call ‘Wryd, Wryd,’ would seem to indicate that the name was not originally Gwryd, but Wryd, to be identified possibly with the Pictish name Uoret in an inscription at St. Vigean’s, near Arbroath, and to be distinguished [218]from the Welsh word gwryd, ‘valour,’ and from the Welsh name Gwriad, representing what in its Gaulish form was Viriatus. We possibly have the name Wryd in Hafod Wryd, a place in the Machno Valley above Bettws y Coed; otherwise one would have expected Hafod y Gwryd, making colloquially, Hafod Gwryd.

Mr. Hughes told me a variety of things about Nant Gwrtheyrn, one of the spots where the Vortigern story is localized. The Nant is a sort of a cul de sac hollow opening to the sea at the foot of the Eifl. There is a rock there called Y Farches, and the angle of the sea next to the old castle, which seems to be merely a mound, is called Y Ỻynclyn, or ‘The Whirlpool’; and this is perhaps an important item in the localizing of Vortigern’s city there. I was informed by Mr. Hughes that the grave of Olfyn is in this Nant, with a razed church close by: both are otherwise quite unknown to me. Coming away from this weird spot to the neighbourhood of Celynnog, one finds that the Pennarđ of the Mabinogi of Math is now called Pennarth, and has on it a well-known cromlech. Of course, I did not leave Mr. Hughes without asking him about Caer Arianrhod, and I found that he called it Tre’ Gaer Anrheg: he described it as a stony patch in the sea, and it can, he says, be reached on foot when the ebb is at its lowest in spring and autumn. The story he had heard about it when he was a boy at school with David Thomas, better known by his bardic name of Dafyđ Đu Eryri, was the following:—

‘Tregaer Anrheg was inhabited by a family of robbers, and among other things they killed and robbed a man at Glyn Iwrch, near the further wall of Glynnỻifon Park: this completed the measure of their lawlessness. There was one woman, however, living with them at Tregaer Anrheg, who was not related to them, and as she went out one evening with [219]her pitcher to fetch water, she heard a voice crying out, Dos i ben y bryn i wel’d rhyfeđod, that is, Go up the hill to see a wonder. She obeyed, and as soon as she got to the top of the hill, whereby was meant Dinas Dinỻe, she beheld Tregaer Anrheg sinking in the sea.’

As I have wandered away from the fairies I may add the following curious bit of legend which Mr. Hughes gave me:—‘When St. Beuno lived at Celynnog, he used to go regularly to preach at Ỻanđwyn on the opposite side of the water, which he always crossed on foot. But one Sunday he accidentally dropped his book of sermons into the water, and when he had failed to recover it a gylfin-hir, or curlew, came by, picked it up, and placed it on a stone out of the reach of the tide. The saint prayed for the protection and favour of the Creator for the gylfin-hir: it was granted, and so nobody ever knows where that bird makes its nest.’



One day in August of the same summer I went to have another look at the old inscribed stone at Gesail Gyfarch11, near Tremadoc, and, instead of returning the same way, I walked across to Criccieth Station; but on my way I was directed to call at a farm house called Ỻwyn y Mafon Uchaf, where I was to see Mr. Edward Ỻewelyn, a bachelor then seventy-six years of age. He is a native of the neighbourhood, and has always lived in it; moreover, he has now been for some time blind. He had heard a good many fairy tales. Among others he mentioned John Roberts, a slater from the [220]Garn, that is Carn Dolbenmaen, as having one day, when there was a little mist and a drizzling rain, heard a crowd of fairies talking together in great confusion, near a sheepfold on Ỻwytmor Mountain; but he was too much afraid to look at them. He also told me of a man at Ystum Cegid, a farm not far off, having married a fairy wife on condition that he was not to touch her with any kind of iron on pain of her leaving him for ever. Then came the usual accident in catching a horse in order to go to a fair at Carnarvon, and the immediate disappearance of the wife. At this point Mr. Ỻewelyn’s sister interposed to the effect that the wife did once return and address her husband in the rhyme, Os byđ anwyd ar fy mab, &c.: see pp. 44, 55 above. Then Mr. Ỻewelyn enumerated several people who are of this family, among others a girl, who is, according to him, exactly like the fairies. This made me ask what the fairies are like, and he answered that they are small unprepossessing creatures, with yellow skin and black hair. Some of the men, however, whom he traced to a fairy origin are by no means of this description. The term there for men of fairy descent is Belsiaid, and they live mostly in the neighbouring parish of Pennant, where it would never do for me to go and collect fairy tales, as I am told; and Mr. Ỻewelyn remembers the fighting that used to take place at the fairs at Penmorfa if the term Belsiaid once began to be heard. Mr. Ỻewelyn was also acquainted with the tale of the midwife that went to a fairy family, and how the thieving husband had deprived her of the use of one eye. He also spoke of the fairies changing children, and how one of these changelings, supposed to be a baby, expressed himself to the effect that he had seen the acorn before the oak, and the egg before the chick, but never anybody who brewed ale in an egg-shell: see p. 62 above. As to [221]modes of getting rid of the changelings, a friend of Mr. Ỻewelyn’s mentioned the story that one was once dropped into the Glaslyn river, near Beđgelert. The sort of children the fairies liked were those that were unlike their own; that is, bairns whose hair was white, or inclined to yellow, and whose skin was fair. He had a great deal to say of a certain Elis Bach of Nant Gwrtheyrn, who used to be considered a changeling. With the exception of this changing of children the fairies seemed to have been on fairly good terms with the inhabitants, and to have been in the habit of borrowing from farm houses a padeỻ and gradeỻ for baking. The gradeỻ is a sort of round flat iron, on which the dough is put, and the padeỻ is the patella or pan put over it: they are still commonly used for baking in North Wales. Well, the fairies used to borrow these two articles, and by way of payment to leave money on the hob at night. All over Ỻeyn the Tylwyth are represented as borrowing padeỻ a gradeỻ. They seem to have never been very strong in household furniture, especially articles made of iron. Mr. Ỻewelyn had heard that the reason why people do not see fairies nowadays is that they have been exorcised (wedi eu hoffrymu) for hundreds of years to come.

About the same time I was advised to try the memory of Miss Jane Williams, who lives at the Graig, Tremadoc: she was then, as I was told, seventy-five, very quick-witted, but by no means communicative to idlers. The most important information she had for me was to the effect that the Tylwyth Teg had been exorcised away (wedi ’ffrymu) and would not be back in our day. When she was about twelve she served at the Geỻi between Tremadoc and Pont Aberglaslyn. Her master’s name was Siôn Ifan, and his wife was a native of the neighbourhood of Carnarvon; she had many tales to [222]tell them about the Tylwyth, how they changed children, how they allured men to the fairy rings, and how their dupes returned after a time in a wretched state, with hardly any flesh on their bones. She heard her relate the tale of a man who married a fairy, and how she left him; but before going away from her husband and children she asked the latter by name which they would like to have, a dirty cow-yard (buches fudur) or a clean cow-yard (buches lân). Some gave the right answer, a dirty cow-yard, but some said a clean cow-yard: the lot of the latter was poverty, for they were to have no stock of cattle. The same question is asked in a story recorded by the late Rev. Elias Owen, in his Welsh Folk-lore, p. 8212: his instance belongs to the neighbourhood of Pentrevoelas, in Denbighshire.



When I was staying at Pwỻheli the same summer, I went out to the neighbouring village of Four Crosses, and found a native of the place, who had heard a great many curious things from his mother. His name was Lewis Jones: he was at the time over eighty, and he had formerly been a saddler. Among other things, his mother often told him that her grandmother had frequently been with the fairies, when the latter was a child. She lived at Plâs Du, and once she happened to be up near Carn Bentyrch when she saw them. She found them resembling little children, and playing in a brook that she had to cross. She was so delighted with them, and stayed so long with them, that a search was made for her, when she was found in the company of the fairies. Another time, they met her as [223]she was going on an errand across a large bog on a misty day, when there was a sort of a drizzle, which one might call either dew or rain, as it was not decidedly either, but something between the two, such as the Welsh would call gwlithlaw, ‘dew-rain.’ She loitered in their company until a search was made for her again. Lewis Jones related to me the story of the midwife—he pronounced it in Welsh ‘midwaith’—who attended on a fairy. As in the other versions, she lost the sight of one eye in consequence of her discovering the gentleman fairy thieving; but the fair at which this happened was held in this instance at Nefyn. He related also how a farmer at Pennant had wedded a fairy called Bella. This tale proceeded like the other versions, and did not even omit the fighting at Penmorfa: see pp. 89, 93, 220. He had likewise the tale about the two youths who had gone out to fetch some cattle, and came, while returning about dusk, across a party of fairies dancing. The one was drawn into the circle, and the other was suspected at length of having murdered him, until, at the suggestion of a wizard, he went to the same place at the end of a year and a day: then he found him dancing, and managed to get him out. He had been reduced to a mere skeleton, but he inquired at once if the cattle he was driving were far ahead. Jones had heard of a child changed by the fairies when its mother had placed it in some hay while she worked at the harvest. She discovered he was not her own by brewing in an egg-shell, as usual. Then she refused to take any notice of him, and she soon found her own baby returned; but the latter looked much the worse for its sojourn in the land of the Tylwyth Teg.

My informant described to me Elis Bach of Nant Gwrtheyrn, already mentioned, p. 221, who died somewhat more than forty years ago. His father was a [224]farmer there, and his children, both boys and girls, were like ordinary folks, excepting Elis, who was deformed, his legs being so short that his body seemed only a few inches from the ground when he walked. His voice was also small and squeaky. However, he was very sharp, and could find his way among the rocks pretty well when he went in quest of his father’s sheep and goats, of which there used to be plenty there formerly. Everybody believed Elis to have been a changeling, and one saying of his is still remembered in that part of the country. When strangers visited Nant Gwrtheyrn, a thing which did not frequently happen, and when his parents asked them to their table, and pressed them to eat, he would squeak out drily, Buta ‘nynna buta’r cwbwl, that is to say, ‘Eating that means eating all we have.’

He told me further that the servant girls used formerly to take care to bring a supply of water indoors at the approach of night, that the fairies might find plenty in which to bathe their children, for fear that they might use the milk instead, if water was wanting. Moreover, when they had been baking, they took care to leave the fairies both padeỻ and gradeỻ, that they might do their baking in the night. The latter used to pay for this kindness by leaving behind them a cake of fairy bread and sometimes money on the hob. I have, however, not been able to learn anything about the quality or taste of this fairy food.

He had also a great deal to say about the making of bonfires about the beginning of winter. A bonfire was always kindled on the farm called Cromlech on the eve of the Winter Calends or Nos Galan Gaeaf, as it is termed in Welsh; and the like were to be seen in abundance towards Ỻithfaen, Carnguwch, and Ỻanaelhaearn, as well as on the Merioneth side of the bay. [225]Besides fuel, each person present used to throw into the fire a small stone, with a mark whereby he should know it again. If he succeeded in finding the stone on the morrow, the year would be a lucky one for him, but the contrary if he failed to recover it. Those who assisted at the making of the bonfire watched until the flames were out, and then somebody would raise the usual cry, when each ran away for his life, lest he should be found last. This cry, which is a sort of equivalent, well known over Carnarvonshire, of the English saying, ‘The devil take the hindmost,’ was in the Welsh of that county—

Yr hwch đu gwta13 A gipio’r ola’;

that is to say, ‘May the black sow without a tail seize the hindmost.’

The cutty black sow is often alluded to nowadays to frighten children in Arfon, and it is clearly the same creature that is described in some parts of North Wales as follows:— [226]

Hwch đu gwta

Ar bob camfa

Yn nyđu a chardio

Bob nos G’langaea’.

A cutty black sow

On every stile,

Spinning and carding

Every Allhallows’ Eve.

In Cardiganshire this is reduced to the words:—

Nos Galan Gaea’,

Bwbach ar bob camfa.

On Allhallows’ Eve

A bogie on every stile.

Welsh people speak of only three Calends—Calan-mai, or the first of May; Calan-gaeaf, the Calends of Winter, or Allhallows; and Y Calan, or The Calends par excellence, that is to say, the first day of January, which last is probably not Celtic but Roman. The other two most certainly are, and it is one of their peculiarities that all uncanny spirits and bogies are at liberty the night preceding each of them. The Hwch đu gwta is at large on Allhallows’ Eve, and the Scottish Gaels have the name ‘Samhanach’ for any Allhallows’ demon, formed from the word Samhain, Allhallows. The eve of the first of May may be supposed to have been the same, as may be gathered from the story of Rhiannon’s baby and of Teyrnon’s colt, both of which were stolen by undescribed demons that night—I allude to the Mabinogi of Pwyỻ, Prince of Dyfed.



At Nefyn, in Ỻeyn14, I had some stories about the Tylwyth Teg from Lowri Hughes, the widow of John [227]Hughes, who lives in a cottage at Pen Isa’r Dref, and is over seventy-four years of age. An aunt of hers, who knew a great many tales, had died about six years before my visit, at the advanced age of ninety-six. She used to relate to Lowri how the Tylwyth were in the habit of visiting Singrug, a house now in ruins on the land of Pen Isa’r Dref, and how they had a habit of borrowing a padeỻ and gradeỻ for baking: they paid for the loan of them by giving their owners a loaf. Her grandmother, who died not long ago at a very advanced age, remembered a time when she was milking in a corner of the land of Carn Bodüan, and how a little dog came to her and received a blow from her that sent it rolling away. Presently, she added, the dog reappeared with a lame man playing on a fiddle; but she gave them no milk. If she had done so, there was no knowing, she said, how much money she might have got. But, as it was, such singing and dancing were indulged in by the Tylwyth around the lame fiddler that she ran away as fast as her feet could carry her. Lowri’s husband had also seen the Tylwyth at the break of day, near Madrun Mill, where they seem to have been holding a sort of conversazione; but presently one of them observed that he had heard the voice of the hen’s husband, and off they went instantly then. The fairies were in the habit also of dancing and singing on the headland across which lie the old earthworks called Dinỻaen. When they had played and enjoyed themselves enough, they used to lift a certain bit of sod and descend to their own land. My informant had also heard the midwife story, and she was aware that the fairies changed people’s children; in fact, she mentioned to me a farm house not far off where there was a daughter of this origin then, not to mention that she knew all about Elis Bach. Another woman whom I [228]met near Porth Dinỻaen said, that the Dinỻaen fairies were only seen when the weather was a little misty.

At Nefyn, Mr. John Williams (Alaw Ỻeyn) got from his mother the tale of the midwife. It stated that the latter lost the sight of her right eye at Nefyn Fair, owing to the fairy she there recognized, pricking her eye with a green rush. During my visit to Aberdaron, my wife and I went to the top of Mynyđ Anelog, and on the way up we passed a cottage, where a very illiterate woman told us that the Tylwyth Teg formerly frequented the mountain when there was mist on it; that they changed people’s children if they were left alone on the ground; and that the way to get the right child back was to leave the fairy urchin without being touched or fed. She also said that, after baking, people left the gradeỻ for the fairies to do their baking: they would then leave a cake behind them as pay. As for the fairies just now, they have been exorcised (wedi’ffrymu) for some length of time. Mrs. Williams, of Pwỻ Defaid, told me that the rock opposite, called Clip y Gylfinir, on Bodwyđog mountain, a part of Mynyđ y Rhiw, was the resort of the Tylwyth Teg, and that they revelled there when it was covered with mist; she added that a neighbouring farm, called Bodermud Isa’, was well known at one time as a place where the fairies came to do their baking. But the most remarkable tale I had in the neighbourhood of Aberdaron was from Evan Williams, a smith who lives at Yr Arđ Las, on Rhos Hirwaen. If I remember rightly, he is a native of Ỻaniestin, and what he told me relates to a farmer’s wife who lived at the Nant, in that parish. Now this old lady was frequently visited by a fairy who used to borrow padeỻ a gradeỻ from her. These she used to get, and she returned them with a loaf borne on her head in acknowledgement. But one day she came to [229]ask for the loan of her troeỻ bach, or wheel for spinning flax. When handing her this, the farmer’s wife wished to know her name, as she came so often, but she refused to tell her. However, she was watched at her spinning, and overheard singing to the whir of the wheel:—

Bychan a wyđa’ hi

Mai Sìli go Dwt

Yw f’enw i.

Little did she know

That Silly go Dwt

Is my name.

This explains to some extent the sìli ffrit sung by a Corwrion fairy when she came out of the lake to spin: see p. 64 above. At first I had in vain tried to make out the meaning of that bit of legend; but since then I have also found the Ỻaniestin rhyme a little varied at Ỻanberis: it was picked up there, I do not exactly know how, by my little girls this summer. The words as they have them run thus:—

Bychan a wyđa’ hi

Mai Trwtyn-Tratyn

Yw f’enw i.

Here, instead of Sìli go Dwt or Sìli ffrit, the name is Trwtyn-Tratyn, and these doggerels at once remind one of the tale of Rumpelstiltzchen; but it is clear that we have as yet only the merest fragments of the whole, though I have been thus far unable to get any more. So one cannot quite say how far it resembled the tale of Rumpelstiltzchen: there is certainly one difference, which is at once patent, namely, that while the German Rumpelstiltzchen was a male fairy, our Welsh Sìli ffrit or Sìli go Dwt is of the other sex. Probably, in the Ỻaniestin tale, the borrowing for baking had nothing to do with the spinning, for all fairies in Ỻeyn borrow a padeỻ and a gradeỻ, while they do not usually appear to spin. Then may we suppose that the spinning was in this instance done for the farmer’s wife on conditions which she was able to evade by discovering the fairy [230]helper’s name? At any rate one expects a story representing the farmer’s wife laid under obligation by the fairy, and not the reverse. I shall have an opportunity of returning to this kind of tale in chapter x.

The smith told me another short tale, about a farmer who lived not long ago at Deunant, close to Aberdaron. The latter used, as is the wont of country people, to go out a few steps in front of his house every night to —— before going to bed; but once on a time, while he was standing there, a stranger stood by him and spoke to him, saying that he had no idea how he and his family were annoyed by him. The farmer asked how that could be, to which the stranger replied that his house was just below where they stood, and if he would only stand on his foot he would see that what he said was true. The farmer complying, put his foot on the other’s foot, and then he could clearly see that all the slops from his house went down the chimney of the other’s house, which stood far below in a street he had never seen before. The fairy then advised him to have his door in the other side of his house, and that if he did so his cattle would never suffer from the clwy’ byr15. The result was that the farmer obeyed, and had his door walled up and another made in the other side of the house: ever after he was a most prosperous man, and nobody was so successful as he in rearing stock in all that part of the country. To place the whole thing beyond the possibility of doubt, Evan Williams assured me that he had often seen the farmer’s house with the front door in the back. I mention this strange story in order to compare it, in the matter of standing on the fairy’s foot, with that of standing with one’s foot just inside a fairy ring. Compare also standing on a particular [231]sod in Dyfed in order to behold the delectable realm of Rhys Đwfn’s Children: see p. 158 above.



Soon afterwards I went to the neighbourhood of Aber Soch and Ỻanengan, where I was lucky enough to find Professor Owen of St. David’s College, Lampeter, since appointed Bishop of St. David’s, on a visit to his native place. He took me round to those of the inhabitants who were thought most likely to have tales to tell; but I found nothing about the fairies except the usual story of their borrowing padeỻ a gradeỻ, and of their changing children. However, one version I heard of the process of recovering the stolen child differs from all others known to me: it was given us by Margaret Edwards, of Pentre Bach, whose age was then eighty-seven. It was to the effect that the mother, who had been given a fairy infant, was to place it on the floor, and that all those present in the house should throw a piece of iron at it. This she thought was done with the view of convincing the Tylwyth Teg of the intention to kill the changeling, and in order to induce them to bring the right child back. The plan was, we are told, always successful, and it illustrates, to my thinking, the supposed efficacy of iron against the fairies.

On the way to Aber Soch I passed by an old-fashioned house which has all the appearance of having once been a place of considerable importance; and on being told that its name is Casteỻmarch, I began thinking of March ab Meirchion mentioned in the Triads. He, I had long been convinced, ought to be the Welsh reflex of Labhraidh Lorc, or the Irish king with horse’s ears; and the corresponding Greek character of Midas with ass’s ears is so well known that I need not dwell on it. So I [232]undertook to question various people in the neighbourhood about the meaning of the name of Casteỻmarch. Most of them analysed it into Casteỻ y March, the ‘Castle of the Steed,’ and explained that the knight of the shire or some other respectable obscurity kept his horses there. This treatment of the word is not very decidedly countenanced by the pronunciation, which makes the name into one word strongly accented on the middle syllable. It was further related to me how Casteỻmarch was once upon a time inhabited by a very wicked and cruel man, one of whose servants, after being very unkindly treated by him, ran away and went on board a man-of-war. Some time afterwards the man-of-war happened to be in Cardigan Bay, and the runaway servant persuaded the captain of the vessel to come and anchor in the Tudwal Roads. Furthermore he induced him to shell his old master’s mansion; and the story is regarded as proved by the old bullets now and then found at Casteỻmarch. It has since been suggested to me that the bullets are evidence of an attack on the place during the Civil War, which is not improbable. But having got so far as to find that there was a wicked, cruel man associated with Casteỻmarch, I thought I should at once hear the item of tradition which I was fishing for; but not so: it was not to be wormed out in a hurry. However, after tiring a very old blacksmith, whose memory was far gone, with my questions, and after he had in his turn tired me with answers of the kind I have already described, I ventured to put it to him at last whether he had never heard some very silly tale about the lord of Casteỻmarch, to the effect that he was not quite like other men. He at once admitted that he had heard it said that he had horse’s ears, but that he would never have thought of repeating such nonsense to me. This is not a bad instance of the [233]difficulty which one has in eliciting this sort of tradition from the people. It is true that, as far as regards Casteỻmarch, nothing, as it happens, would have been lost if I had failed at Aber Soch, for I got the same information later at Sarn Fyỻteyrn; not to mention that after coming back to my books, and once more turning over the leaves of the Brython, I was delighted to find the tale there. It occurs at p. 431 of the volume for 1860. It is given with several other interesting bits of antiquity, and at the end the editor has put ‘Edward Ỻwyd, 1693’; so I suppose the whole comes from letters emanating from the great Lhwyd, for so, or rather Lhuyd, he preferred to write his name. It is to the following effect:—

One of Arthur’s warriors, whose name was March (or Parch) Amheirchion16, was lord of Casteỻmarch in Ỻeyn. This man had horse’s ears (resembling Midas), and lest anybody should know it, he used to kill every [234]man he sought to shave his beard, for fear lest he should not be able to keep the secret; and on the spot where he was wont to bury the bodies there grew reeds, one of which somebody cut to make a pipe. The pipe would give no other sound than ‘March Amheirchion has horse’s ears.’ When the warrior heard this, he would probably have killed the innocent man on that account, if he had not himself failed to make the pipe produce any other sound. But after hearing where the reed had grown, he made no further effort to conceal either the murders or his ears. This story of Edward Ỻwyd’s clearly goes back to a time when some kind of a pipe was the favourite musical instrument in North Wales, and not the harp.



Some time ago I was favoured with a short but interesting tale by Mr. Evan Lloyd Jones, of Dinorwig, near Ỻanberis. Mr. Lloyd Jones, I may here mention, published not long ago, in Ỻais y Wlad (Bangor, North Wales), and in the Drych (Utica, United States of North America), a series of articles entitled Ỻen y Werin yn Sir Gaernarfon, or the Folklore of Carnarvonshire. I happened to see it at a friend’s house, and I found at once that the writer was passionately fond of antiquities, and in the habit of making use of the frequent opportunities he has in the Dinorwig quarries for gathering information as to what used to be believed by the people of Arfon and Anglesey. The tale about to be given relates to a lake called Marchlyn Mawr, or the Great Horse-lake, for there are two lakes called Marchlyn: they lie near one another, between the Fronỻwyd, in the parish of Ỻandegai, and the Elidyr, in the parishes of [235]Ỻanđeiniolen and Ỻanberis. Mr. Lloyd Jones shall tell his tale in his own words:—

Amgylchynir y Marchlyn Mawr gan greigiau erchyỻ yr olwg arnynt; a dywed trađodiad đarfod i un o feibion y Rhiwen17 unwaith tra yn cynorthwyo dafad oeđ wedi syrthio i’r creigiau i đod ođiyno, đarganfod ogof anferth: aeth i fewn iđi a gwelođ ei bod yn ỻawn o drysorau ac arfau gwerthfawr; ond gan ei bod yn dechreu tywyỻu, a dringo i fynu yn orchwyl anhawđ hyd yn nod yn ngoleu’r dyđ, aeth adref y noswaith honno, a boreu drannoeth ar lasiad y dyđ cychwynnođ eilwaith i’r ogof, ac heb lawer o drafferth daeth o hyd iđi: aeth i fewn, a dechreuođ edrych o’i amgylch ar y trysorau oeđ yno:—Ar ganol yr ogof yr oeđ bwrđ enfawr o aur pur, ac ar y bwrđ goron o aur a pherlau: deaỻođ yn y fan mai coron a thrysorau Arthur oeđynt—nesaođ at y bwrđ, a phan oeđ yn estyn ei law i gymeryd gafael yn y goron dychrynwyd ef gan drwst erchyỻ, trwst megys mil o daranau yn ymrwygo uwch ei ben ac aeth yr hoỻ le can dywyỻed a’r afagđu. Ceisiođ ymbalfalu ođiyno gynted ag y gaỻai; pan lwyđođ i gyrraeđ i ganol y creigiau taflođ ei olwg ar y ỻyn, yr hwn oeđ wedi ei gynhyrfu drwyđo a’i donnau brigwynion yn cael eu ỻuchio trwy đaneđ ysgythrog y creigiau hyd y man yr oeđ efe yn sefyỻ arno; ond tra yr oeđ yn parhau i syỻu ar ganol y ỻyn gwelai gwrwgl a thair o’r benywod prydferthaf y disgynođ ỻygad unrhyw đyn arnynt erioed ynđo yn cael ei rwyfo yn brysur tuag at enau yr ogof. Ond och! yr oeđ golwg ofnadwy yr hwn oeđ yn rhwyfo yn đigon i beri iasau o fraw trwy y dyn cryfaf. Gaỻođ y ỻanc rywfođ đianc adref ond ni fu [236]iechyd yn ei gyfansođiad ar ol hynny, a byđai hyd yn nod crybwyỻ enw y Marchlyn yn ei glywedigaeth yn đigon i’w yrru yn waỻgof.

‘The Marchlyn Mawr is surrounded by rocks terrible to look at, and tradition relates how one of the sons of the farmer of Rhiwen, once on a time, when helping a sheep that had fallen among the rocks to get away, discovered a tremendous cave there; he entered, and saw that it was full of treasures and arms of great value; but, as it was beginning to grow dark, and as clambering back was a difficult matter even in the light of day, he went home that evening, and next morning with the grey dawn he set out again for the cave, when he found it without much trouble. He entered, and began to look about him at the treasures that were there. In the centre of the cave stood a huge table of pure gold, and on the table lay a crown of gold and pearls. He understood at once that they were the crown and treasures of Arthur. He approached the table, and as he stretched forth his hand to take hold of the crown he was frightened by an awful noise, the noise, as it were, of a thousand thunders bursting over his head, and the whole place became as dark as Tartarus. He tried to grope and feel his way out as fast as he could. When he had succeeded in reaching to the middle of the rocks, he cast his eye on the lake, which had been stirred all through, while its white-crested waves dashed through the jagged teeth of the rocks up to the spot on which he stood. But as he continued looking at the middle of the lake he beheld a coracle containing three women, the fairest that the eye of man ever fell on. They were being quickly rowed to the mouth of the cave; but the dread aspect of him who rowed was enough to send thrills of horror through the strongest of men. The youth was able somehow to escape home, [237]but no health remained in his constitution after that, and even the mere mention of the Marchlyn in his hearing used to be enough to make him insane.’

Mr. Lloyd Jones appends to the tale a note to the following effect:—There is a small eminence on the shore of the Marchlyn Mawr, in the parish of Ỻandegai, called Bryn Cwrwgl, or the ‘Hill of the Coracle’; and Ogof y Marchlyn, or the ‘Marchlyn Cave,’ is a name familiar enough to everybody in these neighbourhoods. There were some—unless he ought to say that there still are some—who believed that there was abundance of treasure in the cave. Several young men from the quarries, both of the Cae and of Dinorwig, have been in the midst of the Marchlyn rocks, searching for the cave, and they succeeded in making their way into a cave. They came away, however, without the treasures. One old man, Robert Edwards (Iorwerth Sardis), used to tell him that he and several others had brought ropes from the quarry to go into the cave, but that they found no treasure. So far, I have given the substance of Mr. Jones’ words, to which I would add the following statement, which I have from a native of Dinorwig:—About seventy years ago, when the gentry were robbing the poor of these districts of their houses and of the lands which the latter had enclosed out of the commons, an old woman called Siân William of the Garneđ was obliged to flee from her house with her baby—the latter was known later in life as the Rev. Robert Ellis, of Ysgoldy—in her arms. It was in one of the Marchlyn caves that she found refuge for a day and night. Another kind of tale connected with the Marchlyn Mawr is recorded in the Powys-land Club’s Collections, Hist. and Arch., vol. xv. p. 137, by the Rev. Elias Owen, to the effect that ‘a man who was fishing in the lake found himself enveloped in the clouds that had descended [238]from the hills to the water. A sudden gust of wind cleared a road through the mist that hung over the lake, and revealed to his sight a man busily engaged in thatching a stack. The man, or rather the fairy, stood on a ladder. The stack and ladder rested on the surface of the lake.’



Mr. E. S. Roberts, of Ỻandysilio School, near Ỻangoỻen (p. 138), has sent me more bits of legends about the fairies. He heard the following from Mr. Thomas Parry, of Tan y Coed Farm, who had heard it from his father, the late Evan Parry, and the latter from Thomas Morris, of Eglwyseg, who related it to him more than once:—Thomas Morris happened to be returning home from Ỻangoỻen very late on one Saturday night in the middle of the summer, and by the time he reached near home the day had dawned, when he saw a number of the Tylwyth Teg with a dog walking about hither and thither on the declivity of the Eglwyseg Rocks, which hung threateningly overhead. When he had looked at them for some minutes, he directed his steps towards them; but as they saw him approaching they hid themselves, as he thought, behind a large stone. On reaching the spot, he found under the stone a hole by which they had made their way into their subterranean home. So ends the tale as related to Mr. Roberts. It is remarkable as representing the fairies looking rather like poachers; but there are not wanting others which speak of their possessing horses and greyhounds, as all gentlemen were supposed to.

One of Mr. Roberts’ tales is in point: he had it from Mr. Hugh Francis18, of Holyhead House, Ruthin, [239]and the latter heard it from Robert Roberts, of Amlwch, who has now been dead about thirty years:—About 105 years ago there lived in the parish of Ỻandyfrydog, near Ỻannerch y Međ, in Anglesey, a man named Ifan Gruffyđ, whose cow happened to disappear one day. Ifan Gruffyđ was greatly distressed, and he and his daughter walked up and down the whole neighbourhood in search of her. As they were coming back in the evening from their unsuccessful quest, they crossed the field called after the Dyfrydog thief, Cae Ỻeidr Dyfrydog, where they saw a great number of little men on ponies quickly galloping in a ring. They both drew nigh to look on; but Ifan Gruffyđ’s daughter, in her eagerness to behold the little knights more closely, got unawares within the circle in which their ponies galloped, and did not return to her father. The latter now forgot all about the loss of the cow, and spent some hours in searching for his daughter; but at last he had to go home without her, in the deepest sadness. A few days afterwards he went to Mynađwyn to consult John Roberts, who was a magician of no mean reputation. That ‘wise man’ told Ifan Gruffyđ to be no longer sad, since he could get his daughter back at the very hour of the night of the anniversary of the time when he lost her. He would, in fact, then see her riding round in the company of the Tylwyth Teg whom he had seen on that memorable night. The father was to go there accompanied by four stalwart men, who were to aid him in the rescue of his daughter. He was to tie a strong rope round his waist, and by means of this his friends were to pull him out of the circle when he entered to seize his daughter. He went to the spot, [240]and in due time he beheld his daughter riding round in great state. In he rushed and snatched her, and, thanks to his friends, he got her out of the fairy ring before the little men had time to think of it. The first thing Ifan’s daughter asked him was, if he had found the cow, for she had not the slightest reckoning of the time she had spent with the fairies.

Whilst I am about it, I may as well go through Mr. Roberts’ contributions. The next is also a tale related to him by Mr. Hugh Francis, and, like the last, it comes from Anglesey. Mr. Francis’ great-grandfather was called Robert Francis, and he had a mill at Aberffraw about 100 years ago; and the substance of the following tale was often repeated in the hearing of Mr. Roberts’ informant by his father and his grandfather:—In winter Robert Francis used to remain very late at work drying corn in his kiln. As it was needful to keep a steady fire going, he used to go backwards and forwards from the house, looking after it not unfrequently until it was two o’clock in the morning. Once on a time he happened to leave a cauldron full of water on the floor of the kiln, and great was his astonishment on returning to find two little people washing themselves in the water. He abstained from entering to disturb them, and went back to the house to tell his wife of it. ‘Oh,’ said she, ‘they are fairies.’ He presently went back to the kiln and found that they were gone. He fancied they were man and wife. However, they had left the place very clean, and to crown all, he found a sum of money left by them to pay him, as he supposed, for the water and the use of the kiln. The ensuing night many more fairies came to the kiln, for the visitors of the previous night had brought their children with them; and the miller found them busy bathing them and looking very comfortable in the warm room where they were. The pay that night [241]was also more considerable than the night before, as the visitors were more numerous. After this the miller never failed to leave a vessel full of water in the kiln every night, and the fairies availed themselves of it for years, until, in fact, they took offence at the miller telling the neighbours of the presents of money which had been left him in the kiln. Thenceforth no fairies were known to frequent the kiln belonging to the Aberffraw mill.

The last tale communicated to me by Mr. Roberts is the following, which he elicited from Margaret Davies, his housekeeper, by reading to her some of the fairy legends published in the Cymmrodor a short while ago—probably the Corwrion series, one of which bears great resemblance to hers. Mrs. Davies, who is sixty-one years of age, says that when her parents, Edward and Ann Williams, lived at Rhoslydan, near Bryneglwys, in Yale, some seventy-five years ago, the servant man happened one day in the spring to be ploughing in a field near the house. As he was turning his team back at one end of the field, he heard some one calling out from the other end, Y mae eisieu hoelen yn y pìl, or ‘The peel wants a nail’; for pìl is the English peel, a name given to a sort of shovel provided with a long handle for placing loaves in an oven, and for getting them out again. When at length the ploughman had reached the end of the field whence he guessed the call to have proceeded, he there saw a small peel, together with a hammer and a nail, under the hedge. He saw that the peel required a nail to keep it together, and as everything necessary for mending it were there ready to hand, he did as it had been suggested. Then he followed at the plough-tail until he came round again to the same place, and there he this time saw a cake placed for him on the spot where he had previously [242]found the peel and the other things, which had now disappeared. When the servant related this to his master, he told him at once that it was one of the Tylwyth Teg of that locality that had called out to him. With this should be compared the story of the man who mended a fairy’s plough vice: see p. 64 above.



Early this year I had occasion to visit the well-known Hengwrt Library at Peniarth, and during my stay there Mr. Wynne very kindly took me to see such of the Ỻanegryn people as were most likely to have somewhat to say about the fairies. Many of the inhabitants had heard of them, but they had no long tales about them. One man, however, told me of a William Pritchard, of Pentre Bach, near Ỻwyngwryl, who died at sixty, over eighty years ago, and of a Rhys Williams, the clerk of Ỻangelynin, how they were going home late at night from a cock-fight at Ỻanegryn, and how they came across the fairies singing and dancing on a plot of ground known as Gwastad Meirionyđ, ‘the Plain of Merioneth,’ on the way from Ỻwyngwryl to Ỻanegryn. It consists, I am told by Mr. Robert Roberts of Ỻanegryn, of no more than some twenty square yards, outside which one has a good view of Cardigan Bay and the heights of Merioneth and Carnarvonshire, while from the Gwastad itself neither sea nor mountain is visible. On this spot, then, the belated cockfighters were surrounded by the fairies. They swore at the fairies and took to their heels, but they were pursued as far as Clawđ Du. Also I was told that Elen Egryn, the authoress, some sixty years ago, of some poetry called Telyn Egryn, had also seen fairies in her youth, when she used to go up the hills to look [243]after her father’s sheep. This happened near a little brook, from which she could see the sea when the sun was in the act of sinking in it; then many fairies would come out dancing and singing, and also crossing and re-crossing the little brook. It was on the side of Rhiwfelen, and she thought the little folks came out of the brook somewhere. She had been scolded for talking about the fairies, but she firmly believed in them to the end of her life. This was told me by Mr. W. Williams, the tailor, who is about sixty years of age; and also by Mr. Rowlands, the ex-bailiff of Peniarth, who is about seventy-five. I was moreover much interested to discover at Ỻanegryn a scrap of kelpie story, which runs as follows, concerning Ỻyn Gwernen, situated close to the old road between Dolgeỻey and Ỻanegryn:—

As a man from the village of Ỻanegryn was returning in the dusk of the evening across the mountain from Dolgeỻey, he heard, when hard by Ỻyn Gwernen, a voice crying out from the water:—

Daeth yr awr ond ni đaeth y dyn!

The hour is come but the man is not!

As the villager went on his way a little distance, what should meet him but a man of insane appearance, and with nothing on but his shirt. As he saw the man making full pelt for the waters of the lake, he rushed at him to prevent him from proceeding any further. But as to the sequel there is some doubt: one version makes the villager conduct the man back about a mile from the lake to a farm house called Dyffrydan, which was on the former’s way home. Others seem to think that the man in his shirt rushed irresistibly into the lake, and this I have no doubt comes nearer the end of the story in its original form. Lately I have heard a part of a similar story about Ỻyn Cynnwch, which has already been mentioned, p. 135, above. My informant [244]is Miss Lucy Griffith, of Glynmalden, near Dolgeỻey, a lady deeply interested in Welsh folklore and Welsh antiquities generally. She obtained her information from a Dolgeỻey ostler, formerly engaged at the Ship Hotel, to the effect that on Gwyl Galan, ‘the eve of New Year’s Day,’ a person is seen walking backwards and forwards on the strand of Cynnwch Lake, crying out:—

Mae’r awr wedi dyfod a’r dyn heb đyfod!

The hour is come while the man is not!

The ostler stated also that lights are to be seen on Cader Idris on the eve of New Year’s Day, whatever that statement may mean. The two lake stories seem to suggest that the Lake Spirit was entitled to a victim once a year, whether the sacrifice was regarded as the result of accident or design. By way of comparison, one may mention the notion, not yet extinct, that certain rivers in various parts of the kingdom regularly claim so many victims: for some instances at random see an article by Mr. J. M. Mackinlay, on Traces of River Worship in Scottish Folklore, a paper published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 1895–6, pp. 69–76. Take for example the following rhyme:—

Blood-thirsty Dee

Each year needs three;

But bonny Don

She needs none.

Or this:—

Tweed said to Till

‘What gars ye rin sae still?’

Till said to Tweed

‘Though ye rin wi’ speed

An’ I rin slaw,

Yet whar ye droon ae man

I droon twa.’



In the neighbourhood of Ystrad Meurig, between the Teifi and the Ystwyth basins, almost everybody can [245]relate tales about the fairies, but not much that is out of the ordinary run of such stories elsewhere. Among others, Isaac Davies, the smith living at Ystrad Meurig, had heard a great deal about fairies, and he said that there were rings belonging to them in certain fields at Tan y Graig and at Ỻanafan. Where the rings were, there the fairies danced until the ground became red and bare of grass. The fairies were, according to him, all women, and they dressed like foreigners, in short cotton dresses reaching only to the knee-joint. This description is somewhat peculiar, as the idea prevalent in the country around is, that the fairy ladies had very long trains, and that they were very elegantly dressed; so that it is a common saying there, that girls who dress in a better or more showy fashion than ordinary look like Tylwyth Teg, and the smith confessed he had often heard that said. Similarly Howells, pp. 113, 121–2, finds the dresses of the fairies dancing on the Freni, in the north-east of Pembrokeshire, represented as indescribably elegant and varying in colour; and those who, in the month of May, used to frequent the prehistoric encampment of Moeđin19 or Moyđin—from which a whole cantred takes its name in Central Cardiganshire—as fond of appearing in green; while blue petticoats are said, he says, to have prevailed in the fairy dances in North Wales20.

Another showed me a spot on the other side of the Teifi, where the Tylwyth Teg had a favourite spot for [246]dancing; and at the neighbouring village of Swyđ Ffynnon, another meadow was pointed out as their resort on the farm of Dôl Bydyë. According to one account I had there, the fairies dressed themselves in very long clothes, and when they danced they took hold of one another’s enormous trains. Besides the usual tales concerning men enticed into the ring and retained in Faery for a year and a day, and concerning the fairies’ dread of pren cerdingen or mountain ash, I had the midwife tale in two or three forms, differing more or less from the versions current in North Wales. For the most complete of them I am indebted to one of the young men studying at the Grammar School, Mr. D. Ỻedrodian Davies. It used to be related by an old woman who died some thirty years ago at the advanced age of about 100. She was Pàli, mother of old Rachel Evans, who died seven or eight years ago, when she was about eighty. The latter was a curious character, who sometimes sang masweđ, or rhymes of doubtful propriety, and used to take the children of the village to see fairy rings. She also used to see the Tylwyth, and had many tales to tell of them. But her mother, Pàli, had actually been called to attend at the confinement of one of them. The beginning of the tale is not very explicit; but, anyhow, Pàli one evening found herself face to face with the fairy lady she was to attend upon. She appeared to be the wife of one of the princes of the country. She was held in great esteem, and lived in a very grand palace. Everything there had been arranged in the most beautiful and charming fashion. The wife was in her bed with nothing about her but white, and she fared sumptuously. In due time, when the baby had been born, the midwife had all the care connected with dressing it and serving its mother. Pàli could see or hear nobody in the whole place but [247]the mother and the baby. She had no idea who attended on them, or who prepared all the things they required, for it was all done noiselessly and secretly. The mother was a charming person, of an excellent temper and easy to manage. Morning and evening, as she finished washing the baby, Pàli had a certain ointment given her to rub the baby with. She was charged not to touch it but with her hand, and especially not to put any near her eyes. This was carried out for some time, but one day, as she was dressing the baby, her eyes happened to itch, and she rubbed them with her hand. Then at once she saw a great many wonders she had not before perceived; and the whole place assumed a new aspect to her. She said nothing, and in the course of the day she saw a great deal more. Among other things, she observed small men and small women going in and out, following a variety of occupations. But their movements were as light as the morning breeze. To move about was no trouble to them, and they brought things into the room with the greatest quickness. They prepared dainty food for the confined lady with the utmost order and skill, and the air of kindness and affection with which they served her was truly remarkable. In the evening, as she was dressing the baby, the midwife said to the lady, ‘You have had a great many visitors to-day.’ To this she replied, ‘How do you know that? Have you been putting the ointment to your eyes?’ Thereupon she jumped out of bed, and blew into her eyes, saying, ‘Now you will see no more.’ She never afterwards could see the fairies, however much she tried, nor was the ointment entrusted to her after that day. According, however, to another version which I heard, she was told, on being found out, not to apply the ointment to her eyes any more. She promised she would not; but [248]the narrator thought she broke that promise, as she continued to see the fairies as long as she lived.

Mr. D. Ỻ. Davies has also a version like the North Wales ones. He obtained it from a woman of seventy-eight at Bronnant, near Aberystwyth, who had heard it from one of her ancestors. According to her, the midwife went to the fair called Ffair Rhos, which was held between Ystrad Meurig and Pont Rhyd Fendigaid21. There she saw a great many of the Tylwyth very busily engaged, and among others the lady she had been attending upon. That being so, she walked up to her and saluted her. The fairy lady angrily asked how she saw her, and spat in her face, which had the result of putting an end for ever to her power of seeing her or anybody of her race.

The same aged woman at Bronnant has communicated to Mr. D. Ỻ. Davies another tale which differs from all those of the same kind that I happen to know of. On a certain day in spring the farmer living at —— (Mr. Davies does not remember the name of the farm) lost his calves; and the servant man and the servant girl went out to look for them, but as they were both crossing a marshy flat, the man suddenly missed the girl. He looked for her, and as he could not see her he concluded that she was playing a trick on him. [249]However, after much shouting and searching about the place, he began to think that she must have found her way home, so he turned back and asked if the girl had come in, when he found to his surprise that nobody had seen her come back. The news of her being lost caused great excitement in the country around, since many suspected that he had for some reason put an end to her life: some accounted for it in this way, and some in another. But as nothing could be found out about her, the servant man was taken into custody on the charge of having murdered her. He protested with all his heart, and no evidence could be produced that he had killed the girl. Now, as some had an idea that she had gone to the fairies, it was resolved to send to ‘the wise man’ (Y dyn hysbys). This was done, and he found out that the missing girl was with the fairies: the trial was delayed, and he gave the servant man directions of the usual kind as to how to get her out. She was watched at the end of the period of twelve months and a day coming round in the dance in the fairy ring at the place where she was lost, and she was successfully drawn out of the ring; but the servant man had to be there in the same clothes as he had on when she left him. As soon as she was released and saw the servant she asked about the calves. On the way home she told her master, the servant man, and the others, that she would stay with them until her master should strike her with iron, but they went their way home in great joy at having found her. One day, however, when her master was about to start from home, and whilst he was getting the horse and cart ready, he asked the girl to assist him, which she did willingly; but as he was bridling the horse, the bit touched the girl and she disappeared instantly, and was never seen from that day forth.

I cannot explain this story, unless we regard it as [250]made up of pieces of two different stories which had originally nothing to do with one another; consistency, however, is not to be expected in such matters. Mr. D. Ỻ. Davies has kindly given me two more tales like the first part of the one I have last summarized, also one in which the missing person, a little boy sent by his mother to fetch some barm for her, comes home of himself after being away a year or more playing with the Tylwyth Teg, whom he found to be very nice, pleasant people; they had been exceedingly kind to him, and they even allowed him to take the bottle with the barm home at the last. This was somewhere between Swyđ Ffynnon and Carmarthen.

Mr. D. Ỻ. Davies finds, what I have not found anywhere else, that it was a common idea among the old people in Cardiganshire, that once you came across one of the fairies you could not easily be rid of him; since the fairies were little beings of a very devoted nature. Once a man had become friendly with one of them, the latter would be present with him almost everywhere he went, until it became a burden to him. However, popular belief did not adopt this item of faith without another to neutralize it if necessary: so if one was determined to get rid of the fairy companion, one had in the last resort only to throw a piece of rusty iron at him to be quit of him for ever. Nothing was a greater insult to the fairies. But though they were not difficult to make friends of, they never forgave those who offended them: forgiveness was not an element in their nature. The general account my informant gives of the outward appearance of the fairies as he finds them in the popular belief, is that they were a small handsome race, and that their women dressed gorgeously in white, while the men were content with garments of a dark grey colour, usually including knee-breeches. As [251]might be expected, the descriptions differ very much in different neighbourhoods, and even in different tales from the same neighbourhood: this will surprise no one. It was in the night they came out, generally near water, to sing and dance, and also to steal whatever took their fancy; for thieving was always natural to them; but no one ever complained of it, as it was supposed to bring good luck.



Mr. Richard L. Davies, teacher of the Board School at Ystalyfera, in the Tawë Valley, has been kind enough to write out for me a budget of ideas about the Cwm Tawë Fairies, as retailed to him by a native who took great delight in the traditions of his neighbourhood, John Davies (Shôn o’r Bont), who was a storekeeper at Ystalyfera. He died an old man about three years ago. I give his stories as transmitted to me by Mr. Davies, but the reader will find them a little hazy now and then, as when the fairies are made into ordinary conjurer’s devils:—

Rhywbeth rhyfeđ yw yr hen Gasteỻ yna (gan olygu Craig Ynys Geinon): yr wyf yn cofio yr amser pan y byđai yn đychryn gan bobl fyned yn agos ato—yn enwedig y nos: yr oeđ yn dra pheryglus rhag i đyn gael ei gymeryd at Bendith eu Mamau. Fe đywedir fod wmređ o’r rheiny yna, er na wn i pa le y maent yn cadw. ’R oeđ yr hen bobl yn arferol o đweyd fod pwỻ yn rhywle bron canol y Casteỻ, tua ỻathen o led, ac yn bump neu chwech ỻath o đyfnder, a charreg tua thair tynneỻ o bwysau ar ei wyneb e’, a bod fforđ dan y đaear ganđynt o’r pwỻ hynny bob cam i ogof Tan yr Ogof, bron blaen y Cwm (yn agos i balas Adelina Patti, sef Casteỻ Craig y Nos), mai yno y maent yn treulio eu [252]hamser yn y dyđ, ac yn dyfod lawr yma i chwareu eu pranciau yn y nos.

Mae ganđynt, međe nhw, ysgol aur, o un neu đwy ar hugain o ffyn; ar hyd honno y maent yn tramwy i fyny ac i lawr. Mae ganđynt air bach, a dim ond i’r blaenaf ar yr ysgol đywedyd y gair hynny, mae y garreg yn codi o honi ei hunan; a gair araỻ, ond i’r olaf wrth fyned i lawr ei đywedyd, mae yn cauad ar eu hol.

Dywedir i was un o’r ffermyđ cyfagos wrth chwilio am wningod yn y graig, đygwyđ dyweyd y gair pan ar bwys y garreg, iđi agor, ac iđo yntau fyned i lawr yr ysgol, ond am na wyđai y gair i gauad ar ei ol, fe adnabu y Tylwyth wrth y draught yn diffođ y canwyỻau fod rhywbeth o le, daethant am ei draws, cymerasant ef atynt, a bu gyda hwynt yn byw ac yn bod am saith mlyneđ; ymhen y saith mlyneđ fe điangođ a ỻon’d ei het o guineas ganđo.

Yr oeđ efe erbyn hyn wedi dysgu y đau air, ac yn gwybod ỻawer am eu cwtches nhw. Fe đywedođ hwn y cwbl wrth ffarmwr o’r gymdogaeth, fe aeth hwnnw drachefn i lawr, ac yr oeđ rhai yn dyweyd iđo đyfod a thri ỻon’d cawnen halen o guineas, hanner guineas, a darnau saith-a-chwech, ođiyno yr un diwrnod. Ond fe aeth yn rhy drachwantus, ac fel ỻawer un trachwantus o’i flaen, bu ei bechod yn angeu iđo.

Canys fe aeth i lawr y bedwaređ waith yngwyỻ y nos, ond fe đaeth y Tylwyth am ei ben, ac ni welwyd byth o hono. Dywedir fod ei bedwar cwarter e’ yn hongian mewn ystafeỻ o dan y Casteỻ, ond pwy fu yno i’w gwel’d nhw, wn i đim.

Mae yn wir ei wala i’r ffarmwr crybwyỻedig fyned ar goỻ, ac na chlybuwyd byth am dano, ac mor wir a hynny i’w dylwyth đyfod yn abl iawn, bron ar unwaith yr amser hynny. A chi wyđoch gystal a finnau, eu bod nhw yn dywedyd fod ffyrđ tanđaearol ganđynt i ogofau [253]Ystrad Feỻte, yn agos i Benderyn. A dyna y Garn Goch ar y Drum (Onỻwyn yn awr) maent yn dweyd fod canoeđ o dyneỻi o aur yn stôr ganđynt yno; a chi glywsoch am y stori am un o’r Gethings yn myned yno i glođio yn y Garn, ac iđo gael ei drawsffurfio gan y Tylwyth i olwyn o dân, ac iđo fethu cael ỻonyđ ganđynt, hyd nes iđo eu danfon i wneyd rhaff o sand!

Fe fu gynt hen fenyw yn byw mewn ty bychan gerỻaw i Ynys Geinon, ac yr oeđ hi yn gaỻu rheibo, međe nhw, ac yr oeđ sôn ei bod yn treulio saith diwrnod, saith awr, a saith mynyd gyda y Tylwyth Teg bob blwyđyn yn Ogof y Casteỻ. Yr oeđ y gred yn ỻed gyffredinol ei bod hi yn cael hyn a hyn o aur am bob plentyn a aỻai hi ladrata iđynt hwy, a dodi un o’i hen grithod hwy yn ei le: ’doeđ hwnnw byth yn cynyđu. Y fforđ y byđai hi yn gwneyd oeđ myned i’r tŷ dan yr esgus o ofyn cardod, a hen glogyn ỻwyd-đu mawr ar ei chefn, ac o dan hwn, un o blant Bendith y Mamau; a bob amser os byđai plentyn bach gwraig y tŷ yn y caweỻ, hi gymerai y swyđ o siglo y caweỻ, a dim ond i’r fam droi ei chefn am fynyd neu đwy, hi daflai y ỻedrith i’r caweỻ, ai ymaith a’r plentyn yn gyntaf byth y gaỻai hi. Fe fu plentyn gan đyn o’r gym’dogaeth yn lingran am flynyđau heb gynyđu dim, a barn pawb oeđ mai wedi cael ei newid gan yr hen wraig yr oeđ; fe aeth tad y plentyn i fygwth y gwr hysbys arni: fe đaeth yr hen wraig yno am saith niwrnod i esgus bađo y bachgen bach mewn dwfr oer, a’r seithfed bore cyn ei bod yn oleu, hi a gas genad i fyned ag ef dan rhyw bistyỻ, međe hi, ond međai’r cym’dogion, myned ag ef i newid a wnaeth. Ond, beth bynag, fe weỻođ y plentyn fel cyw yr wyđ o hynny i maes. Ond gorfu i fam e’ wneyd cystal a ỻw wrth yr hen wraig, y gwnai ei dwco mewn dwfr oer bob bore dros gwarter blwyđyn, ac yn mhen y chwarter hynny ’doeđ dim brafach plentyn yn y Cwm. [254]

‘That is a wonderful thing, that old castle there, he would say, pointing to the Ynys Geinon Rock. I remember a time when people would be terrified to go near it, especially at night. There was considerable danger that one might be taken to Bendith eu Mamau. It is said that there are a great many of them there, though I know not where they abide. The old folks used to say that there was a pit somewhere about the middle of the Castle, about a yard wide and some five or six yards deep, with a stone about three tons in weight over the mouth of it, and that they had a passage underground from that pit all the way to the cave of Tan yr Ogof, near the top of the Cwm, that is, near Adelina Patti’s residence at Craig y Nos Castle: there, it was said, they spent their time during the day, while they came down here to play their tricks at night. They have, they say, a gold ladder of one or two and twenty rungs, and it is along that they pass up and down. They have a little word; and it suffices if the foremost on the ladder merely utters that word, for the stone to rise of itself; while there is another word, which it suffices the hindmost in going down to utter so that the stone shuts behind him. It is said that a servant from one of the neighbouring farms, when looking for rabbits in the rock, happened to say the word as he stood near the stone, that it opened for him, and that he went down the ladder; but that because he was ignorant of the word to make it shut behind him, the fairies discovered by the draught putting out their candles that there was something wrong. So they found him out and took him with them. He remained living with them for seven years, but at the end of the seven years he escaped with his hat full of guineas. He had by this time learnt the two words, and got to know a good deal about the hiding places of their treasures. He told everything to [255]a farmer in the neighbourhood, so the latter likewise went down, and some used to say that he brought thence thrice the fill of a salt-chest of guineas, half-guineas, and seven-and-sixpenny pieces in one day. But he got too greedy, and like many a greedy one before him his crime proved his death; for he went down the fourth time in the dusk of the evening, when the fairies came upon him, and he was never seen any more. It is said that his four quarters hang in a room under the Castle; but who has been there to see them I know not. It is true enough that the above-mentioned farmer got lost, and that nothing was heard respecting him; and it is equally true that his family became very well to do almost at once at that time. You know as well as I do that they say, that the fairies have underground passages to the caves of Ystradfeỻte, near Penderyn. There is the Garn Goch also on the Drum (now called Onỻwyn); they say there are hundreds of tons of gold accumulated by them there, and you have heard the story about one of the Gethings going thither to dig in the Garn, and how he [sic] was transformed by the fairies into a wheel of fire, and that he could get no quiet from them until he sent them to manufacture a rope of sand!’—A more intelligible version of this story has been given at pp. 19–20 above.

‘There was formerly an old woman living in a small house near Ynys Geinon; and she had the power of bewitching, people used to say: there was a rumour that she spent seven days, seven hours, and seven minutes with the fairies every year in the cave at the Castle. It was a pretty general belief that she got such and such a quantity of gold for every child she could steal for them, and that she put one of those old urchins of theirs in its place: the latter never grew at all. The way she used to do it was to enter people’s houses [256]with the excuse of asking for alms, having a large dark-grey old cloak on her back, and the cloak concealed one of the children of Bendith eu Mamau. Whenever she found the little child of the good woman of the house in its cradle, she would take upon herself to rock the cradle, so that if the mother only turned her back for a minute or two, she would throw the sham child into the cradle and hurry away as fast as she could with the baby. A man in the neighbourhood had a child lingering for years without growing at all, and it was the opinion of all that it had been changed by the old woman. The father at length threatened to call in the aid of “the wise man,” when the old woman came there for seven days, pretending that it was in order to bathe the little boy in cold water; and on the seventh day she got permission to take him, before it was light, under a certain spout of water: so she said, but the neighbours said it was to change him. However that was, the boy from that time forth got on as fast as a gosling. But the mother had all but to take an oath to the old woman, that she would duck him in cold water every morning for three months, and by the end of that time there was no finer infant in the Cwm.’

Mr. Davies has given me some account also of the annual pilgrimage to the Fan mountains to see the Lake Lady: these are his words on the subject—they recall pp. 15–16 above:—

‘It has been the yearly custom (for generations, as far as I can find) for young as well as many people further advanced in years to make a general excursion in carts, gambos, and all kinds of vehicles, to Ỻyn y Fan, in order to see the water nymph (who appeared on one day only, viz. the first Sunday in August). This nymph was said to have the lower part of her body resembling that of a dolphin, while the upper part was that of a [257]beautiful lady: this anomalous form appeared on the first Sunday in August (if the lake should be without a ripple) and combed her tresses on the reflecting surface of the lake. The yearly peregrination to the abode of the Fan deity is still kept up in this valley—Cwmtawë; but not to the extent that it used to formerly.’



Mr. Craigfryn Hughes has sent me another tale about the fairies: it has to do with the parish of Ỻanfabon, near the eastern border of Glamorganshire. Many traditions cluster round the church of Ỻanfabon, beginning with its supposed building by Saint Mabon, but which of the Mabons of Welsh legend he was, is not very certain. Not very far is a place called Pant y Dawns, or the Dance Hollow, in allusion to the visits paid to the spot by Bendith y Mamau, as the fairies are there called. In the same neighbourhood stand also the ruins of Casteỻ y Nos, or the Castle of the Night22, which tradition represents as uninhabitable because it had been built of stones from Ỻanfabon Church, and on account of the ghosts that used to haunt it. However, one small portion of it was usually tenanted formerly by a ‘wise man’ or by a witch. In fact, the whole country round Ỻanfabon Church teemed with fairies, ghosts, and all kinds of uncanny creatures:—

Mewn amaethdy ag syđ yn aros yn y plwyf a elwir y Berth Gron, trigiannai gweđw ieuanc a’i phlentyn [258]bychan. Yr oeđ wedi coỻi ei gwr, a’i hunig gysur yn ei hamđifadrwyđ a’i hunigrwyđ oeđ Gruff, ei mab. Yr oeđ ef yr amser hwn ođeutu tair blwyđ oed, ac yn blentyn braf ar ei oedran. Yr oeđ y plwyf, ar y pryd, yn orlawn o ‘Fendith y Mamau’; ac, ar amser ỻawn ỻoer, byđent yn cadw dynion yn effro a’u cerđoriaeth hyd doriad gwawr. Rhai hynod ar gyfrif eu hagrwch oeđ ‘Bendith’ Ỻanfabon, ac yr un mor hynod ar gyfrif eu castiau. Ỻadrata plant o’r caweỻau yn absenoldeb eu mamau, a denu dynion trwy eu swyno a cherđoriaeth i ryw gors afiach a diffaith, a ymđangosai yn gryn đifyrrwch iđynt. Nid rhyfeđ fod y mamau beunyđ ar eu gwyliadwriaeth rhag ofn coỻi eu plant. Yr oeđ y weđw o dan sylw yn hynod ofalus am ei mab, gymaint nes tynnu rhai o’r cymydogion i đywedyd wrthi ei bod yn rhy orofalus, ac y byđai i ryw anlwc orđiwes ei mab. Ond ni thalai unrhyw sylw i’w dywediadau. Ymđangosai fod ei hoỻ hyfrydwch a’i chysur ynghyd a’i gobeithion yn cydgyfarfod yn ei mab. Mođ bynnag, un diwrnod, clywođ ryw lais cwynfannus yn codi o gymydogaeth y beudy; a rhag bod rhywbeth wedi digwyđ i un o’r gwartheg rhedođ yn orwyỻt tuag yno, gan adael y drws heb ei gau, a’i mab bychan yn y ty. Ond pwy a fedr đesgrifio ei gofid ar ei gwaith yn dyfod i’r ty wrth weled eisiau ei mab? Chwiliođ bob man am dano, ond yn aflwyđiannus. Ođeutu machlud haul, wele lencyn bychan yn gwneuthur ei ymđangosiad o’i blaen, ac yn dywedyd, yn groyw, ‘Mam!’ Edrychođ y fam yn fanwl arno, a dywedođ o’r diweđ, ‘Nid fy mhlentyn i wyt ti!’ ‘Ië, yn sicr,’ atebai y bychan.

Nid ymđangosai y fam yn fođlon, na’i bod yn credu mai ei phlentyn hi ydoeđ. Yr oeđ rhywbeth yn sisial yn barhaus wrthi mai nid ei mab hi ydoeđ. Ond beth bynnag, bu gyda hi am flwyđyn gyfan, ac nid ymđangosai ei fod yn cynyđu dim, tra yr oeđ Gruff, ei mab hi, yn [259]blentyn cynyđfawr iawn. Yr oeđ gwr bychan yn myned yn fwy hagr bob dyđ hefyd. O’r diweđ penderfynođ fyned at y ‘dyn hysbys,’ er cael rhyw wybodaeth a goleuni ar y mater. Yr oeđ yn digwyđ bod ar y pryd yn trigfannu yn Nghasteỻ y Nos, wr ag oeđ yn hynod ar gyfrif ei ymwybyđiaeth drwyadl o ‘gyfrinion y faỻ.’ Ar ol iđi osod ei hachos ger ei fron, ac yntau ei holi, sylwođ, ‘Crimbil ydyw, ac y mae dy blentyn di gyd a’r hen Fendith yn rhywle; ond i ti đilyn fy nghyfarwyđiadau i yn ffyđlon a manwl, fe adferir dy blentyn i ti yn fuan. Yn awr, ođeutu canol dyđ y foru, tor ŵy yn y canol, a thafl un hanner ymaith ođiwrthyt, a chadw y ỻaỻ yn dy law, a dechreu gymysg ei gynwysiad yn ol a blaen. Cofia fod y gwr bychan gerỻaw yn gwneuthur sylw o’r hyn ag a fyđi yn ei wneuthur. Ond cofia di a pheidio galw ei sylw—rhaid enniỻ ei sylw at y weithred heb ei alw: ac odid fawr na ofynna i ti beth fyđi yn ei wneuthur. A dywed wrtho mai cymysg pastai’r fedel yr wyt. A rho wybod i mi beth fyđ ei ateb.’

Dychwelođ y wraig, a thrannoeth dilynođ gyfarwyđyd y ‘dyn cynnil’ i’r ỻythyren. Yr oeđ y gwr bychan yn sefyỻ yn ei hymyl, ac yn sylwi arni yn fanwl. Ym mhen ychydig, gofynnođ, ‘Mam, beth ’i ch’i ’neuthur?’ ‘Cymysg pastai’r fedel, machgen i.’ ‘O feỻy. Mi glywais gan fy nhad, fe glywođ hwnnw gan ei dad, a hwnnw gan ei dad yntau, fod mesen cyn derwen, a derwen mewn dâr23; ond ni chlywais i na gweled neb yn un man yn cymysg pastai’r fedel mewn masgal ŵy iar.’ Sylwođ y wraig ei fod yn edrych yn hynod o sarug arni pan yn siarad, ac yr oeđ hynny yn ychwanegu at ei hagrwch, nes ei wneuthur yn wrthun i’r pen.

Y prydnawn hwnnw aeth y wraig at y ‘dyn cynnil’ [260]er ei hysbysu o’r hyn a lefarwyd gan y còr. ‘O,’ ebai hwnnw, ‘un o’r hen frid ydyw!’ ‘Yn awr, byđ y ỻawn ỻoer nesaf ym mhen pedwar diwrnod; mae yn rhaid i ti fyned i ben y pedair heol syđ yn cydgyfarfod wrth ben Rhyd y Gloch; am đeuđeg o’r gloch y nos y byđ y ỻeuad yn ỻawn. Cofia guđio dy hun mewn man ag y cei lawn olwg ar bennau y croesffyrđ, ac os gweli rywbeth a bair i ti gynhyrfu, cofia fod yn ỻonyđ, ac ymatal rhag rhođi ffrwyn i’th deimladau, neu fe đistrywir y cynỻun, ac ni chei dy fab yn ol byth.’

Nis gwyđai y fam anffodus beth oeđ i’w đeaỻ wrth ystori ryfeđ y ‘dyn cynnil.’ Yr oeđ mewn cymaint o dywyỻwch ag erioed. O’r diweđ daeth yr amser i ben; ac ar yr awr apwyntiedig yr oeđ yn ymguđio yn ofalus tu cefn i lwyn mawr yn ymyl, o ba le y caffai olwg ar bob peth o gylch. Bu am hir amser yno yn gwylio heb đim i’w glywed na’i weled—dim ond distawrwyđ dwfn a phruđglwyfus yr hanner nos yn teyrnasu. O’r diweđ clywai sain cerđoriaeth yn dynesu ati o hirbeỻ. Nês, nês yr oeđ y sain felusber yn dyfod o hyd; a gwrandawai hithai gyda dyđordeb arni. Cyn hir yr oeđ yn ei hymyl, a deaỻođ mai gorymdaith o ‘Fendith y Mamau’ oeđynt yn myned i rywle. Yr oeđynt yn gannoeđ mewn rhif. Tua chanol yr orymdaith canfyđođ olygfa ag a drywanođ ei chalon, ac a berođ i’w gwaed sefyỻ yn ei rhedwelïau. Yn cerđed rhwng pedwar o’r ‘Bendith’ yr oeđ ei phlentyn bychan anwyl ei hun. Bu bron a ỻwyr anghofio ei hun, a ỻamu tuag ato er ei gipio ymaith ođiarnynt trwy drais os gaỻai. Ond pan ar neidio aỻan o’i hymguđfan i’r diben hwnnw međyliođ am gynghor y ‘dyn cynnil,’ sef y byđai i unrhyw gynhyrfiad o’i heiđo đistrywio y cwbl, ac na byđai iđi gael ei phlentyn yn ol byth.

Ar ol i’r orymdaith đirwyn i’r pen, ac i sain eu cerđoriaeth đistewi yn y peỻder, daeth aỻan o’i hymguđfan, [261]gan gyfeirio ei chamrau tua ’i chartref. Os oeđ yn hiraethol o’r blaen ar ol ei mab, yr oeđ yn ỻawer mwy erbyn hyn; a’i hadgasrwyđ at y còr bychan oeđ yn hawlio ei fod yn fab iđi wedi cynyđu yn fawr iawn, waith yr oeđ yn sicr yn awr yn ei međwl mai un o’r hen frid ydoeđ. Nis gwyđai pa fođ i’w ođef am fynud yn hwy yn yr un ty a hi, chwaithach gođef iđo alw ‘mam’ arni hi. Ond beth bynnag, cafođ đigon o ras ataliol i ymđwyn yn weđaiđ at y gwr bychan hagr oeđ gyda hi yn y tŷ. Drannoeth aeth ar ei hunion at y ‘dyn cynnil’ i adrođ yr hyn yr oeđ wedi bod yn ỻygad dyst o hono y noson gynt, ac i ofyn am gyfarwyđyd peỻach. Yr oedd y ‘gwr cynnil’ yn ei disgwyl, ac ar ei gwaith yn dyfod i’r ty adnabyđođ wrthi ei bod wedi gweled rhywbeth oeđ wedi ei chyffroi. Adrođođ wrtho yr hyn ag oeđ wedi ei ganfod ar ben y croesffyrđ; ac wedi iđo glywed hynny, agorođ lyfr mawr ag oeđ ganđo, ac wedi hir syỻu arno hysbysođ hi ‘fod yn angenrheidiol iđi cyn cael ei phlentyn yn ol gael iâr đu heb un plufyn gwyn nac o un ỻiw araỻ arni, a’i ỻađ; ac ar ol ei ỻadd, ei gosod o flaen tan coed, pluf a chwbl, er ei phobi. Mor gynted ag y buasai yn ei gosod o flaen y tan, iđi gau pob twỻ a mynedfa yn yr adeilad ond un, a pheidio a dal sylw manwl ar ol y ‘crimbil,’ hyd nes byđai y iâr yn đigon, a’r pluf i syrthio ymaith oddiarni bob un, ac yna i edrych ym mha le yr oeđ ef.

Er mor rhyfeđ oeđ cyfarwyđyd y ‘gwr,’ penderfynođ ei gynnyg; a thrannoeth aeth i chwilio ym mhlith y ieir oeđ yno am un o’r desgrifiad angenrheidiol; ond er ei siomedigaeth methođ a chael yr un. Aeth o’r naiỻ ffermdy i’r ỻaỻ i chwilio, ond ymđangosai ffawd fel yn gwgu arni—waith methođ a chael yr un. Pan ym mron digaloni gan ei haflwyđiant daeth ar draws un mewn amaethdy yng nghwr y plwyf a phrynođ hi yn đioedi. Ar ol dychwelyd adref gosodođ y tan mewn trefn, a [262]ỻađođ yr iâr, gan ei gosod o flaen y tan disglaer a losgai ar yr alch. Pan yn edrych arni yn pobi, anghofiođ y ‘crimbil’ yn hoỻol, ac yr oeđ wedi syrthio i rywfath o bruđlewyg, pryd y synnwyd hi gan sain cerđoriaeth y tu aỻan i’r ty, yn debyg i’r hyn a glywođ ychydig nosweithiau cyn hynny ar ben y croesffyrđ. Yr oeđ y pluf erbyn hyn wedi syrthio ymaith ođiar y iâr, ac erbyn edrych yr oeđ y ‘crimbil’ wedi diflannu. Edrychai y fam yn wyỻt o’i deutu, ac er ei ỻawenyđ clywai lais ei mab coỻedig yn galw arni y tu aỻan. Rhedođ i’w gyfarfod, gan ei gofleidio yn wresog; a phan ofynođ ym mha le yr oeđ wedi bod cyhyd, nid oeđ ganđo gyfrif yn y byd i’w rođi ond mai yn gwrando ar ganu hyfryd yr oeđ wedi bod. Yr oeđ yn deneu a threuliedig iawn ei weđ pan adferwyd ef. Dyna ystori ‘Y Plentyn Coỻedig.’

‘At a farm house still remaining in the parish of Ỻanfabon, which is called the Berth Gron, there lived once upon a time a young widow and her infant child. After losing her husband her only comfort in her bereavement and solitary state was young Griff, her son. He was about three years old and a fine child for his age. The parish was then crammed full of Bendith y Mamau, and when the moon was bright and full they were wont to keep people awake with their music till the break of day. The fairies of Ỻanfabon were remarkable on account of their ugliness, and they were equally remarkable on account of the tricks they played. Stealing children from their cradles during the absence of their mothers, and luring men by means of their music into some pestilential and desolate bog, were things that seemed to afford them considerable amusement. It was no wonder then that mothers used to be daily on the watch lest they should lose their children. The widow alluded to was remarkably careful about her son, so much so, that it made some of the neighbours say that she was [263]too anxious about him and that some misfortune would overtake her child. But she paid no attention to their words, as all her joy, her comfort, and her hopes appeared to meet together in her child. However, one day she heard a moaning voice ascending from near the cow-house, and lest anything had happened to the cattle, she ran there in a fright, leaving the door of the house open and her little son in the cradle. Who can describe her grief on her coming in and seeing that her son was missing? She searched everywhere for him, but it was in vain. About sunset, behold a little lad made his appearance before her and said to her quite distinctly, “Mother.” She looked minutely at him, and said at last, “Thou art not my child.” “I am truly,” said the little one. But the mother did not seem satisfied about it, nor did she believe it was her child. Something whispered to her constantly, as it were, that it was not her son. However, he remained with her a whole year, but he did not seem to grow at all, whereas Griff, her son, was a very growing child. Besides, the little fellow was getting uglier every day. At last she resolved to go to the “wise man,” in order to have information and light on the matter. There happened then to be living at Casteỻ y Nos, “Castle of the Night,” a man who was remarkable for his thorough acquaintance with the secrets of the evil one. When she had laid her business before him and he had examined her, he addressed the following remark to her: “It is a crimbil24, and thy own child is with those old Bendith somewhere or other: if thou wilt follow my directions faithfully and minutely thy child will be restored to thee soon. Now, about noon to-morrow cut an egg through the middle; throw the one half away from thee, but keep the other in thy hand, and proceed to mix it backwards and forwards. [264]See that the little fellow be present paying attention to what thou art doing, but take care not to call his attention to it—his attention must be drawn to it without calling to him—and very probably he will ask what thou wouldst be doing. Thou art to say that it is mixing a pasty for the reapers that thou art. Let me know what he will then say.” The woman returned, and on the next day she followed the cunning man’s25 advice to the letter: the little fellow stood by her and watched her minutely; presently he asked, “Mother, what are you doing?” “Mixing a pasty for the reapers, my boy.” “Oh, that is it. I heard from my father—he had heard it from his father and that one from his father—that an acorn was before the oak, and that the oak was in the earth; but I have neither heard nor seen anybody [265]mixing the pasty for the reapers in an egg-shell.” The woman observed that he looked very cross as he spoke, and that it so added to his ugliness that it made him highly repulsive.

‘That afternoon the woman went to the cunning man in order to inform him of what the dwarf had said. “Oh,” said he, “he is of that old breed; now the next full moon will be in four days—thou must go where the four roads meet above Rhyd y Gloch26, at twelve o’clock the night the moon is full. Take care to hide thyself at a spot where thou canst see the ends of the cross-roads; and shouldst thou see anything that would excite thee take care to be still and to restrain thyself from giving way to thy feelings, otherwise the scheme will be frustrated and thou wilt never have thy son back.” The unfortunate mother knew not what to make of the strange story of the cunning man; she was in the dark as much as ever. At last the time came, and by the appointed hour she had concealed herself carefully behind a large bush close by, whence she could see everything around. She remained there a long time watching; but nothing was to be seen or heard, while the profound and melancholy silence of midnight dominated over all. At last she began to hear the sound of music approaching from afar; nearer and nearer the sweet sound continued to come, and she listened to it with rapt attention. Ere long it was close at hand, and she perceived that it was a procession of Bendith y [266]Mamau going somewhere or other. They were hundreds in point of number, and about the middle of the procession she beheld a sight that pierced her heart and made the blood stop in her veins—walking between four of the Bendith she saw her own dear little child. She nearly forgot herself altogether, and was on the point of springing into the midst of them violently to snatch him from them if she could; but when she was on the point of leaping out of her hiding place for that purpose, she thought of the warning of the cunning man, that any disturbance on her part would frustrate all, so that she would never get her child back. When the procession had wound itself past, and the sound of the music had died away in the distance, she issued from her concealment and directed her steps homewards. Full of longing as she was for her son before, she was much more so now; and her disgust at the little dwarf who claimed to be her son had very considerably grown, for she was now certain in her mind that he was one of the old breed. She knew not how to endure him for a moment longer under the same roof with her, much less his addressing her as “mother.” However, she had enough restraining grace to behave becomingly towards the ugly little fellow that was with her in the house. On the morrow she went without delay to the “wise man” to relate what she had witnessed the previous night, and to seek further advice. The cunning man expected her, and as she entered he perceived by her looks that she had seen something that had disturbed her. She told him what she had beheld at the cross-roads, and when he had heard it he opened a big book which he had; then, after he had long pored over it, he told her, that before she could get her child back, it was necessary for her to find a black hen without a single white feather, or one of any other [267]colour than black: this she was to place to bake before a wood27 fire with its feathers and all intact. Moreover, as soon as she placed it before the fire, she was to close every hole and passage in the walls except one, and not to look very intently after the crimbil until the hen was done enough and the feathers had fallen off it every one: then she might look where he was.

‘Strange as the advice of the wise man sounded, she resolved to try it; so she went the next day to search among the hens for one of the requisite description; but to her disappointment she failed to find one. She then walked from one farm house to another in her search; but fortune appeared to scowl at her, as she seemed to fail in her object. When, however, she was nearly disheartened, she came across the kind of hen she wanted at a farm at the end of the parish. She bought it, and after returning home she arranged the fire and killed the hen, which she placed in front of the bright fire burning on the hearth. Whilst watching the hen baking she altogether forgot the crimbil; and she fell into a sort of swoon, when she was astonished by the sound of music outside the house, similar to the music she had heard a few nights before at the cross-roads. The feathers had by this time fallen off the hen, and when she came to look for the crimbil he had disappeared. The mother cast wild looks about the house, and to her joy she heard the voice of her lost son calling to her from outside. She ran to meet him, and embraced him fervently. But when she asked him where he had been so long, he had no account in the world to give but that he had been listening to pleasant music. He was very thin and worn in appearance when he was restored. Such is the story of the Lost Child.’

Let me remark as to the urchin’s exclamation concerning [268]the cooking done in the egg-shell, that Mr. Hughes, as the result of further inquiry, has given me what he considers a more correct version; but it is no less inconsequent, as will be seen:—

Mi glywais gan fy nhad ac yntau gan ei dad, a hwnnw gan ei dad yntau,

Fod mesen cyn derwen a’i phlannu mwn dár:

Ni chlywais yn unman am gymysg y bastai yn masgal wy iâr.

I heard from my father and he from his father, and that one from his father,

That the acorn exists before the oak and the planting of it in the ground:

Never anywhere have I heard of mixing the pasty in the shell of a hen’s egg.

In Dewi Glan Ffrydlas’ story from the Ogwen Valley, in Carnarvonshire, p. 62 above, it is not the cooking of a pasty but the brewing of beer in an egg-shell. However what is most remarkable is that the egg-shell is similarly used in stories from other lands. Mr. Hartland cites one from Mecklenburg and another from Scandinavia. He also mentions stories in which the imp measures his own age by the number of forests which he has seen growing successively on the same soil, the formula being of the following kind: ‘I have seen the Forest of Ardennes burnt seven times,’ ‘Seven times have I seen the wood fall in Lessö Forest,’ or ‘I am so old, I was already in the world before the Kamschtschen Wood (in Lithuania) was planted, wherein great trees grew, and that is now laid waste again28.’ From these and the like instances it is clear that the Welsh versions here in question are partially blurred, as the fairy child’s words should have been to the effect that he was old enough to remember the oak when it was yet but an acorn; and an instance of this explicit kind is given by Howells—it comes from Ỻandrygarn in Anglesey—see p. 139, where his words run thus: ‘I can remember yon oak an acorn, but I never saw in my life people brewing in an egg-shell before.’ I may add [269]that I have been recently fortunate enough to obtain from Mr. Ỻywarch Reynolds another kind of estimate of the fairy urchin’s age. He writes that his mother remembers a very old Merthyr woman who used to tell the story of the egg-shell cookery, but in words differing from all the other versions known to him, thus:—

Wy’n hén y dyđ heđy,

Ag yn byw cyn ’y ngeni:

Eriôd ni welas i ferwi

Bwyd i’r fedal mwn cwcwỻ29 wy iâr.

I call myself old this day,

And living before my birth:

Never have I seen food boiled

For the reapers in an egg-shell.

As to the urchin’s statement that he was old and had lived before, it is part of a creed of which we may have something to say in a later chapter. At this point let it suffice to call attention to the same idea in the Book of Taliessin, poem ix:—

Hynaf uyd dyn pan anher

A ieu ieu pop amser.

A man is wont to be oldest when born,

And younger and younger all the time.



Before closing this chapter, I wish to touch on the question of the language of the fairies, though fairy tales hardly ever raise it, as they usually assume the fairies to speak the same language as the mortals around them. There is, however, one well-known exception, namely, the story of Eliodorus, already mentioned, p. 117, as recorded by Giraldus Cambrensis, who relates how Eliodorus, preferring at the age of twelve to play the truant to undergoing a frequent beating by his teacher, fasted two days in hiding in the hollow of a river bank, and how he was then accosted by two little men who [270]induced him to follow them to a land of sports and other delights. There he remained long enough to be able, years later, to give his diocesan, the second Menevian bishop named David30, a comprehensive account of the people and realm of Faery. After Eliodorus had for some time visited and revisited that land of twilight, his mother desired him to bring her some of the gold of the fairies. So one day he tried to bring away the gold ball with which the fairy king’s son used to play; but he was not only unsuccessful, but subjected to indignities also, and prevented from evermore finding his way back to fairyland. So he had to go again to school and to the studies which he so detested; but in the course of time he learned enough to become a priest; and when, stricken in years, he used to be entreated by Bishop David to relate this part of his early history, he never could be got to unfold his tale without shedding tears. Among other things which he said of the fairies’ mode of living, he stated that they ate neither flesh nor fish, but lived for the most part on various kinds of milk food cooked after the fashion of stirabout, flavoured as it were with saffron31. But one of the most curious portions of Eliodorus’ yarn was that relating to the language of the fairies; for he pretended to have learnt it and to have found it to resemble his own Britannica Lingua, ‘Brythoneg, or Welsh.’ In the words instanced Giraldus perceived a similarity to Greek32, which he accounted [271]for by means of the fabulous origin of the Welsh from the Trojans and the supposed sojourn made in Greece by those erring Trojans on their way to Britain. Giraldus displays quite a pretty interest in comparative philology, and talks glibly of the Lingua Britannica; but one never feels certain that he knew very much more about it than the author of the Germania, the first to refer to it under that name. Tacitus, however, had the excuse that he lived at a distance and some eleven centuries before the advent of Gerald the Welshman.

Giraldus’ words prove, on close examination, to be of no help to us on the question of language; but on the other hand I have but recently begun looking out for stories bearing on it. It is my impression that such are not plentiful; but I proceed to subjoin an abstract of a phantom funeral tale in point from Ystên Sioned (Aberystwyth, 1882), pp. 8–16. Ystên Sioned, I ought to explain, consists of a number of stories collected and edited in Welsh by the Rev. Chancellor Silvan Evans, though he has not attached his name to it:—The harvest of 1816 was one of the wettest ever known in Wales, and a man and his wife who lived on a small farm in one of the largest parishes in the Hundred of Moeđin (see p. 245 above) in the Demetian part of Cardiganshire went out in the evening of a day which had been comparatively dry to make some reaped corn into sheaves, as it had long been down. It was a beautiful night, with the harvest moon shining brightly, and the field in which they worked had the parish road passing along one of its sides, without a hedge or a ditch to separate it from [272]the corn. When they had been busily at work binding sheaves for half an hour or more, they happened to hear the hum of voices, as if of a crowd of people coming along the road leading into the field. They stopped a moment, and looking in the direction whence the sounds came, they saw in the light of the moon a number of people coming into sight and advancing in their direction. They bent then again to their work without thinking much about what they had seen and heard; for they fancied it was some belated people making for the village, which was about a mile off. But the hum and confused sounds went on increasing, and when the two binders looked up again, they beheld a large crowd of people almost opposite and not far from them. As they continued looking on they beheld quite clearly a coffin on a bier carried on the shoulders of men, who were relieved by others in turns, as usual in funeral processions in the country. ‘Here is a funeral,’ said the binders to one another, forgetting for the moment that it was not usual for funerals to be seen at night. They continued looking on till the crowd was right opposite them, and some of them did not keep to the road, but walked over the corn alongside of the bulk of the procession. The two binders heard the talk and whispering, the noise and hum as if of so many real men and women passing by, but they did not understand a word that was said: not a syllable could they comprehend, not a face could they recognize. They kept looking at the procession till it went out of sight on the way leading towards the parish church. They saw no more of them, and now they began to feel uneasy and went home leaving the corn alone as it was; but further on the funeral was met by a tailor at a point in the road where it was narrow and bounded by a fence (clawđ) on either side. The procession filled the road [273]from hedge to hedge, and the tailor tried to force his way through it, but such was the pressure of the throng that he was obliged to get out of their way by crossing the hedge. He also failed to understand a word of the talk which he heard. In about three weeks after this sham funeral33, there came a real one down that way from the upper end of the parish.

Such, in brief, is the story so charmingly told by Silvan Evans, which he got from the mouths of the farmer and his wife, whom he considered highly honest and truthful persons, as well as comparatively free from superstition. The last time they talked to him about the incident they were very advanced in years, and both died within a few weeks of one another early in the year 1852. Their remains, he adds, lie in the churchyard towards which they had seen the toeli slowly making its way. For toeli is the phonetic spelling in Ystên Sioned of the word which is teulu in North Cardiganshire and in North Wales, for Old Welsh toulu. The word now means ‘family,’ though literally it should mean ‘house-army’ or ‘house-troops,’ and it is practically a synonym for tylwyth, ‘family or household,’ literally ‘house-tribe.’ Now the toeli or toulu is such an important institution in Demetian Cardiganshire and some parts of Dyfed proper, that the word has been confined to the phantom, and for the word family in its ordinary significations one has there to have recourse to the non-dialect form teulu34. In North Cardiganshire and North Wales the [274]toeli is called simply a clađedigaeth, ‘burial,’ or anglađ, ‘funeral’; in the latter also cynhebrwng is a funeral. I may add that when I was a child in the neighbourhood of Ponterwyd, on the upper course of the Rheidol, hardly a year used to pass without somebody or other meeting a phantom funeral. Sometimes one got entangled in the procession, and ran the risk of being carried off one’s feet by the throng. There is, however, one serious difference between our phantom funerals and the Demetian toeli, namely, that we recognize our neighbours’ ghosts as making up the processions, and we have no trouble in understanding their talk. At this point a question of some difficulty presents itself as to the toeli, namely, what family does it mean?—is it the family and friends of the departed on his way to the grave, or does it mean the family in the sense of Tylwyth Teg, ‘Fair Family,’ as applied to the fairies? I am inclined to the latter view, but I prefer thinking that the distinction itself does not penetrate very deeply, seeing that a certain species of the Tylwyth Teg, or fairies, may, in point of origin, be regarded as deceased friends and ancestors of the tylwyth, in the ordinary sense of the word. In fact all this kind of rehearsal of events seems to have been once looked at as friendly to the men and women whom it concerned. This will be seen, for instance, in the Demetian account of the [275]canwyỻ gorff, or corpse candle, as granted through the intercession of St. David to the people of his special care, as a means of warning each to get ready in time for his death; that is to say, to prevent death finding him unprepared. It is hard to guess why it was assumed that the canwyỻ gorff was unknown in other parts of Wales. One or two instances in point occur in Owen’s Welsh Folklore, pp. 298–301; and I have myself heard of them being seen in Anglesey, while they were quite well known to members of Mrs. Rhys’ mother’s family, who lived in the parish of Waen Fawr, in the neighbourhood of Carnarvon. Nor does it appear that phantom funerals were at all confined to South Wales. Proof to the contrary is supplied to some extent in Owen’s Folklore, p. 301; but there is no doubt that in recent times the belief in them, as well as in the canwyỻ gorff, has been more general and more vivid in South Wales than in North Wales, especially Gwyneđ.

I have not been fortunate enough to come across anything systematic or comprehensive on the origin and meaning of ghostly rehearsals like the Welsh phantom funeral or coffin making. But the subject is an interesting one which deserves the attention of our leading folklore philosophers, as does also the cognate one of second sight, by which it is widely overlapped.

Quite recently—at the end of 1899 in fact—I received three brief stories, for which I am indebted to the further kindness of Alaw Ỻeyn (p. 228), who lives at Bynhadlog near Edern in Ỻeyn, and two out of the three touch on the question of language. But as the three belong to one and the same district, I give the substance of all in English as follows:—

(1) There were at a small harbour belonging to Nefyn some houses in which several families formerly lived; the houses are there still, but nobody lives in them now. [276]There was one family there to which a little girl belonged: they used to lose her for hours every day; so her mother was very angry with her for being so much away. ‘I must know,’ said she, ‘where you go for your play.’ The girl answered that it was to Pin y Wig, ‘The Wig Point,’ which meant a place to the west of the Nefyn headland: it was there, she said, she played with many children. ‘Whose children?’ asked the mother. ‘I don’t know,’ she replied; ‘they are very nice children, much nicer than I am.’ ‘I must know whose children they are,’ was the reply; and one day the mother went with her little girl to see the children: it was a distance of about a quarter of a mile to Pin y Wig, and after climbing the slope and walking a little along the top they came in sight of the Pin. It is from this Pin that the people of Pen yr Aỻt got water, and it is from there they get it still. Now after coming near the Pin the little girl raised her hands with joy at the sight of the children. ‘O mother,’ said she, ‘their father is with them to-day: he is not with them always, it is only sometimes that he is.’ The mother asked the child where she saw them. ‘There they are, mother, running down to the Pin, with their father sitting down.’ ‘I see nobody, my child,’ was the reply, and great fear came upon the mother: she took hold of the child’s hand in terror, and it came to her mind at once that they were the Tylwyth Teg. Never afterwards was the little girl allowed to go to Pin y Wig: the mother had heard that the Tylwyth Teg exchanged people’s children.

Such is the first story, and it is only remarkable, perhaps, for its allusion to the father of the fairy children.

(2) There used to be at Edern an old woman who occupied a small farm called Glan y Gors: the same family lives there still. One day this old woman had gone to a fair at Criccieth, whence she returned through [277]Pwỻheli. As she was getting above Gors Geirch, which was then a turbary and a pretty considerable bog, a noise reached her ears: she stopped and heard the sound of much talking. By-and-by she beheld a great crowd of men and women coming to meet her. She became afraid and stepped across the fence to let them go by. There she remained a while listening to their chatter, and when she thought that they had gone far enough she returned to the road and began to resume her way home. But before she had gone many steps she heard the same sort of noise again, and saw again the same sort of crowd coming; so she recrossed the fence in great fear, saying to herself, ‘Here I shall be all night!’ She remained there till they also had gone, and she wondered what they could be, and whether they were people who had been to visit Plas Madrun—afterwards, on inquiry, she found that no such people had been there that day. Now the old woman was near enough to the passers-by to hear them talking (clebran) and chattering (bregliach), but not a word could she understand of what they uttered: it was not Welsh and she did not think that it was English—it is, however, not supposed that she knew English. She related further that the last crowd shouted all together to the other crowd in advance of them Wi, and that the latter replied Wi Wei or something like that.

This account Alaw Ỻeyn has got, he says, from a great-granddaughter of the old woman, and she heard it all from her father, Barđ Ỻechog, who always had faith in the fairies, and believed that they will come again to be seen of men and women. For he thought that they had their periods, a belief which I have come across elsewhere, and more especially in Carnarvonshire35. Now what are we to make of such a story? I recollect [278]reading somewhere of a phantom wedding in Scotland, but in Wales we seem to have nothing more closely resembling this than a phantom funeral. Nevertheless what the old woman of Glan y Gors thought she saw looks by no means unlike a Welsh wedding marching on foot, especially when, as I have seen done, one party tried—seemingly in good earnest—to escape the other and to take the bride away from it. Moreover, that the figures making up the two crowds in her story are to be regarded as fairies is rendered probable by the next story, which describes the phantoms therein expressly as little men and little women.

(3) The small farm of Perth y Celyn in Edern used to be held by an old man named Griffith Griffiths. In his best days he stood six foot, and he has left behind him a double reputation for bodily strength and great piety. My informant can well remember him walking to chapel with the aid of his two sticks. The story goes that one day, when he was in his prime, he set out from Perth y Celyn at two in the morning to walk to Carnarvon to pay his rent: there was no talk in those days of a carriage for anybody. After passing through Nefyn and Pistyỻ, he came in due time to Bwlch Trwyn Swncwl36: he writes this name also Bwlch Drws Wncwl, with the suggestion that it ought to be Bwlch Drws Encil, and that the place must have been of importance in the wars of the ancient Kymry. The high-road, he goes on to say, runs through the Bwlch, and as Griffith was entering this gap what should he hear but a great deal of talking. He stopped and [279]listened, when to his surprise he saw coming towards him, devoid of all fear, a crowd of little men and little women. They talked aloud, but he could not understand a single word they said: he thought that it was neither Welsh nor English. They passed by him on the road, but he moved aside to the ditch lest they should knock against him; but no feeling of fear came upon him. The old man believed them to have been the Tylwyth Teg.

In the story of the Moeđin funeral the language of the toeli was not intelligible to the farmer and his wife, or to the tailor, and here in two stories from Ỻeyn we have it clearly stated that it was neither Welsh nor, probably, English. Since the fairies are always represented as old-fashioned in their ways, it is quite possible that they were once regarded as talking a more ancient language of the country. Which was it? An early version of these legends might perhaps have supplied the answer, and told us that it was Gwyđelig or Goidelic, if not an earlier idiom, to wit that of the Aborigines before they learnt Goidelic from the Celts of the first wave of Aryan invasion, whether it was in the region of the Eifl or in the Demetian half of Keredigion. As to the former it is worthy of note that when Griffith had reached Bwlch Trwyn Swncwl he was in the outskirts of the Eifl Mountains, on one of whose heights, not very far off, is the extensive prehistoric fortress of Tre’r Ceiri, or the Town of the Keiri, a vocable which may be provisionally rendered by ‘giants.’ In any case it dissociates that stronghold from the Brythonic people of Wales. We shall find, however, that a Goidel, or Pict, buried in a cairn on Snowdon, is known as Rhita Gawr, ‘Rhita the Giant’; and it is possible that in the Keiri of Tre’r Ceiri we have no other race than that of mixed Goidels and Picts whom the encroaching Brythons [280]found in possession of the west of our island. Nay, one may say that this is rendered probable by the use made of the word ceiri in medieval Welsh: thus in some poetry composed by a certain Dafyđ Offeiriad, and copied by Thomas Williams of Trefriw, we have a line alluding to Britain in the words:—

Coron ynys y Ceûri37.

The Crown of the Giants’ Island.

Here Ynys y Ceûri inevitably recalls the fact that Britain is called Ynys y Kedyrn, or Island of the Mighty, in the Mabinogion, and also, in effect, in the story of Kulhwch and Olwen. But such stories as these, which enabled Geoffrey to say, i. 16, when he introduced his banal brood of Trojans, that up to that time Britain had only been inhabited by a few giants, are the legends, as will be pointed out later, of the Brythonicized Goidels of Wales. So one may infer that their ancestors had given this country the name of the Island of the Mighty, unless it should prove more accurate to suppose them to have somehow derived the term from the Aborigines.

This last surmise is countenanced by the fact that in the Kulhwch story, the British Isles as a group are called Islands of the Mighty. The words are Teir ynys y kedyrn ae their rac ynys; that is, the Three Islands of the Mighty and their Three outpost Islands. That is not all, for in the same story the designation is varied thus: Teir ynys prydein ae their rac ynys38, or [281]Prydain’s Three Islands and Prydain’s Three outpost Islands; and the substantial antiquity of the designation ‘the Islands of Prydain,’ is proved by its virtual identity with that used by ancient Greek authors like Ptolemy, who calls both Britain and Ireland a νῆσος Πρετανική, where Pretanic and Prydain are closely related words. Now our Prydain had in medieval Welsh the two forms Prydein and Prydyn. But some time or other there set in a tendency to desynonymize them, so as to make Ynys Prydein, ‘the Picts’ Island,’ mean Great Britain, and Prydyn mean the Pictland of the North. But just as Cymry meant the plural Welshmen and the singular Wales, so Prydyn meant Picts39 and the country of the Picts. Now the plural Prydyn has its etymological Goidelic equivalent in the vocable Cruithni, which is well known to have meant the Picts or the descendants of the Picti of Roman historians. Further, this last name cannot be severed from that of the Pictones40 in Gaul, and it is usually supposed to have referred to their habit of tattooing themselves. At all events this agrees with the apparent meaning of the names Prydyn and Cruithni, from pryd and cruth, the words in Welsh and Irish respectively for form or shape, the designation being supposed to refer to the forms or pictures of various animals punctured on the skins of the Picts. So much as to the practical identity of the terms Prydyn, Cruithni, and the Greeks’ Pretanic; but how could [282]Cedyrn and Prydein correspond in the terms Ynys y Kedyrn and Ynys Prydein? This one is enabled to understand by means of ceûri or ceiri as a middle term. Now cadarn means strong or valiant, and makes the plural cedyrn; but there is another Welsh word cadr41 which has also the meaning of valiant or powerful, and may have yielded some such a medieval form as ceidyr in the plural. Now this cadr is proved by its cognates42 not to have always had the meaning of valiant or strong: its original signification was more nearly ‘fine, beautiful, or beautified.’ Thus what seems to have happened is, that cadarn, ‘strong, powerful, mighty,’ influenced the meaning of cadr, ‘beautiful,’ and eventually usurped its place in the name of the island, which from being Ynys y Ceidyr became Ynys y Cedyrn. But the former meant the ‘Island of the fine or beautiful men,’ which was closely enough the meaning also of the words Prydain, Cruithni, and Picts, as names of a people who delighted to beautify their persons by tattooing their [283]skins and making themselves distingué in that savage fashion. That is not all, for on examination it turns out that the word ceiri, which has been treated up to this point as meaning giants, is but a double, so to say, of the word cadr in the plural, both as to etymology and original meaning of beautiful. It is a word in constant use in Carnarvonshire, where it is ironically applied to pretentious men fond of showing themselves off, especially in the matter of clothes. ’D ydi nhw ’n geiri! ‘Aren’t they swells!’ Dyna i ch’i gawr! ‘There’s a fine fellow for you!’ and so also with the feminine cawres. Of course the cawr of standard Welsh is familiar enough in the sense of giant to Carnarvonshire people, so the meaning can be best ascertained in the case of the plural ceiri, which they hardly ever meet with in print; and, so far as I have been able to ascertain, by ceiri they mean—in an ironical sense it is true—fine fellows, with reference not to great stature or strength but to their get-up. Thus one arrives at the true interpretation of the name Tre’r Ceiri as the Town of the Prydyn or Cruithni; that is to say, the Town of the Picts or the Aborigines, who showed themselves off decorated with pictures. So far also from Ynys y Ceiri being an echo of Ynys y Cedyrn, it turns out to be really the more original of the two. Such names, when they are closely examined, are apt to prove old beyond all hastily formed expectation. [284]

1 This chapter, except where a later date is suggested, may be regarded as written in the summer of 1883. 

2 Trefriw means the town of the slope or hillside, and stands for Tref y Riw, not tref y Rhiw, which would have yielded Treffriw, for there is a tendency in Gwyneđ to make the mutation after the definite article conform to the general rule, and to say y law, ‘the hand,’ and y raw, ‘the spade,’ instead of what would be in books y ỻaw and y rhaw from yr ỻaw and yr rhaw

3 Why the writer spells the name Criccieth in this way I cannot tell, except that he was more or less under the influence of the more intelligible spelling Crugcaith, as where Lewis Glyn Cothi. I. xxiv, sang

Rhys ab Sion â’r hysbys iaith,

Gwr yw acw o Grugcaith.

This spelling postulates the interpretation Crug-Caith, earlier Crug y Ceith, ‘the mound or barrow of the captives,’ in reference to some forgotten interment; but when the accent receded to the first syllable the second was slurred almost out of recognition, so that Crug-ceith, or Cruc-ceith, became Crúceth, whence Crúci̭eth and Crici̭eth. The Bruts have Crugyeith the only time it occurs, and the Record of Carnarvon (several times) Krukyth

4 Out of excessive fondness for our Arthur English people translate this name into Arthur’s Seat instead of Idris’ Seat; but Idris was also somebody: he was a giant with a liking for the study of the stars. But let that be: I wish to say a word concerning his name: Idris may be explained as meaning ‘War-champion,’ or the like; and, phonologically speaking, it comes from Iuđ-rys, which was made successively into Id-rys, Idris. The syllable i̭uđ meant battle or fight, and it undergoes a variety of forms in Welsh names. Thus before n, r, l, and w, it becomes id, as in Idnerth, Idloes, and Idwal, while Iuđ-hael yields Ithel, whence Ab Ithel, anglicized Bethel. At the end, however, it is or , as in Gruffuđ or Gruffyđ, from Old Welsh Grippi̭uđ, and Mareduđ or Meredyđ for an older Marget-i̭uđ. By itself it is possibly the word which the poets write , and understand to mean lord; but if these forms are related, it must have originally meant rather a fighter, soldier, or champion. 

5 There is a special similarity between this and an Anglesey story given by Howells, p. 138: it consists in the sequence of seeing the fairies dance and finding money left by them. Why was the money left? 

6 It was so called by the poet D. ab Gwilym, cxcii. 12, when he sang:

I odi ac i luchio

Ođiar lechweđ Moel Eilio.

To bring snow and drifting flakes

From off Moel Eilio’s slope.


7 This is commonly pronounced ‘Y Gath Dorwen,’ but the people of the neighbourhood wish to explain away a farm name which could, strangely enough, only mean ‘the white-bellied cat’; but y Garth Dorwen, ‘the white-bellied garth or hill,’ is not a very likely name either. 

8 The hiring time in Wales is the beginning of winter and of summer; or, as one would say in Welsh, at the Calends of Winter and the Calends of [212]May respectively. In North Cardiganshire the great hiring fair was held at the former date when I was a boy, and so, as I learn from my wife, it was in Carnarvonshire. 

9 In a Cornish story mentioned in Choice Notes, p. 77, we have, instead of ointment, simply soap. See also Mrs. Bray’s Banks of the Tamar, pp. 174–7, where she alludes to H. Cornelius Agrippa’s statement how such ointment used to be made—the reference must, I think, be to his book De Occulta Philosophia Libri III (Paris, 1567), i. 45 (pp. 81–2). 

10 See the Mabinogion, pp. 1–2; Evans’ Facsimile of the Black Book of Carmarthen, fol. 49b–50a; Rhys’ Arthurian Legend, pp. 155–8; Edmund Jones’ Spirits in the County of Monmouth, pp. 39, 71, 82; and in this volume, pp. 143, 203, above. I may mention that the Cornish also have had their Cwn Annwn, though the name is a different one, to wit in the phrase, ‘the Devil and his Dandy-dogs’: see Choice Notes, pp. 78–80. 

11 As it stands now this would be unmutated Césel Gýfarch, ‘Cyfarch’s Nook,’ but there never was such a name. There was, however, Elgýfarch or Aelgýfarch and Rhygýfarch, and in such a combination as Césel Elgýfarch there would be every temptation to drop one unaccented el

12 Owing to some oversight he has ‘a clean or a dirty cow’ instead of cow-yard or cow-house, as I understand it. 

13 Cwta makes cota in the feminine in North Cardiganshire; the word is nevertheless only the English cutty borrowed. Du, ‘black,’ has corresponding to it in Irish, dubh. So the Welsh word seems to have passed through the stages dyv, dyw, before yw was contracted into û, which was formerly pronounced like French û, as proved by the grammar already mentioned (p. 22) of J. D. Rhys, published in London in 1592; see p. 33, to which my attention has been called by Prof. J. Morris Jones. In Old or pre-Norman Welsh m did duty for m and v, so one detects dyv as dim in a woman’s name Penardim, ‘she of the very black head’; there was also a Penarwen, ‘she of the very blonde head.’ The look of Penardim having baffled the redactor of the Branwen, he left the spelling unchanged: see the (Oxford) Mabinogion, p. 26. The same sort of change which produced du has produced cnu, ‘a fleece,’ as compared with cneifio, ‘to fleece’; ỻuarth, ‘a kitchen garden,’ as compared with its Irish equivalent lubhghort. Compare also Rhiwabon, locally pronounced Rhuabon, and Rhiwaỻon, occurring sometimes as Rhuaỻon. But the most notable rôle of this phonetic process is exemplified by the verbal nouns ending in u, such as caru, ‘to love,’ credu, ‘to believe,’ tyngu, ‘to swear,’ in which the u corresponds to an m termination in Old Irish, as in sechem, ‘to follow,’ cretem, ‘belief,’ sessam or sessom, ‘to stand.’ 

14 In medieval Welsh poetry this name was still a dissyllable; but now it is pronounced Ỻŷn, in conformity with the habit of the Gwyndodeg, which makes into porfŷđ what is written porfeyđ, ‘pastures,’ and pronounced porféiđ in North Cardiganshire. So in the Ỻeyn name Sarn Fyỻteyrn the second vocable represents Maelteyrn, in the Record of Carnarvon (p. 38) Mayltern̄: it is now sounded Myỻtyrn with the second y short and accented. Ỻeyn is a plural of the people (genitive Ỻaën in Porth Dinỻaën), used as a singular of their country, like Cymru = Cymry, and Prydyn. The singular is ỻain, ‘a spear,’ in the Book of Aneurin: see Skene, ii. 64, 88, 92. 

15 It is also called dolur byr, or the ‘short disease’; I believe I have been told that it is the disease known to ‘the vet.’ as anthrax. 

16 Here the writer seems to have been puzzled by the mh of Amheirchion, and to have argued back to a radical form Parch; but he was on the wrong tack—Amheirchion comes from Ap-Meirchion, where the p helped to make the m a surd, which, with the syllabic accent on the succeeding vowel, became fixed as mh, while the p disappeared by assimilation. We have, later on, a similar instance in Owen y Mhaxen for Owen Amhacsen = O. ap Macsen. Another instance will be found at the opening of the Mabinogi of Branwen, to wit, in the word prynhawngweith, ‘once on an afternoon,’ from prynhawn, ‘afternoon,’ for which our dictionaries substitute prydnawn, with the accent on the ultima, though D. ab Gwilym used pyrnhawn, as in poem xl. 30. But the ordinary pronunciation continues to be prynháwn or pyrnháwn, sometimes reduced in Gwyneđ to pnawn. Let me add an instance which has reached me since writing the above: In the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1899, pp. 325–6, we have the pedigree of the Ameridiths from the Visitation of Devonshire in 1620: in the course of it one finds that Iuan ap Merydeth has a son Thomas Amerideth, who, knowing probably no Welsh, took to writing his patronymic more nearly as it was pronounced. The line is brought down to Ames Amerideth, who was created baronet in 1639. Amerideth of course = Ap Meredyđ, and the present member of the family who writes to the Archæologia Cambrensis spells his patronymic more correctly, Ameridith; but if it had survived in Wales it might have been Amheredyđ. For an older instance than any of these see the Book of Taliessin, poem xlix (= Skene, ii. 204), where one reads of Beli Amhanogan, ‘B. ab Mynogan.’ 

17 This is pronounced Rhiwan, though probably made up of Rhiw-wen, for it is the tendency of the Gwyndodeg to convert e and ai of the unaccented ultima into a, and so with e in Glamorgan; see such instances as Cornwan and casag, p. 29 above. It is possibly a tendency inherited from Goidelic, as Irish is found to proceed in the same way. 

18 I may mention that some of the Francises of Anglesey are supposed to be descendants of Frazers, who changed their name on finding refuge in [239]the island in the time of the troubles which brought there the ancestor of the Frazer who, from time to time, claims to be the rightful head of the Lovat family. 

19 According to old Welsh orthography this would be written Moudin, and in the book Welsh of the present day it would have to become Meuđin. Restored, however, to the level of Gallo-Roman names, it would be Mogodunum or Magodunum. The place is known as Casteỻ Moeđin, and includes within it the end of a hill about halfway between Ỻannarth and Lampeter. 

20 For other mentions of the colours of fairy dress see pp. 44, 139 above, where red prevails, and contrast the Lake Lady of Ỻyn Barfog clad in green, p. 145. 

21 This name means the Bridge of the Blessed Ford, but how the ford came to be so called I know not. The word bendigaid, ‘blessed,’ comes from the Latin verb benedico, ‘I bless,’ and should, but for the objection to in book Welsh, be benđigaid, which, in fact, it is approximately in the northern part of the county, where it is colloquially sounded Pont Rhyd Fynđiged, Fyđiged, or even Fđiged, also Pont Rhyd m̥điged, which represents the result of the unmutated form Bđiged coming directly after the d of rhyd. Somewhat the same is the case with the name of the herb Dail y Fendigaid, literally ‘the Leaves of the Blessed’ (in the feminine singular without any further indication of the noun to be supplied). This name means, I find, ‘hypericum androsæmum, tutsan,’ and in North Cardiganshire we call it Dail y Fynđiged or Fđiged, but in Carnarvonshire the adjective is made to qualify dail, so that it sounds Dail Byđigad or Bđigad, ‘Blessed Leaves.’ 

22 I am far from certain what y nos, ‘the night,’ may mean in such names as this and Craig y Nos, ‘the Rock of the Night’ (p. 254 above), to which perhaps might be added such an instance as Blaen Nos, ‘the Point of (the?) Night,’ in the neighbourhood of Ỻandovery, in Carmarthenshire. Can the allusion be merely to thickly overshadowed spots where the darkness of night might be said to lurk in defiance of the light of day? I have never visited the places in point, and leading questions addressed to local authorities are too apt to elicit misleading answers: the poetic faculty is dangerously rampant in the Principality. 

23 Dâr is a Glamorgan pronunciation, metri gratiâ of what is written daear, ‘earth’: compare d’ar-fochyn in Glamorgan for a badger, literally ‘an earth pig.’ The dwarf’s answer was probably in some sort of verse, with dâr and iâr to rhyme. 

24 Applied in Glamorgan to a child that looks poorly and does not grow. 

25 In Cardiganshire a conjurer is called dyn hysbys, where hysbys (or, in older orthography, hyspys) means ‘informed’: it is the man who is informed on matters which are dark to others; but the word is also used of facts—Y mae ’r peth yn hysbys, ‘the thing is known or manifest.’ The word is divisible into hy-spys, which would be in Irish, had it existed in the language, so-scese for an early su-squesti̭a-s, the related Irish words being ad-chiu, ‘I see,’ pass. preterite ad-chess, ‘was seen,’ and the like, in which ci and ces have been equated by Zimmer with the Sanskrit verb caksh, ‘to see,’ from a root quas. The adjective cynnil applied to the dyn hyspys in Glamorgan means now, as a rule, ‘economical’ or ‘thrifty,’ but in this instance it would seem to have signified ‘shrewd,’ ‘cunning,’ or ‘clever,’ though it would probably come nearer the original meaning of the word to render it by ‘smart,’ for it is in Irish conduail, which is found applied to ingenious work, such as the ornamentation on the hilt of a sword. Another term for a wizard or conjurer is gwr cyfarwyđ, with which the reader is already familiar. Here cyfarwyđ forms a link with the kyvarỽyd of the Mabinogion, where it usually means a professional man, especially one skilled in story and history; and what constituted his knowledge was called kyvarỽydyt, which included, among other things, acquaintance with boundaries and pedigrees, but it meant most frequently perhaps story; see the (Oxford) Mabinogion, pp. 5, 61, 72, 93. All these terms should, strictly speaking, have gwrgwr hyspys, gwr cynnil, and gwr cyfarwyđ—but for the fact that modern Welsh tends to restrict gwr to signify ‘a husband’ or ‘a married man,’ while dyn, which only signifies a mortal, is made to mean man, and provided with a feminine dynes, ‘woman,’ unknown to good Welsh literature. Thus the spoken language is in this matter nearly on a level with English and French, which have quite lost the word for vir and ἀνήρ

26 Rhyd y Gloch means ‘the Ford of the Bell,’ in allusion, as the story goes, to a silver bell that used in former ages to be at Ỻanwonno Church. The people of Ỻanfabon took a liking to it, and one night a band of them stole it; but as they were carrying it across the Taff the moon happened to make her appearance suddenly, and they, in their fright, taking it to be sunrise, dropped the bell in the bed of the river, so that nothing has ever been heard of it since. But for ages afterwards, and even at the present day indeed, nothing could rouse the natives of Ỻanfabon to greater fury than to hear the moon spoken of as haul Ỻanfabon, ‘the sun of Ỻanfabon.’ 

27 It was peat fires that were usual in those days even in Glamorgan. 

28 See Hartland’s Science of Fairy Tales, pp. 112–6. 

29 In no other version has Mr. Reynolds heard cwcwỻ wy iâr, but either plisgyn or cibyn wy iâr, to which I may add masgal from Mr. Craigfryn Hughes’ versions. The word cwcwỻ usually means a cowl, but perhaps it is best here to treat cwcwỻ as a distinct word derived somehow from conchylium or the French coquille, ‘a shell.’ 

30 The whole passage will be found in the Itinerarium Kambriæ, i. 8 (pp. 75–8), and Giraldus fixes the story a little before his time somewhere in the district around Swansea and Neath. With this agrees closely enough the fact that a second David, Dafyđ ab Geraỻd or David Fitzgerald, appears to have been consecrated Bishop of St. David’s in 1147, and to have died in 1176. 

31 The words in the original are: Nec carne vescebantur, nec pisce; lacteis plerumque cibariis utentes, et in pultis modum quasi croco confectis

32 Perhaps it is this also that suggested the name Eliodorus, as it were Ἡλιόδωρος; for the original name was probably the medieval Welsh one of [271]Elidyr = Irish Ailithir, ailither, ‘a pilgrim’: compare the Pembrokeshire name Pergrin and the like. It is curious that Elidyr did not occur to Glasynys and prevent him from substituting Elfod, which is quite another name, and more correctly written Elfođ for the earlier El-fođw, found not only as Elbodu but also Elbodug-o, Elbodg, Elbot and Elfod: see p. 117 above. 

33 For one or two more instances from Wales see Howells, pp. 54–7. Brittany also is a great country for death portents: see A. Le Braz, Légende de la Mort en Basse-Bretagne (Paris, 1893), also Sébillot’s Traditions et Superstitions de la Haute-Bretagne (Paris, 1882), i. pp. 270–1. For Scotland see The Ghost Lights of the West Highlands by Dr. R. C. Maclagan in Folk-Lore for 1897, pp. 203–256, and for the cognate subject of second sight see Dalyell’s Darker Superstitions of Scotland, pp. 466–88. 

34 Another word for the toeli is given by Silvan Evans as used in certain parts of South Wales, namely, tolaeth or dolath, as to which he [274]mentions the opinion that it is a corruption of tylwyth, a view corroborated by Howells using, p. 31, the plural tyloethod; but it could not be easily explained except as a corruption through the medium of English. Elias Owen, p. 303, uses the word in reference to the hammering and rapping noise attending the joinering of a phantom coffin for a man about to die, a sort of rehearsal well known throughout the Principality to every one who has ears spiritually tuned. Unfortunately I have not yet succeeded in locating the use of the word tolaeth, except that I have been assured by a Carmarthen man that it is current in Welsh there as toleth, and by a native of Pumsant that it is in use from Abergwili up to Ỻanbumsant. 

35 See, for instance, pp. 200, 221, 228. 

36 Mrs. Williams-Ellis of Glasfryn writes to me that the place is now called Bwlch Trwyn Swncwl, that it is a gap on the highest part of the road crossing from Ỻanaelhaearn to Pistyỻ, and that it is quite a little mountain pass between bleak heather-covered hillsides, in fact a very lonely spot in the outskirts of the Eifl, and with Carnguwch blocking the horizon in the direction of Cardigan Bay. 

37 For this I am indebted to Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans’ Report on MSS. in the Welsh Language, i. 585 k. The words were written by Williams about the beginning of the seventeenth century, and his û does not mean w. He was, however, probably thinking of cawr, cewri, and such instances as tawaf, ‘taceo,’ and tau, ‘tacet.’ At all events there is no trace of u in the local pronunciation of the name Tre’r Ceiri. I have heard it also as Tre’ Ceiri without the definite article; but had this been ancient one would expect it softened into Tre’ Geiri

38 See the Oxford Mabinogion, pp. 110, 113, and 27–9, 36–41, 44, also 309, where a Triad explains that the outposts were Anglesey, Man, and Lundy. [281]But the other Triads, i. 3 = iii. 67, make them Orkney, Man, and Wight, for which we have the older authority of Nennius. § 8. The designation Tair Ynys Brydain, ‘The Three Isles of Prydain,’ was known to the fourteenth-century poet, Iolo Goch: see his works edited by Ashton, p. 669. 

39 For Prydyn in the plural see Skene’s Four Ancient Books of Wales, ii. 209, also 92, where Pryden is the form used. In modern Welsh the two senses of Cymry are distinguished in writing as Cymry and Cymru, but the difference is merely one of spelling and not very ancient. 

40 So Geoffrey (i. 12–15) brings his Trojans on their way to Britain into Aquitania, where they fight with the Pictavienses, whose king he calls Goffarius Pictus

41 Cadarn and cadr postulate respectively some such early forms as catṛno-s and cadro-s, which according to analogy should become cadarn and cađr. Welsh, however, is not fond of đr; so here begins a bifurcation: (1) retaining the d unchanged cadro-s yields cadr, or (2) dr is made into đr, and other changes set in resulting in the ceir of ceiri, as in Welsh aneirif, ‘numberless,’ from eirif, ‘number,’ of the same origin as Irish áram from *ađ-rim = *ad-rīmā, and Welsh eiliw, ‘species, colour,’ for ađ-liw, in both of which i follows đ combinations; but that is not essential, as shown by cader, cadair, for Old Welsh cateir, ‘a chair,’ from Latin cat[h]edra. The word that serves as our singular, namely cawr, is far harder to explain; but on the whole I am inclined to regard it as of a different origin, to wit, the Goidelic word caur, ‘a giant or hero,’ borrowed. The plural cewri or cawri is formed from the singular cawr, which means a giant, though, associated in the plural with ceiri, it has sometimes to follow suit with that vocable in connoting dress. 

42 The most important of these are the old Breton kazr, now kaer, ‘beautiful or pretty,’ and old Cornish caer of the same meaning; elsewhere we have, as in Greek, the Doric κέκαδμαι and κεκαδμένος, to be found used in reference to excelling or distinguishing one’s self; also κόσμος, ‘good order, ornament,’ while in Sanskrit there is the theme çad, ‘to excel or surpass.’ The old meaning of ‘beautiful,’ ‘decorated,’ or ‘loudly dressed,’ is not yet lost in the case of ceiri



Manx Folklore

Be it remembrid that one Manaman Mack Clere, a paynim, was the first inhabitour of the ysle of Man, who by his Necromancy kept the same, that when he was assaylid or invaded he wold rayse such mystes by land and sea that no man might well fynde owte the ysland, and he would make one of his men seeme to be in nombre a hundred.—The Landsdowne MSS.

The following paper exhausts no part of the subject: it simply embodies the substance of my notes of conversations which I have had with Manx men and Manx women, whose names, together with such other particulars as I could get, are in my possession. I have mostly avoided reading up the subject in printed books; but those who wish to see it exhaustively treated may be directed to Mr. Arthur W. Moore’s book on The Folklore of the Isle of Man, to which may now be added Mr. C. Roeder’s Contributions to the Folklore of the Isle of Man in the Lioar Manninagh for 1897, pp. 129–91.

For the student of folklore the Isle of Man is very fairly stocked with inhabitants of the imaginary order. She has her fairies and her giants, her mermen and brownies, her kelpies and water-bulls.

The water-bull or tarroo ushtey, as he is called in Manx, is a creature about which I have not been able to learn much, but he is described as a sort of bull disporting himself about the pools and swamps. For instance, I was told at the village of Andreas, in the flat country forming the northern end of the island, and known as [285]the Ayre, that there used to be a tarroo ushtey between Andreas and the sea to the west: it was before the ground had been drained as it is now. And an octogenarian captain at Peel related to me how he had once when a boy heard a tarroo ushtey: the bellowings of the brute made the ground tremble, but otherwise the captain was unable to give me any very intelligible description. This bull is by no means of the same breed as the bull that comes out of the lakes of Wales to mix with the farmers’ cattle, for there the result used to be great fertility among the stock, and an overflow of milk and dairy produce, but in the Isle of Man the tarroo ushtey only begets monsters and strangely formed beasts.

The kelpie, or, rather, what I take to be a kelpie, was called by my informants a glashtyn; and Kelly, in his Manx Dictionary, describes the object meant as ‘a goblin, an imaginary animal which rises out of the water.’ One or two of my informants confused the glashtyn with the Manx brownie. On the other hand, one of them was very definite in his belief that it had nothing human about it, but was a sort of grey colt, frequenting the banks of lakes at night, and never seen except at night.

Mermen and mermaids disport themselves on the coasts of Man, but I have to confess that I have made no careful inquiry into what is related about them; and my information about the giants of the island is equally scanty. To confess the truth, I do not recollect hearing of more than one giant, but that was a giant: I have seen the marks of his huge hands impressed on the top of two massive monoliths. They stand in a field at Balla Keeill Pherick, on the way down from the Sloc to Colby. I was told there were originally five of these stones standing in a circle, all of them marked in the [286]same way by the same giant as he hurled them down there from where he stood, miles away on the top of the mountain called Cronk yn Irree Laa. Here I may mention that the Manx word for a giant is foawr, in which a vowel-flanked m has been spirited away, as shown by the modern Irish spelling, fomhor. This, in the plural in old Irish, appears as the name of the Fomori, so well known in Irish legend, which, however, does not always represent them as giants, but rather as monsters. I have been in the habit of explaining the word as meaning submarini; but no more are they invariably connected with the sea. So another etymology recommends itself, namely, one which comes from Dr. Whitley Stokes, and makes the mor in fomori to be of the same origin as the mare in the English nightmare, French cauchemar, German mahr, ‘an elf,’ and cognate words. I may mention that with the Fomori of mythic origin have doubtless been confounded and identified certain invaders of Ireland, especially the Dumnonians from the country between Galloway and the mouth of the Clyde, some of whom may be inferred to have coasted the north of Ireland and landed in the west, for example in Erris, the north-west of Mayo, called after them Irrus (or Erris) Domnann.

The Manx brownie is called the fenodyree, and he is described as a hairy and apparently clumsy fellow, who would, for instance, thrash a whole barnful of corn in a single night for the people to whom he felt well disposed; and once on a time he undertook to bring down for the farmer his wethers from Snaefell. When the fenodyree had safely put them in an outhouse, he said that he had some trouble with the little ram, as it had run three times round Snaefell that morning. The farmer did not quite understand him, but on going to look at the sheep, he found, to his infinite surprise, that [287]the little ram was no other than a hare, which, poor creature, was dying of fright and fatigue. I need scarcely point out the similarity between this and the story of Peredur, who, as a boy, drove home two hinds with his mother’s goats from the forest: he owned to having had some trouble with the goats that had so long run wild as to have lost their horns, a circumstance which had greatly impressed him1. To return to the fenodyree, I am not sure that there were more than one in Man—I have never heard him spoken of in the plural; but two localities at least are assigned to him, namely, a farm called Ballachrink, in Colby, in the south, and a farm called Lanjaghan, in the parish of Conchan, near Douglas. Much the same stories, however, appear to be current about him in the two places, and one of the most curious of them is that which relates how he left. The farmer so valued the services of the fenodyree, that one day he took it into his head to provide clothing for him. The fenodyree examined each article carefully, and expressed his idea of it, and specified the kind of disease it was calculated to produce. In a word, he found that the clothes would make head and foot sick, and he departed in disgust, saying to the farmer, ‘Though this place is thine, the great glen of Rushen is not.’ Glen Rushen is one of the most retired glens in the island, and it drains down through Glen Meay to the coast, some miles to the south of Peel. It is to Glen Rushen, then, that the fenodyree is supposed to be gone; but on visiting that valley in 18902 in quest of Manx-speaking peasants, I could find nobody there who knew anything of him. I suspect that the spread [288]of the English language even there has forced him to leave the island altogether. Lastly, with regard to the term fenodyree, I may mention that it is the word used in the Manx Bible of 1819 for satyr in Isaiah xxxiv. 143, where we read in the English Bible as follows: ‘The wild beasts of the desert shall also meet with the wild beasts of the island, and the satyr shall cry to his fellow.’ In the Vulgate the latter clause reads: et pilosus clamabit alter ad alterum. The term fenodyree has been explained by Cregeen in his Manx Dictionary to mean one who has hair for stockings or hose. That answers to the description of the hairy satyr, and seems fairly well to satisfy the phonetics of the case, the words from which he derives the compound being fynney4, ‘hair,’ and oashyr, ‘a stocking’; but as oashyr seems to come from the old Norse hosur, the plural of hosa, ‘hose or stocking,’ the term fenodyree cannot date before the coming of the Norsemen; and I am inclined to think the idea more Teutonic than Celtic. At any rate I need not point out to the English reader the counterparts of this hairy satyr in the hobgoblin ‘Lob lie by the Fire,’ and Milton’s ‘Lubber Fiend,’ whom he describes as one that

Basks at the fire his hairy strength,

And crop-full out of doors he flings,

Ere the first cock his matin rings.

Lastly, I may mention that Mr. Roeder has a great deal to say about the fenodyree under the name of glashtyn; for it is difficult to draw any hard and fast [289]line between the glashtyn and the fenodyree, or even the water-bull, so much alike do they seem to have been regarded. Mr. Roeder’s items of folklore concerning the glashtyns (see the Lioar Manninagh, iii. 139) show that there were male and female glashtyns, and that the former were believed to have been too fond of the women at Ballachrink, until one evening some of the men, dressed as women, arranged to receive some youthful glashtyns. Whether the fenodyree is of Norse origin or not, the glashtyn is decidedly Celtic, as will be further shown in chapter vii. Here it will suffice to mention one or two related words which are recorded in Highland Gaelic, namely, glaistig, ‘a she-goblin which assumes the form of a goat,’ and glaisrig, ‘a female fairy or a goblin, half human, half beast.’

The fairies claim our attention next, and as the only other fairies tolerably well known to me are those of Wales, I can only compare or contrast the Manx fairies with the Welsh ones. They are called in Manx, sleih beggey, or little people, and ferrishyn, from the English word fairies, as it would seem. Like the Welsh fairies, they kidnap babies; and I have heard it related how a woman in Dalby had a struggle with the fairies over her baby, which they were trying to drag out of the bed from her. Like Welsh fairies, also, they take possession of the hearth after the farmer and his family are gone to bed. A man in Dalby used to find them making a big fire in his kitchen: he would hear the crackling and burning of the fire when nobody else could have been there except the fairies and their friends. I said ‘friends,’ for they sometimes take a man with them, and allow him to eat with them at the expense of others. Thus, some men from the northern-most parish, Kirk Bride, went once on a time to Port Erin, in the south, to buy a supply of fish for the [290]winter, and with them went a Kirk Michael man who had the reputation of being a persona grata to the fairies. Now one of the Port Erin men asked a man from the north who the Michael man might be: he was curious to know his name, as he had seen him once before, and on that occasion the Michael man was with the fairies at his house—the Port Erin man’s house—helping himself to bread and cheese in company with the rest. As the fairies were regaling themselves in this instance on ordinary bread and cheese at a living Manxman’s expense, the story may perhaps be regarded as not inconsistent with one mentioned by Cumming5 to the following effect:—A man attracted one night as he was crossing the mountains, by fairy music, entered a fairy hall where a banquet was going on. He noticed among them several faces which he seemed to know, but no act of mutual recognition took place till he had some drink offered him, when one of those whom he seemed to know warned him not to taste of the drink if he had any wish to make his way home again. If he partook of it he would become like one of them. So he found an opportunity for spilling it on the ground and securing the cup; whereupon the hall and all its inmates instantaneously vanished. On this I may remark that it appears to have been a widely spread belief, that no one who had partaken of the food for spirits would be allowed to return to his former life, and some instances will be found mentioned by Professor Tylor in his Primitive Culture, ii. 50–2.

Like the Welsh fairies, the Manx ones take men away with them and detain them for years. Thus a Kirk Andreas man was absent from his people for four years, which he spent with the fairies. He could not [291]tell how he returned, but it seemed as if, having been unconscious, he woke up at last in this world. The other world, however, in which he was for the four years was not far away, as he could see what his brothers and the rest of the family were doing every day, although they could not see him. To prove this, he mentioned to them how they were occupied on such and such a day, and, among other things, how they took their corn on a particular day to Ramsey. He reminded them also of their having heard a sudden sharp crack as they were passing by a thorn bush he named, and how they were so startled that one of them would have run back home. He asked them if they remembered that, and they said they did, only too well. He then explained to them the meaning of the noise, namely, that one of the fairies with whom he had been galloping the whole time was about to let fly an arrow at his brothers, but that as he was going to do this, he (the missing brother) raised a plate and intercepted the arrow: that was the sharp noise they had heard. Such was the account he had to give of his sojourn in Faery. This representation of the world of the fairies, as contained within the ordinary world of mortals, is very remarkable; but it is not a new idea, as we seem to detect it in the Irish story of the abduction of Conla Rúad6: the fairy who comes to fetch him tells him that the folk of Tethra, whom she represents, behold him every day as he takes part in the assemblies of his country and sits among his friends. The commoner way of putting it is simply to represent the fairies as invisible to mortals at will; and one kind of Welsh story relates how the mortal midwife accidentally touches her eyes, while dressing a fairy baby, with an ointment which makes the fairy world visible to her: see pp. 63, 213, above. [292]

Like Welsh fairies, the Manx ones had, as the reader will have seen, horses to ride; they had also dogs, just as the Welsh ones had. This I learn from another story, to the effect that a fisherman, taking a fresh fish home, was pursued by a pack of fairy dogs, so that it was only with great trouble he reached his own door. Then he picked up a stone and threw it at the dogs, which at once disappeared; but he did not escape, as he was shot by the fairies, and so hurt that he lay ill for fully six months from that day. He would have been left alone by the fairies, I was told, if he had only taken care to put a pinch of salt in the fish’s mouth before setting out, for the Manx fairies cannot stand salt or baptism. So children that have been baptized are, as in Wales, less liable to be kidnapped by these elves than those that have not. I scarcely need add that a twig of cuirn7 or rowan is also as effective against fairies in Man as it is in Wales. Manx fairies seem to have been musical, like their kinsmen elsewhere; for I have heard of an Orrisdale man crossing the neighbouring mountains at night and hearing fairy music, which took his fancy so much that he listened, and tried to remember it. He had, however, to return, it is said, three times to the place before he could carry it away complete in his mind, which he succeeded in doing at [293]last just as the day was breaking and the musicians disappearing. This air, I am told, is now known by the name of the Bollan Bane, or White Wort. As to certain Welsh airs similarly supposed to have been derived from the fairies, see pages 201–2 above.

So far I have pointed out next to nothing but similarities between Manx fairies and Welsh ones, and I find very little indicative of a difference. First, with regard to salt, I am unable to say anything in this direction, as I do not happen to know how Welsh fairies regard salt: it is not improbable that they eschew salt as well as baptism, especially as the Church of Rome has long associated salt with baptism. There is, however, one point, at least, of difference between the fairies of Man and of Wales: the latter are, so far as I can call to mind, never supposed to discharge arrows at men or women, or to handle a bow8 at all, whereas Manx fairies are always ready to shoot. May we, therefore, provisionally regard this trait of the Manx fairies as derived from a Teutonic source? At any rate English and Scotch elves were supposed to shoot, and I am indebted to the kindness of my colleague, Professor Napier, for calling my attention to the Leechdoms of Early England9 for cases in point.

Now that most of the imaginary inhabitants of Man and its coasts have been rapidly passed in review before the reader, I may say something of others whom I regard as semi-imaginary—real human beings to whom impossible attributes are ascribed: I mean chiefly the witches, or, as they are sometimes called in Manx [294]English, butches10. That term I take to be a variant of the English word witch, produced under the influence of the verb bewitch, which was reduced in Manx English to a form butch, especially if one bear in mind the Cumbrian and Scottish pronunciation of these words, as wutch and bewutch. Now witches shift their form, and I have heard of one old witch changing herself into a pigeon; but that I am bound to regard as exceptional, the regular form into which Manx witches pass at their pleasure being that of the hare, and such a swift and thick skinned hare that no greyhound, except a black one without a single white hair, can catch it, and no shot, except a silver coin, penetrate its body. Both these peculiarities are also well known in Wales. I notice a difference, however, between Wales and Man with regard to the hare witches: in Wales only the women can become hares, and this property runs, so far as I know, in certain families. I have known many such, and my own nurse belonged to one of them, so that my mother was reckoned to be rather reckless in entrusting me to y Gota, or ‘the Cutty One,’ as she might run away at any moment, leaving her charge to take care of itself. But I have never heard of any man or boy of any such family turning himself into a hare, whereas in the Isle of Man the hare witches may belong, if I may say so, to either sex. I am not sure, however, that a man who turns himself into a hare would be called a wizard or witch; and I recollect hearing in the neighbourhood of Ramsey of a man nicknamed the gaaue mwaagh, that is to say, ‘the hare smith,’ the reason being that this particular smith now and then assumed the form of a hare. I am not quite sure that [295]gaaue mwaagh is the name of a class, though I rather infer that it is. If so, it must be regarded as a survival of the magic skill associated with smiths in ancient Ireland, as evidenced, for instance, in St. Patrick’s Hymn in the eleventh or twelfth century manuscript at Trinity College, Dublin, known as the Liber Hymnorum, in which we have a prayer—

Fri brichta ban ocus goband ocus druad.

Against the spells of women, of smiths and magicians11.

The persons who had the power of turning themselves into hares were believed to be abroad and very active, together with the whole demon world, on the eve of May-day of the Old Style. And a middle-aged man from the parish of Andreas related to me how he came three or four times across a woman reputed to be a witch, carrying on her evil practices at the junction of cross-roads, or the meeting of three boundaries. This happened once very early on Old May morning, and afterwards he met her several times as he was returning home from visiting his sweetheart. He warned the witch that if he found her again he would kick her: that is what he tells me. Well, after a while he did surprise her again at work at four cross-roads, somewhere near Lezayre. She had a circle, he said, as large as that made by horses in threshing, swept clean around her. He kicked her and took away her besom, which he hid till the middle of the day. Then he made the farm boys fetch some dry gorse, and he put the witch’s besom on the top of it. Thereupon fire was set to the gorse, and, wonderful to relate, the besom, as it burned, crackled and made reports like guns going off. In fact, the noise could be heard at Andreas Church—that is to say, miles away. The [296]besom had on it ‘seventeen sorts of knots,’ he stated, and the woman herself ought to have been burned: in fact, he added that she did not long survive her besom. The man who related this to me is hale and strong, living now in the parish of Michael, and not in that of Andreas, where he was born.

There is a tradition at St. John’s, which is overlooked by the mountain called Slieau Whallian, that witches used at one time to be punished by being set to roll down the steep side of the mountain in spiked barrels; but, short of putting them to death, there were various ways of rendering the machinations of witches innocuous, or of undoing the mischief done by them; for the charmers supply various means of meeting them triumphantly, and in case an animal is the victim, the burning of it always proves an effective means of bringing the offender to book: I shall have occasion to return to this under another heading. There is a belief that if you can draw blood, however little, from a witch, or one who has the evil eye, he loses his power of harming you; and I have been told that formerly this belief was sometimes acted upon. Thus, on leaving church, for instance, the man who fancied himself in danger from another would sidle up to him or walk by his side, and inflict on him a slight scratch, or some other trivial wound, which elicited blood; but this must have been a course always attended with more or less danger.

The persons able to undo the witches’ work, and remove the malignant influence of the evil eye, are known in Manx English as charmers, and something must now be said of them. They have various ways of proceeding to their work. A lady of about thirty-five, living at Peel, related to me how, when she was a child suffering from a swelling in the neck, she had it charmed [297]away by an old woman. This charmer brought with her no less than nine pieces of iron, consisting of bits of old pokers, old nails, and other odds and ends of the same metal, making in all nine pieces. After invoking the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, she began to rub the girl’s neck with the old irons; nor was she satisfied with that, for she rubbed the doors, the walls, and the furniture likewise, with the metal. The result, I was assured, was highly satisfactory, as she has never been troubled with a swelling in the throat since that day. Sometimes a passage from the Bible is made use of in charming, as, for instance, in the case of bleeding. One of the verses then pronounced is Ezekiel xvi. 6, which runs thus:—‘And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.’ This was told me by a Laxey man, who is over seventy years of age. The methods of charming away warts are various. A woman from the neighbourhood of St. John’s explained to me how a charmer told her to get rid of the warts on her hands. She was to take a string and make a knot on it for every wart she had, and then tie the string round her hand, or fingers—I forget which; and I think my informant, on her part, forgot to tell me a vital part of the formula, namely, that the string was to be destroyed. But however that may be, she assured me that the warts disappeared, and have never returned since. A lady at Andreas has a still simpler method of getting rid of warts. She rubs a snail on the warts, and then places the snail on one of the points of a blackthorn, and, in fact, leaves the snail to die, transfixed by the thorn; and as the snail dies the warts disappear. She has done this in the case of her niece with complete success, so far as the wart was concerned; but [298]she had forgotten to notice whether the snail had also succumbed.

The lady who in this case applied the remedy cannot be in any sense called a charmer, however much one may insist on calling what she did a charm. In fact, the term charmer tends to be associated with a particular class of charm involving the use of herbs. Thus there used to be at one time a famous charmer living near Kirk Michael, to whom the fishermen were in the habit of resorting, and my informant told me that he had been deputed more than once by his fellow fishermen to go to him in consequence of their lack of success in the fishing. The charmer gave him a packet of herbs, cut small, with directions that they should be boiled, and the water mixed with some spirits—rum, I think—and partly drunk in the boat by the captain and the crew, and partly sprinkled over the boat and everything in it. The charmer clearly defined his position in the matter to my informant. ‘I cannot,’ he said, ‘put the fish in your nets for you; but if there is any mischief in the way of your luck, I can remove that for you.’ The fishermen themselves had, however, more exaggerated notions of the charmer’s functions, for once on a time my informant spent on drink for his boon companions the money which he was to give the charmer, and then he collected herbs himself—it did not much matter what herbs—and took them to his captain, who, with the crew, went through the proper ritual, and made a most successful haul that night. In fact, the only source of discontent was the charmer’s not having distributed the fish over two nights, instead of endangering their nets by an excessive haul all in one night. They regarded him as able to do almost anything he liked in the matter.

A lady at Andreas gave me an account of a celebrated [299]charmer who lived between there and the coast. He worked on her husband’s farm, but used to be frequently called away to be consulted. He usually cut up wormwood for the people who came to him, and if there was none to be had, he did not scruple to rob the garden of any small sprouts it contained of cabbage or the like. He would chop them small, and give directions about boiling them and drinking the water. He usually charged any one leaving him to speak to nobody on the way, lest he break the charm, and this mysteriousness was evidently an important element in his profession. But he was, nevertheless, a thriftless fellow, and when he went to Peel, and sent the crier round to announce his arrival, and received a good deal of money from the fishermen, he seldom so conducted himself as to bring much of his earnings home. He died miserably some seven or eight years ago at Ramsey, and left a widow in great poverty. As to the present day, the daughter of a charmer now dead is married to a man living in a village on the southern side of the island, and she appears to have inherited her father’s reputation for charming, as the fishermen from all parts are said to flock to her for luck. Incidentally, I have heard in the south more than once of her being consulted in cases of sudden and dangerous illness, even after the best medical advice has been obtained: in fact, she seems to have a considerable practice.

In answer to my question, how the charmer who died at Ramsey used to give the sailors luck in the fishing, my informant at Andreas could not say, except that he gave them herbs as already described, and she thought also that he sold them wisps to place under their pillows. I gather that the charms were chiefly directed to the removal of supposed impediments to success in the fishing, rather than to any act of a more [300]positive nature. So far as I have been able to ascertain, charming is hereditary, and they say that it descends from father to daughter, and then from daughter to son, and so on—a remarkable kind of descent, on which I should be glad to learn the opinion of anthropologists. One of the best Manx scholars in the island related to me how some fishermen once insisted on his doing the charmer for them because of his being of such and such a family, and how he made fools of them. It is my impression that the charming families are comparatively few in number, and this looks as if they descended from the family physicians or druids of one or two chieftains in ancient times. It is very likely a question which could be cleared up by a local man familiar with the island and all that tradition has to say on the subject of Manx pedigrees.

In the case of animals ailing, the herbs were also resorted to; and, if the beasts happened to be milch cows, the herbs had to be boiled in some of their milk. This was supposed to produce wonderful results, described as follows by a man living at a place on the way from Castletown up South Barrule:—A farmer in his parish had a cow that milked blood, as he described it, and this in consequence of a witch’s ill-will. He went to the charmer, who gave him some herbs, which he was to boil in the ailing cow’s milk, and the charmer charged him, whatever he did, not to quit the concoction while it was on the fire, in spite of any noises he might hear. The farmer went home and proceeded that night to boil the herbs as directed, but he suddenly heard a violent tapping at the door, a terrible lowing of the cattle in the cow-house, and stones coming down the ‘chumley’: the end of it was that he suddenly fled and sprang into bed to take shelter behind his wife. He went to the charmer again, and related to him what [301]had happened: he was told that he must have more courage the next time, unless he wished his cow to die. He promised to do his best, and this time he stood his ground in spite of the noises and the creaking of the windows—until, in fact, a back window burst into pieces and bodily let a witch in, who craved his pardon, and promised nevermore to molest him or his. This all happened at the farm in question in the time of the present farmer’s grandfather. The boiling of the charmer’s herbs in milk always produces a great commotion and lowing among the cattle, and it invariably cures the ailing ones: this is firmly believed by respectable farmers whom I could name, in the north of the island in particular, and I am alluding to men whom one might consider fairly educated members of their class.

In the last mentioned instance not only is the requisite cure effected, but the witch who caused the mischief is brought on the spot. I have recently heard of a parallel to this in a belief which appears to be still prevalent in the Channel Islands, more especially Guernsey. The following incidents have been communicated to me by an ardent folklorist, who has friends in the islands:—

An old woman in Torteval became ill, and her two sons were told that if they tried one of the charms of divination, such as boiling certain weeds in a pot, the first person to come to the house would prove to be the one who had cast a spell over their mother. Accordingly they made their bouillederie, and who should come to the door but a poor, unoffending Breton onion seller, and as he was going away he was waylaid by the two sons, who beat him within an inch of his life. They were prosecuted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment; but the charming did not come out in the [302]evidence, though it was generally known to have been the reason for the assault. This account was given my informant in 1898, and the incident appears to have happened not very long before. Another is related thus:—A certain family suffered from a plague of lice, which they regarded as the consequence of a spell. They accordingly made their boiling of herbs and looked for the first comer. He turned out to be a neighbour of theirs who wished to buy some turnip seeds. The family abused him roundly. He went away, but he was watched and caught by two of the sons of the house, who beat him cruelly. They, on being prosecuted, had to pay him £5 damages. This took place in the summer of 1898, in the narrator’s own parish, in Guernsey. I have also another case of recent date, to the effect that a young woman, whose churning was so unsuccessful that the butter would not come, boiled herbs in the prescribed way. She awaited the first comer, and, being engaged, her intended husband was not unnaturally the first to arrive. She abused him so unsparingly that he broke off the engagement. These instances go far enough to raise the question why the boiling of herbs should be supposed to bring the culprit immediately on the spot, but they hardly go any further, namely, to help us to answer it.

Magic takes us back to a very primitive and loose manner of thinking; so the marvellously easy way in which it identifies any tie of association, however flimsy, with the insoluble bond of relationship which educated men and women regard as connecting cause and effect, renders even simpler means than I have described quite equal to the undoing of the evils resulting from the activity of the evil eye. Thus, let us suppose that a person endowed with the evil eye has just passed by the farmer’s herd of cattle, and a [303]calf has suddenly been seized with a serious illness, the farmer hurries after the man of the evil eye to get the dust from under his feet. If he objects, the farmer may, as has sometimes been actually done, throw him down by force, take off his shoes, and scrape off the dust adhering to their soles, and carry it back to throw over the calf. Even that is not always necessary, as it appears to be quite enough if he takes up dust where he of the evil eye has just trod the ground. There are innumerable cases on folk-record of both means proving entirely efficacious, and they remind one of a story related in the Itinerarium Kambriæ, i. 11, by Giraldus, as to the archbishop when he was preaching in the neighbourhood of Haverfordwest. A certain woman had lost her sight, but had so much faith in that holy man that she sent her son to try and procure the least bit of the fringe of his clothing. The youth, unable to make his way through the crowd that surrounded the preacher, waited till it dispersed, and then took home to his mother the sod on which he had stood and on which his feet had left their mark. That earth was applied by her to her face and eyes, with the result that she at once recovered her sight. A similar question of psychology presents itself in a practice intended as a preservative against the evil eye rather than as a cure. I allude to what I have heard about two maiden ladies living in a Manx village which I know very well: they are natives of a neighbouring parish, and I am assured that whenever a stranger enters their house they proceed, as soon as he goes away, to strew a little dust or sand over the spot where he stood. That is understood to prevent any malignant influence resulting from his visit. This tacit identifying of a man with his footprints may be detected in a more precarious and pleasing form in a quaint conceit [304]familiar to me in the lyrics of rustic life in Wales, when, for example, a coy maiden leaves her lovesick swain hotly avowing his perfect readiness to cusanu ol ei thraed, that is, to do on his knees all the stages of her path across the meadow, kissing the ground wherever it has been honoured with the tread of her dainty foot. Let me take another case, in which the cord of association is not so inconceivably slender, namely, when two or more persons standing in a close relation to one another are mistakenly treated a little too much as if mutually independent, the objection is heard that it matters not whether it is A or B, that it is, in fact, all the same, as they belong to the same concern. In Welsh this is sometimes expressed by saying, Yr un yw Huw’r Glyn a’i glocs, that is, ‘Hugh of the Glen and his clogs are all one.’ Then, when you speak in English of a man ‘standing in another’s shoes,’ I am by no means certain, that you are not employing an expression which meant something more to those who first used it than it does to us. Our modern idioms, with all their straining after the abstract, are but primitive man’s mental tools adapted to the requirements of civilized life, and they often retain traces of the form and shape which the neolithic worker’s chipping and polishing gave them.

It is difficult to arrange these scraps under any clearly classified headings, and now that I have led the reader into the midst of matters magical, perhaps I may just as well go on to the mention of a few more: I alluded to the boiling of the herbs according to the charmer’s orders, with the result, among other things, of bringing the witch to the spot. This is, however, not the only instance of the importance and strange efficacy of fire. For when a beast dies on a farm, of course it dies, according to the old-fashioned view of [305]things as I understand it, from the influence of the evil eye or the interposition of a witch. So if you want to know to whom you are indebted for the loss of the beast, you have simply to burn its carcase in the open air and watch who comes first to the spot or who first passes by: that is the criminal to be charged with the death of the animal, and he cannot help coming there—such is the effect of the fire. A Michael woman, who is now about thirty, related to me how she watched while the carcase of a bewitched colt was burning, how she saw the witch coming, and how she remembers her shrivelled face, with nose and chin in close proximity. According to another native of Michael, a well informed middle-aged man, the animal in question was oftenest a calf, and it was wont to be burnt whole, skin and all. The object, according to him, is invariably to bring the bewitcher on the spot, and he always comes; but I am not clear what happens to him when he appears. My informant added, however, that it was believed that, unless the bewitcher got possession of the heart of the burning beast, he lost all his power of bewitching. He related, also, how his father and three other men were once out fishing on the west coast of the island, when one of the three suddenly expressed his wish to land. As they were fishing successfully some two or three miles from the shore, they would not hear of it. He, however, insisted that they must put him ashore at once, which made his comrades highly indignant; but they soon had to give way, as they found that he was determined to leap overboard unless they complied. When he got on shore they watched him hurrying away towards where a beast was burning in the corner of a field.

Manx stories merge this burning in a very perplexing fashion with what may be termed a sacrifice for luck. [306]The following scraps of information will make it clear what I mean:—A respectable farmer from Andreas told me that he was driving with his wife to the neighbouring parish of Jurby some years ago, and that on the way they beheld the carcase of a cow or an ox burning in a field, with a woman engaged in stirring the fire. On reaching the village to which they were going, they found that the burning beast belonged to a farmer whom they knew. They were further told it was no wonder that the said farmer had one of his cattle burnt, as several of them had recently died. Whether this was a case of sacrifice or not I cannot say. But let me give another instance: a man whom I have already mentioned, saw at a farm nearer the centre of the island a live calf being burnt. The owner bears an English name, but his family has long been settled in Man. The farmer’s explanation to my informant was that the calf was burnt to secure luck for the rest of the herd, some of which were threatening to die. My informant thought there was absolutely nothing the matter with them, except that they had too little food. Be that as it may, the one calf was sacrificed as a burnt offering to secure luck for the rest of the cattle. Let me here also quote Mr. Moore’s note in his Manx Surnames, p. 184, on the place-name Cabbal yn Oural Losht, or the ‘Chapel of the Burnt Sacrifice.’ ‘This name,’ he says, ‘records a circumstance which took place in the nineteenth century, but which, it is to be hoped, was never customary in the Isle of Man. A farmer, who had lost a number of his sheep and cattle by murrain, burned a calf as a propitiatory offering to the Deity on this spot, where a chapel was afterwards built. Hence the name.’ Particulars, I may say, of time, place, and person, could be easily added to Mr. Moore’s statement, excepting, perhaps, as to the [307]deity in question: on that point I have never been informed, but Mr. Moore was probably right in the use of the capital d, as the sacrificer was, according to all accounts, a devout Christian. I have to thank Sir Frederick Pollock for calling my attention to a parallel this side of the sea: he refers me to Worth’s History of Devonshire (London, 1886), p. 339, where one reads the following singular passage:—‘Living animals have been burnt alive in sacrifice within memory to avert the loss of other stock. The burial of three puppies “brandise-wise” in a field is supposed to rid it of weeds.’ The second statement is very curious, and the first seems to mean that preventive sacrifices have been performed in Devonshire within the memory of men living in the author’s time.

One more Manx instance: an octogenarian woman, born in the parish of Bride, and now living at Kirk Andreas, saw, when she was a ‘lump of a girl’ of ten or fifteen years of age, a live sheep being burnt in a field in the parish of Andreas, on May-day, whereby she meant the first of May reckoned according to the Old Style. She asserts12 very decidedly that it was son oural, ‘for a sacrifice,’ as she put it, and ‘for an object to the public’: those were her words when she expressed herself in English. Further, she made the statement that it was a custom to burn a sheep on Old May-day for a sacrifice. I was fully alive to the interest of this evidence, and cross-examined her so far as her age allows of it, and I find that she adheres to her statement with all firmness, but I distinguish two or three points in her evidence: 1. I have no doubt that she saw, as she was passing by a certain field on the borders of Andreas parish, a live sheep being burnt on [308]Old May-day. 2. But her statement that it was son oural, or as a sacrifice, was probably only an inference drawn by her, possibly years afterwards, on hearing things of the kind discussed. 3. Lastly, I am convinced that she did hear the May-day sacrifice discussed, both in Manx and in English: her words, ‘for an object to the public,’ are her imperfect recollection of a phrase used in her hearing by somebody more ambitious of employing English abstract terms than she is; and the formal nature of her statement in Manx, that it was customary on May-day to burn as a sacrifice one head of sheep (Laa Boaldyn va cliaghtey dy lostey son oural un baagh keyrragh), produces the same impression on my mind, that she is only repeating somebody else’s words. I mention this more especially as I have failed to find anybody else in Andreas or Bride, or indeed in the whole island, who will now confess to having ever heard of the sheep sacrifice on Old May-day.

The time assigned to the sheep sacrifice, namely May-day, leads me to make some remarks on the importance of that day among the Celts. The day meant is, as I have already said, Old May-day, in Manx Shenn Laa Boaldyn, the belltaine of Cormac’s Glossary, Scotch Gaelic bealtuinn. This was a day when systematic efforts were made to protect man and beast against elves and witches; for it was then that people carried crosses of rowan in their hats and placed May flowers over the tops of their doors and elsewhere as preservatives against all malignant influences. With the same object in view crosses of rowan were likewise fastened to the tails of the cattle, small crosses which had to be made without the help of a knife: I exhibited a tiny specimen at one of the meetings of the Folk-Lore Society. Early on May morning one went out to gather the dew as a thing of great virtue, as in other [309]countries. At Kirk Michael one woman, who had been out on this errand years ago, told me that she washed her face with the dew in order to secure luck, a good complexion, and safety against witches. The break of this day is also the signal for setting the ling or the gorse on fire, which is done in order to burn out the witches wont to take the form of the hare; and guns, I am told, were freely used to shoot any game met with on that morning. With the proper charge some of the witches were now and then hit and wounded, whereupon they resumed the human form and remained cripples for the rest of their lives. Fire, however, appears to have been the chief agency relied on to clear away the witches and other malignant beings; and I have heard of this use of fire having been carried so far that a practice was sometimes observed—as, for example, in Lezayre—of burning gorse, however little, in the hedge of each field on a farm in order to drive away the witches and secure luck.

The man who told me this, on being asked whether he had ever heard of cattle being driven through fire or between two fires on May-day, replied that it was not known to him as a Manx custom, but that it was an Irish one. A cattle-dealer whom he named used on May-day to drive his cattle through fire so as to singe them a little, as he believed that would preserve them from harm. He was an Irishman, who came to the island for many years, and whose children are settled in the island now. On my asking him if he knew whence the dealer came, he answered, ‘From the mountains over there,’ pointing to the Mourne Mountains looming faintly in the mists on the western horizon. The Irish custom known to my Manx informant is interesting both as throwing light on the Manx custom, and as being the continuation of a very ancient rite [310]mentioned by Cormac. That writer, or somebody in his name, says that belltaine, May-day, was so called from the ‘lucky fire,’ or the ‘two fires,’ which the druids of Erin used to make on that day with great incantations; and cattle, he adds, used to be brought to those fires, or to be driven between them, as a safeguard against the diseases of the year. Cormac13 says nothing, it will be noticed, as to one of the cattle or the sheep being sacrificed for the sake of prosperity to the rest. However, Scottish14 May-day customs point to a sacrifice having been once usual, and that possibly of human beings, and not of sheep as in the Isle of Man. I have elsewhere15 tried to equate these Celtic May-day practices with the Thargelia16 of the Athenians of antiquity. The Thargelia were characterized by peculiar rites, and among other things then done, two adult persons were led about, as it were scapegoats, and at the end they were sacrificed and burnt, so that their ashes might be dispersed. Here we seem to be on the track of a very ancient Aryan practice, although the Celtic season does not quite coincide with the Greek one. Several items of importance for comparison here will be found passed under careful review in a most suggestive paper by Mr. Lawrence Gomme, ‘On the Method of determining the Value of Folklore as Ethnological Data,’ in the Fourth Report of the Ethnographical Survey Committee17.

It is probably in some ancient May-day custom that [311]we are to look for the key to a remarkable place-name occurring several times in the island: I allude to that of Cronk yn Irree Laa, which probably means the Hill of the Rise of Day. This is the name of one of the mountains in the south of the island, but it is also borne by one of the knolls near the eastern end of the range of low hills ending abruptly on the coast between Ramsey and Bride parish, and quite a small knoll bears the name, near the church of Jurby18. I have heard of a fourth instance, which, as I learn from Mr. Philip Kermode, editor of the Lioar Manninagh, is on Clay Head, near Laxey. It has been attempted to explain it as meaning the Hill of the Watch by Day, in reference to the old institution of Watch and Ward on conspicuous places in the island; but that explanation is inadmissible as doing violence to the phonetics of the words in question19. I am rather inclined to think that the name everywhere refers to an eminence to which the surrounding inhabitants resorted for a religious purpose on a particular day in the year. I should suggest that it was to do homage to the rising sun on May morning, but this conjecture is offered only to await a better explanation. [312]

The next great day in the pagan calendar of the Celts is called in Manx Laa Lhunys, in Irish Lugnassad, the assembly or fair, which was associated with the name of the god Lug. This should correspond to Lammas, but, reckoned as it is according to the Old Style, it falls on the twelfth of August, which used to be a great day for business fairs in the Isle of Man as in Wales. But for holiday making the twelfth only suited when it happened to be a Sunday: when that was not the case, the first Sunday after the twelfth was fixed upon. It is known, accordingly, as the first Sunday of Harvest, and it used to be celebrated by crowds of people visiting the tops of the mountains. The kind of interference to which I have alluded with regard to an ancient holiday, is one of the regular results of the transition from Roman Catholicism to a Protestant system with only one fixed holiday, namely, Sunday. The same shifting has partly happened in Wales, where Lammas is Gwyl Awst, or the festival of Augustus, since the birthday of Augustus, auspiciously for him and the celebrity of his day, fell in with the great day of the god Lug in the Celtic world. Now the day for going up the Fan Fach mountain in Carmarthenshire was Lammas, but under a Protestant Church it became the first Sunday in August; and even modified in that way it could not long survive under a vigorous sabbatarian régime either in Wales or Man. As to the latter in particular, I have heard it related by persons who were present, how the crowds on the top of South Barrule on the first Sunday of Harvest were denounced as pagans by a preacher called William Gick, some seventy years ago; and how another man called Paric Beg, or Little Patrick, preaching to the crowds on Snaefell in milder terms, used to wind up the service with a collection, which appears to have proved a speedier method [313]of reducing the dimensions of these meetings on the mountain tops. Be that as it may, they seem to have dwindled since then to comparative insignificance.

If you ask the reason for this custom now, for it is not yet quite extinct, you are told, first, that it is merely to gather ling berries; but now and then a quasi-religious reason is given, namely, that it is the day on which Jephthah’s daughter went forth to bewail her virginity ‘upon the mountains’: somehow some Manx people make believe that they are doing likewise. That is not all, for people who have never themselves thought of going up the mountains on the first Sunday of harvest or any other, will be found devoutly reading at home about Jephthah’s daughter on that day. I was told this first in the south by a clergyman’s wife, who, finding a woman in the parish reading the chapter in question on that day, asked the reason for her fixing on that particular portion of the Bible. She then had the Manx view of the matter fully explained to her, and she has since found more information about it, and so have I. It is needless for me to say that I do not quite understand how Jephthah’s daughter came to be introduced: perhaps it is vain to look for any deeper reason than that the mention, of the mountains may have served as a sort of catch-word, and that as the Manx people began to cease from visiting the tops of the mountains annually, it struck the women as the next best thing for them to read at home of one who did ‘go up and down upon the mountains’: they are great readers of the Bible generally. In any case we have here a very curious instance of a practice, originally pagan, modifying itself profoundly to secure a new lease of life.

Between May-day and November eve, there was a day of considerable importance in the island; but the fixing on it was probably due to influence other than [314]Celtic: I mean Midsummer Eve, or St. John’s. However, some practices connected with it would seem to have been of Celtic origin, such as ‘the bearing of rushes to certain places called Warrefield and Mame on Midsummer Even.’ Warrefield was made in Manx into Barrule, but Mame, ‘the jugum, or ridge,’ has not been identified. The Barrule here in question was South Barrule, and it is to the top of that mountain the green rushes were carried, according to Manx tradition, as the only rent or tax which the inhabitants paid, namely, to Manannán mac Lir (called in Welsh Manawyđan ab Ỻyr), whom the same tradition treats as father and founder, as king and chief wizard of the Isle of Man, the same Manannán who is quaintly referred to in the illiterate passage at the head of this chapter20. As already stated, the payment of the annual rent of rushes is associated with Midsummer Eve; but it did not prevent the top of South Barrule from being visited likewise later in the year. Perhaps it may also be worth while mentioning, with regard to most of the mountains climbed on the first Sunday of Harvest, that they seem to have near the summit of each a well of some celebrity, which appears to be the goal of the visitors’ peregrinations. This is the case with South Barrule, the spring near the top of which cannot, it is said, be found when sought a second time; also with Snaefell and with Maughold Head, which boasts one of the most famous springs in the island. When I visited it last summer in company with Mr. Kermode, we found it to contain a considerable number of pins, some of which were bent, and many buttons. Some of the pins were not of a kind usually carried by men, and most of the buttons decidedly belonged to the dress of the other sex. [315]Several people who had resorted many years ago to St. Maughold’s Well, told me that the water is good for sore eyes, and that after using it on the spot, or filling a bottle with it to take home, one was wont to drop a pin or bead or button into the well. But it had its full virtue only when visited the first Sunday of Harvest, and that only during the hour when the books were open at church, which, shifted back to Roman Catholic times, means doubtless the hour when the priest was engaged in saying Mass. Compare the passage in the Mabinogi of Math, where it is said that the spear required for the slaying of Ỻew Ỻawgyffes had to be a whole year in the making: the work was to be pursued only so long as one was engaged at the sacrifice on Sunday (ar yr aberth duỽ sul): see the Oxford Mabinogion, p. 76. To return to Man, the restriction, as might be expected, is not peculiar to St. Maughold’s Well: I have heard of it in connexion with other wells, such as Chibbyr Lansh in Lezayre parish, and with a well on Slieau Maggyl, in which some Kirk Michael people have a great belief. But even sea water was believed to have considerable virtues if you washed in it while the books were open at church, as I was told by a woman who had many years ago repeatedly taken her own sister to divers wells and to the sea during the service on Sunday, in order to have her eyes cured of a chronic weakness.

The remaining great day in the Celtic year is called Sauin or Laa Houney: in Irish, Samhain, genitive Samhna. The Manx call it in English Hollantide, a word derived from the English All hallowen tide, ‘the Season of All Saints21.’ This day is also reckoned in Man according to the Old Style, so that it is our twelfth of November. That is the day when [316]the tenure of land terminates, and when servant men go to their places. In other words, it is the beginning of a new year; and Kelly, in his Manx-English Dictionary, has, under the word blein, ‘year,’ the following note:—‘Vallancey says the Celts began their year with January; yet in the Isle of Man the first of November is called New Year’s day by the Mummers, who, on the eve, begin their petition in these words: To-night is New Year’s night, Hog-unnaa22, &c.’ It is a pity that Kelly, whilst he was on this subject, did not give the rhyme in Manx, and all the more so, as the mummers of the present day, if he is right, must have changed their words into Noght oie Houney, that is to say, To-night is Sauin Night or Halloween. So I had despaired of finding anybody who could corroborate Kelly in his statement, when I happened last summer to find a man at Kirk Michael who was quite familiar with this way of treating the year. I asked him if he could explain Kelly’s absurd statement—I put my question designedly in that form. He said he could, but that there was nothing absurd in it. He then told me how he had heard some old people talk of it: he is himself now about sixty-seven. He had been a farm servant from the age of sixteen till he was twenty-six to the same man, near Regaby, in the parish of Andreas, and he remembers his master and a near neighbour of his discussing the term New Year’s Day as applied to the first of November, and explaining to the younger men that it had always been so in old times. In fact, it seemed to him natural enough, as all [317]tenure of land ends at that time, and as all servant men begin their service then. I cross-examined him, without succeeding in any way in shaking his evidence. I should have been glad a few years ago to have come across this piece of information, or even Kelly’s note, when I was discussing the Celtic year and trying to prove23 that it began at the beginning of winter, with May-day as the beginning of its second half.

One of the characteristics of the beginning of the Celtic year with the commencement of winter was the belief that indications can be obtained on the eve of that day regarding the events of the year; but with the calendar year gaining ground it would be natural to expect that the Calends of January would have some of the associations of the Calends of Winter transferred to them, and vice versa. In fact, this can, as it were, be watched now going on in the Isle of Man. First, I may mention that the Manx mummers used to go about singing, in Manx, a sort of Hogmanay song24, reminding one of that usual in Yorkshire and other parts of Great Britain, and now known to be of Romance origin25. [318]The time for it in this country was New Year’s Eve, according to the ordinary calendar, but in the Isle of Man it has always been Hollantide Eve, according to the Old Style, and this is the night when boys now go about continuing the custom of the old mummers. There is no hesitation in this case between Hollantide Eve and New Year’s Eve. But with the prognostications for the year it is different, and the following practices have been usual. I may, however, premise that as a rule I have abstained from inquiring too closely whether they still go on, but here and there I have had the information volunteered that they do.

1. I may mention first a salt prognostication, which was described to me by a farmer in the north, whose wife practises it once a year regularly. She carefully fills a thimble with salt in the evening and upsets it in a neat little heap on a plate: she does that for every member of the family, and every guest, too, if there happen to be any. The plate is then left undisturbed till the morning, when she examines the heaps of salt to see if any of them have fallen; for whoever is found represented by a fallen heap will die during the year. She does not herself, I am assured, believe in it, but she likes to continue a custom which she has learned from her mother.

2. Next may be mentioned the ashes being carefully swept to the open hearth, and nicely flattened down by the women just before going to bed. In the morning they look for footmarks on the hearth, and if they find such footmarks directed towards the door, it means, in the course of the year, a death in the family, and if the reverse, they expect an addition to it by marriage26. [319]

3. Then there is an elaborate process of eavesdropping recommended to young women curious to know their future husbands’ names: a girl would go with her mouth full of water and her hands full of salt to the door of the nearest neighbour’s house, or rather to that of the nearest neighbour but one—I have been carefully corrected more than once on that point. There she would listen, and the first name she caught would prove to be that of her future husband. Once a girl did so, as I was told by a blind fisherman in the south, and heard two brothers quarrelling inside the house at whose door she was listening. Presently the young men’s mother exclaimed that the devil would not let Tom leave John alone. At the mention of that triad the girl burst into the house, laughing and spilling the mouthful of water most incontinently. The end of it was that before the year was out she married Tom, the second person mentioned: the first either did not count or proved an unassailable bachelor.

4. There is also a ritual for enabling a girl to obtain other information respecting her future husband: vessels placed about the room have various things put into them, such as clean water, earth, meal, a piece of a net, or any other article thought appropriate. The candidate for matrimony, with her eyes bandaged, feels her way about the house until she puts her hand in one of the aforesaid vessels. If what she lays her hand on is the clean water, her husband will be a handsome man27; if it is the earth, he will be a farmer; if the meal, a miller; if the net, a fisherman; and so on into as many [320]of the walks of life as may be thought worthy of consideration.

5. Lastly, recourse may be had to a ritual of the same nature as that observed by the druid of ancient Erin, when, burdened with a heavy meal of the flesh of a red pig, he laid him down for the night in order to await a prophetic dream as to the manner of man the nobles of Erin assembled at Tara were to elect to be their king. The incident is given in the story of Cúchulainn’s Sick-bed; and the reader, doubtless, knows the passage about Brian and the taghairm in the fourth Canto of Scott’s Lady of the Lake. But the Manx girl has only to eat a salt herring, bones and all, without drinking or uttering a word, and to retire backwards to bed. When she sleeps and dreams, she will behold her future husband approaching to give her drink.

Probably none of the practices which I have enumerated, or similar ones mentioned to me, are in any sense peculiar to the Isle of Man; but what interests me in them is the divided opinion as to the proper night for them in the year. I am sorry to say that I have very little information as to the blindman’s-buff ritual (No. 4); what information I have, to wit, the evidence of two persons in the south, fixes it on Hollantide Eve. But as to the others (Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5), they are observed by some on that night, and by others on New Year’s Eve, sometimes according to the Old Style28 and sometimes the New. Further, those who are wont to practise the salt heap ritual, for instance, on Hollantide Eve, would be very indignant to hear that anybody should think New Year’s Eve the proper night, and vice versa. So by bringing women bred and born in different [321]parishes to compare notes on this point, I have witnessed arguing hardly less earnest than that which characterized the ancient controversy between British and Italian ecclesiastics as to the proper time for keeping Easter. I have not been able to map the island according to the practices prevalent at Hollantide and the beginning of January, but local folklorists could probably do it without much difficulty. My impression, however, is that January is gradually acquiring the upper hand. In Wales this must have been decidedly helped by the influence of Roman rule and Roman ideas; but even there the adjuncts of the Winter Calends have never been wholly transferred to the Calends of January. Witness, for instance, the women who used to congregate in the parish church to discover who of the parishioners would die during the year29. That custom, in the neighbourhoods reported to have practised it, continued to attach itself to the last, so far as I know, to the beginning of November. In the Isle of Man the fact of the ancient Celtic year having so firmly held its own, seems to point to the probability that the year of the Pagan Norsemen pretty nearly coincided with that of the Celts30. For there are reasons to think, as I have endeavoured elsewhere to show, that the Norse Yule was originally at the end of summer or the commencement of winter, in other words, the days afterwards known as the Feast of the Winter Nights. This was the favourite date in Iceland for listening to soothsayers prophesying with regard to the winter then beginning. The late Dr. Vigfusson had much to say [322]on this subject, and how the local sibyl, resuming her elevated seat at the opening of each successive winter, gave the author of the Volospá his plan of that remarkable poem, which has been described by the same authority as the highest spiritual effort of the heathen muse of the North. [323]

1 For the text see the Oxford Mabinogion, pp. 193–4, and for comparisons of the incident see Nutt’s Holy Grail, p. 154 et seq.; and Rhys’ Arthurian Legend, pp. 75–6. A more exact parallel, however, is to be mentioned in the next chapter. 

2 This chapter was written mostly in 1891. 

3 The spelling there used is phynnodderee, to the perversity of which Cregeen calls attention in his Dictionary. In any case the pronunciation is always approximately fŭn-ṓ-đŭr-ĭ or fŭn-ṓđ-rĭ, with the accent on the second syllable. 

4 I am inclined to think that the first part of the word fenodyree is not fynney, the Manx word for ‘hair,’ but the Scandinavian word which survives in the Swedish fjun, ‘down.’ Thus fjun-hosur (for the fjun-hosa suggested by analogy) would explain the word fenodyree, except its final ee, which is obscure. Compare also the magic breeks called finn-brækr, as to which see Vigfusson’s Icelandic Dict. s. v. finnar

5 Cumming’s Isle of Man (London, 1848), p. 30, where he refers his readers to Waldron’s Description of the Isle of Man: see pp. 28, 105. 

6 See Windisch’s Irische Grammatik, p. 120. 

7 The Manx word for the rowan tree, incorrectly called a mountain ash, is cuirn, which is in Mod. Irish caorthann, genitive caorthainn, Scotch Gaelic caorunn; but in Welsh books it is cerđin, singular cerđinen, and in the spoken language mostly cerdin, cerding, singular cerdinen, cerdingen. This variation seems to indicate that these words have possibly been borrowed by the Welsh from a Goidelic source; but the berry is known in Wales by the native name of criafol, from which the wood is frequently called, especially in North Wales, coed criafol, singular coeden griafol or pren criafol. The sacredness of the rowan is the key to the proper names Mac-Cáirthinn and Der-Cháirthinn, with which the student of Irish hagiology is familiar. They mean the Son and the Daughter of the Rowan respectively, and the former occurs as Maqui Cairatini on an Ogam inscribed stone recently discovered in Meath, not very far from the Boyne. 

8 I am sorry to say that it never occurred to me to ask whether the shooting was done with such modern things as guns. But Mr. Arthur Moore assures me that it is always understood to be bows and arrows, not guns. 

9 Edited by Oswald Cockayne for the Master of the Rolls (London, 1864–6): see more especially vol. ii. pp. 156–7, 290–1, 401; vol. iii. pp. 54–5. 

10 Mr. Moore is not familiar with this term, but I heard it at Surby, in the south; and I find buidseach and buidseachd given as Highland Gaelic words for a witch and witchcraft respectively. 

11 See Stokes’ Goidelica, p. 151. 

12 This chapter was written in 1891, except the portions of it which refer to later dates indicated. 

13 See the Stokes-O’Donovan edition of Cormac (Calcutta, 1868), pp. 19, 23. 

14 Sir John Sinclair’s Statistical Account of Scotland, xi. 620; Pennant’s Tour in Scotland in 1769 (3rd edition, Warrington, 1774), i. 97, 186, 291; Thomas Stephens’ Gododin, pp. 124–6; and Dr. Murray in the New English Dictionary, s. v. Beltane

15 In my Hibbert Lectures on Celtic Heathendom, pp. 517–21. 

16 As to the Thargelia and Delia, see Preller’s Griechische Mythologie, i. 260–2, and A. Mommsen’s Heortologie, pp. 414–25. 

17 See section H of the Report of the Liverpool Meeting of the British Association in 1896, pp. 626–56. 

18 It is my impression that it is crowned with a small tumulus, and that it forms the highest ground in Jurby, which was once an island by itself. The one between Ramsey and Bride is also probably the highest point of the range. But these are questions which I should like to see further examined, say by Mr. Arthur Moore or Mr. Kermode. 

19 Cronk yn Irree Laa, despite the gender, is the name as pronounced by all Manxmen who have not been misled by antiquarians. To convey the other meaning, referring to the day watch, the name would have to be Cronk ny Harrey Laa; in fact, a part of the Howe in the south of the island is called Cronk ny Harrey, ‘the Hill of the Watch.’ Mr. Moore tells me that the Jurby cronk was one of the eminences for ‘Watch and Ward’; but he is now of opinion that the high mountain of Cronk yn Irree Laa in the south was not. As to the duty of the inhabitants to keep ‘Watch and Ward’ over the island, see the passage concerning it extracted from the Manx Statutes (vol. i. p. 65) by Mr. Moore in his Manx Surnames, pp. 183–3; also my preface to the same work, pp. v–viii. 

20 Quoted from Oliver’s Monumenta de Insula Manniæ, vol. i. (Manx Society, vol. iv) p. 84: see also Cumming’s Isle of Man, p. 258. 

21 See the New English Dictionary, s. v. ‘Allhallows.’ 

22 This comes near the pronunciation usual in Roxburghshire and the south of Scotland generally, which is, as Dr. Murray informs me, Hunganay without the m occurring in the other forms to be mentioned presently. But so far as I have been able to find, the Manx pronunciation is now Hob dy naa, which I have heard in the north, while Hob ju naa is the prevalent form in the south. 

23 See my Hibbert Lectures, pp. 514–5; and as to hiring fairs in Wales see pp. 210–2 above. 

24 See Robert Bell’s Early Ballads (London, 1877), pp. 406–7, where the following is given as sung at Richmond in Yorkshire:—

To-night it is the New-Year’s night, to-morrow is the day,

And we are come for our right, and for our ray,

As we used to do in old King Henry’s day.

Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.

If you go to the bacon-flick, cut me a good bit;

Cut, cut and low, beware of your maw;

Cut, cut and round, beware of your thumb,

That me and my merry men may have some.

Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.

If you go to the black-ark bring me X mark;

Ten mark, ten pound, throw it down upon the ground,

That me and my merry men may have some.

Sing, fellows, sing, Hagman-heigh.


25 The subject is worked out in Nicholson’s Golspie, pp. 100–8, also in the New English Dictionary, where mention is made of a derivation involving [318]calendæ, which reminds me of the Welsh call for a New-Year’s Gift—Calennig! or C’lennig! in Arfon ’Y Ngh’lennig i! ‘My Calends gift if you please!’ 

26 On being asked, after reading this paper to the Folk-Lore Society, who was supposed to make the footmarks in the ashes, I had to confess that [319]I had been careless enough never to have asked the question. I have referred it to Mr. Moore, who informs me that nobody, as I expected, will venture on any explanation by whom the footmarks are made. 

27 This seems to imply the application of the same adjective, some time or other, to clean water and a handsome man, just as we speak in North Cardiganshire of dwr glân, ‘clean water,’ and bachgen glân, ‘a handsome boy.’ 

28 In Phillips’ Book of Common Prayer this is called Lá nolick y biggy, ‘Little Nativity Day,’ and Lá ghian blieny, ‘The Day of the Year’s End,’ meaning, of course, the former end of the year, not the latter: see pp. 55, 62, 66. 

29 See my Hibbert Lectures, pp. 514–5, and the Brython, ii. 20, 120: an instance in point occurs in the next chapter. 

30 This has been touched upon in my Hibbert Lectures, p. 676; but to the reasons there briefly mentioned should be added a reference to the position allotted to intercalary months in the Norse calendar, namely, at the end of the summer half, that is, as I think, at the end of the ancient Norse year. 



The Fenodyree and his Friends

Ἐμοὶ δὲ αἱ σαὶ μεγάλαι εὐτυχίαι οὐκ ἀρέσκουσι, τὸ θεῖον ἐπισταμένῳ ὡς ἔστι φθονερόν..—Herodotus.

The last chapter is hardly such as to call for a recapitulation of its principal contents, and I venture to submit instead of any such repetition an abstract of some very pertinent notes on it by Miss M. G. W. Peacock, who compares with the folklore of the Isle of Man the old beliefs which survive in Lincolnshire among the descendants of Norse ancestors1. She was attracted by the striking affinity which she noticed between them, and she is doubtless right in regarding that affinity as due in no small degree to the Scandinavian element present in the population alike of Man and the East of England. She is, however, not lavish of theory, but gives us interesting items of information from an intimate acquaintance with the folklore of the district of which she undertakes to speak, somewhat in the following order:—

1. Whether the water-bull still inhabits the streams of Lincolnshire she regards as doubtful, but the deep pools formed, she says, by the action of the down-flowing water at the bends of the country becks are still known as bull-holes. [324]

2. As to the glashtyn, or water-horse, she remarks that the tatter-foal, tatter-colt, or shag-foal, as he is variously called, is still to be heard of, although his visits take place less often than before the fens and carrs were drained and the open fields and commons enclosed. She describes the tatter-foal as a goblin of the shape and appearance of a small horse or yearling foal in his rough, unkempt coat. He beguiles lonely travellers with his numberless tricks, one of which is to lure them to a stream, swamp, or water-hole. When he has succeeded he vanishes with a long outburst of mockery, half neigh, half human laughter.

3. The fenodyree, one is told, has in Lincolnshire a cousin, but he is diminutive; and, like the Yorkshire Hob or Robin Round-Cap, and the Danish Niss, he is used to befriend the house in which he dwells. The story of his driving the farmer’s sheep home is the same practically as in the Isle of Man, even to the point of bringing in with them the little grey sheep, as he called the fine hare that had given him more trouble than all the rest of the flock: see pp. 286–7 above.

4. The story of this manikin’s clothing differs considerably from that of the fenodyree. The farmer gives him in gratitude for his services a linen shirt every New Year’s Eve; and this went on for years, until at last the farmer thought a hemp shirt was good enough to give him. When the clock struck twelve at midnight the manikin raised an angry wail, saying:—

Harden, harden, harden hemp!

I will neither grind nor stamp!

Had you given me linen gear,

I would have served you many a year!

He was no more seen or heard: he vanished for ever. The Cornish counterpart of this brownie reasons in the opposite way; for when, in gratitude for his help in [325]threshing, a new suit of clothes is given him, he hurries away, crying2:—

Pisky new coat, and pisky new hood,

Pisky now will do no more good.

Here, also, one should compare William Nicholson’s account of the brownie of Blednoch3, in Galloway, who wore next to no clothing:—

Roun’ his hairy form there was naething seen,

But a philabeg o’ the rushes green.

So he was driven away for ever by a newly married wife wishing him to wear an old pair of her husband’s breeches:—

But a new-made wife, fu’ o’ rippish freaks,

Fond o’ a’ things feat for the first five weeks,

Laid a mouldy pair o’ her ain man’s breeks

By the brose o’ Aiken-drum.

Let the learned decide, when they convene,

What spell was him and the breeks between:

For frae that day forth he was nae mair seen,

And sair missed was Aiken-drum!

The only account which I have been able to find of a Welsh counterpart will be found in Bwca’r Trwyn, in chapter x: he differs in some important respects from the fenodyree and the brownie.

5. A twig of the rowan tree, or wicken, as it is called, was effective against all evil things, including witches. It is useful in many ways to guard the welfare of the household, and to preserve both the live stock and the crops, while placed on the churn it prevents any malign influence from retarding the coming of the butter. I may remark that Celts and Teutons seem to have been generally pretty well agreed as to the virtues of the rowan tree. Bits of iron also are lucky against witches. [326]

6. Fairies are rare, but witches and wizards abound, and some of them have been supposed to change themselves into dogs to worry sheep and cattle, or into toads to poison the swine’s troughs. But they do not seem to change themselves into hares, as in Man and other Celtic lands.

7. Witchcraft, says Miss Peacock, is often hereditary, passing most frequently from mother to daughter; but when a witch has no daughter her power may appear in a son, and then revert to the female line. This appears far more natural than the Manx belief in its passing from father to daughter and from daughter to son. But another kind of succession is mentioned in the Welsh Triads, i. 32, ii. 20, iii. 90, which speak of Math ab Mathonwy teaching his magic to Gwydion, who as his sister’s son was to succeed him in his kingdom; and of a certain Rhuđlwm Dwarf teaching his magic to Coỻ, son of Coỻfrewi, his nephew. Both instances seem to point to a state of society which did not reckon paternity but only birth.

8. Only three years previous to Miss Peacock’s writing an old man died, she says, who had seen blood drawn from a witch because she had, as was supposed, laid a spell on a team of horses: as soon as she was struck so as to bleed the horses and their load were free to go on their way again. Possibly no equally late instance could be specified in the Isle of Man: see p. 296 above.

9. Traces of animal sacrifice may still be found in Lincolnshire, for the heart of a small beast, or of a bird, is necessary, Miss Peacock says, for the efficient performance of several counter-charms, especially in torturing a witch by the reversal of her spells, and warding off evil from houses or other buildings. Apparently Miss Peacock has not heard of so considerable a victim [327]as a sheep or a calf being sacrificed, as in the Isle of Man, but the objects of the sacrifices may be said to be the same.

10. Several pin and rag wells are said to exist in Lincolnshire, their waters being supposed to possess healing virtues, especially as regards eye ailments.

11. Love-spells and prognostications are mentioned, some of them as belonging to Allhallows, as they do partly in the Isle of Man: she mentions the making of dumb cake, and the eating of the salt herring, followed by dreams of the future husband bringing the thirsting lass drink in a jug, the quality of which indicates the bearer’s position in life. But other Lincolnshire practices of the kind seem to oscillate between Allhallows and St. Mark’s Eve, while gravitating decidedly towards the latter date. Here it is preferable to give Miss Peacock’s own words:—‘Professor Rhys’ mention of the footmark in the ashes reminds me of a love-spell current in the Wapentake of Manley in North Lincolnshire. Properly speaking, it should be put in practice on St. Mark’s E’en, that eerie spring-tide festival when those who are skilled may watch the church porch and learn who will die in the ensuing twelvemonth; but there is little doubt that the charm is also used at Hallow E’en, and at other suitable seasons of the year. The spell consists in riddling ashes on the hearthstone, or beans on the floor of the barn, with proper ceremonies and at the proper time, with the result that the girl who works her incantation correctly finds the footprint of the man she is to marry clearly marked on the sifted mass the following morning. It is to be supposed that the spirit of the lover is responsible for the mark, as, according to another folk-belief, any girl who watches her supper on St. Mark’s E’en will see the spirit of the man she will wed come into the room at midnight to [328]partake of the food provided. The room must be one with the door and windows in different walls, and both must be open. The spirit comes in by the door (and goes out by the window?). Each girl who undertakes to keep watch must have a separate supper and a separate candle, and all talking is to end before the clock goes twelve, for there must not be any speaking before the spirits. From these superstitions, and from the generally received idea that the spirits of all the parishioners are to be observed entering the church on St. Mark’s E’en, it may be inferred that the Manx footprint is made by the wraith of the person doomed to death.’ Compare pp. 318–9 above.

What Miss Peacock alludes to as watching the church porch was formerly well known in Wales4, and may be illustrated from a district so far east as the Golden Valley, in Herefordshire, by the following story told me in 1892 by Mrs. Powell of Dorstone, on the strength of what she had learnt from her mother-in-law, the late Mrs. Powell, who was a native of that parish:—

‘On Allhallows Eve at midnight, those who are bold enough to look through the church windows will see the building lighted with an unearthly light, and the pulpit occupied by his Satanic majesty clothed in a monk’s habit. Dreadful anathemas are the burden of his preaching, and the names of those who in the coming year are to render up their souls may be heard by those who have courage to listen. A notorious evil liver, Jack of France, once by chance passed the church at this awful moment: looking in he saw the lights and heard the voice, and his own name in the horrid list; and, according to some versions of the story, he went home [329]to die of fright. Others say that he repented and died in good repute, and so cheated the evil one of his prey.’

I have no list of places in Wales and its marches which have this sort of superstition associated with them, but it is my impression that they are mostly referred to Allhallows, as at Dorstone, and that where that is not the case they have been shifted to the beginning of the year as at present reckoned; for in Celtic lands, at least, they seem to have belonged to what was reckoned the beginning of the year. The old Celtic year undoubtedly began at Allhallows, and the day next in importance after the Calends of Winter (in Welsh Calangáeaf) was, among the Celts, the beginning of the summer half of the year, or the Calends of May (in Welsh Calánmai), which St. Mark’s Eve approaches too nearly for us to regard it as accidental. With this modified agreement between the Lincolnshire date and the Celtic one contrast the irreconcilable English date of St. John’s Eve; and see Tylor’s Primitive Culture, i. 440, where one reads as follows of ‘the well-known superstition,’ ‘that fasting watchers on St. John’s Eve may see the apparitions of those doomed to die during the year come with the clergyman to the church door and knock; these apparitions are spirits who come forth from their bodies, for the minister has been noticed to be much troubled in his sleep while his phantom was thus engaged, and when one of a party of watchers fell into a sound sleep and could not be roused, the others saw his apparition knock at the church door.’ With an unerring instinct for the intelligent colligation of facts, Miss Peacock finds the nearest approach to the yearly review of the moritures, if I may briefly so call them, in the wraith’s footprint in the ashes. Perhaps a more systematic examination of Manx folklore may result in the discovery of a more exact parallel. [330]

For want of knowing where else to put it, I may mention here in reference to the dead, a passage which has been copied for me by my friend Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans, from Manuscript 163 in the Peniarth Collection. I understand it to be of the earlier part of the sixteenth century, and p. 10 has the following passage:—

Yn yr ynys honn [Manaw] y kair gweled liw dyđ bobyl a vvessynt veirw / Rrai gwedi tori penav / eraiỻ gwedi torri i haelode / Ac os dieithred a đissyfynt i gweled hwynt / Sengi ar draed gwyr or tir ac veỻy hwynt a gaent weled yr hyn a welssynt hwyntav.

‘In this island [Man] one beholds in the light of day people who have died, some with their heads cut off and others with their limbs cut off. And if strangers desire to see them, they have to stand on the feet of the natives of the land, and in that way they would see what the latter had seen.’

A similar instance of the virtue of standing on the feet of another person has been mentioned in reference to the farmer of Deunant, at p. 230 above; the foot, however, on which he had to stand in order to get a glimpse of the fairy world, was a fairy’s own foot.

Lastly, the passage in the Peniarth Manuscript has something more to say of the Isle of Man, as follows:—

Mawr oeđ arfer o swynion a chyvaređion gynt yn yr ynys honn / Kanys gwrageđ a vyđynt yno yn gwnevthvr gwynt i longwyr gwedir gav mewn tri chwlm o edav aphan vai eissie gwynt arnynt dattod kwlm or edav anaynt.

‘Great was the practice formerly of spells and sorceries in this island; for there used to be there women making wind for sailors, which wind they confined within three knots made on a thread. And when they had need of wind they would undo a knot of the thread.’

This was written in the sixteenth century, and based probably on Higden’s Polychronicon, book I, chap. xliv. [331](= I. 42–3), but the same practice of wind making goes on to this day, one of the principal practitioners being the woman to whom reference was made at p. 299. She is said to tie the breezes in so many knots which she makes on the purchasing sailor’s pocket-handkerchief. This reminds one of the sibyl of Warinsey, or the Island of Guernsey, who is represented by an ancient Norse poet as ‘fashioning false prophecies.’ See Vigfusson and Powell’s Corpus Poeticum Boreale, i. 136; also Mela’s first-century account of the virgins of the island of Sena, which runs to the following effect:—‘Sena, in the Britannic Sea, opposite the coast of the Osismi, is famous for its oracle of a Gaulish god, whose priestesses, living in the holiness of perpetual virginity, are said to be nine in number. They call them Gallizenæ, and they believe them to be endowed with extraordinary gifts to rouse the sea and the wind by their incantations, to turn themselves into whatsoever animal form they may choose, to cure diseases which among others are incurable, to know what is to come and to foretell it. They are, however, devoted to the service of voyagers only who have set out on no other errand than to consult them5.’ It is probable that the sacrosanct6 inhabitants of the small islands on the coasts of Gaul and Britain had wellnigh a monopoly of the traffic in wind7. [332]

In the last chapter I made allusion to several wells of greater or less celebrity in the Isle of Man; but I find that I have a few remarks to add. Mr. Arthur Moore, in his book on Manx Surnames and Place-Names, p. 200, mentions a Chibber Unjin, which means the Well of the Ash-tree, and he states that there grew near it ‘formerly a sacred ash-tree, where votive offerings were hung.’ The ash-tree calls to his mind Scandinavian legends respecting the ash, but in any case one may suppose the ash was not the usual tree to expect by a well in the Isle of Man, otherwise this one would scarcely have been distinguished as the Ash-tree Well. The tree to expect by a sacred well is doubtless some kind of thorn, as in the case of Chibber Undin in the parish of Malew. The name means Foundation Well, so called in reference probably to the foundations of an ancient cell, or keeill as it is called in Manx, which lie close by, and are found to measure twenty-one feet long by twelve feet broad. The following is Mr. Moore’s account of the well in his book already cited, p. 181:—‘The water of this well is supposed to have curative properties. The patients who came to it, took a mouthful of water, retaining it in their mouths till they had twice walked round the well. They then took a piece of cloth from a garment which they had worn, wetted it with the water from the well, and hung it on the hawthorn tree which grew there. When the cloth had rotted away, the cure was supposed to be effected.’

I visited the spot a few years ago in the company of the Rev. E. B. Savage of St. Thomas’ Parsonage, Douglas, and we found the well nearly dried up in consequence of the drainage of the field around it; but the remains of the old cell were there, and the thorn bush had strips of cloth or calico tied to its branches. [333]We cut off one, which is now in the Pitt-Rivers Museum at Oxford. The account Mr. Savage had of the ritual observed at the well differed a little from that given by Mr. Moore, especially in the fact that it made the patient who had been walking round the well with water from the well in his mouth, empty that water finally into a rag from his clothing: the rag was then tied to a branch of the thorn. It does not appear that the kind of tree mattered much; nay, a tree is not, it seems to me, essential. At any rate, St. Maughold’s Well has no tree growing near it now; but it is right to say, that when Mr. Kermode and I visited it, we could find no rags left near the spot, nor indeed could we expect to find any, as there was nothing to which they might be tied on that windy headland. The absence of the tree does not, however, prove that the same sort of ritual was not formerly observed at St. Maughold’s Well as at Chibber Undin; and here I must mention another well which I have visited in the island more than once. It is on the side of Bradda Hill, a little above the village of Bradda, and in the direction of Fleshwick: I was attracted to it by the fact that it had, as I had been told by Mr. Savage, formerly an old cell or keeill near it, and the name of the saint to which it belonged may probably be gathered from the name of the well, which, in the Manx of the south of the island, is Chibbyrt Valtane, pronounced approximately Chŭ́vurt Voltáne or Olđáne. The personal name would be written in modern Manx in its radical form as Boltane, and if it occurred in the genitive in Ogam inscriptions I should expect to find it written Boltagni or Baltagni8. It is, however, unknown to me, [334]though to be placed possibly by the side of the name of the saint after whom the parish of Santon is called in the south-east of the island. This is pronounced in Manx approximately9 Santane or Sanđane, and would have yielded an early inscriptional nominative SANCTANVS, which, in fact, occurs on an old stone near Ỻandudno on the Welsh coast: see some notes of mine in point in the Archæologia Cambrensis, 1897, pp. 140–2. To return to the well, it would seem to have been associated with an old cell, but it has no tree growing by. Mr. Savage and I were told, nevertheless, that a boy who had searched the well a short time previously had got some coins out of it, quite recent ones, consisting of halfpennies or pennies, so far as I remember. On my observing to one of the neighbours that I saw no rags there, I was assured that there had been some; and, on my further saying that I saw no tree there to which they could be tied, I was told that they used to be attached to the brambles, which grew there in great abundance. Thus it appears that, in the Isle of Man at any rate, a tree to bear the rags was not an essential adjunct of a holy well.

Before leaving these well superstitions the reader may wish to know how they were understood in Ireland [335]not long ago: so I venture to quote a passage from a letter by the late Mr. W. C. Borlase on Rag Offerings and Primitive Pilgrimages in Ireland, as follows:—

‘Among the MSS. of the late Mr. Windele, of Cork, … I find a passage which cannot fail to interest students of folk-lore. It relates to the custom of affixing shreds of rag to the hawthorn tree, which almost invariably stands by the brink of the typical Irish “holy well,” and it gives us the meaning of the custom as understood, some half-century since, by the inhabitants of certain localities in the province of Munster. The idea is, says the writer, that the putting up these rags is a putting away of the evils impending or incurred by sin, an act accompanied by the following ritual words: Air impide an Tiarna mo chuid teinis do fhagaint air an ait so; i. e. By the intercession of the Lord I leave my portion of illness on this place. These words, he adds, should be uttered by whoever performs the round, and they are, no doubt, of extreme antiquity. Mr. Windele doubtless took down the words as he heard them locally pronounced, though, to be correct, for Tiarna should be read Tigerna; for teinis, tinneas; and for fhagaint, fhagaim10.’

From the less known saints Boltane and Santane I wish to pass to the mention of a more famous one, namely, St. Catherine, and this because of a fair called after her, and held on the sixth day of December at the village of Colby in the south of the island. When I heard of this fair in 1888, it was in temporary abeyance on account of a lawsuit respecting the plot of ground on which the fair is wont to be held; but I was [336]told that it usually begins with a procession, in which a live hen is carried about: this is called St. Catherine’s hen. The next day the hen is carried about dead and plucked, and a rhyme pronounced at a certain point in the proceedings contemplates the burial of the hen, but whether that ever takes place I know not. It runs thus:—

Kiark Catrina marroo:

Gows yn kione as goyms ny cassyn,

As ver mayd ee fo’n thalloo.

Catherine’s hen is dead:

The head take thou and I the feet,

We shall put her under the ground.

A man who is found to be not wholly sober after the fair is locally said to have plucked a feather from the hen (T’eh er goaill fedjag ass y chiark); so it would seem that there must be such a scramble to get at the hen, and to take part in the plucking, that it requires a certain amount of drink to allay the thirst of the over zealous devotees of St. Catherine. But why should this ceremony be associated with St. Catherine? and what were the origin and meaning of it? These are questions on which I should be glad to have light shed.

Manx has a word quaail (Irish comhdháil), meaning a ‘meeting,’ and from it we have a derivative quaaltagh or qualtagh, meaning, according to Kelly’s Dictionary, ‘the first person or creature one meets going from home,’ whereby the author can have only meant the first met by one who is going from home. Kelly goes on to add that ‘this person is of great consequence to the superstitious, particularly to women the first time they go out after lying-in.’ Cregeen, in his Dictionary, defines the qualtagh as ‘the first person met on New Year’s Day, or on going on some new work, &c.’ Before proceeding to give the substance of my notes on the qualtagh of the present day I may as well finish with Cregeen, for he adds the following information:—‘A company of young lads or men generally went in [337]old times on what they termed the qualtagh, at Christmas or New Year’s Day, to the houses of their more wealthy neighbours; some one of the company repeating in an audible voice the following rhyme:—

Ollick ghennal erriu as bleïn feer vie,

Seihll as slaynt da’n slane lught thie;

Bea as gennallys en bio ry-cheilley,

Shee as graih eddyr mrane as deiney;

Cooid as cowryn, stock as stoyr,

Palchey phuddase, as skaddan dy-liooar,

Arran as caashey, eeym as roayrt;

Baase, myr lugh, ayns uhllin ny soalt;

Cadley sauchey tra vees shiu ny lhie,

As feeackle y jargan, nagh bee dy mie.

It may be loosely translated as follows:—

A merry Christmas, a happy new year,

Long life and health to all the household here.

Food and mirth to you dwelling together,

Peace and love to all, men and women;

Wealth and distinction, stock and store,

Potatoes enough, and herrings galore;

Bread and cheese, butter and gravy;

Die like a mouse in a barn or haggard;

In safety sleep while you lie to rest,

And by the flea’s tooth be not distressed.

At present New Year’s Day is the time when the qualtagh is of general interest, and in this case he is, outside the members of one’s own household, practically the first person one sees on the morning of that day, whether that person meets one out of doors or comes to one’s house. The following is what I have learnt by inquiry as to the qualtagh: all are agreed that he must not be a woman or girl, and that he must not be spaagagh or splay footed, while a woman from the parish of Marown told me that he must not have red hair. The prevalent belief, however, is that he should be a dark haired man or boy, and it is of no consequence how rough his appearance may be, provided he be black haired. However, I was told by one man in Rushen that the qualtagh or ‘first-foot’ need not be [338]a black haired person: he must be a man or boy. But this less restricted view is not the one held in the central and northern parts of the island, so far as I could ascertain. An English lady living in the neighbourhood of Castletown told me that her son, whom I know to be, like his mother, a blond, not being aware what consequences might be associated with his visit, called at a house in Castletown on the morning of New Year’s Day, and he chanced to be the qualtagh. The mistress of the house was horrified, and expressed to the English lady her anticipation of misfortunes; and as it happened that one of the children of the house died in the course of the year, the English lady has been reminded of it since. Naturally the association of these events are not pleasant to her; but, so far as I can remember, they date only some eight or nine years ago11.

By way of bringing Wales into comparison with Man, I may mention that, when I was a very small boy, I used to be sent very early on New Year’s morning to call on an old uncle of mine, because, as I was told, I should be certain to receive a calennig or a calends’ gift from him, but on no account would my sister be allowed to go, as he would only see a boy on such an occasion as that. I do not recollect anything being said as to the colour of one’s hair or the shape of one’s foot; but that sort of negative evidence is of very little value, as the qualtagh was fast passing out of consideration.

The preference here given to a boy over a girl looks like one of the widely spread superstitions which rule against the fair sex; but, as to the colour of the hair, I should be predisposed to think that it possibly rests [339]on racial antipathy, long ago forgotten; for it might perhaps be regarded as going back to a time when the dark haired race reckoned the Aryan of fair complexion as his natural enemy, the very sight of whom brought with it thoughts calculated to make him unhappy and despondent. If this idea proved to be approximately correct, one might suggest that the racial distinction in question referred to the struggles between the inhabitants of Man and their Scandinavian conquerors; but to my thinking it is just as likely that it goes much further back.

Lastly, what is one to say with regard to the spaagagh or splay footed person, now more usually defined as flat footed or having no instep? I have heard it said in the south of the island that it is unlucky to meet a spaagagh in the morning at any time of the year, and not on New Year’s Day alone; but this does not help us in the attempt to find the genesis of this belief. If it were said that it was unlucky to meet a deformed person, it would look somewhat more natural; but why fix on the flat footed especially? For my part I have not been trained to distinguish flat footed people, so I do not recollect noticing any in the Isle of Man; but, granting there may be a small proportion of such people in the island, does it not seem strange that they should have their importance so magnified as this superstition would seem to imply? I must confess that I cannot understand it, unless we have here also some supposed racial characteristic, let us say greatly exaggerated. To explain myself I should put it that the non-Aryan aborigines were a small people of great agility and nimbleness, and that their Aryan conquerors moved more slowly and deliberately, whence the former, of springier movements, might come to nickname the latter the flat footed. It is even conceivable that there was some [340]amount of foundation for it in fact. If I might speak from my own experience, I might mention a difficulty I have often had with shoes of English make, namely, that I have always found them, unless made to measure, apt to have their instep too low for me. It has never occurred to me to buy ready-made shoes in France or Germany, but I know a lady as Welsh as I am, who has often bought shoes in France, and her experience is, that it is much easier for her to get shoes there to fit her than in England, and for the very reason which I have already suggested, namely, that the instep in English shoes is lower than in French ones.

Again, I may mention that one day last term12, having to address a meeting of Welsh undergraduates on folklore, I ventured to introduce this question. They agreed with me that English shoes did not, as a rule, fit Welsh feet, and this because they are made too low in the instep: I ought to have said that they all agreed except one undergraduate, who held his peace. He is a tall man, powerful in the football field, but of no dark complexion, and I have never dared to look in the direction of his feet since, lest he should catch me carrying my comparisons to cruel extremes. Perhaps the flatness of the feet of the one race is not emphasized so much as the height of the instep in those of the other. At any rate I find this way of looking at the question somewhat countenanced by a journalist who refers his readers to Wm. Henderson’s notes on the Folklore of the Northern Counties, p. 74. The passage relates more particularly to Northumberland, and runs as follows:—‘In some districts, however, special weight is attached to the “first-foot” being that of a person with a high-arched instep, a foot that “water runs under.” A flat-footed person would bring great ill-luck for the coming year.’ [341]

These instances do not warrant the induction that Celts are higher in the instep than Teutons, and that they have inherited that characteristic from the non-Aryan element in their ancestry. Perhaps the explanation is, at least in part, that the dwellers in hilly regions tend to be more springy and to have higher insteps than the inhabitants of flatter lands. The statement of Dr. Karl Blind on this point does not help one to a decision when he speaks as follows in Folk-Lore for 1892, p. 89:—‘As to the instep, I can speak from personal experience. Almost every German finds that an English shoemaker makes his boots not high enough in the instep. The northern Germans (I am from the south) have perhaps slightly flatter feet than the southern Germans.’ The first part of the comparison is somewhat of a surprise to me, but not so the other part, that the southern Germans inhabiting a hillier country, and belonging to a different race, may well be higher in the instep than the more northern speakers of the German language. But on the whole the more one examines the qualtagh, the less clearly one sees how he can be the representative of a particular race. More data possibly would enable one to arrive at greater probability.

There is one other question which I should like to ask before leaving the qualtagh, namely, as to the relation of the custom of New Year’s gifts to the belief in the qualtagh. I have heard it related in the Isle of Man that women have been known to keep indoors on New Year’s Day until the qualtagh comes, which sometimes means their being prisoners for the greater part of the day, in order to avoid the risk of first meeting one who is not of the right sex and complexion. On the other hand, when the qualtagh is of the right description, considerable fuss is made of him; to say the least, he has to accept food and drink, possibly more permanent [342]gifts. Thus a tall, black haired native of Kirk Michael described to me how he chanced on New Year’s Day, years ago, to turn into a lonely cottage in order to light his pipe, and how he found he was the qualtagh: he had to sit down to have food, and when he went away it was with a present and the blessings of the family. Now New Year’s Day is the time for gifts in Wales, as shown by the name for them, calennig, which is derived from calan, the Welsh form of the Latin calendæ, New Year’s Day being in Welsh Y Calan, ‘the Calends.’ The same is the day for gifts in Scotland and in Ireland, except in so far as Christmas boxes have been making inroads from England: I need not add that the Jour de l’An is the day for gifts also in France. My question then is this: Is there any essential connexion of origin between the institution of New Year’s Day gifts and the belief in the first-foot?

Now that it has been indicated what sort of a qualtagh it is unlucky to have, I may as well proceed to mention the other things which I have heard treated as unlucky in the island. Some of them scarcely require to be noticed, as there is nothing specially Manx about them, such as the belief that it is unlucky to have the first glimpse of the new moon through glass. That is a superstition which is, I believe, widely spread, and, among other countries, it is quite familiar in Wales, where it is also unlucky to see the moon for the first time through a hedge or over a house. What this means I cannot guess, unless it be that it was once considered one’s duty to watch the first appearance of the new moon from the highest point in the landscape of the district in which one dwelt. Such a point would in that case become the chief centre of a moon worship now lost in oblivion.

It is believed in Man, as it used to be in Wales and [343]Ireland, that it is unlucky to disturb antiquities, especially old burial places and old churches. This superstition is unfortunately passing away in all three countries, but you still hear of it, especially in the Isle of Man, mostly after mischief has been done. Thus a good Manx scholar told me how a relative of his in the Ronnag, a small valley near South Barrule, had carted away the earth from an old burial ground on his farm and used it as manure for his fields, and how his beasts died afterwards. The narrator said he did not know whether there was any truth in it, but everybody believed that it was the reason why the cattle died; and so did the farmer himself at last: so he desisted from completing his disturbance of the old site. It is possibly for a similar reason that a house in ruins is seldom pulled down, or the materials used for other buildings. Where that has been done misfortunes have ensued; at any rate, I have heard it said so more than once. I ought to have stated that the non-disturbance of antiquities in the island is quite consistent with their being now and then shamefully neglected as elsewhere. This is now met by an excellent statute recently enacted by the House of Keys for the preservation of the public monuments of the island.

Of the other and more purely Manx superstitions I may mention one which obtains among the Peel fishermen of the present day: no boat is willing to be third in the order of sailing out from Peel harbour to the fisheries. So it sometimes happens that after two boats have departed, the others remain watching each other for days, each hoping that somebody else may be reckless enough to break through the invisible barrier of ‘bad luck.’ I have often asked for an explanation of this superstition, but the only intelligible answer I have had was that it has been observed that the third boat [344]has done badly several years in succession; but I am unable to ascertain how far that represents the fact. Another of the unlucky things is to have a white stone in the boat, even in the ballast, and for that I never could get any explanation at all; but there is no doubt as to the fact of this superstition, and I may illustrate it from the case of a clergyman’s son on the west side, who took it into his head to go out with some fishermen several days in succession. They chanced to be unsuccessful each time, and they gave their Jonah the nickname of Clagh Vane, or ‘White Stone.’ Now what can be the origin of this tabu? It seems to me that if the Manx had once a habit of adorning the graves of the departed with white stones, that circumstance would be a reasonable explanation of the superstition in question. Further, it is quite possible they did, and here Manx archæologists could probably help as to the matter of fact. In the absence, however, of information to the point from Man, I take the liberty of citing some relating to Scotland. It comes from Mr. Gomme’s presidential address to the Folk-Lore Society: see Folk-Lore for 1893, pp. 13–4:—

‘Near Inverary, it is the custom among the fisher-folk, and has been so within the memory of the oldest, to place little white stones or pebbles on the graves of their friends. No reason is now given for the practice, beyond that most potent and delightful of all reasons in the minds of folk-lore students, namely, that it has always been done. Now there is nothing between this modern practice sanctioned by traditional observance and the practice of the stone-age people in the same neighbourhood and in others, as made known to us by their grave-relics. Thus, in a cairn at Achnacrie opened by Dr. Angus Smith, on entering the innermost chamber “the first thing that struck the eye was a row of quartz [345]pebbles larger than a walnut; these were arranged on the ledge of the lower granite block of the east side.” Near Crinan, at Duncraigaig and at Rudie, the same characteristic was observed, and Canon Greenwell, who examined the cairns, says the pebbles “must have been placed there with some intention, and probably possessed a symbolic meaning.” ’ See also Burghead, by Mr. H. W. Young (Inverness, 1899), p. 10, where we read that at Burghead the ‘smooth white pebbles, sometimes five or seven of them, but never more,’ have been usually arranged as crosses on the graves which he has found under the fallen ramparts. Can this be a Christian superstition with the white stones of the Apocalypse as its foundation?

Here I may mention a fact which I do not know where else to put, namely, that a fisherman on his way in the morning to the fishing, and chancing to pass by the cottage of another fisherman who is not on friendly terms with him, will pluck a straw from the thatch of the latter’s dwelling. Thereby he is supposed to rob him of his luck in the fishing for that day. One would expect to learn that the straw from the thatch served as the subject of an incantation directed against the owner of the thatch. I have never heard anything suggested to that effect; but I conclude that the plucking of the straw is only a partial survival of what was once a complete ritual for bewitching one’s neighbour, unless getting possession of the straw was supposed to carry with it possession of everything belonging to the other man, including his luck in fishing for that day.

Owing to my ignorance as to the superstitions of other fishermen than those of the Isle of Man, I will not attempt to classify the remaining instances to be mentioned, such as the unluckiness of mentioning a horse or a mouse on board a fishing-boat: I seem, [346]however, to have heard of similar tabus among Scottish fishermen; and, according to Dr. Blind, Shetland fishermen will not mention a church or a clergyman when out at sea, but use quite other names for both when on board a ship (Folk-Lore for 1892, p. 89). Novices in the Manx fisheries have to learn not to point to anything with one finger: they have to point with the whole hand or not at all. This looks as if it belonged to a code of rules as to the use of the hand, such as prevail among the Neapolitans and other peoples whose chief article of faith is the belief in malign influences: see Mr. Elworthy’s volume on The Evil Eye.

Whether the Manx are alone in thinking it unlucky to lend salt from one boat to another when they are engaged in the fishing, I know not: such lending would probably be inconvenient, but why it should be unlucky, as they believe it to be, does not appear. The first of May is a day on which it is unlucky to lend anything, and especially to give anyone fire13. This looks as if it pointed back to some druidic custom of lighting all fires at that time from a sacred hearth, but, so far as is known, this only took place at the beginning of the other half-year, namely, Sauin or Allhallows, which is sometimes rendered into Manx as Laa ’ll mooar ny Saintsh, ‘the Day of the great Feast of the Saints.’

Lastly, I may mention that it is unlucky to say that you are very well: at any rate, I infer that it is regarded so, as you will never get a Manxman to say that he is feer vie, ‘very well.’ He usually admits that he is ‘middling’; and if by any chance he risks a stronger adjective, he hastens to qualify it by adding ‘now,’ or ‘just now,’ with an emphasis indicative of his anxiety not to say [347]too much. His habits of speech point back to a time when the Manx mind was dominated by the fear of awaking malignant influences in the spirit world around him. This has had the effect of giving the Manx peasant’s character a tinge of reserve and suspicion, which makes it difficult to gain his confidence: his acquaintance has, therefore, to be cultivated for some time before you can say that you know the workings of his heart. The pagan belief in a Nemesis has doubtless passed away, but not without materially affecting the Manx idea of a personal devil. Ever since the first allusion made in my hearing by Manxmen to the devil, I have been more and more deeply impressed that for them the devil is a much more formidable being than Englishmen or Welshmen picture him. He is a graver and, if I may say so, a more respectable being, allowing no liberties to be taken with his name, so you had better not call him a devil, the evil one, or like names, for his proper designation is Noid ny Hanmey, ‘the Enemy of the Soul,’ and in ordinary Anglo-Manx conversation he is commonly called ‘the Enemy of Souls.’ I well remember getting one day into a conversation with an old soldier in the south of the island. He was, as I soon discovered, labouring under a sort of theological monomania, and his chief question was concerning the Welsh word for ‘the Enemy of Souls.’ I felt at once that I had to be careful, and that the reputation of my countrymen depended on how I answered. As I had no name anything like the one he used for the devil, I explained to him that the Welsh, though not a great nation, were great students of theology, and that they had by no means neglected the great branch of it known as satanology. In fact that study, as I went on to say, had left its impress on the Welsh language: on Sunday the ministers of all denominations, the deacons [348]and elders, and all self-respecting congregations spoke of the devil trisyllabically as diafol, while on the other days of the week everybody called him more briefly and forcibly diawl, except bards concocting an awdl for an Eisteđfod, where the devil must always be called diafl, and excepting also sailors, farm servants, post-boys and colliers, together with country gentlemen learning Welsh to address their wouldn’t-be constituents—for all these the regulation form was jawl, with an English j. Thus one could, I pointed out to him, fix the social standing of a Welshman by the way he named ‘the Enemy of Souls,’ as well as appreciate the superiority of Welsh over Greek, seeing that Welsh, when it borrowed διάβολος from Greek, quadrupled it, while Greek remained sterile. He was so profoundly impressed that I never was able to bring his attention back to the small fry, spiritually speaking, of the Isle of Man, to wit, the fairies and the fenodyree, or even the witches and the charmers, except that he had some reserve of faith in witches, since the witch of Endor was in the Bible and had ascribed to her a ‘terr’ble’ great power of raising spirits: that, he thought, must be true. I pointed out to him that a fenodyree (see p. 288) was also mentioned in his Bible: this display of ready knowledge on my part made a deep impression on his mind.

The Manx are, as a rule, a sober people, and highly religious; as regards their tenets, they are mostly members of the Church of England or Wesleyan Methodists, or else both, which is by no means unusual. Religious phrases are not rare in their ordinary conversation; in fact, they struck me as being of more frequent occurrence than in Wales, even the Wales of my boyhood; and here and there this fondness for religious phraseology has left its traces on the native vocabulary. Take, for example, the word for ‘anybody, a person, or human [349]being,’ which Cregeen writes py’agh or p’agh: he rightly regards it as the colloquial pronunciation of peccagh, ‘a sinner.’ So, when one knocks at a Manx door and calls out, Vel p’agh sthie? he literally asks, ‘Is there any sinner indoors?’ The question has, however, been explained to me, with unconscious irony, as properly meaning, ‘Is there any Christian indoors?’ and care is now taken in reading to pronounce the middle consonants of the word peccagh, ‘sinner,’ so as to distinguish it from the word for a Christian ‘anybody’: but the identity of origin is unmistakable.

Lastly, the fact that a curse is a species of prayer, to wit, a prayer for evil to follow, is well exemplified in Manx by the same words, gwee14, plural gwecaghyn, meaning both kinds of prayer. Thus I found myself stumbling several times, in reading through the Psalms in Manx, from not bearing in mind the sinister meaning of these words; for example in Psalm xiv. 6, where we have Ta ’n beeal oc lane dy ghweeaghyn as dy herriuid, which I mechanically construed to mean ‘Their mouth is full of praying and bitterness,’ instead of ‘cursing and bitterness’; and so in other cases, such as Ps. x. 7, and cix. 27.

It occurred to me on various occasions to make inquiries as to the attitude of religious Manxmen towards witchcraft and the charmer’s vocation. Nobody, so far as I know, accuses them of favouring witchcraft in any way whatsoever; but as to the reality of witches and witchcraft they are not likely to have any doubts so long as they dwell on the Biblical account of the witch of Endor, as I have already mentioned in the case of the old Crimean soldier. Then as to charmers [350]I have heard it distinctly stated that the most religious men are they who have most confidence in charmers and their charms; and a lay preacher whom I know has been mentioned to me as now and then doing a little charming in cases of danger or pressing need. On the whole, I think the charge against religious people of consulting charmers is somewhat exaggerated; but I believe that recourse to the charmer is more usual and more openly had than, for example, in Wales, where those who consult a dyn hyspys or ‘wise man’ have to do it secretly, and at the risk of being expelled by their co-religionists from the Seiet or ‘Society.’ There is somewhat in the atmosphere of Man to remind one rather of the Wales of a past generation—Wales as it was at the time when the Rev. Edmund Jones could write a Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the County of Monmouth and the Principality of Wales, as a book ‘designed to confute and to prevent the infidelity of denying the being and apparition of spirits, which tends to irreligion and atheism’: see pp. 174, 195 above.

The Manx peasantry are perhaps the most independent and prosperous in the British Isles; but their position geographically and politically has been favourable to the continuance of ideas not quite up to the level of the latest papers on Darwinism and Evolution read at our Church Congresses in this country. This may be thought to be here wide of the mark; but, after giving, in the previous chapter, specimens of rather ancient superstitions as recently known in the island, it is but right that one should form an idea of the surroundings in which they have lingered into modern times. Perhaps nothing will better serve to bring this home to the reader’s mind than the fact, for which there is proof, that old people still living remember men and [351]women clad in white sheets doing penance publicly in the churches of Man.

The following is the evidence which I was able to find, and I may state that I first heard in 1888 of the public penance from Mr. Joughin, who was an aged man and a native of Kirk Bride. He related how a girl named Mary Dick gave an impertinent answer to the clergyman when he was catechizing her class, and how she had to do penance for it at church. She took her revenge on the parson by singing, while attending in a white sheet, louder than everybody else in the congregation. This, unless I am mistaken, Mr. Joughin gave me to understand he had heard from his father. I mentioned the story to a clergyman, who was decidedly of opinion that no one alive now could remember anything about public penance. Not long after, however, I got into conversation with a shoemaker at Kirk Michael, named Dan Kelly, who was nearly completing his eighty-first year. He was a native of Ballaugh, and stated that he remembered many successive occupants of the episcopal see. A long time ago the official called the sumner had, out of spite he said, appointed him to serve as one of the four of the chapter jury. It was, he thought, when he was about twenty-five. During his term of office he saw four persons, of whom two were married men and two unmarried women, doing penance in the parish church of Ballaugh for having illegitimate children. They stood in the alley of the church, and the sumner had to throw white sheets over them; on the fourth Sunday of their penance they stood inside the chancel rails, but not to take the communion. The parson, whose name was Stowell or Stowall, made them thoroughly ashamed of themselves on the fourth Sunday, as one of the men afterwards admitted. Kelly mentioned the names of the women and of one of the [352]men, and he indicated to me some of their descendants as well known in the neighbourhood. I cross-examined him all the more severely, as I had heard the other view of the remoteness of the date. But nothing could shake Kelly, who added that soon after the date of the above mentioned cases the civil functionary, known as the vicar-general, put an end to the chapter jury and to public penance: according to his reckoning the penance he spoke of must have taken place about 1832. Another old man, named Kewley, living now near Kirk Michael, but formerly in the parish of Lezayre, had a similar story. He thinks that he was born in the sixth year of the century, and when he was between eighteen and twenty he saw a man doing public penance, in Lezayre Church, I presume, but I have no decided note on that point. However that may be, he remembered that the penitent, when he had done his penance, had the audacity to throw the white sheet over the sumner, who, the penitent remarked, might now wear it himself, as he had had enough of it. Kewley would bring the date only down to about 1825.

Lastly, I was in the island again in 1891, and spent the first part of the month of April at Peel, where I had conversations with a retired captain who was then about seventy-eight. He is a native of the parish of Dalby, but he was only ‘a lump of a boy’ when the last couple of immorals were forced to do penance in white sheets at church. He gave me the guilty man’s name, and the name of his home in the parish, and both the captain and his daughter assured me that the man had only been dead six or seven years; that is, the penitent seems to have lived till about the year 1884. I may here mention that the parish of Dalby is the subject of many tales, which go to show that its people were more old-fashioned in their ways than those of the rest of the [353]island. It appears to have been the last, also, to be reached by a cart road; and I was amused by a native’s description of the men at Methodist meetings in Dalby pulling the tappag, or forelock, at the name of Jesus, while the women ducked a curtsy in a dangerously abrupt fashion. He and his wife appeared to be quite used to it: the husband was an octogenarian named Quirc, who was born on the coast near the low-lying peninsula called the Niarbyl, that is to say ‘the Tail.’

To return to the public penance, it seems to us in this country to belong, so to say, to ancient history, and it transports us to a state of things which we find it hard to realize. The lapse of years has brought about profounder changes in our greater Isle of Britain than in the smaller Isle of Man, while we ourselves, helpless to escape the pervading influence of those profounder changes, become living instances of the comprehensive truth of the German poet’s words,

Omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.


1 My paper was read before the Folk-Lore Society in April or May, 1891, and Miss Peacock’s notes appeared in the journal of the Society in the following December: see pp. 509–13. 

2 See Choice Notes, p. 76. 

3 See the third edition of Wm. Nicholson’s Poetical Works (Castle-Douglas, 1878), pp. 78, 81. 

4 See p. 321 above and the references there given; also Howells’ Cambrian Superstitions, p. 58. 

5 Pomponius Mela De Chorographia, edited by Parthey, iii, chap. 6 (p. 72); see also my Hibbert Lectures, pp. 195–6, where, however, the identification of the name Sena with that of Sein should be cancelled. Sein seems to be derived from the Breton Seidhun, otherwise modified into Sizun and Sun: see chap. vi below. 

6 See my Hibbert Lectures, pp. 195–7; also my Arthurian Legend, pp. 367–8, where a passage in point is cited at length from Plutarch De Defectu Oraculorum, xviii. (= the Didot edition of Plutarch’s works, iii. 511); the substance of it will be found given likewise in chap. viii below. 

7 For an allusion to the traffic in winds in Wales see Howells, p. 86, where he speaks as follows:—‘In Pembrokeshire there was a person commonly known as the cunning man of Pentregethen, who sold winds to the sailors, after the manner of the Lapland witches, and who was reverenced in the neighbourhood in which he dwelt, much more than the divines.’ 

8 This may turn out to be all wrong; for I learn from the Rev. John Quine, vicar of Malew, in Man, that there is a farm called Balthane or Bolthane south of Ballasalla, and that in the computus (of 1540) of the Abbey Tenants it is called Biulthan. This last, if originally a man’s name, would [334]seem to point back to some such a compound as Beo-Ultán. In his Manx Names, p. 138, Mr. Moore suggests the possibility of explaining the name as bwoailtyn, ‘folds or pens’; but the accentuation places that out of the question. See also the Lioar Manninagh, iii. 167, where Mr. C. Roeder, referring to the same computus passage, gives the name as Builthan in the boundary inter Cross Jvar Builthan. This would be read by Mr. Quine as inter Cross Ivar et Biulthan, ‘between Cross-Ivar and Bolthane.’ For the text of the boundary see Johnstone’s edition of the Chronicon Manniæ (Copenhagen, 1786), p. 48, and Oliver’s Monumenta de Insula Manniæ, vol. i. p. 207; see also Mr. Quine’s paper on the Boundary of Abbey Lands in the Lioar Manninagh, iii. 422–3. 

9 I say ‘approximately,’ as, more strictly speaking, the ordinary pronunciation is Sn̥đǣ́n, almost as one syllable, and from this arises a variant, which is sometimes written Stondane, while the latest English development, regardless of the accentuation of the Anglo-Manx form, which is Santon, pronounced Sántn̥, makes the parish into a St. Ann’s! For the evidence that it was the parish of a St. Sanctán see Moore’s Names, p. 209. 

10 The Athenæum for April 1, 1893, p. 415. I may here remark that Mr. Borlase’s note on do fhagaint is, it seems to me, unnecessary: let do fhagaint stand, and translate, not ‘I leave’ but ‘to leave.’ The letter should be consulted for curious matter concerning Croagh Patrick, its pagan stations, cup-markings, &c. 

11 Since this paper was read to the Folk-Lore Society a good deal of information of one kind or another has appeared in its journal concerning the first-foot: see more especially Folk-Lore for 1892, pp. 253–64, and for 1893, pp. 309–21. 

12 This was written at the beginning of the year 1892. 

13 With this compare what Mr. Gomme has to say of a New Year’s Day custom observed in Lanarkshire: see p. 633 of the Ethnographic Report referred to at p. 103 above, and compare Henderson, p. 74. 

14 Old-fashioned grammarians and dictionary makers are always delighted to handle Mrs. Partington’s broom: so Kelly thinks he has done a fine thing by printing guee, ‘prayer,’ and gwee, ‘cursing.’ 



The Folklore of the Wells

… Iuvat integros accedere fontes.—Lucretius.

It is only recently1 that I heard for the first time of Welsh instances of the habit of tying rags and bits of clothing to the branches of a tree growing near a holy well. Since then I have obtained several items of information in point: the first is a communication received in June, 1892, from Mr. J. H. Davies, of Lincoln College, Oxford—since then of Lincoln’s Inn—relating to a Glamorganshire holy well, situated near the pathway leading from Coychurch to Bridgend. It is the custom there, he states, for people suffering from any malady to dip a rag in the water, and to bathe the affected part of the body, the rag being then placed on a tree close to the well. When Mr. Davies passed that way, some three years previously, there were, he adds, hundreds of such shreds on the tree, some of which distinctly presented the appearance of having been very recently placed there. The well is called Ffynnon Cae Moch, ‘Swine-field Well,’ which can hardly have been its old name; and a later communication from Mr. Davies summarizes a conversation which he had about the well, on December 16, 1892, with Mr. J. T. Howell, of Pencoed, near Bridgend. His notes run thus:—‘Ffynnon Cae Moch, between Coychurch and Bridgend, is one [355]mile from Coychurch, one and a quarter from Bridgend, near Tremains. It is within twelve or fifteen yards of the high-road, just where the pathway begins. People suffering from rheumatism go there. They bathe the part affected with water, and afterwards tie a piece of rag to the tree which overhangs the well. The rag is not put in the water at all, but is only put on the tree for luck. It is a stunted, but very old tree, and is simply covered with rags.’ A little less than a year later, I had an opportunity of visiting this well in the company of Mr. Brynmor-Jones; and I find in my notes that it is not situated so near the road as Mr. Howell would seem to have stated to Mr. Davies. We found the well, which is a powerful spring, surrounded by a circular wall. It is overshadowed by a dying thorn tree, and a little further back stands another thorn which is not so decayed: it was on this latter thorn we found the rags. I took off a twig with two rags, while Mr. Brynmor-Jones counted over a dozen other rags on the tree; and we noticed that some of them had only recently been suspended there: among them were portions undoubtedly of a woman’s clothing. At one of the hotels at Bridgend, I found an illiterate servant who was acquainted with the well, and I cross-examined him on the subject of it. He stated that a man with a wound, which he explained to mean a cut, would go and stand in the well within the wall, and there he would untie the rag that had been used to tie up the wound and would wash the wound with it: then he would tie up the wound with a fresh rag and hang the old one on the tree. The more respectable people whom I questioned talked more vaguely, and only of tying a rag to the tree, except one who mentioned a pin being thrown into the well or a rag being tied to the tree.

My next informant is Mr. D. J. Jones, a native of the [356]Rhonđa Valley, in the same county of Glamorgan. He was an undergraduate of Jesus College, Oxford, when I consulted him in 1892. His information was to the effect that he knows of three interesting wells in the county. The first is situated within two miles of his home, and is known as Ffynnon Pen Rhys, or the Well of Pen Rhys. The custom there is that the person who wishes his health to be benefited should wash in the water of the well, and throw a pin into it afterwards. He next mentions a well at Ỻancarvan, some five or six miles from Cowbridge, where the custom prevails of tying rags to the branches of a tree growing close at hand. Lastly, he calls my attention to a passage in Hanes Morganwg, ‘The History of Glamorgan,’ written by Mr. D. W. Jones, known in Welsh literature as Dafyđ Morganwg. In that work, p. 29, the author speaks of Ffynnon Marcros, ‘the Well of Marcros,’ to the following effect:—‘It is the custom for those who are healed in it to tie a shred of linen or cotton to the branches of a tree that stands close by; and there the shreds are, almost as numerous as the leaves.’ Marcros is, I may say, near Nash Point, and looks on the map as if it were about eight miles distant from Bridgend. Let me here make it clear that so far we have had to do with four different wells2, three of which are severally distinguished by the presence of a tree adorned with rags by those who seek health in those waters; but they are all three, as the reader will have doubtless noticed, in the same district, namely, the part of Glamorganshire near the main line of the Great Western Railway.

There is no reason, however, to think that the custom of tying rags to a well tree was peculiar to that part of [357]the Principality. One day, in looking through some old notes of mine, I came across an entry bearing the date of August 7, 1887, when I was spending a few days with my friend, Chancellor Silvan Evans, at Ỻanwrin Rectory, near Machynỻeth. Mrs. Evans was then alive and well, and took a keen interest in Welsh antiquities and folklore. Among other things, she related to me how she had, some twenty years before, visited a well in the parish of Ỻandriỻo yn Rhos, namely Ffynnon Eilian, or Elian’s Well, between Abergele and Ỻandudno, when her attention was directed to some bushes near the well, which had once been covered with bits of rags left by those who frequented the well. This was told Mrs. Evans by an old woman of seventy, who, on being questioned by Mrs. Evans concerning the history of the well, informed her that the rags used to be tied to the bushes by means of wool. She was explicit on the point, that wool had to be used for the purpose, and that even woollen yarn would not do: it had to be wool in its natural state. The old woman remembered this to have been the rule ever since she was a child. Mrs. Evans noticed corks, with pins stuck in them, floating in the well, and her informant remembered many more in years gone by; for Elian’s Well was once in great repute as a ffynnon reibio, or a well to which people resorted for the kindly purpose of bewitching those whom they hated. I infer, however, from what Mrs. Evans was told of the rags, that Elian’s Well was visited, not only by the malicious, but also by the sick and suffering. My note is not clear on the point whether there were any rags on the bushes by the well when Mrs. Evans visited the spot, or whether she was only told of them by the caretaker. Even in the latter case it seems evident that this habit of tying rags to trees or bushes near sacred wells has only [358]ceased in that part of Denbighshire within this century. It is very possible that it continued in North Wales more recently than this instance would lead one to suppose; indeed, I should not be in the least surprised to learn that it is still practised in out of the way places in Gwyneđ, just as it is in Glamorgan: we want more information.

I cannot say for certain whether it was customary in any of the cases to which I have called attention to tie rags to the well tree as well as to throw pins or other small objects into the well; but I cannot help adhering to the view, that the distinction was probably an ancient one between two orders of things. In other words, I am inclined to believe that the rag was regarded as the vehicle of the disease of which the ailing visitor to the well wished to be rid, and that the bead, button, or coin deposited by him in the well, or in a receptacle near the well, formed alone the offering. In opposition to this view Mr. Gomme has expressed himself as follows in Folk-Lore, 1892, p. 89:—‘There is some evidence against that, from the fact that in the case of some wells, especially in Scotland at one time, the whole garment was put down as an offering. Gradually these offerings of clothes became less and less till they came down to rags. Also in other parts, the geographical distribution of rag-offerings coincides with the existence of monoliths and dolmens.’ As to the monoliths and dolmens, I am too little conversant with the facts to risk any opinion as to the value of the coincidence; but as to the suggestion that the rag originally meant the whole garment, that will suit my hypothesis admirably. In other words, the whole garment was, as I take it, the vehicle of the disease: the whole was accursed, and not merely a part. But Mr. Gomme had previously touched on the question in his presidential address (Folk-Lore for 1892, p. 13); and I must [359]at once admit that he succeeded then in proving that a certain amount of confusion occurs between things which I should regard as belonging originally to distinct categories: witness the inimitable Irish instance which he quotes:—‘To St. Columbkill—I offer up this button, a bit o’ the waistband o’ my own breeches, an’ a taste o’ my wife’s petticoat, in remimbrance of us havin’ made this holy station; an’ may they rise up in glory to prove it for us in the last day.’ Here not only the button is treated as an offering, but also the bits of clothing; but the confusion of ideas I should explain as being, at least in part, one of the natural results of substituting a portion of a garment for the entire garment; for thereby a button or a pin becomes a part of the dress, and capable of being interpreted in two senses. After all, however, the ordinary practices have not, as I look at them, resulted in effacing the distinction altogether: the rag is not left in the well; nor is the bead, button, or pin attached to a branch of the tree. So, in the main, it seemed to me easier to explain the facts, taken altogether, on the supposition that originally the rag was regarded as the vehicle of the disease, and the bead, button, or coin as the offering. My object in calling attention to this point was to have it discussed, and I am happy to say that I have not been disappointed; for, since my remarks were published3, a paper entitled Pin-wells and Rag-bushes was read before the British Association by Mr. Hartland, in 1893, and published in Folk-Lore for the same year, pp. 451–70. In that paper the whole question is gone into with searching logic, and Mr. Hartland finds the required explanation in one of the dogmas of magic. For ‘if an article of my clothing,’ he says, ‘in a witch’s hands may cause me to suffer, the same article in contact with a beneficent power may relieve my pain, restore me to [360]health, or promote my general prosperity. A pin that has pricked my wart … has by its contact, by the wound it has inflicted, acquired a peculiar bond with the wart; the rag that has rubbed the wart has by that friction acquired a similar bond; so that whatever is done to the pin or the rag, whatever influences the pin or the rag may undergo, the same influences are by that very act brought to bear, upon the wart. If, instead of using a rag, or making a pilgrimage to a sacred well, I rub my warts with raw meat and then bury the meat, the wart will decay and disappear with the decay and dissolution of the meat …. In like manner my shirt or stocking, or a rag to represent it, placed upon a sacred bush, or thrust into a sacred well—my name written upon the walls of a temple—a stone or a pellet from my hand cast upon a sacred image or a sacred cairn—is thenceforth in continual contact with divinity; and the effluence of divinity, reaching and involving it, will reach and involve me.’ Mr. Hartland concludes from a large number of instances, that as a rule ‘where the pin or button is dropped into the well, the patient does not trouble about the rag, and vice versa.’ This wider argument as to the effluence of the divinity of a particular spot of special holiness seems to me conclusive. It applies also, needless to say, to a large category of cases besides those in question between Mr. Gomme and the present writer.

So now I would revise my position thus:—I continue to regard the rag much as before, but treat the article thrown into the well as the more special means of establishing a beneficial relation with the well divinity: whether it could also be viewed as an offering would depend on the value attached to it. Some of the following notes may serve as illustrations, especially those relating to the wool and the pin:—Ffynnon [361]Gwynwy, or the Well of Gwynwy, near Ỻangelynin, on the river Conwy, appears to be partly in point; for it formerly used to be well stocked with crooked pins, which nobody would touch lest he might get from them the warts supposed to attach to them, whence it would appear that a pin might be regarded as the vehicle of the disease. There was a well of some repute at Cae Garw, in the parish of Pistyỻ, near the foot of Carnguwch, in Ỻeyn, or West Carnarvonshire. The water possessed virtues to cure one of rheumatism and warts; but, in order to be rid of the latter, it was requisite to throw a pin into the well for each individual wart. For these two items of information, and several more to be mentioned presently, I have to thank Mr. John Jones, better known in Wales by his bardic name of Myrđin Farđ, and as an enthusiastic collector of Welsh antiquities, whether in the form of manuscript or of unwritten folklore. On the second day of the year 1893 I paid him a visit at Chwilog, on the Carnarvon and Avon Wen Railway, and asked him many questions: these he not only answered with the utmost willingness, but he also showed me the unpublished materials which he had collected. I come next to a competition on the folklore of North Wales at the London Eisteđfod in 1887, in which, as one of the adjudicators, I observed that several of the competitors mentioned the prevalent belief, that every well with healing properties must have its outlet towards the south (i’r dê). According to one of them, if you wished to get rid of warts, you should, on your way to the well, look for wool which the sheep had lost. When you had found enough wool you should prick each wart with a pin, and then rub the wart well with the wool. The next thing was to bend the pin and throw it into the well. Then you [362]should place the wool on the first whitethorn you could find, and as the wind scattered the wool, the warts would disappear. There was a well of the kind, the writer went on to say, near his home; and he, with three or four other boys, went from school one day to the well to charm their warts away. For he had twenty-three on one of his hands; so that he always tried to hide it, as it was the belief that if one counted the warts they would double their number. He forgets what became of the other boys’ warts, but his own disappeared soon afterwards; and his grandfather used to maintain that it was owing to the virtue of the well. Such were the words of this writer, whose name is unknown to me; but I guess him to have been a native of Carnarvonshire, or else of one of the neighbouring districts of Denbighshire or Merionethshire. To return to Myrđin Farđ, he mentioned Ffynnon Cefn Ỻeithfan, or the Well of the Ỻeithfan Ridge, on the eastern slope of Mynyđ y Rhiw, in the parish of Bryncroes, in the west of Ỻeyn. In the case of this well it is necessary, when going to it and coming from it, to be careful not to utter a word to anybody, or to turn to look back. What one has to do at the well is to bathe the warts with a rag or clout which has grease on it. When that is done, the clout with the grease has to be carefully concealed beneath the stone at the mouth of the well. This brings to my mind the fact that I noticed more than once, years ago, rags underneath stones in the water flowing from wells in Wales, and sometimes thrust into holes in the walls of wells, but I had no notion how they came there.

On the subject of pin-wells I had in 1893, from Mr. T. E. Morris, of Portmadoc, barrister-at-law, some account of Ffynnon Faglan, or Baglan’s Well, in the parish of Ỻanfaglan, near Carnarvon. The well is [363]situated in an open field to the right of the road leading towards the church, and close to it. The church and churchyard form an enclosure in the middle of the same field, and the former has in its wall the old stone reading FILI LOVERNII ANATEMORI. My friend derived information from Mrs. Roberts, of Cefn y Coed, near Carnarvon, as follows:—‘The old people who would be likely to know anything about Ffynnon Faglan have all died. The two oldest inhabitants, who have always lived in this parish of Ỻanfaglan, remember the well being used for healing purposes. One told me his mother used to take him to it, when he was a child, for sore eyes, bathe them with the water, and then drop in a pin. The other man, when he was young, bathed in it for rheumatism; and until quite lately people used to fetch away the water for medicinal purposes. The latter, who lives near the well, at Tan y Graig, said that he remembered it being cleaned out about fifty years ago, when two basinfuls of pins were taken out, but no coin of any kind. The pins were all bent, and I conclude the intention was to exorcise the evil spirit supposed to afflict the person who dropped them in, or, as the Welsh say, dadwitsio. No doubt some ominous words were also used. The well is at present nearly dry, the field where it lies having been drained some years ago, and the water in consequence withdrawn from it. It was much used for the cure of warts. The wart was washed, then pricked with a pin, which, after being bent, was thrown into the well. There is a very large and well-known well of the kind at C’lynnog, Ffynnon Beuno, “St. Beuno’s Well,” which was considered to have miraculous healing powers; and even yet, I believe, some people have faith in it. Ffynnon Faglan is, in its construction, an imitation, on a smaller scale, of St. Beuno’s Well at C’lynnog.’ [364]

In the cliffs at the west end of Ỻeyn is a wishing-well called Ffynnon Fair, or St. Mary’s Well, to the left of the site of Eglwys Fair, and facing Ynys Enỻi, or Bardsey. Here, to obtain your wish, you have to descend the steps to the well and walk up again to the top with your mouth full of the water; and then you have to go round the ruins of the church once or more times with the water still in your mouth. Viewing the position of the well from the sea, I should be disposed to think that the realization of one’s wish at that price could not be regarded as altogether cheap. Myrđin Farđ also told me that there used to be a well near Criccieth Church. It was known as Ffynnon y Saint, or the Saints’ Well, and it was the custom to throw keys or pins into it on the morning of Easter Sunday, in order to propitiate St. Catherine, who was the patron of the well. I should be glad to know what this exactly meant.

Lastly, a few of the wells in that part of Gwyneđ may be grouped together and described as oracular. One of these, the big well in the parish of Ỻanbedrog in Ỻeyn, as I learn from Myrđin Farđ, required the devotee to kneel by it and avow his faith in it. When this had been duly done, he might proceed in this wise: to ascertain, for instance, the name of the thief who had stolen from him, he had to throw a bit of bread into the well and name the person whom he suspected. At the name of the thief the bread would sink; so the inquirer went on naming all the persons he could think of until the bit of bread sank, when the thief was identified. How far is one to suppose that we have here traces of the influences of the water ordeal common in the Middle Ages? Another well of the same kind was Ffynnon Saethon, in Ỻanfihangel Bacheỻaeth parish, also in Ỻeyn. Here it was customary, as he had it in writing, [365]for lovers to throw pins (pinnau) into the well; but these pins appear to have been the points of the blackthorn. At any rate, they cannot well have been of any kind of metal, as we are told that, if they sank in the water, one concluded that one’s lover was not sincere in his or her love.

Next may be mentioned a well, bearing the remarkable name of Ffynnon Gwyneđ, or the Well of Gwyned, which is situated near Mynyđ Mawr, in the parish of Abererch: it used to be consulted in the following manner:—When it was desired to discover whether an ailing person would recover, a garment of his would be thrown into the well, and according to the side on which it sank it was known whether he would live or die.

Ffynnon Gybi, or St. Cybi’s Well, in the parish of Ỻangybi, was the scene of a somewhat similar practice; for there, girls who wished to know their lovers’ intentions would spread their pocket-handkerchiefs on the water of the well, and, if the water pushed the handkerchiefs to the south—in Welsh i’r dê—they knew that everything was right—in Welsh o đê—and that their lovers were honest and honourable in their intentions; but, if the water shifted the handkerchiefs northwards, they concluded the contrary. A reference to this is made by a modern Welsh poet, as follows:—

Ambeỻ đyn, gwaelđyn, a gyrch

I bant gorís Moel Bentyrch,

Mewn gobaith mai hen Gybi

Glodfawr syđ yn ỻwyđaw’r ỻi.

Some folks, worthless4 folks, visit

A hollow below Moel Bentyrch,

In hopes that ancient Kybi

Of noble fame blesses the flood.

The spot is not far from where Myrđin Farđ lives; and he mentioned, that adjoining the well is a building which was probably intended for the person in charge [366]of the well: it has been tenanted within his memory. Not only for this but also for several of the foregoing items of information am I indebted to Myrđin; and now I come to Mrs. Williams-Ellis, of Glasfryn Uchaf, who tells me that one day not long ago, she met at Ỻangybi a native who had not visited the place since his boyhood: he had been away as an engineer in South Wales nearly all his life, but had returned to see an aged relative. So the reminiscences of the place filled his mind, and, among other things, he said that he remembered very well what concern there was one day in the village at a mischievous person having taken a very large eel out of the well. Many of the old people, he said, felt that much of the virtue of the well was probably taken away with the eel. To see it coiling about their limbs when they went into the water was a good sign: so he gave one to understand. As a sort of parallel I may mention that I have seen the fish living in Ffynnon Beris, not far from the parish church of Ỻanberis. It is jealously guarded by the inhabitants, and when it was once or twice taken out by a mischievous stranger he was forced to put it back again. However, I never could get the history of this sacred fish, but I found that it was regarded as very old5. I may add that it appears the well [367]called Ffynnon Fair, ‘Mary’s Well,’ at Ỻanđwyn, in Anglesey, used formerly to have inhabiting it a sacred fish, whose movements indicated the fortunes of the love-sick men and maidens who visited there the shrine of St. Dwynwen6. Possibly inquiry would result in showing that such sacred fish have been far more common once in the Principality than they are now.

The next class of wells to claim our attention consists of what I may call fairy wells, of which few are mentioned in connexion with Wales; but the legends about them are of absorbing interest. One of them is in Myrđin Farđ’s neighbourhood, and I questioned him a good deal on the subject: it is called Ffynnon Grassi, or Grace’s Well, and it occupies, according to him, a few square feet—he has measured it himself—of the south-east corner of the lake of Glasfryn Uchaf, in the parish of Ỻangybi. It appears that it was walled in, and that the stone forming its eastern side has several holes in it, which were intended to let water enter the well and not issue from it. It had a door or cover on its surface; and it was necessary to keep the door always shut, except when water was being drawn. Through somebody’s negligence, however, it was once on a time left open: the consequence was that the water [368]of the well flowed out and formed the Glasfryn Lake, which is so considerable as to be navigable for small boats. Grassi is supposed in the locality to have been the name of the owner of the well, or at any rate of a lady who had something to do with it. Grassi, or Grace, however, can only be a name which a modern version of the legend has introduced. It probably stands for an older name given to the person in charge of the well; to the one, in fact, who neglected to shut the door; but though the name must be comparatively modern, the story, as a whole, does not appear to be at all modern, but very decidedly the contrary.

So I wrote in 1893; but years after my conversation with Myrđin Farđ, my attention was called to the fact that the Glasfryn family, of which the Rev. J. C. Williams-Ellis is the head, have in their coat of arms a mermaid, who is represented in the usual way, holding a comb in her right hand and a mirror in her left. I had from the first expected to find some kind of Undine or Liban story associated with the well and the lake, though I had abstained from trying the risky effects of leading questions; but when I heard of the heraldic mermaid I wrote to Mr. Williams-Ellis to ask whether he knew her history. His words, though not encouraging as regards the mermaid, soon convinced me that I had not been wholly wrong in supposing that more folklore attached to the well and lake than I had been able to discover. Since then Mrs. Williams-Ellis has taken the trouble of collecting on the spot all the items of tradition which she could find: she communicated them to me in the month of March, 1899, and the following is an abstract of them, preceded by a brief description of the ground:—

The well itself is at the foot of a very green field-bank at the head of the lake, but not on the same level [369]with it, as the lake has had its waters lowered half a century or more ago by the outlet having been cut deeper. Adjoining the field containing the well is a larger field, which also slopes down to the lake and extends in another direction to the grounds belonging to the house. This larger field is called Cae’r Ladi, ‘the Lady’s Field,’ and it is remarkable for having in its centre an ancient standing stone, which, as seen from the windows of the house, presents the appearance of a female figure hurrying along, with the wind slightly swelling out her veil and the skirt of her dress. Mr. Williams-Ellis remembers how when he was a boy the stone was partially white-washed, and how an old bonnet adorned the top of this would-be statue, and he thinks that an old shawl used to be thrown over the shoulders.

Now as to Grassi, she is mostly regarded as a ghostly person somehow connected with the lake and the house of Glasfryn. One story is to the effect, that on a certain evening she forgot to close the well, and that when the gushing waters had formed the lake, poor Grassi, overcome with remorse, wandered up and down the high ground of Cae’r Ladi, moaning and weeping. There, in fact, she is still at times to be heard lamenting her fate, especially at two o’clock in the early morning. Some people say that she is also to be seen about the lake, which is now the haunt of some half a dozen swans. But on the whole her visits appear to have been most frequent and troublesome at the house itself. Several persons still living are mentioned, who believe that they have seen her there, and two of them, Mrs. Jones of Talafon, and old Sydney Griffith of Tyđyn Bach, agree in the main in their description of what they saw, namely, a tall lady with well marked features and large bright eyes: she was dressed in white silk and a white velvet bonnet. [370]The woman, Sydney Griffith, thought that she had seen the lady walking several times about the house and in Cae’r Ladi. This comes, in both instances, from a young lady born and bred in the immediate neighbourhood, and studying now at the University College of North Wales; but Mrs. Williams-Ellis has had similar accounts from other sources, and she mentions tenants of Glasfryn who found it difficult to keep servants there, because they felt that the place was haunted. In fact one of the tenants himself felt so unsafe that he used to take his gun and his dog with him to his bedroom at night; not to mention that when the Williams-Ellises lived themselves, as they do still, in the house, their visitors have been known to declare that they heard the strange plaintive cry out of doors at two o’clock in the morning.

Traces also of a very different story are reported by Mrs. Williams-Ellis, to the effect that when the water broke forth to form the lake, the fairies seized Grassi and changed her into a swan, and that she continued in that form to live on the lake sixscore years, and that when at length she died, she loudly lamented her lot: that cry is still to be heard at night. This story is in process apparently of being rationalized; at any rate the young lady student, to whom I have referred, remembers perfectly that her grandfather used to explain to her and the other children at home that Grassi was changed into a swan as a punishment for haunting Glasfryn, but that nevertheless the old lady still visited the place, especially when there happened to be strangers in the house. At the end of September last Mrs. Rhys and I had the pleasure of spending a few days at Glasfryn, in the hope of hearing the plaintive wail, and of seeing the lady in white silk revisiting her familiar haunts. But alas! our sleep was never once [371]disturbed, nor was our peace once troubled by suspicions of anything uncanny. This, however, is negative, and characterized by the usual weakness of all such evidence.

It is now time to turn to another order of facts: in the first place may be mentioned that the young lady student’s grandmother used to call the well Ffynnon Grâs Siôn Gruffuđ, as she had always heard that Grâs was the daughter of a certain Siôn Gruffyđ, ‘John Griffith,’ who lived near the well; and Mrs. Williams-Ellis finds that Grâs was buried, at a very advanced age, on December 14, 1743, at the parish church of Ỻangybi, where the register describes her as Grace Jones, alias Grace Jones Griffith. She had lived till the end at Glasfryn, but from documents in the possession of the Glasfryn family it is known that in 1728 Hugh Lloyd of Traỻwyn purchased the house and estate of Glasfryn from a son of Grace’s, named John ab Cadwaladr, and that Hugh Lloyd of Traỻwyn’s son, the Rev. William Lloyd, sold them to Archdeacon Ellis, from whom they have descended to the Rev. J. C. Williams-Ellis. In the light of these facts there is no reason to connect the old lady’s name very closely with the well or the lake. She was once the dominant figure at Glasfryn, that is all; and when she died she was as usual supposed to haunt the house and its immediate surroundings; and if we might venture to suppose that Glasfryn was sold by her son against her will, though subject to conditions which enabled her to remain in possession of the place to the day of her death, we should have a further explanation, perhaps, of her supposed moaning and lamentation.

In the background, however, of the story, one detects the possibility of another female figure, for it may be that the standing stone in Cae’r Ladi represents a [372]woman buried there centuries before Grace ruled at Glasfryn, and that traditions about the earlier lady have survived to be inextricably mixed with those concerning the later one. Lastly, those traditions may have also associated the subject of them with the well and the lake; but I wish to attach no importance to this conjecture, as we have in reserve a third figure of larger possibilities than either Grace or the stone woman. It needs no better introduction than Mrs. Williams-Ellis’ own words: ‘Our younger boys have a crew of three little Welsh boys who live near the lake, to join them in their boat sailing about the pool and in camping on the island, &c. They asked me once who Morgan was, whom the little boys were always saying they were to be careful against. An old man living at Tal Ỻyn, “Lake’s End,” a farm close by, says that as a boy he was always told that “naughty boys would be carried off by Morgan into the lake.” Others tell me that Morgan is always held to be ready to take off troublesome children, and somehow Morgan is thought of as a bad one.’ Now as Morgan carries children off into the pool, he would seem to issue from the pool, and to have his home in it. Further, he plays the same part as the fairies against whom a Snowdonian mother used to warn her children: they were on no account to wander away from the house when there was a mist, lest the fairies should carry them to their home beneath Ỻyn Dwythwch. In other words, Morgan may be said to act in the same way as the mermaid, who takes a sailor down to her submarine home; and it explains to my mind a discussion which I once heard of the name Morgan by a party of men and women making hay one fine summer’s day in the neighbourhood of Ponterwyd, in North Cardiganshire. I was a child, but I remember vividly how they teased one of their number whose [373]‘style’ was Morgan. They hinted at dreadful things associated with the name; but it was all so vague that I could not gather that his great unknown namesake was a thief, a murderer, or any kind of ordinary criminal. The impression left on my mind was rather the notion of something weird, uncanny, or non-human; and the fact that the Welsh version of the Book of Common Prayer calls the Pelagians Morganiaid, ‘Morgans,’ does not offer an adequate explanation. But I now see clearly that it is to be sought in the indistinct echo of such folklore as that which makes Morgan a terror to children in the neighbourhood of the Glasfryn Lake.

The name, however, presents points of difficulty which require some notice: the Welsh translators of Article IX in the Prayer Book were probably wrong in making Pelagians into Morganiaid, as the Welsh for Pelagius seems to have been rather Morien7, which in its oldest recorded form was Morgen, and meant sea-born, or offspring of the sea. In a still earlier form it must have been Morigenos, with a feminine Morigena, but when the endings came to be dropped both vocables would become Morgen, later Mori̯en. I do not remember coming across a feminine Morgen in Welsh, but the presumption is that it did exist. For, among other things, I may mention that we have it in Irish as Muirgen, one of the names of the lake lady Liban, who, when the waters of the neglected well rushed forth to form Lough Neagh, lived beneath that lake until she desired to be changed into a salmon. The same conclusion may be drawn from the name Morgain or Morgan, given in the French romances to one or more water ladies; for those names are easiest to explain as the Brythonic Morgen borrowed from a Welsh or Breton source, unless one found it possible to trace it direct to the [374]Goidels of Wales. No sooner, however, had the confusion taken place between Morgen and the name which is so common in Wales as exclusively a man’s name, than the aquatic figure must also become male. That is why the Glasfryn Morgan is now a male, and not a female like the other characters whose rôle he plays. But while the name was in Welsh successively Morgen and Morien, the man’s name was Morcant, Morgant, or Morgan8, so that, phonologically speaking, no confusion could be regarded as possible between the two series. Here, therefore, one detects the influence, doubtless, of the French romances which spoke of a lake lady Morgain, Morgan, or Morgue. The character varied: Morgain le Fay was a designing and wicked person; but Morgan was also the name of a well disposed lady of the same fairy kind, who took Arthur away to be healed at her home in the Isle of Avallon. We seem to be on the track of the same confusing influence of the name, when it occurs in the story of Geraint and Enid; for there the chief physician of Arthur’s court is called Morgan Tut or Morgant Tut, and the word tut has been shown by M. Loth to have meant the same sort of non-human being whom an eleventh-century Life of St. Maudez mentions as quidam dæmon quem Britones Tuthe appellant. Thus the name Morgan Tut [375]is meant as the Welsh equivalent of the French Morgain le Fay or Morgan la Fée9; but so long as the compiler of the story of Geraint and Enid employed in his Welsh the form Morgan, he had practically no choice but to treat the person called Morgan as a man, whether that was or was not the sex in the original texts on which he was drawing. Of course he could have avoided the difficulty in case he was aware of it, if he had found some available formula in use like Mary-Morgant, said to be a common name for a fairy on the island of Ouessant, off the coast of Brittany.

Summarizing the foregoing notes, we seem to be right in drawing the following conclusions:—(1) The well was left in the charge of a woman who forgot to shut it, and when she saw the water bursting forth, she bewailed her negligence, as in the case of her counterpart in the legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod. (2) The original name of the Glasfryn ‘Morgan’ was Morgen, later Morien. (3) The person changed into a swan on the occasion of the Glasfryn well erupting was not Grassi, but most probably Morgen. And (4) the character was originally feminine, like that of the mermaid or the fairies, whose rôle the Glasfryn Morgan plays; and more especially may one compare the Irish Muirgen, the Morgen more usually called Líban. For it is to be noticed that when the neglected well burst forth she, Muirgen or Líban, was not drowned like the others [376]involved in the calamity, but lived in her chamber at the bottom of the lake formed by the overflowing well, until she was changed into a salmon. In that form she lived on some three centuries, until in fact she was caught in the net of a fisherman, and obtained the boon of a Christian burial. However, the change into a swan is also known on Irish ground: take for instance the story of the Children of Lir, who were converted into swans by their stepmother, and lived in that form on Loch Dairbhreach, in Westmeath, for three hundred years, and twice as long on the open sea, until their destiny closed with the advent of St. Patrick and the first ringing of a Christian bell in Erin10.

The next legend was kindly communicated to me by Mr. Wm. Davies already mentioned at p. 147 above: he found it in Cyfaiỻ yr Aelwyd11, “The Friend of the Hearth,” where it is stated that it belonged to David Jones’ Storehouse of Curiosities, a collection which does not seem to have ever assumed the form of a printed book. David Jones, of Trefriw, in the Conwy Valley, was a publisher and poet who wrote between 1750 and 1780. This is his story: ‘In 1735 I had a conversation with a man concerning Tegid Lake. He had heard from old people that near the middle of it there was a well opposite Ỻangower, and the well was called Ffynnon Gywer, “Cower’s Well,” and at that time the town was round about the well. It was obligatory to place a lid on the well every night. (It seems that in those days somebody was aware that unless this was done it would prove the [377]destruction of the town.) But one night it was forgotten, and by the morning, behold the town had subsided and the lake became three miles long and one mile wide. They say, moreover, that on clear days some people see the chimneys of the houses. It is since then that the town was built at the lower end of the lake. It is called Y Bala12, and the man told me that he had talked with an old Bala man who had, when he was a youth, had two days’ mowing of hay13 between the road and the lake; but by this time the lake had spread over that land and the road also, which necessitated the purchase of land further away for the road; and some say that the town will yet sink as far as the place called Ỻanfor—others call it Ỻanfawđ, “Drown-church,” or Ỻanfawr, “Great-church,” in Penỻyn …. Further, when the weather is stormy water appears oozing through every floor within Bala, and at other times anybody can get water enough for the use of his house, provided he dig a little into the floor of it.’

In reference to the idea that the town is to sink, [378]together with the neighbouring village of Ỻanfor, the writer quotes in a note the couplet known still to everybody in the neighbourhood as follows:—

Y Bala aeth, a’r Bala aiff,

A Ỻanfor aiff yn Ỻyn.

Bala old the lake has had, and Bala new

The lake will have, and Ỻanfor too.

This probably implies that old Bala is beneath the lake, and that the present Bala is to meet the like fate at some time to come. This kind of prophecy is not very uncommon: thus there has been one current as to the Montgomeryshire town of Pool, called, in Welsh, Traỻwng or Traỻwm, and in English, Welshpool, to distinguish it from the English town of Pool. As to Welshpool, a very deep water called Ỻyn Du, lying between the town and the Casteỻ Coch or Powys Castle, and right in the domain of the castle, is suddenly to spread itself, and one fine market day to engulf the whole place14. Further, when I was a boy in North Cardiganshire, the following couplet was quite familiar to me, and supposed to have been one of Merlin’s prophecies:—

Caer Fyrđin, cei oer fore;

Daear a’th lwnc, dw’r i’th le.

Carmarthen, a cold morn awaits thee;

Earth gapes, and water in thy place will be.

In regard to the earlier half of the line, concerning Bala gone, the story of Ffynnon Gywer might be said to explain it, but there is another which is later and far better known. It is of the same kind as the stories [379]related in Welsh concerning Ỻynclys and Syfađon; but I reserve it with these and others of the same sort for chapter vii.

For the next legend belonging here I have to thank the Rev. J. Fisher, a native of the parish of Ỻandybïe, who, in spite of his name, is a genuine Welshman, and—what is more—a Welsh scholar. The following are his words:—‘Ỻyn Ỻech Owen (the last word is locally sounded w-en, like oo-en in English, as is also the personal name Owen) is on Mynyđ Mawr, in the ecclesiastical parish of Gors Lâs, and the civil parish of Ỻanarthney, Carmarthenshire. It is a small lake, forming the source of the Gwendraeth Fawr. I have heard the tradition about its origin told by several persons, and by all, until quite recently, pretty much in the same form. In 1884 I took it down from my grandfather, Rees Thomas (b. 1809, d. 1892), of Cil Coỻ Ỻandebïe—a very intelligent man, with a good fund of old-world Welsh lore—who had lived all his life in the neighbouring parishes of Ỻandeilo Fawr and Ỻandybïe.

‘The following is the version of the story (translated) as I had it from him:—There was once a man of the name of Owen living on Mynyđ Mawr, and he had a well, “ffynnon.” Over this well he kept a large flag (“fflagen neu lech fawr”: “fflagen” is the word in common use now in these parts for a large flat stone), which he was always careful to replace over its mouth after he had satisfied himself or his beast with water. It happened, however, that one day he went on horseback to the well to water his horse, and forgot to put the flag back in its place. He rode off leisurely in the direction of his home; but, after he had gone some distance, he casually looked back, and, to his great astonishment, he saw that the well had burst out and was overflowing the whole place. He suddenly bethought him that he should ride [380]back and encompass the overflow of the water as fast as he could; and it was the horse’s track in galloping round the water that put a stop to its further overflow. It is fully believed that, had he not galloped round the flood in the way he did, the well would have been sure to inundate the whole district and drown all. Hence the lake was called the Lake of Owen’s Flag, “Ỻyn Ỻech Owen.”

‘I have always felt interested in this story, as it resembled that about the formation of Lough Neagh, &c.; and, happening to meet the Rev. D. Harwood Hughes, B.A., the vicar of Gors Lâs (St. Ỻeian’s), last August (1892), I asked him to tell me the legend as he had heard it in his parish. He said that he had been told it, but in a form different from mine, where the “Owen” was said to have been Owen Glyndwr. This is the substance of the legend as he had heard it:—Owen Glyndwr, when once passing through these parts, arrived here of an evening. He came across a well, and, having watered his horse, placed a stone over it in order to find it again next morning. He then went to lodge for the night at Dyỻgoed Farm, close by. In the morning, before proceeding on his journey, he took his horse to the well to give him water, but found to his surprise that the well had become a lake.’

Mr. Fisher goes on to mention the later history of the lake: how, some eighty years ago, its banks were the resort on Sunday afternoons of the young people of the neighbourhood, and how a Baptist preacher put an end to their amusements and various kinds of games by preaching at them. However, the lake-side appears to be still a favourite spot for picnics and Sunday-school gatherings. Mr. Fisher was quite right in appending to his own version that of his friend; but, from the point of view of folklore, I must confess that I can make [381]nothing of the latter: it differs from the older one as much as chalk does from cheese. It would be naturally gratifying to the pride of local topography to be able to connect with the pool the name of Owen Glyndwr; but it is worthy of note that this highly respectable attempt to rationalize the legend wholly fails, as it does not explain why there is now a lake where there was once but a well. In other words, the euhemerized story is itself evidence corroborative of Mr. Fisher’s older version, which is furthermore kept in countenance by Howells’ account, p. 104, where we are told who the Owen in question was, namely, Owen Lawgoch, a personage dear, as we shall see later, to the Welsh legend of the district. He and his men had their abode in a cave on the northern side of Mynyđ Mawr, and while there Owen used, we are informed, to water his steed at a fine spring covered with a large stone, which it required the strength of a giant to lift. But one day he forgot to replace it, and when he next sought the well he found the lake. He returned to his cave and told his men what had happened. Thereupon both he and they fell into a sleep, which is to last till it is broken by the sound of a trumpet and the clang of arms on Rhiw Goch: then they are to sally forth to conquer.

Now the story as told by Howells and Fisher provokes comparison, as the latter suggests, with the Irish legend of the formation of Lough Ree and of Lough Neagh in the story of the Death of Eochaid McMaireda15. In both [382]of these legends also there is a horse, a kind of water-horse, who forms the well which eventually overflows and becomes Lough Ree, and so with the still larger body of water known as Lough Neagh. In the latter case the fairy well was placed in the charge of a woman; but she one day left the cover of the well open, and the catastrophe took place—the water issued forth and overflowed the country. One of Eochaid’s daughters, named Líban, however, was not drowned, but only changed into a salmon as already mentioned at p. 376 above. In my Arthurian Legend, p. 361, I have attempted to show that the name Líban may have its Welsh equivalent in that of Ỻïon, occurring in the name of Ỻyn Ỻïon, or Ỻïon’s Lake, the bursting of which is described in the latest series of Triads, iii. 13, 97, as causing a sort of deluge. I am not certain as to the nature of the relationship between those names, but it seems evident that the stories have a common substratum, though it is to be noticed that no well, fairy or otherwise, figures in the Ỻyn Ỻïon legend, which makes the presence of the monster called the afanc the cause of the waters bursting forth. So Hu the Mighty, with his team of famous oxen, is made to drag the afanc out of the lake.

There is, however, another Welsh legend concerning a great overflow in which a well does figure: I allude to that of Cantre’r Gwaelod, or the Bottom Hundred, a fine spacious country supposed to be submerged in Cardigan Bay. Modern euhemerism treats it as defended by embankments and sluices, which, we are told, were in the charge of the prince of the country, named Seithennin, who, being one day in his cups, forgot to shut the sluices, and thus brought about the inundation, which was the end of his fertile realm. This, however, is not the old legend: that speaks of a well, and lays the blame on a woman—a pretty sure sign of antiquity, as [383]the reader may judge from other old stories which will readily occur to him. The Welsh legend to which I allude is embodied in a short poem in the Black Book of Carmarthen16: it consists of eight triplets, to which is added a triplet from the Englynion of the Graves. The following is the original with a tentative translation:—

Seithenhin sawde allan.

ac edrẏchuirde varanres mor.

maes guitnev rẏtoes.

Boed emendiceid ẏ morvin

aehellẏgaut guẏdi cvin.

finaun wenestir17 mor terruin.

Boed emendiceid ẏ vachteith.

ae . golligaut guẏdi gueith.

finaun wenestir mor diffeith.

Diaspad mererid ẏ ar vann caer.

hid ar duu ẏ dodir.

gnaud guẏdi traha trangc hir.

Diaspad mererid . ẏ ar van kaer hetiv.

hid ar duu ẏ dadoluch.

gnaud guẏdi traha attreguch.

Diaspad mererid am gorchuit heno.

ac nimhaut gorlluit.

gnaud guẏdi traha tramguit.

Diaspad mererid ẏ ar gwinev kadir

kedaul duv ae gorev.

gnaud guẏdi gormot eissev.

Diaspad mererid . am kẏmhell heno

ẏ urth uẏistauell.

gnaud guẏdi traha trangc pell.

Bet seithenhin sẏnhuir vann

rug kaer kenedir a glan.

mor maurhidic a kinran.

Seithennin, stand thou forth

And see the vanguard of the main:

Gwyđno’s plain has it covered.

Accursed be the maiden

Who let it loose after supping,

Well cup-bearer of the mighty main.

Accursed be the damsel

Who let it loose after battle,

Well minister of the high sea.

Mererid’s cry from a city’s height,

Even to God is it directed:

After pride comes a long pause.

Mererid’s cry from a city’s height to-day,

Even to God her expiation:

After pride comes reflection.

Mererid’s cry o’ercomes me to-night,

Nor can I readily prosper:

After pride comes a fall.

Mererid’s cry over strong wines,

Bounteous God has wrought it:

After excess comes privation.


Mererid’s cry drives me to-night

From my chamber away:

After insolence comes long death.

Weak-witted Seithennin’s grave is it

Between Kenedyr’s Fort and the shore,

With majestic Mor’s and Kynran’s.

The names in these lines present great difficulties: first comes that of Mererid, which is no other word than Margarita, ‘a p