Welsh Legends: The Bride From the Red Lake

From #FolkloreThursday.com

By zteve t evans 27/04/2017

Folklore of the Welsh Lakes: The Bride from the Red Lake

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By Adolf Echtler (1843–1914) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Llyn Coch, or the Red Lake, is a Welsh lake situated on Mount Snowdon an area steeped in legend and folklore. One legend tells how a mortal man made a contract that allowed him to take a bride from the Otherworld that he had met at the Red Lake and fallen in love with.  However, it was essential he abide by the terms of that contract.  In Welsh tradition and folklore, there are a number of similar examples where a mortal man takes a bride from the Otherworld and they live happily together, sometimes having children, but there is often a sad ending. One example is found in the tale of the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach.  In many cases the man found his love living in a remote lake or pool of water and the two fell in love wishing never to part.  After making a promise to her father that must never be broken consent is given and they marry. However, there are those who say that it is risky to have relationships with those of the Otherworld. This point of view is indeed seen in many Welsh fairy or folk tales concerning humans who come into contact or even marry someone from the Otherworld.  Presented here is one such tale called The Bride of the Red Lake.

The Bride from the Red Lake

There was once a farmer who one day decided he would go fishing in the Red Lake. When he arrived he found the lake shrouded in mist.  Then a sudden gust of wind cleared a path through the mist across the lake and to the farmer’s surprise revealed a man perched upon a ladder busily at work thatching a haystack.  Stranger still, the ladder appeared to be standing on top of the surface of the water as did the haystack.   The farmer was astounded but the vision quickly faded and soon all that could be seen was a gentle rippling of the water where the haystack and the thatcher had been.

After this, the farmer often visited the lake hoping for another glimpse of this strange otherworld but saw nothing out of the ordinary and he thought no more of his extraordinary vision.   Then one autumn day he rode his horse up to the lake.  As it was a hot day he rode his horse into the water so that it could drink easily from the cool lake.   It was a lovely day and while the horse was drinking the farmer sat on its back and stared lazily at the ripples that moved gently across the surface of the Red Lake.

Then, what he saw next made him jump.   Under the surface of the water a little distance from him he saw the face of the loveliest maiden he had ever seen in his life looking at him through the gently rippling water.  He sat spellbound staring at her and she calmly gazed back at him.   As he stared, her head and shoulders slowly emerged from the water and she looked deep into his eyes.

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Welsh Folklore and Legend: The Drowned Town of Lake Bala

From #FolkloreThursday.com
By zteve t evans, March 9th, 2017

Drowned Towns and Sunken Cities: The Legend of Lake Bala, Wales

Lake Bala is also known as Llyn Tegid, and in Welsh folklore is known for its legend of having a sunken town beneath its surface.  It is situated in Gwynedd, Wales, and the modern day town of Bala lies on its eastern shore.  There are two different legends that give different accounts of how the flooding took place.  One concerns the spring of Ffynnon Gower or Gower’s Well, and the other involves the wickedness of a prince named Tegid Foel.  This article looks at the legend of Tegid Foel. 

The Legend of Tegid Foel

According to legend, Tegid Foel had a fine palace in the town now underneath Lake Bala and lived a life of opulence and excess.  He had a reputation for cruelty and greed, and oppressed his people.  The gods had sent several warnings and provided opportunities for him to change his ways, but still he unheedingly persisted in his greed and excesses.

When his first grandson was born, he decided he would celebrate the birth with a lavish feast.  He sent invitations to all the important princes in Wales and beyond, and invited all of his family to join him in the banquet at his palace in Bala.  Now, they say a man is known by the company he keeps, and there were many who would not attend the celebration because they refused to associate with this cruel and barbaric prince.  Sadly, like attracts like and the banquet was still attended by many powerful men of ill repute and behaviour.

Petrification Myths: The Stone Women of Moelfre Hill

Diana_Nemorensis_denarius2
Public Domain

The Stone Women of Moelfre Hill

There are many petrification myths and legends in settings scattered around the British Isles that tell how people have become turned to stone.  It is often the case that some religious code or rule has been transgressed by one or more people for some reason and they have been punished by being turned to stone.The Welsh legend of the Stone Women of Moelfre Hill tells the story of how three women were turned to stone for working on the Sabbath. 

The legend was said to have originated about the time Christianity was taking over from the old pagan beliefs and tells how three women had a problem winnowing their corn because there was no wind.  Winnowing was an important task that their families and community depended upon to make bread.  According to the legend, one woman wore a red kirtle.  Another wore a white kirtle and the third wore a kirtle of the darkest blue.

After the corn was harvested the people would thresh the corn, sometimes by making oxen walk in circles over the harvested ears of corn, or by pounding it on the ground with flails.  This would crush the ears leaving the chaff and grain that needed separating, or winnowing which was hard work and done by the women of the community.  They would spend many hours  throwing the mixed chaff and grain into the air so that the wind would take the light chaff away but leave the heavier grain to fall to the ground.  The remaining grain would then be placed in sacks and ground into flour.

The problem the women had was that for many days there had been no wind or even the slightest breeze, making it impossible for them to winnow.  The women worried that unless they could get their task done soon it would rain and ruin the corn.  The grain and chaff would get wet making them stick together and hard to separate and they would not be able to bake bread to feed their families and began to despair that they would not be able to complete their task.

Then the woman wearing the red kirtle had an idea and said to the others, “I say there is bound to be wind on the top of Moelfre.  Let us carry sacks of grain up there and do the winnowing there.”

“But we would be working on the Sabbath if we did that!”  said the woman in the white kirtle. It was a Sunday and on Sundays in Wales no one at all was allowed to work because it was the Sabbath.

“But if the wind is blowing on Moelfre, shall we let it go to waste and have no flour to bake bread?”  said the woman in blue, “And what would we tell our children when they have no bread?  I will fetch three sacks and we can fill them up and carry them up to Moelfre.”

They all agreed that they should this so they filled up a sack each and hoisting them across their backs began the arduous journey along the path to the top of Moelfre.   On the way they passed a cottage where an old man looked out of his door and was shocked to see them hauling the sacks up the path.   He gave them a stern warning about the consequences of working on the Sabbath but the women continued on their way ignoring him.  They passed a farm and the farmer shouted out a warning that it was the Sabbath and told them to stop or they would be punished.  The women laughed at him and carried on.

Finally, they reached the summit of the hill.  Just as they had anticipated the wind was just right for their task so they spread out a sheet on the ground to catch the grain when it fell out of  the air.  They emptied the contents of their sacks into a heap and began the arduous task of winnowing the corn throwing up into air so that the wind took the husks and the grain fell onto the sheet on the ground.  Then as they were busily working away a terrible thing happened.   The  legend says that  God saw them working on the Sabbath and punished them for disobeying his law and turned them into three standing stones.  One red, one white and one dark blue and there they stood on top of Moelfre for years untold, but not forever.

Triple Goddess

There is a school of thought that says the three women represent a triple goddess. The three stones placed in a triangle as represent a triple goddess and the colours represent a different aspect of the goddess.  Their supposed petrification may not have been just a warning about working on the Sabbath but possibly a warning of possible punishment inflicted for keeping the old ways.

Vandalism

Today there are no standing stones on the summit of Moelfre.  Some people say  those who search they may find three stones below the turf that appear to have sunk into the ground and these are said to be the Stone Women of Moelfre.  Another explanation offered by Wirt Sikes in British Goblins – Welsh Folk-Lore, Fairy Mythology, Legends and Traditions was that they were subject to vandalism by a gang of youths who dug them up and rolled them down the hill.

© 28/03/2017 zteve t evans

References, Attributions and Further Reading

Copyright March 3rd, 2017 zteve t evans

Welsh Folklore: Legends of Llyn Cwm Llwch

Llyn Cwm Llwch

Llyn Cwm Llwch is a small lake that lies below the highest peak in South Wales called Pen y Fan, which is situated in the Brecon Beacons of Powys and is the setting for some rather strange legends which are briefly presented here.

The Old Woman of the Lake

The first tells how an old woman who lived in the lake used music to lure those of a weak or impressionable mind into the water to be drowned. Tradition says that when she has claimed nine hundred victims she will regain her youth and beauty and gain immortality.

The Door to the Invisible Island

Another legend tells that there is an invisible island in the lake that could only be reached by a door that was set in a rock.   Every May Day the door would open and some of the bolder local people would enter and pass down a passage that opened up in a garden that was set upon the island.  Although the shores of the lake could clearly be seen from the island, the island remained invisible to those on the shore.

The Enchanted Garden of the Tylwyth Teg

Those who entered the door and visited the invisible island found themselves in an enchanted garden.  This garden was filled with the most beautiful flowers of the most wonderful colours and trees hanging with luscious fruit ripe for eating grew all around.  Beautiful birds sang happy songs in the trees and butterflies flitted between the flowers. It really was a most enchanted place.

The Warning of the Tylwyth Teg

The Tylwyth Teg always received their visitors with the utmost courtesy and hospitality. They would entertain their guests by playing beautiful music, telling wondrous stories and offering the finest food and drink the like of which could not be found anywhere else on earth.  It really was a rare and magical experience they freely provided for their visitors.  However, when it was time for their guests to leave they would always issue them with a stern warning. They would warn that none of the produce, the flowers, stones, leaves, or anything else from the island must be taken back down the passage and through the door to earth because of the sacred nature of their island.

One Foolish Visitor

The Tylwyth Teg had opened their island to visitors since time immemorial and there had never once been anyone who had not complied with this simple and reasonable request. Unfortunately one foolish visitor took it in his mind to take back one of the wonderful flowers from the garden as proof of his visit and the existence of the enchanted island.  As he left the garden he picked the most exquisite bloom he could find and hid it in the fastness of his jacket pocket.  He then walked nonchalantly down the passage and through the door thinking no one would notice as no checks were ever seen to be carried out.

However, as soon as he set foot on the earth outside the door his mind became confused and he lost his senses. For the rest of his life he remained nothing but a gibbering wreck devoid of sense and reason until the day he died.  At the time the Tylwyth Teg appeared to pay no heed to this unique indiscretion saying their goodbyes to their guests with their accustomed courtesy, but they had indeed taken note.  Ever since this incident the door has never again been found to this day.

One Hundred Years On

About one hundred years later the local people got together to form a plan.  With the door to the invisible island not appearing they thought the Tylwyth Teg had left and thought that perhaps they had left their treasure in the bottom of the pool.  They decided they would drain it and a great body of local men arrived at the pool armed with pickaxes, spades and shovels and set about digging a channel to let the water out.  The men set about their task with great enthusiasm digging a channel some thirty yards long in no time.  As they reached the water’s edge they needed one last blow to break through but as the pick-axe and the shovels were poised for action a massive flash of lightning lit the rapidly blackening sky.  Thunder rumbled around the mountains causing the workmen to freeze in fear and awe at the sheer power of nature and the final blow was never struck.  Quickly, the men realized the storm was not caused by the power of nature and as they looked at each other in fear strange things began happening with the pool as its spirit began to awaken.

The Warning

The workers sprang out of the trench and ran to the edge of the water.  As the thunder died they saw emerging from the center of the pool saw small ripples which steadily grew in size and intensity.  The water began to churn and boil and from the center of the turbulence there arose the spirit of the water, a massive a figure of a man.  His beard must have been three feet in length and his hair draped down to his waist and he rose high above the water and glowered down upon the men and in a voice like thunder said,

“If you disturb my peace,

Be warned that I will drown

The valley of the Usk,

Beginning with Brecon town!”

(1)

And with that there was a terrific bolt of lightning and thunder crashed around the mountains and as the men threw themselves to the ground in fear a terrific storm broke upon them.  After the storm subsided the men got up and began to heatedly discuss the events.  The warning they had been given was clear.  Not wanting to risk the wrath of the lake spirit any further the local men went home leaving their work incomplete.

 © 06/12/2016 zteve t evans

References, Attributions and Further Reading

Copyright December 6th, 2016 zteve t evans

 

The Legend of Saint Winefride and her Holy Well

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St. Winefride – Copy94 – CC BY-SA 3.0

Saint Winefride’s Well is situated in Holywell, Flintshire in Wales and is named after a 7th-century local Welsh woman named Gwenffrewi in Welsh or Winefred, or Winefride in English.   Today it is classed as a grade l listed building and is a major place of pilgrimage for Catholics though all faiths are welcome as are people who have no religion.  The market town of Holywell is named after Saint Winefride’s Well which is an ancient place of pilgrimage and there is a remarkable legend that tells the story of how this came to be

Who was Saint Winefride?

Welsh legend tells that Winefride was the daughter of Tyfid ap Eiludd who was the lord of Tegeingl, a cantref, or division of land, in north-east Wales which later became part of the county of Flintshire.  Her mother’s name was Wenlo and was the sister of Saint Beuno who had associations with the Welsh kings of South Wales.  Winefride was thought to have a brother named Owain.  According to legend, her family were  distant descendants of Vortigern, a warlord of 5th century Britain.

Winefride

The legend of St Winefride is pieced together from information from historical documents and local legend and tradition.  A picture emerges of Winefride at about 15 years old as being a gifted intellectual with a studious nature who was dedicated entirely to the Christian Church and way of life.  Her uncle was St. Beuno, an abbot,  and her mentor.  By all accounts, she appeared to a highly attractive and charming girl with a strong personality who was preparing to dedicate herself to a life of austerity and devotion to the church at an early age with her parent’s consent.  She stayed with Beuno at his church and flourished in her chosen vocation under his mentorship and teaching.

The legend of St. Winefride

As an attractive girl, she naturally had her share of suitors.  When one of the neighboring princes by the name of Caradoc heard about her he decided he would ask her for her hand in marriage.  When Caradoc arrived with his proposition Winefride was alone as her parents had left early to attend the church where Beuno was celebrating Mass.  Although she told him that she was dedicating her life to the church, he begged and pleaded for her hand in marriage and became angry at her polite but firm rebuttals and he began threatening her.  Winefride became frightened and ran to the church where the Mass was being held hoping she would be safe with her parents and uncle there.

It was not to be.  The rejected and angry Caradoc followed and quickly caught up with her on sloping ground and drawing his sword cut her head off.  Her head rolled down the slope and eventually came to rest.  As soon as it stopped rolling a spring of water bubbled up out of the ground.

On hearing of the terrible murder as he was giving Mass,  Beuno left the church and went to the newly formed spring where her head still lay beside it.  Gently and carefully picking her head up he took it back to her body and kneeling, placed it upon her shoulders and covered the dead Winefride with his cloak.  He then returned to  the church where he prayed to God for her and calmly finished the Mass.  After Mass, he returned to her body and once again kneeling beside her prayed to God and then uncovered her body.   Legend says that Winefride sat up as if she had been in deep sleep, her head firmly on her shoulders with only a thin white scar circling around her throat and neck that showed the signs of her decapitation.

Beuno then turned to Caradoc, who had remained nearby, and called upon God to punish him and according to one legend he was struck dead and swallowed by the ground. However, some historians think that he was killed by Winefride’s brother Owain out of vengeance but whatever happened to Caradoc, Winefride was alive again.  After her resurrection Winefride dedicated herself to God and his church, living in poverty and virginity.  She eventually became the abbess of a convent  and chapel was eventually constructed over the spring.

Saint Winefride’s Well

 

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St Winefride’s Well and Chapel, Holywell – By Tom Pennington – CC BY-SA 2.0

There is a tradition that Beuno left Holywell to live in Caernarvon and then went to Ireland.  Before he did so he seated himself upon a stone that now rests in the outer pool declaring that,

“whosoever on that spot should thrice ask for a benefit from God in the name of St. Winefride would obtain the grace he asked if it was for the good of his soul.” (1)

Winefride was said to have promised her uncle that as long as she lived at Holywell every year she would send him a token of her love.  Every year she would make him a sleeveless outer garment called a chasuble that Catholic priests wore when celebrating mass, or some other similar gift made from her own hand. This would be placed in the spring and the stream was said to carry the present to him wherever he was in the world.

When Beuno died about eight years later, Winefride, perhaps fearing the encroaching Saxons, sought a new refuge and with her companions moved to Gwytherin not far from the source of the River Elwy and joined a community of nuns established there.   She lived there as a nun  and an acknowledged saint on earth.  She  eventually became abbess and passed away on 3rd of November between 650 to 660.  Her grave became a place of pilgrimage and between 1136 to 1138 her remains were taken to Shrewsbury Abbey and translated.

Winefride became widely revered and Saint Winefride’s Well, at Holywell, became a popular place of pilgrimage.  It was said to have healing powers and called the Welsh Lourdes and is the only place in Britain that has an unbroken record of pilgrimage for over 1300 years.   Today the well is still open most days of the year and people still go there to bathe and there are daily and pilgrims services and Mass on Sundays. Further information can be found on the website of St. Winfride’s Well.

© 17/08/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright August the 17th, 2016 zteve t evans

Welsh Legends: Saint Melangell and the Hare

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Shrine of St. Monacella, Pennant Melangell Church, 1795 – Public Domain

Saint Melangell was a Welsh saint of Irish descent who came to Wales to escape from forced marriage arranged by her father who was an Irish King.  Unhappy at the prospect of an arranged marriage to a man she did not love she left Ireland to become a hermitess in the wilds of  Powys, Wales.

Saint Melangell and the Hare

Saint Melangell is the patron saint of hares and there is a remarkable legend that tells how this association was created.  According to the legend to escape marriage, she took a vow of celibacy and travelled across the Irish Sea to take refuge in a remote spot in Powys, Wales.  There she lived in isolation without seeing the face of any man for fifteen years.

The Prince of Powys goes hunting

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Drawing of the rood screen depicting the story of St. Melangell – Public Domain

It so happened that one day the Prince of Powys whose name was Brochwel Yscythrog was out hunting nearby to her hermitage and his dogs roused a hare and chased it forcing it to take refuge in a thicket.  The prince thought his dogs had the hare at their mercy so when he caught up with them he had a surprise.  The hounds all stood at bay around the hare that sat defiantly glaring at the dogs from the fold of the dress worn by a woman of great beauty who was in deep prayer.  All around the dogs howled and bayed but they would not go near the hare that stared boldly at them  from the shelter of the the folds of the woman’s dress.

The Prince and his huntsmen urged his hounds to go in for the kill but they would not venture near the woman who continued praying fervently.  Prince Brochwel Yscythrog ordered his chief huntsman to blow on his horn to encourage them to the kill but when he tried to blow the horn no sound was made and it stuck fast to his lips preventing him from opening them.

The Prince then spoke to the woman who told him her history and that she was a hermitess who lived nearby and had dedicated herself to God.   She told him how she had arrived and lived here and that she had vowed chastity and that his and his huntsmen were the first men she had seen in fifteen years.  She had lived a life of hardship and dedication to God and her bed been the hard cleft of a nearby rock.

Brochwel Yscythrog was so impressed by her story and what he had seen he gave her the land thereabout to live on and to be a sanctuary to any who fled there.  The Prince asked her to found an abbey on the site which she did and became the abbess living there for many years and dying at a great age.

Shrine Church of St Melangell

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Church tower at Pennant Melangell – Public Domain

Her latin name is Monacella though it is rarely used and her feast day is May 27th and was established in the year 590.  The legend of Melangell and the Hare can still be seen carved on a wooden screen that depict hares running to her for her protection. Because of her association with them she was made the patroness of hares which were sometimes called St. Monacella’s Lambs or Oen Melangell.  Today the saint is still remembered at the beautiful and peaceful Shrine Church of St Melangell and The St Melangell Centre which offers a space for contemplation, renewal and spiritual development.

© 06/06/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright June 6th, 2016 zteve t evans

The Forbidden Fountain of the Tylwyth Teg

Wales is an ancient land rich in folktales, folklore and legend that for many centuries were passed on orally before being written into texts.  Many of these legends and folktales are associated with natural features of the landscape such as springs, rivers, lakes, hills and mountains, indeed just about everywhere you look there is a legend or folktale, or custom and tradition that explains, or is associated with some part of the landscape.

According to myth and legend there were many strange creatures that lived within that landscape such as monsters and beings like the afanc, giants and the Tylwyth Teg, the Fairy Folk.  The folktale presented here tells how a poor shepherd boy found the Tylwyth Teg  while he was tending his sheep.  They invited him to join them and he stayed with them in their land for a time living a life of pleasure and luxury with all he could ever need and all he had to do was obey one simple rule which was that he was forbidden to drink from the fountain.

The Shepherd boy and the Tylwyth Teg

james_ward_-_a_shepherd_boy_-_google_art_project

Public Domain

This story is a version based on one called the Forbidden Fountain, from the Welsh Fairy Book by W. Jenkyn Thomas and begins with a shepherd boy who was instructed by his father to take his sheep to the Frenni Fach to graze early one morning in the month of June.  Obeying his father he took his flock to the pasture and because the weather on the hills and mountains of Wales can change quickly he looked across to the summit of Frenni Fawr for signs of change.  He had been taught that if the early morning mists  slipped down one side of the hill then he could expect fair weather.   If the mist slipped down the other side then foul weather would prevail.

The boy was pleased because he saw the mist slipping down the side of the mountain that promised a fair day ahead and he whistled happily while he tended his sheep.  His flock were happily grazing and it was indeed beginning to be a fair day and he looked around him idly.  In the distance his eye was caught by the movement  of a group of men.  At first he could not quite make out who they were and then he had the idea they were a group of soldiers busily engaged in some activity but couldn’t make out what.

He thought it most strange that soldiers should be active in the hills so he climbed to the top of a nearby hillock for a better view.  When he reached the top he saw to his surprise that what he thought had been soldiers were too small and realized that they must be a troop of the Tylwyth Teg.  He had often heard stories about them from his elders and he had seen the rings of mushrooms that sometimes appeared in different places where they had been  but never had he seen one of the Fair Folk himself.

The Tylwyth Teg

To his excitement he realized what he saw was indeed a group of the little people and he thought about running home to tell his mother and father.  On second thoughts he realized that by the time he had run home and returned with his parents they may well have gone and perhaps he would then be accused of being a liar and get into to trouble for leaving the sheep. He decided not to say anything yet thinking it would be safer.

Nevertheless, he was fascinated by the thought that it might be the Tylwyth Teg and decided to get nearer to get a better view of what they were up to.  So slowly and stealthily he crept towards them and managed to get close enough without disturbing them to get a very good view of what they were doing.

To his surprise and delight he saw they were indeed little people of both men and women all inside a great circle of mushrooms.  The men were very handsome and the women were very beautiful and some of them were dancing in circles with one another, others were playing and chasing with each other, while others were galloping around on little white horses.

fairy_rings_and_toadstools_by_r_doyle

Public Domain

They were wearing mostly red, white and green clothing.  The men wore red caps and the women wore a green head dress, which flowed behind them in the breeze as they danced. Although he could hear no music it looked like the entire company was singing and laughing and a happier sight the shepherd boy had never seen before.

The boy was enchanted and stood to get a better view.  Seeing him stand the smiling Tylwyth Teg beckoned and called for him to join them.  Cautiously he edged towards them and stood outside the circle looking in.  Laughing and calling to him they urged him to step into the circle and as he did so his ears were struck by the sweetest music.  It was both merry and serious and more melodious than any music he had ever heard before.

Looking around he was shocked to discover he wasn’t in the fairy ring on the mountainside but in a wonderfully beautiful palace of shining gold, glittering silver and lustrous pearls.  He was stunned at all of the treasures and jewels that he saw and the people were so friendly offering every type of pleasure for his enjoyment.

The warning of the Tylwyth Teg

The Tylwyth Teg allowed him to move around as he pleased and he was attended to every second by the most beautiful maidens.  They offered him food and drink the like he had never tasted before, or even dreamed of and served it up on silver platters.  They urged him to eat and drink his fill which he did, but they placed  but one small restriction upon him.   They warned him not to drink from the fountain in the garden in which swam wondrous fishes of gold, silver and many other colors and he agreed not to.

He stayed in the palace of the Tylwyth Teg for many a day and all the time he was given wonderful food to eat, the best beer and the sweetest wine and he was entertained wonderfully.    New pastimes and activities were invented solely to please him and each new face he saw seemed fairer than the last if such a thing was possible and he lived in a state  of idleness and joy.  Here he was a poor shepherd boy who had only ever known poverty and hardship now living a life of luxury and ease everything he needed or even dreamed of was at his beck and call, yet something still gnawed at him.

The forbidden fountain

Although the Tylwyth Teg had warned him there was a curiosity that burned in him.  He would often find himself drawn to the forbidden fountain but just managed to remember the warning.  One day though he found himself gazing at the fish of gold and silver and many other colors that swam here and there in the waters of the fountain.

When he thought no one was looking he gently tipped his hand in the water. Immediately the fish disappeared.  He then cupped his hands and filled them with water from the fountain and raised them to his mouth to drink.  As soon as the water wet his lips a hideous scream ran through the garden.

The fountain vanished, the garden vanished and the palace dissolved into nothing and he found himself on the mountainside in the exact place he had entered the fairy ring.  Looking round in shock he saw his flock quietly grazing on the mountain pasture exactly as he had left them and the mist on the Frenni Fawr had not moved.  Although he had thought he had been with the Tylwyth Teg for years in fact it had only been a few minutes.

Time and humans

And such is the case for time flows differently in the land of the Tylwyth Teg and a few earth minutes can seem like years.  For most humans this is too great a thing to bear.  There is always a desire to enjoy new sensations and experiences so even though the boy could have spent his life enjoying a life of ease and pleasure that were readily available to him he just had to drink from the forbidden fountain.

© 31/05/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright May 31st, 2016 zteve t evans

Welsh legends: The drowned town under Kenfig Pool

kenfig_pool_-_geograph-org-uk_-_3141848

David Lewis [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Kenfig Pool

Not far from Porthcawl, Bridgend in Glamorgan in South Wales lies Kenfig Pool that according to legend has a drowned town beneath its waters.  Kenfig Pool is now part of a Kenfig National Nature Reserve which is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and also a part of an important active sand dune system along the Glamorgan coast.  The original borough of Kenfig was a place of some significance centred around or near Kenfig Castle.  Both castle and town became buried by shifting sands during the late medieval period and the residents resettled further inland.

The drowning of Kenfig

According to local tradition the Kenfig Pool is said to be fed by seven springs and is bottomless. It is actually known to be about 12 feet deep.  There is also supposed to be a whirlpool that drags boaters and swimmers to their doom called Black Gutter.   Another  legend  tells that where the lake now stands there was once a thriving town that sank and became covered by water.

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The legend of the Physicians of Myddfai

Myddfai

During the 12th century Myddfai was a small Welsh community that became an important centre for herbalism and healing thanks to three local physicians who passed on their skill and knowledge they learnt from their mother who came from the otherworld.  From these a long line of healers and herbalists brought healing and medicine to those sick or in pain.

St Michael’s church, Myddfai – By Philip Halling – CC BY-SA 2.0

The rise of Myddfai

The rise of Myddfai’s of fame as a centre for herbalism and healing began around 1177 AD. Lord Rhys (1132 – 1197) was the prince of the South Wales kingdom known as Deheubarth and and sponsored the first Eisteddfod. He also sponsored the  two monasteries of Talley Valley and Strata Florida which means layers of flowers.   As well as having religious purposes these monasteries were also instrumental in teaching herbal medicine, which was about all there was in those days for healing, and they also functioned as hospitals.

Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach

A local legend tells how the herbal and healing tradition began at Myddfai when the Lady of the Lake  also known as the Lady of Llyn y Fan Fach taught the three sons she had conceived by a local farmer the secrets of herbalism and medicine. They became known as the Physicians of Myddfai.

Physicians of Myddfai

The most skilled of these was Rhiwallon who was the personal physician to Lord Rhys at Dinefwr.  Rhiwallon had three sons; Griffith, Einon and Cadwgan who helped him in his work.  In gratitude Lord Rhys gave them land around Myddfai and sponsored the monasteries of Taw Valley and Strata Florida around 1117.  These two became centers for learning the art of herbalism and passing on the skills of herbal healing and making written records of their recipes to ensure they were passed on for others to benefit.

A collection of these herbal recipes can be found in The Red Book of Hergest dating from 1382 that is now in the Bodleian Library for Jesus College, Oxford. This book also contains a number of pieces of Welsh poetry and prose.

The monastery of Strata Florida

Ruins of Strata Florida – By William M. Connolley – GFDL

The monastery of Strata Florida was established around 1117 and became a centre for h and healing and herbalism.   This period of time was one of new ideas, innovation and cultural development in Wales and the rest of Britain. The legend of the Physicians of Myddfai originated in this period and became renowned for their excellence in the arts of healing and many myths and legends grew up around them.  One such story is told in the  Red Book of Hergest and the  Mabinogion.   The story tells how the physicians received their healing arts from their mother who was a fairy woman known as The Lady of the Lake who taught her three sons the arts before returning to the otherworld.

It is said that these three of her sons inherited their mother’s power and could have been anything in the world they chose to be.  They could have been great lords, or great warriors, or anything else they wanted to be but they chose to be physicians and healers and to teach the world how to use herbs and plants to heal.  From these three came a long line of herbalists and healers who benefited humankind with their skill and knowledge of the healing arts.

© 05/10/2015 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright October 5th, 2015 zteve t evans

The legend of the sunken realm of Tyno Helig of Wales

Around the coasts of the British Isles and many other parts of the world there are many legends that tell of lands and civilizations that have been lost to the sea. The land of Lyonnesse was believed to have lain between Cornwall and the Scilly Isles. The city of Ys of Brittany was also said to have succumbed to the sea, and of course there was Atlantis, the most famous of all. Wales also has legends of lands and kingdoms that have sunk below the waves. One such kingdom was Cantre’r Gwaelod and another one was Tyno Helig, that was once a kingdom of northwest Wales. This article will look at the legend of Llys Helig and the lost land of Tyno Helig.

Prince Helig ap Glannawg

In Tyno Helig the ruler, Prince Helig ap Glannawg, had a magnificent palace known simply as Llys Helig which means Helig’s Palace in English. Prince Helig ap Glannawg was believed to have lived in the 6th century and ruled an area that stretched from what is now Flintshire in the east to Conwy in the west and further. Helig’s Palace was thought to be situated in the north of his realm around two miles from the present day coast now submerged below the waters of Conwy Bay.  Read more