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Tales and Traditions,' published in a periodical, which I have not been able
to consult, called Y Gordofigion, for the year 1873.



vn] TRIUMPHS OF THE WATER-WORLD 451

wizard, but postulates two fairy urchins between whom
the dialogue occurs, which is not unusual in our change-
ling stories : see p. 62. After this explanation I trans-
late Morris' words thus :

' But to return to the question of the words approach-
ing to the nature of the thing intended, there is an old
story current among us concerning a woman whose
children had been exchanged by the Tylwyth Teg.
Whether it is truth or falsehood does not much matter,
yet it shows what the men of that age thought concern-
ing the sound of words, and how they fancied that the
language of those sprites was of a ghastly and lumpy
kind. The story is as follows : The woman whose two
children had been exchanged, chanced to overhear the
two fair heirs, whom she got instead of them, reasoning
with one another beyond what became their age and
persons. So she picked up the two sham children, one
under each arm, in order to go and throw them from
a bridge into a river, that they might be drowned as
she fancied. But hardly had the one in his fall reached
the bottom when he cried out to his comrade in the
following words :

Grippiach greppiach Grippiach Greppiach,

Dal d'afel yn y wrack, Keep thy hold on the hag.

Hi aeth yn rhowyr 'faglach It got too late, thou urchin

Mi eis i ir mwthlach V I fell into the . . .

In spite of the obscurity of these words, it is quite clear
that it was thought the most natural thing in the world
to return the fairies to the river, and no sooner were

1 The meaning of the word mwthlach is doubtful, as it is now current
in Gwyneft only in the sense of a soft, doughy, or puffy person who
is all of a heap, so to say. Pughe gives mwythlan and mwyililcn with
similar significations. But mwthlach would seem to have had some such
a meaning in the doggerel as that of rough ground or a place covered
with a scrubby, tangled growth. It is possibly the same word as the Irish
mothlach, ' rough, bushy, ragged, shaggy '; see the Vision of Laisre'n, edited
by Professor K. Meyer, in the Otia Mcrseiana, pp. 114, 117.

Gg2



45 2 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

they dropped there than the right infants were found to
have been sent home.

The same thing may be learned also from the story of
the Curse of Pantannas, pp. 187-8 above ; for when the
time of the fairies' revenge is approaching, the merry
party gathered together at Pantannas are frightened by
a piercing voice rising from a black and cauldron-like
pool in the river ; and after a while they hear it a second
time rising above the noise of the river as it cascades
over the shoulder of a neighbouring rock. Shortly
afterwards an ugly, diminutive woman appears on the
table near the window, and had it not been for the rude-
ness of one of those present she would have disclosed
the future to them, but, as it was, she said very little in
a vague way and went away offended ; but as long as
she was there the voice from the river was silent. Here
we have the Welsh counterpart of the ben side, pro-
nounced banshee in Anglo-Irish, and meaning a fairy
woman who is supposed to appear to certain Irish
families before deaths or other misfortunes about to
befall them. It is doubtless to some such fairy persons
the voices belong, which threaten vengeance on the
heir of Pantannas and on the wicked prince and his
descendants previous to the cataclysm which brings
a lake into the place of a doomed city : witness such
cases as those of ILynclys, Syfadon, and Kenfig.

The last mentioned deserves some further scrutiny ;
and I take this opportunity of referring the reader back
to pp. 403-4, in order to direct his attention to the fact
that the voice so closely identifies itself with the wronged
family that it speaks in the first person, as it cries, ' Ven-
geance is come on him who murdered my father of the
ninth generation ! ' Now it is worthy of remark that the
same personifying is also characteristic of the Cyhiraeth 1 .

1 The account here given of the Cyhiraeth is taken partly from Choice



vn] TRIUMPHS OF THE WATER-WORLD 453

This spectral female used to be oftener heard than seen ;
but her blood-freezing shriek was as a rule to be heard
when she came to a cross-road or to water, in which
she splashed with her hands. At the same time she
would make the most doleful noise and exclaim, in case
the frightened hearer happened to be a wife, Fy ngwr,
fy ngwr! ' my husband, my husband ! ' If it was the man
the exclamation would be, Fy ngivmig,fyngwraig! ' my
wife, my wife ! ' Or in either case it might be, Fy
mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn bach ! ( my child, my
child, my little child ! ' These cries meant the approach-
ing death of the hearer's husband, wife, or child, as the
case might be ; but if the scream was inarticulate it was
reckoned probable that the hearer himself was the
person foremourned. Sometimes she was supposed to

Notes, pp. 31-2, and partly from Howells, pp. 31-4, 56-7, who appears to
have got uncertain in his narrative as to the sex of the Cyhiraeth ; but there
is no reason whatsoever for regarding it as either male or female the latter
alone is warranted, as he might have gathered from her being called y Gyhir-
aeth, 'the Cyhiraeth,' never y Cyhiraeth as far as I know. In North Car-
diganshire the spectre intended is known only by another name, that of
Gwrach y Rhibyn, but y Gyhiraeth or yr hen Gyhiraeth is a common term of
abuse applied to a lanky, cadaverous person, both there and in Gwyned" ;
in books, however, it is found sometimes meaning a phantom funeral. The
word cyhiraeth would seem to have originally meant a skeleton with cyhyrau,
' sinews,' but no flesh. However, cyhyrau, singular cyhyr, would be more cor-
rectly written with an '; for the words are pronounced even in Gwyned"
cyhir, cyhirau. The spelling cyhyraeth corresponds to no pronunciation I have
ever heard of the word ; but there is a third spelling, cyheuraeth, which
corresponds to an actual cyhoereth or cyhoyreth, the colloquial pronun-
ciation to be heard in parts of South Wales : I cannot account for this
variant. Gwrach y Rhibyn means the Hag of the Rhibyn, and rhibyn usually
means a row, streak, a line ma' nhw'n myndyn un rhibyn, ' they are going
in a line.' But what exactly Gwrach y Rhibyn should connote I am unable
to say. I may mention, however, on the authority of Mr. Gwenogvryn
Evans, that in Mid-Cardiganshire the term Gwrach y Rhibyn means a long
roll or bustle of fern tied with ropes of straw and placed along the middle
of the top of a hayrick. This is to form a ridge over which and on which
the thatch is worked and supported : gwrach unqualified is, I am told,
used in this sense in Glamorganshire. Something about the Givrach sprite
will be found in the Brython for 1860, p. 23", while a different account is
given in Jenkins' Beef Gelert. pp. 80-1.



454 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

come, like the Irish banshee, in a dark mist to the
window of a person who has been long ailing, and to
flap her wings against the glass, while repeating aloud
his or her name, which was believed to mean that the
patient must die \ The picture usually given of the
Cyhiraeth is of the most repellent kind : tangled hair,
long black teeth, wretched, skinny, shrivelled arms of
unwonted length out of all proportion to the body.
Nevertheless it is, in my opinion, but another aspect of
the banshee-like female who intervenes in the story of
the Curse of Pantannas. One might perhaps treat both
as survivals of a belief in a sort of personification of, or
divinity identified with, a family or tribe, but for the fact
that such language is emptied of most of its meaning by
the abstractions which it would connect with a primitive
state of society. So it is preferable, as coming probably
near the truth, to say that what we have here is a trace
of an ancestress. Such an idea of an ancestress as
against that of an ancestor is abundantly countenanced
by dim figures like that of the Don of the Mabinogion,
and of her counterpart, after whom the Tribes of the
goddess Donu or Danu 2 are known as Tuatha De
Danann in Irish literature. But the one who most
provokes comparison is the Old Woman of Beare,
already mentioned, pp. 393-4: she figures largely in
Irish folklore as a hag surviving to see her descendants
reckoned by tribes and peoples. It may be only an
accident that a poetically wrought legend pictures her
not so much interested in the fortunes of her progeny
as engaged in bewailing the unattractive appearance of
her thin arms and shrivelled hands, together with the

1 This statement I give from Choice Notes, p. 32 ; but I must confess that
I am scept.cal as to the ' wings of a leathery and bat-like substance/ or of
any other substance whatsoever.

a For more about her and similar ancestral personages, see The Welsh
People, pp. 54-61.



vii] TRIUMPHS OF THE WATER-WORLD 455

general wreck of the beauty which had been hers some
time or other centuries before.

However, the evidence of folklore is not of a kind
to warrant our building any heavy superstructure of
theory on the supposition, that the foundations are
firmly held together by a powerful sense of consistency
or homogeneity. So I should hesitate to do anything
so rash as to pronounce the fairies to be all of one and
the same origin : they may well be of several. For
instance, there may be those that have grown out of
traditions about an aboriginal pre-Celtic race, and some
may be the representatives of the ghosts of departed
men and women, regarded as one's ancestors ; but there
can hardly be any doubt that others, and those possibly
not the least interesting, have originated in the demons
and divinities not all of ancestral origin with which
the weird fancy of our remote forefathers peopled lakes
and streams, bays and creeks and estuaries. Perhaps
it is not too much to hope that the reader is convinced
that in the course of this chapter some interesting
specimens have, so to say, been caught in their native
element, or else in the enjoyment of an amphibious life
of mirth and frolic, largely spent hard by sequestered
lakes, near placid rivers or babbling brooks.



CHAPTER VIII

WELSH CAVE LEGENDS



ttfvroi n'iav tlvtu vf,oov, iv y rov Kpovov KaBeipxGai Qpovpovnevov M
rov Epiaptw KaeevSovra' Stapov jap avrai rov VTTVOV f*eM\avrja0ai, rro\\ovs 5e
l avrfo tivai Sai'/xows oiraSovs ai OfpAnovras. PLUTARCH.



IN previous chapters sundry allusions have been made
to treasure caves besides that of Marchlyn Mawr, which
has been given at length on pp. 234-7 above. Here
follow some more, illustrative of this kind of folklore
prevalent in Wales : they are difficult to classify, but
most of them mention treasure with or without sleeping
warriors guarding it. The others are so miscellaneous
as to baffle any attempt to characterize them generally
and briefly. Take for instance a cave in the part of
Rhiwarth rock nearest to Cwm ILanhafan, in the neigh-
bourhood of ILangynog in Montgomeryshire. Into that,
according to Cyndelw in the Brython for 1860, p. 57,
some men penetrated as far as the pound of candles
lasted, with which they had provided themselves ; but
it appears to be tenanted by a hag who is always busily
washing clothes in a brass pan.

Or take the following, from J. H. Roberts' essay, as
given in Welsh in Edwards' Cytnru for 1897, p. 190 : it
reminds one of an ordinary fairy tale, but it is not quite
like any other which I happen to know : In the western
end of the Arennig Fawr there is a cave : in fact there



WELSH CAVE LEGENDS



457



are several caves there, and some of them are very large
too ; but there is one to which the finger of tradition
points as an ancient abode of the Tylwyth Teg.
About two generations ago, the shepherds of that
country used to be enchanted by one of them called
Mary, who was remarkable for her beauty. Many an
effort was made to catch her or to meet her face to face,
but without success, as she was too quick on her feet.
She used to show herself day after day, and she might
be seen, with her little harp, climbing the bare slopes of
the mountain. In misty weather when the days were
longest in summer, the music she made used to be
wafted by the breeze to the ears of the love-sick
shepherds. Many a time had the boys of the Fitttir Gerrig
heard sweet singing when passing the cave in the full
light of day, but they were subject to some spell, so that
they never ventured to enter. But the shepherd of
Boch y Rhaiadr had a better view of the fairies one
Allhallows night (ryw noson Galangaeaf] when re-
turning home from a merry-making at Amnod. On
the sward in front of the cave what should he see but
scores of the Tylwyth Teg singing and dancing! He
never saw another assembly in his life so fair, and
great was the trouble he had to resist being drawn
into their circles.

Let us now come to the treasure caves, and begin
with Ogof Arthur, 'Arthur's Cave,' in the southern side
of Mynyd y Cnwc 1 in the parish of ILangwyfan, on the
south-western coast of Anglesey. The foot of Mynyd
y Cnwc is washed by the sea, and the mouth of the cave
is closed by its waters at high tide, but the cave, which

1 This seems to be the Goidelic word borrowed, which in Mod. Irish is
written cnocc or cnoc, 'a hill' : the native Welsh form is cnwch, as in O/aiA
Cock in Cardiganshire, Cnivch Dernog (corrupted into Clwch Dcntog) in
Anglesey, printed Kuwgh Dernok in the Record of Carnarvon, p. 59, where
it is associated with other interesting names to be noticed later.



458 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

is spacious, has a vent-hole in the side of the mountain 1 .

So it is at any rate reported in the Brython for 1859,

p. 138, by a writer who explored the place, though not

to the end of the mile which it is said to measure in

length. He mentions a local tradition, that it contains

various treasures, and that it temporarily afforded Arthur

shelter in the course of his wars with the Gwycfelod or

Goidels. But he describes also a cromlech on the top

of Mynyd" y Cnwc, around which there was a circle of

stones, while within the latter there lies buried, it is

believed, an iron chest full of ancient gold. Various

attempts are said to have been made by the more greedy

of the neighbouring inhabitants to dig it up, but they

have always been frightened away by portents. Here

then the guardians of the treasure are creatures of

a supernatural kind, as in many other instances, and

especially that of Dinas Emrys to be mentioned

presently.

Next comes the first of a group of cave legends
involving treasure entrusted to the keeping of armed
warriors. It is taken from Elijah Waring's Recollections
and Anecdotes of Edward Williams, lolo Morgannwg
(London, 1850), pp. 95-8, where it is headed ' A popular
Tale in Glamorgan, by lolo Morgannwg ' ; a version of it
in Welsh will be found in the Brython for 1858, p. 162,
but Waring's version is in several respects better, and
f give it in his words : ' A Welshman walking over
London Bridge, with a neat hazel staff in his hand, was
accosted by an Englishman, who asked him whence he
came. < I am from my own country," answered the
Welshman, in a churlish tone. " Do not take it amiss,






vni] WELSH CAVE LEGENDS



459



my friend," said the Englishman ; " if you will only
answer my questions, and take my advice, it will be of
greater benefit to you than you imagine. That stick in
your hand grew on a spot under which are hid vast
treasures of gold and silver; and if you remember
the place, and can conduct me to it, I will put you in
possession of those treasures."

' The Welshman soon understood that the stranger
was what he called a cunning man, or conjurer, and for
some time hesitated, not willing to go with him among
devils, from whom this magician must have derived his
knowledge ; but he was at length persuaded to accom-
pany him into Wales ; and going to Craig-y-Dinas
[Rock of the Fortress], the Welshman pointed out the
spot whence he had cut the stick. It was from the
stock or root of a large old hazel : this they dug up, and
under it found a broad flat stone. This was found to
close up the entrance into a very large cavern, down into
which they both went. In the middle of the passage
hung a bell, and the conjurer earnestly cautioned the
Welshman not to touch it. They reached the lower
part of the cave, which was very wide, and there saw
many thousands of warriors lying down fast asleep
in a large circle, their heads outwards, every one
clad in bright armour, with their swords, shields, and
other weapons lying by them, ready to be laid hold
on in an instant, whenever the bell should ring and
awake them. All the arms were so highly polished
and bright, that they illumined the cavern, as with
the light of ten thousand flames of fire. They saw
amongst the warriors one greatly distinguished from
the rest by his arms, shield, battle-axe, and a crown
of gold set with the most precious stones, lying by
his side.

'In the midst of this circle of warriors they saw two



460 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

very large heaps, one of gold, the other of silver. The
magician told the Welshman that he might take as much
as he could carry away of either the one or the other,
but that he was not to take from both the heaps. The
Welshman loaded himself with gold: the conjurer took
none, saying that he did not want it, that gold was of no
use but to those who wanted knowledge, and that his
contempt of gold had enabled him to acquire that
superior knowledge and wisdom which he possessed.
In their way out he cautioned the Welshman again not
to touch the bell, but if unfortunately he should do so,
it might be of the most fatal consequence to him, as one
or more of the warriors would awake, lift up his head,
and ask if it was day. " Should this happen," said the
cunning man, "you must, without hesitation, answer
No, sleep thou on ; on hearing which he will again lay
down his head and sleep." In their way up, however,
the Welshman, overloaded with gold, was not able to
pass the bell without touching it it rang one of the
warriors raised up his head, and asked, "Is it day?"
'No," answered the Welshman promptly, "it is not,
sleep thou on ; " so they got out of the cave, laid down
the stone over its entrance, and replaced the hazel tree.
The cunning man, before he parted from his companion,
advised him to be economical in the use of his treasure ;
observing that he had, with prudence, enough for life :
but that if by unforeseen accidents he should be again
reduced to poverty, he might repair to the cave for
more; repeating the caution, not to touch the bell if
possible, but if he should, to give the proper answer,
that it was not day, as promptly as possible. He also
told him that the distinguished person they had seen
was ARTHUR, and the others his warriors ; and they lay
there asleep with their arms ready at hand, for the
dawn of that day when the Black Eagle and the Golden



vni] WELSH CAVE LEGENDS 461

Eagle should go to war, the loud clamour of which
would make the earth tremble so much, that the bell
would ring loudly, and the warriors awake, take up their
arms, and destroy all the enemies of the Cymry, who
afterwards should repossess the Island of Britain, re-
establish their own king and government at Caertteon,
and be governed with justice, and blessed with peace so
long as the world endures.

' The time came when the Welshman's treasure was
all spent: he went to the cave, and as before over-
loaded himself. In his way out he touched the bell : it
rang : a warrior lifted up his head, asking if it was day,
but the Welshman, who had covetously overloaded him-
self, being quite out of breath with labouring under his
burden, and withal struck with terror, was not able to
give the necessary answer ; whereupon some of the
warriors got up, took the gold away from him, and beat
him dreadfully. They afterwards threw him out, and
drew the stone after them over the mouth of the cave.
The Welshman never recovered the effects of that beat-
ing, but remained almost a cripple as long as he lived,
and very poor. He often returned with some of his
friends to Craig-y-Dinas ; but they could never after-
wards find the spot, though they dug over, seemingly,
every inch of the hill.'

This story of lolo's closes with a moral, which I omit
in order to make room for what he says in a note to the
effect, that there are two hills in Glamorganshire called
Craig-y-Dinas nowadays the more usual pronuncia-
tion in South Wales is Craig y Binas one in the parish
of ILantrissant and the other in Ystrad Dyfodwg. There
was also a hill so called, lolo says, in the Vale of Towy,
not far from Carmarthen. He adds that in Glamorgan
the tale is related of the Carmarthenshire hill, while in
Carmarthenshire the hill is said to be in Glamorgan.



462 CELTIC FOLKLORE [CH.

According to lolo's son, Taliesin Williams 1 or Tali-
esin ab lolo, the Craig y )inas with which the Cave of
Arthur (or Owen Lawgoch) is associated is the one on
the borders of Glamorgan and Brecknockshire. That
is also the opinion of my friend Mr. Reynolds, who
describes this craig and dinas as a very bold rocky
eminence at the top of the Neath Valley, near Pont Ned"
Fechan. He adds that in this tale as related to his
mother ' in her very young days ' by a very old woman,
known as Mari Shencin y Clochyct, ' Jenkin the Sexton's
Mary,' the place of Arthur was taken by Owen Law-
goch, 'Owen of the Red Hand,' of whom more anon.

The next Arthurian story is not strictly in point, for
it makes no allusion to treasure ; but as it is otherwise
so similar to lolo's tale I cannot well avoid introducing
it here. It is included in the composite story of Bwca
'r Tnvyn, ' the Bogie of the Nose,' written out for me in
Gwentian Welsh by Mr. Craigfryn Hughes. The cave
portion relates how a Monmouthshire farmer, whose
house was grievously troubled by the bogie, set out one
morning to call on a wizard who lived near Caerleon,
and how he on his way came up with a very strange
and odd man who wore a three-cornered hat. They
fell into conversation, and the strange man asked the
farmer if he should like to see something of a wonder.
He answered he would. 'Come with me then/ said
the wearer of the cocked hat, ' and you shall see what
nobody else alive to-day has seen.' When they had
reached the middle of a wood this spiritual guide sprang
from horseback and kicked a big stone near the road.
It instantly moved aside to disclose the mouth of a large
cave ; and now said he to the farmer, ' Dismount and
bring your horse in here : tie him up alongside of mine,

See pp. 13-16 of his essay on the Neath Valley, referred to in a note at
p. 439 above, where Craig y Binas is also mentioned.



vni] WELSH CAVE LEGENDS 463

and follow me so that you may see something which the
eyes of man have not beheld for centuries.' The farmer,
having done as he was ordered, followed his guide for
a long distance : they came at length to the top of a
flight of stairs, where two huge bells were hanging.
' Now mind,' said the warning voice of the strange
guide, ' not to touch either of those bells.' At the
bottom of the stairs there was a vast chamber with
hundreds of men lying at full length on the floor, each
with his head reposing on the stock of his gun. ' Have
you any notion who these men are ? ' ' No,' replied the
farmer, ' I have not, nor have I any idea what they want
in such a place as this.' ' Well,' said the guide, ' these
are Arthur's thousand soldiers reposing and sleeping
till the Kymry have need of them. Now let us get out
as fast as our feet can carry us.' When they reached
the top of the stairs, the farmer somehow struck his
elbow against one of the bells so that it rang, and in the
twinkling of an eye all the sleeping host rose to their
feet shouting together, ' Are the Kymry in straits ? '
' Not yet : sleep you on,' replied the wearer of the cocked
hat, whereupon they all dropped down on their guns to
resume their slumbers at once. ' These are the valiant
men,' he went on to say, ' who are to turn the scale in
favour of the Kymry when the time comes for them to
cast the Saxon yoke off their necks and to recover
possession of their country.' When the two had re-
turned to their horses at the mouth of the cave, his
guide said to the farmer, ' Now go in peace, and let me
warn you on the pain of death not to utter a syllable
about what you have seen for the space of a year
and a day : if you do, woe awaits you.' After he had



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