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Welsh List of Fairies
The information and stories on the Welsh  fairies in this list have been extracted from; Rhys, John, Celtic Folklore: Welsh and Manx (1901)and Sikes, Wirt, British Goblins (1880)

Adern Y Corph
A death portent in the form of a bird which sings outside the door of a person who’s going to die.

Bwbchod and Bwca
The Bwabach or Boobach is a Welsh house fairy of the brownie arch type. Much like many other similar fairies he tends to do good deeds for those who treat him well by giving him cream, don’t try to look at him, or guess his name. When the Bwabach is mistreated they turn into a a poltergeist like being known as the bwca and after gaining revenge flee the house which they came from in search of a new home with people who will treat them properly. At times however they refuse to leave a place and so must be exercised.

A friendly fairy of Welsh mines which leads people to rich vains of ore, often by knocking where they should dig and which helps prevent cave ins.

A death portent spirit much like the banshee

A mischievous fairy which lives in bogs and uses light to lure travlers astray.

Welsh Elves which fit the more modern idea of fairies, they are wispy, ethreal, beautiful little creatures which eat toadstools and fairy butter (a fungus found in the roots of old trees). Yet in many stories they also appear a bit more like pixies.

Frightful haglike fairies which haunt lonely mountain roads.

Gwrach y Rhibyn
Haglike fairies which act as death portents

Llamhigyn Y Dwr
Called the Water Leaper in English the Llamhigyn Y Dwr is described as a giant frog with a bat's wings instead of forelegs, a long tail and stinger instead of hindlegs
It haunts fishermen breaking their fishing lines and while leap out of the water to eat them or livestock.

Pellings (Welsh Fairy)
A tribe of half-Fairies who are decended from Penelope

Plant Annwn
Beautiful lake fairies which have been compaired to nymphs

Ominous sounds which act as a death portent

Tylwyth Teg
The fairies of Wales

Adern Y Corph (Welsh Fairy)
The Aderyn y Corph is a bird which chirps at the
door of the person who is about to die, and makes
a noise that sounds like the Welsh word for
' Come ! come ! ' the summons to death. ^ In ancient
tradition, it had no feathers nor wings, soaring with-
out support high in the heavens, and, when not
engaged upon some earthly message, dweling in
the land of illusion and phantasy.^ This corpse-bird
may properly be associated with the superstition
regarding the screech-owl, whose cry near a sick-bed
inevitably portends death. The untimely crowing
of a cock also foretells the sudden demise of some
member of the family. In North Wales the cry
of the golden plover is a death-omen ; these birds
are called, in this connection, the whistlers.^ The
same superstition prevails in Warwickshire, and the
sound is called the seven whistlers.

Bwbchod and Bwca (Welsh Fairy)
The Bwbach, or Boobach, is the good-natured goblin which does good turns for the tidy Welsh maid who wins its favour by a certain course of behaviour recommended by long tradition. The maid having swept the kitchen, makes a good fire the last thing at night, and having put the churn, filled with cream, on the whitened hearth, with a basin of fresh cream for the Bwbach on the hob, goes to bed to await the event. In the morning she finds (if she is in luck) that the Bwbach has emptied the basin of cream, and plied the churn-dasher so well that the maid has but to give a thump or two to bring the butter in a great lump. Like the Ellyll which it so much resembles, the Bwbach does not approve of dissenters and their ways, and especially strong is its aversion to total abstainers.
There was a Bwbach belonging to a certain estate in Cardiganshire, which took great umbrage at a Baptist preacher who was a guest in the house, and who was much fonder of prayers than of good ale. Now the Bwbach had a weakness in favour of people who sat around the hearth with their mugs of cwrw da and their pipes, and it took to pestering the preacher. One night it jerked the stool from under the good man's elbows, as he knelt pouring forth prayer, so that he fell down Hat on his face. Another time it interrupted the devotions by jangling the fire-irons on the hearth and it was continually making the dogs fall a-howling during prayers, or frightening the farm boy by grinning at him through the window, or throwing the maid into fits. At last it had the audacity to attack the preacher as he was crossing a field. The minister told the story in this wise 'I was reading busily in my hymn-book as I walked on, when a sudden fear came over me and my legs began to tremble. A shadow crept upon me from behind, and when I turned round--it was myself!--my person, my dress, and even my hymn-book. I looked in its face a moment, and then fell insensible to the ground.' And there, insensible still, they found him. This encounter proved too much for the good man, who considered it a warning to him to leave those parts. He accordingly mounted his horse next day and rode away. A boy of the neighbourhood, whose veracity was, like that of all boys, unimpeachable, afterwards said that lie saw the Bwbach jump up behind the preacher, on the horse's back. And the horse went like lightning, with eyes like balls of fire, and the preacher looking back over his shoulder at the Bwbach, that grinned from ear to ear.

The same confusion in outlines which exists regarding our own Bogie and Hobgoblin gives the Bwbach a double character, as a household fairy and as a terrifying phantom. In both aspects it is ludicrous, but in the latter it has dangerous practices. To get into its clutches under certain circumstances is no trifling matter, for it has the power of whisking people off through the air. Its services are brought into requisition for this purpose by troubled ghosts who cannot sleep on account of hidden treasure they want removed; and if they can succeed in getting a mortal to help them in removing the treasure, they employ the Bwbach to transport the mortal through the air.
This ludicrous fairy is in France represented by the gobelin. Mothers threaten children with him. 'Le gobelin vous mangera, le gobelin vous emportera.' [Père l'Abbé, 'Etymologie,' 262] In the English 'hobgoblin' we have a word apparently derived from the Welsh hob, to hop, and coblyn, a goblin, which presents a hopping goblin to the mind, and suggests the Pwca (with which the Bwbach is also confused in the popular fancy at times), but should mean in English simply the goblin of the hob, or household fairy. In its bugbear aspect, the Bwbach, like the English bogie, is believed to be identical with the Slavonic 'bog,' and the 'baga' of the Cuneiform Inscriptions, both of which are names for the Supreme Being, according to Professor Fiske. 'The ancestral form of these epithets' is found in 'the old Aryan "Bhaga," which reappears unchanged in the Sanskrit of the Vedas, and has left a memento of itself in the surname of the Phrygian Zeus " Bagaios." It seems originally to have denoted either the unclouded sun, or the sky of noonday illuminated by the solar rays.


So the elf proved very useful to the maid, for he did everything for her—
washing, ironing, spinning and twisting wool; in fact
they say that he was remarkably handy at the spinning-
wheel. Moreover, he expected only a bowlful of
sweet milk and wheat bread, or some flummery, for his
work. So she took care to place the bowl with his
food at the bottom of the stairs every night as she
went to bed. It ought to have been mentioned that
she was never allowed to catch a sight of him ; for he
always did his work in the dark. Nor did anybody know
when he ate his food : she used to leave the bowl there
at night, and it would be empty by the time when she
got up in the morning, the bwca having cleared it. But
one night, by way of cursedness, what did she do but
fill the bowl with some of the stale urine which they
used in dyeing wool and other things about the house.
But heavens ! it would have been better for her not to
have done it ; for when she got up next morning what
should he do but suddenly spring from some corner
and seize her by the neck! He began to beat her and
kick her from one end of the house to the other, while
he shouted at the top of his voice at every kick : —

Y faidan din dwmp — The idea that the thick-buttocked lass

y« rhoi bara haii a thrwnc Should give barley bread and p —
Vr bwca ! To the bogie !

Meanwhile she screamed for help, but none came for
some time ; when, however, he heard the servant men
getting up, he took to his heels as hard as he could ; and
nothing was heard of him for some time. But at the
end of two years he was found to be at another farm in
the neighbourhood, called Hafod yr Ynys, where he at
once became great friends with the servant girl : for she
fed him like a young chicken, by giving him a little
bread and milk all the time. So he worked willingly
and well for her in return for his favourite food.
More especially, he used to spin and wind the yam for
her ; but she wished him in time to show his face, or
to tell her his name : he would by no means do either.
One evening, however, when all the men were out, and
when he was spinning hard at the wheel, she deceived
him by telling him that she was also going out. He
believed her ; and when he heard the door shutting, he
began to sing as he plied the wheel : —

Hi warddn iawn pe gwypa hi, How she would laugh, did she know

Taw Gwarwyn-a-throt yafm enw i. That Gwarwyn-a-throt is my name !

'Ha! ha!' said the maid at the bottom of the stairs;
' I know thy name now.' ' What is it, then ? ' he asked.
She replied, ' Gwarwyn-a-throt ' ; and as soon as she
uttered the words he left the wheel where it was, and
off he went. He was next heard of at a farmhouse
not far off, where there happened to be a servant man
named Moses, with whom he became great friends at
once. He did all his work for Moses with great ease.
He once, however, gave him a good beating for doubt-
ing his word ; but the two remained together afterwards
for some years on the best possible terms : the end
of it was that Moses became a soldier. He went
away to fight against Richard Crookback, and fell on
the field of Bosworth. The bogie, after losing his
friend, began to be troublesome and difficult to live
with. He would harass the oxen when they ploughed,
and draw them after him everywhere, plough and all ;
nor could any one prevent them. Then, when the sun
set in the evening he would play his pranks again, and
do all sorts of mischief about the house, upstairs, and
in the cowhouses. So the farmer was advised to visit
a wise man (dyji cynnil), and to see if he could devise
some means of getting rid of the bogie. He called on
the wise man, who happened to be living near Caerleon
on the Usk ; and the wise man, having waited till the
moon should be full, came to the farmer's house. In
due time the wise man, by force of manoeuvring, secured
the bogie by the very long nose which formed the
principal ornament of his face, and earned for him the
name of Bwca'r Trwyn, 'the Bogie of the Nose.'
Whilst secured by the nose, the bogie had something
read to him out of the wise man's big book ; and he
was condemned by the wise man to be transported
to the banks of the Red Sea for fourteen generations,
and to be conveyed thither by ' the upper wind ' (yr
uwchwynf). No sooner had this been pronounced by
the cunning man than there came a whirlwind which
made the whole house shake. Then came a still
mightier wind, and as it began to blow the owner of
the big book drew the awl out of the bogie's nose ; and
it is supposed that the bogie was carried away by that
wind, for he never troubled the place any more.


Speculation on the Bwbach by
(The below article his highly speculative)

We see in the Bwabach the remnants of the good nature that many original fairies were said to have, mixed with the vengeful nature against those who had wronged them. Like most beings of a spiritual nature these fairies tended to put very specific demands on people.

What’s unique about the Bwabach is that despite the fact that they demand that those they live with to be they hate those who refuse to drink or play around. It is of a common fairy trait to love to play games, and house fairies have tended to have varying degrees of playfulness but the Bwabach seems to be the most playful of any European house fairies outside of the Nis. Unlike the later and the Household fairies of Eastern Europe the Welsh Bwabach doesn’t seem to be an ancestral spirit, because it is willing to move from place to place in search of friendly people and because it seeks to help maids, not necessarily the members of the family.
Their connection to the maids and the demands which they put on them would seem to indicate that part of their original social function was to get the maids to be industrious on the one had, while also preventing them from becoming to obsessed with their work. Which means that as with many other fairies the stories about it likely came from multiple stories (the people who hired maids and the maids themselves).

Their desire for cream is interesting as Briggs asserts that cats are a form of Celtic fairy in their own right. Although the tales I’ve seen to indicate this are Scottish and Irish, this does not discount the possibility that such stories once existed among the Welsh. Further Jacob Grimm asserts that Puss in Boots was a house fairy and although that story is German/French those countries were once dominated by the Celts so some stories should remain from that era. It is highly speculative of course to think that the Bwabach might have once been related to a form of cat fairy, unfortunately however we are left with only a very few stories about them and their activities.  of them and no description of the way which they look so such speculation is all we have. Their appearance as small shaggy brown men is vague and doesn’t really indicate an animal origin. However many beings seem to have evolved in a similar manner, satyrs for example, started out with no animal features except for a horse’s tale. Sirens in Greece were depicted early on as being birds with only a women’s head but they eventually came to be portrayed in many works of art as fully human.
Others have speculated that based on their appearance the fairies of the Brownie type creatures are related to the folk memory of a previous people. I tend to think that humans are creative enough to create fairies without such explanations and that these fairies evolve (or are created in the first place) to help fulfill social/emotional needs. At the same time the stories about fairies do adapt and so they can pick up the traits of humans and animals.

Coblynau (Welsh Fairy)

This form presents a peasant who
is returning home from his work, or from a fair, when he sees
a light travelling before him. Looking closer he perceives that it is carried
by a dusky little figure, holding a lantern
or candle at arm's length over its head.
He follows it for several miles, and
suddenly finds himself on the brink of a
frightful precipice. From far down
below there rises to his ears the sound
of a foaming torrent. At the same
moment the little goblin with the lantern
springs across the chasm, alighting on
the opposite side ; raises the light again
high over its head, utters a loud and macious
laugh, blows out its candle and disappears up the
opposite hill, leaving the awestruck peasant to get
home as best he can.  Under the general title of Coblynau I class the
fairies which haunt the mines, quarries and under-
ground regions of Wales, corresponding to the
cabalistic Gnomes. The word coblyn has the
double meaning of knocker or thumper and sprite
or fiend ; and may it not be the original of goblin ?
It is applied by Welsh miners to pigmy fairies which
dwell in the mines, and point out, by a peculiar
knocking or rapping, rich veins of ore. The faith
is extended, in some parts, so as to cover the indi-
cation of subterranean treasures generally, in caves
and secret places of the mountains. The cobly'nau
are described as being about half a yard in height
and very ugly to look upon, but extremely good-
natured, and warm friends of the miner. Their
dress is a grotesque imitation of the miner's garb,
and they carry tiny hammers, picks and lamps.
They work busily, loading ore in buckets, flitting
about the shafts, turning tiny windlasses, and pound-
ing away like madmen, but really accomplishing
nothing whatever. They have been known to
throw stones at the miners, when enraged at being
lightly spoken of; but the stones are harmless.
Nevertheless, all miners of a proper spirit refrain
from provoking them, because their presence brings
good luck. Miners are possibly no more superstitious than
other men of equal intelligence ; I have heard some
of their number repel indignantly the idea that they
are superstitious at all ; but this would simply be to
raise them above the level of our common humanity.
There is testimony enough, besides, to support my
own conclusions, which accredit a liberal share of
credulity to the mining class. The Oswestry Adver-
tiser, a short time ago, recorded the fact that, at
Cefn, *a woman is employed as messenger at one
of the collieries, and as she commences her duty
early each morning she meets great numbers of
colliers going to their work. Some of them, we are
gravely assured, consider it a bad omen to meet a
woman first thing in the morning ; and not having
succeeded in deterring her from her work by other
means, they waited upon the manager and declared
that they should remain at home unless the woman
was dismissed.' This was in 1874. In June, 1878,
the South Wales Daily News recorded a superstition
of the quarrymen at Penrhyn, where some thousands
of men refused to work on Ascension Day. ' This
refusal did not arise out of any reverential feeling,
but from an old and wide-spread superstition, which
has lingered in that district for years, that if work
is continued on Ascension Day an accident will
certainly follow. A few years ago the agents
persuaded the men to break through the supersti-
tion, and there were accidents each year — a not
unlikely occurrence, seeing the extent of works
carried on, and the dangerous nature of the occupa-
tion of the men. This year, however, the men, one
and all, refused to work.' These are examples
dealing with considerable numbers of the mining
class, and are quoted in this instance as being more
significant than individual cases would be. Of these
last I have encountered many.

It can hardly be cause for wonder that the miner
should be superstitious. His life is passed in a
dark and gloomy region, fathoms below the earth's
green surface, surrounded by walls on which dim
lamps shed a fitful light. It is not surprising that
imagination (and the Welsh imagination is pecu-
liarly vivid) should conjure up the faces and forms
of gnomes and coblynau, of phantoms and fairy
men. When they hear the mysterious thumping
which they know is not produced by any human
being, and when in examining the place where the
noise was heard they find there are really valuable
indications of ore, the sturdiest incredulity must
sometimes be shaken. Science points out that
the noise may be produced by the action of water
upon the loose stones in fissures and pot-holes of
the mountain limestone, and does actually suggest
the presence of metals.

In the days before a Priestley had caught and
bottled that demon which exists in the shape of
carbonic acid gas, when the miner was smitten dead
by an invisible foe in the deep bowels of the earth
it was natural his awe-struck companions should
ascribe the mysterious blow to a supernatural
enemy. When the workman was assailed suddenly
by what we now call fire-damp, which hurled him
and his companions right and left upon the dark
rocks, scorching, burning, and killing, those who
survived were not likely to question the existence
of the mine fiend. Hence arose the superstition —
now probably quite extinct — of basilisks in the
mines, which destroyed with their terrible gaze.
When the explanation came, that the thing which
killed the miner was what he breathed, not what he
saw ; and when chemistry took the fire-damp from
the domain of faerie, the basilisk and the fire fiend
had not a leg to stand on. The explanation of the
Knockers is more recent, and less palpable and
convincing. The Coblynau are always given the form of dwarfs,
in the popular fancy ; never seen or heard, they
are believed to have escaped from the mines or the
secret regions of the mountains. Their homes
are hidden from mortal vision. When encountered,
either in the mines or on the mountains, they have
strayed from their special abodes, which are as
spectral as themselves. There is at least one
account extant of their secret territory having been
revealed to mortal eyes. I find it in a quaint volume
(of which I shall have more to say), printed at
Newport, Monmouthshire, in 1813.^ It relates that
one William Evans, of Hafodafel, while crossing
the Beacon Mountain very early in the morning,
passed a fairy coal mine, where fairies were busily
at work. Some were cutting the coal, some carrying
it to fill the sacks, some raising the loads upon the
horses' backs, and so on ; but all in the completest
silence. He thought this 'a wonderful extra natural
thing,' and was considerably impressed by it, for
well he knew that there really was no coal mine at
that place. He was a person of ' undoubted veracity,'
and what is more, ' a great man in the world — above
telling an untruth.'

That the Coblynau sometimes wandered far from
home, the same chronicler testifies ; but on these
occasions they were taking a holiday. Egbert
Williams, 'a pious young gentleman of Denbigh-
shire, then at school,' was one day playing in a field
called Cae Caled, in the parish of Bodfari, with
three girls, one of whom was his sister. Near the
stile beyond Lanelwyd House they saw a company
of fifteen or sixteen coblynau engaged in dancing
madly. They were in the middle of the field, about
seventy yards from the spectators, and they danced
something after the manner of Morris-dancers, but
with a wildness and swiftness in their motions. They
were clothed in red like British soldiers, and wore
red handkerchiefs spotted with yellow wound round
their heads. And a strange circumstance about
them was that although they were almost as big
as ordinary men, yet they had unmistakably the
appearance of dwarfs, and one could call them
nothing but dwarfs. Presently one of them left the
company and ran towards the group near the stile,
who were direfully scared thereby, and scrambled
in great fright to go over the stile. Barbara Jones
got over first, then her sister, and as Egbert
Williams was helping his sister over they saw the
coblyn close upon them, and barely got over when
his hairy hand was laid on the stile. He stood
leaning on it, gazing after them as they ran, with a
grim copper-coloured countenance and a fierce look.
The young people ran to Lanelwyd House and called
the elders out, but though they hurried quickly to
the field the dwarfs had already disappeared.

The counterparts of the Coblynau are found in
most mining countries. In Germany, the Wichtlein
(little Wights) are little old long-bearded men,
about three-quarters of an ell high, which haunt the
mines of the southern land. The Bohemians call
the Wichtlein by the name of Haus-schmiedlein,
little House-smiths, from their sometimes making
a noise as if labouring hard at the anvil. They are
not so popular as in Wales, however, as they predict
misfortune or death. They announce the doom of
a miner by knocking three times distinctly, and
when any lesser evil is about to befall him they are
heard digging, pounding, and imitating other kinds
of work. In Germany also the kobolds are rather
troublesome than otherwise, to the miners, taking
pleasure in frustrating their objects, and rendering
their toil unfruitful. Sometimes they are down-
right malignant, especially if neglected or insulted,
but sometimes also they are indulgent to individuals
whom they take under their protection. * When a
miner therefore hit upon a rich vein of ore, the
inference commonly was not that he possessed more
skill, industry, or even luck than his fellow-workmen,
but that the spirits of the mine had directed him to
the treasure.' 

The intimate connection between mine fairies and
the whole race of dwarfs is constantly met through-
out the fairy mythology ; and the connection of
the dwarfs with the mountains is equally universal.
' God/ says the preface to the Heldenbuch, * gave
the dwarfs being, because the land and the mountains
were altogether waste and uncultivated, and there
was much store of silver and gold and precious
stones and pearls still in the mountains.' From
the most ancient times, and in the oldest countries,
down to our own time and the new world of America, I
the traditions are the same. The old Norse belief *;
which made the dwarfs the current machinery of
the northern Sagas is echoed in the Catskill Moun-
tains with the rolling of the thunder among the
crags where Hendrik Hudson's dwarfs are playing I

Cwn Annwn Welsh Fairy
The Gwyllgi finds its counterpart in the Mauthe
Doog of the Isle of Man and the Shock of the
Norfolk coast. It there comes up out of the sea
and travels about in the lanes at night. To meet it
is a sign of trouble and death. The Gwyllgi also is
confined to sea-coast parishes mainly, and although
not classed among death-omens, to look on it is
deemed dangerous. The hunting dogs, Cwn Annwn,
or dogs of hell, whose habitat is the sky overhead,
have also other attributes which distinguish them
clearly from the Gwyllgi. They are death-omens,
ancient of lineage and still encountered. The
Gwyllgi, while suggesting some interesting com-
parisons with the old mythology, appears to have
lost vogue since smuggling ceased to be profitable.
Confined to the coast, too, are those stories of
phantom ships and phantom islands which, too
familiar to merit illustration here, have their origin
in the mirage. That they also touch the ancient
mythology is undoubted ; but their source in the
mirage is probably true of the primeval belief as well
as of the medieval, and that of our time. The
Chinese also have the mirage, but not its scientific
explanation, and hence of course their belief in its
supernatural character is undisturbed.
There are death portents In every country, and in
endless variety ; in Wales these portents assume
distinct and striking individual ties, in great number
and with clearly defined attributes. The banshee,
according to Mr. Baring-Gould, has no correspond-
ing feature in Scandinavian, Teutonic, or classic
mythology, and belongs entirely to the Celts. The
Welsh have the banshee in its most blood-curdling
form under the name of the Gwrach y Rhibyn ;
they have also the Cyhyraeth, which Is never seen,
but Is heard, moaning dolefully and dreadfully in
the night ; the Tolaeth, also only heard, not groaning
but Imitating some earthly sound, such as sawing,
singing, or the tramping of feet ; the Cwn Annwn
and Cwn y Wybr, Dogs of Hell and Dogs of the
Sky ; the Canwyll Corph, or Corpse Candle ; the
Teulu, or Goblin Funeral, and many others — all of
them death-portents. These, as the more Important
and striking, I will describe further ; but there are
several others which must first be mentioned.

The death portent called Cwn Annwn, or Dogs
of Hell, is a pack of hounds which howl through
the air with a voice frightfully disproportionate to
their size, full of a wild sort of lamentation. There
is a tradition that one of them once fell on a tomb-
stone, but no one was able to secure it. A pecu-
liarity of these creatures is that the nearer they are
to a man the less loud their voice sounds, resembling
then the voice of small beagles, and the farther off
they are the louder is their cry. Sometimes a voice
like that of a great hound is heard sounding among
them — a deep hollow voice, as if it were the voice
of a monstrous bloodhound. Although terrible to
hear, and certain portents of death, they are in
themselves harmless. ' They have never been
known,' says a most respectable authority,^ *to
commit any mischief on the persons of either man
or woman, goat, sheep, or cow.' Sometimes they
are called Cwn y Wybr, or Dogs of the Sky, but the
mo sulphreurous name is the favourite one. They
are also sometimes called Dogs of the Fairies.
Their origin in fairyland is traced to the famous
mabinogi of Pwyll, Prince of Dyfed ; but in that
fascinating tale of enchantment their right to be
called Cwn Annwn is clearly set forth, for they are
there the hounds of a King of Annwn. There are
several translations of this mabinogi in existence,
and its popularity in South Wales is great, for the
villages, vales, and streams mentioned in it are
familiar to residents in Pembroke, Carmarthen, and
Cardigan shires. Pwyll, the Prince, was at Nar-
berth, where was his chief palace, when he went
one day to a wood in Glyn Cych. Here ' he
sounded his horn and began to enter upon the
chase, following his dogs and separating from his
companions. And as he was listening to the cry
of his pack, he could distinctly hear the cry of
another pack, different from that of his own, and
which was coming in an opposite direction. He
could also discern an opening in the woods towards
a level plain ; and as his pack was entering the
skirt of the opening he perceived a stag before the
other pack, and about the middle of the glade the
pack in the rear coming up and throwing the stag
on the ground. Upon this he fixed his attention
on the colour of the pack, without recollecting to
look at the stag : and of all the hounds in the
world he had ever seen he never saw any like them
in colour. Their colour was a shining clear white,
with red ears ; and the whiteness of the dogs and
the redness of their ears were equally conspicuous.'*
They were the hounds of Arawn, a crowned king
in the land of Annwn, the shadow-land of Hades.

The Cwn Annwn are sometimes held to be the
hell-hounds which hunt through the air the soul of
the wicked man, the instant it quits the body — a
truly terrific idea to the vulgar mind. The Prophet
Jones has several accounts of them : Thomas
Phillips, of Trelech parish, heard them with the
voice of the great dog sounding among them, and
noticed that they followed a course that was never
followed by funerals, which surprised him very
much, as he had always heard that the Dogs of the
Sky invariably went the same way that the corpse
was to follow. Not long after a woman from an
adjoining parish died at Trelech, and being carried
to her own parish church to be buried, her corpse
did actually pass the same way in which the spirit
dogs had been heard to hunt. Thomas Andrew,
of the parish of Llanhiddel, heard them one night
as he was coming home. ' He heard them coming
towards him, though he saw them not.' Their cry
grew fainter as they drew near him, passed him,
and louder again as they went from him. They
went down the steeps towards the river Ebwy.
And Thomas Andrew was * a religious man, who
would not have told an untruth for fear or for

That the Cwn Annwn are descendants of the
wish-hound of Hermes, hardly admits of doubt.
The same superstition prevails among all Aryan
peoples, with details differing but little. The souls
of the dying are carried away by the howling
winds, the dogs of Hermes, in the ancient mytho-
logy as in surviving beliefs ; on this follows the
custom of opening the windows at death, so that the
released soul may escape. In Devonshire they say
no soul can escape from the house in which its body
dies, unless all the locks and bolts are opened. In
China a hole is made in the roof for a like purpose.
The early Aryan conception of the wind as a howl-
ing dog or wolf speeding over the house-tops caused
the inmates to tremble with fear, lest their souls
should be called to follow them. It must be con-
stantly borne in mind that all these creatures of
fancy were more or less interchangeable, and the
god Hermes was at times his own dog, which
escorted the soul to the river Styx. The winds
were now the maruts, or spirits of the breeze,
serving Indra, the sky-god ; again they were the
great psychopomp himself. The peasant who to-day
tells you that dogs can see death enter the house
where a person is about to die, merely repeats the
idea of a primeval man whose ignorance of physical
science was complete.

Cyhyraeth (Welsh Fairy)
A death-portent which is often confused with the
Gwrach y Rhibyn, yet which is rendered quite dis-
tinct by its special attributes, is the Cyhyraeth.
This is a groaning spirit. It is never seen, but the
noise it makes is no less terrible to the ear than the
^ Avagddu means both hell and the devil, as our word Heaven
means both the Deity and his abode.
appearance of Its visible sister Is to the eye. Among
groaning spirits It Is considered to be the chief. The
Prophet Jones succinctly characterises It as ' a dole-
ful, dreadful noise In the night, before a burying.'
David Prosser, of Llanybyther parish, ' a sober, sen-
sible man and careful to tell the truth,' once heard
the Cyhyraeth in the early part of the night, his
wife and maid-servant being together In the house,
and also hearing it ; and when it came opposite the
window. It ' pronounced these strange words, of no
signification that we know of,' viz. ' Woolach I
Woolach I ' Some time afterward a funeral passed
that way. The judicious Joshua Coslet, who lived
by the river Towy in Carmarthenshire, testified
that the Cyhyraeth Is often heard there, and that it
is ' a doleful, disagreeable sound heard before the
deaths of many, and most apt to be heard before
foul weather. The voice resembles the groaning of
sick persons who are to die ; heard at first at a dis-
tance, then comes nearer, and the last near at hand ;
so that it Is a threefold warning of death. It begins
strong, and louder than a sick man can make ; the
second cry is lower, but not less doleful, but rather
more so ; the third yet lower, and soft, like the
groaning of a sick man almost spent and dying.' A
person 'well remembering the voice' and coming to
the sick man's bed, 'shall hear his groans exactly
like' those which he had before heard from the
Cyhyraeth. This crying spirit especially affected
the twelve parishes in the hundred of Inis Cenin,
which lie on the south-east side of the river Towy,
* where some time past it groaned before the death
of every person who lived that side of the country.'
It also sounded before the death of persons 'who
were born in these parishes, but died elsewhere.'
Sometimes the voice is heard long before death, but
not longer than three quarters of a year. So com-
mon was it in the district named, that among the
people there a familiar form of reproach to any one
making a disagreeable noise, or ' children crying or
groaning unreasonable,' was to ejaculate, ' Oh 'r
Cyhyraeth ! ' A reason why the Cyhyraeth was
more often heard in the hundred of Inis Cenin was
thought to be that Non, the mother of St. David,
lived in those parts, where a village is called after
her name, Llan-non, the church of Non.
On the southern sea-coast, in Glamorganshire,
the Cyhyraeth is sometimes heard by the people
in the villages on shore passing down the channel
with loud moans, while those dismal lights which
forebode a wreck are seen playing along the waves.
Watchers by the sea-shore have also heard its moan
far out on the ocean, gradually drawing nearer and
nearer, and then dying away ; and when they
thought it gone it has suddenly shrieked close to
their startled ears, chilling their very marrows.
Then, long after, they would hear it, now faint, now
loud, going along the sands into the distant darkness.
One or more corpses were usually washed ashore
soon after. In the villages the Cyhyraeth is heard
passing through the empty streets and lanes by
night, groaning dismally, sometimes rattling the
window-shutters, or flinging open the door as it
flits by. When going along the country lanes it
will thus horrify the inmates of every house it
passes. Some old people say it is only heard
before the death of such as are of strayed mind,
or who have long been ill ; but it always comes
when an epidemic is about to visit the neighbour-

A tradition of the Cyhyraeth is connected with
the parish churchyard at St. Mellons, a quaint old-
fashioned village within easy tramping distance of
Cardiff, but in Monmouthshire. It is of a boy who
was sent on an errand, and who heard the Cyhyraeth
crying in the churchyard, first in one place, then in
another, and finally in a third place, where it rested.
Some time after, a corpse was brought to that
churchyard to be buried, but some person came and
claimed the grave. They went to another place,
but that also was claimed. Then they went to
a third place, and there they were allowed to bury
their dead in peace. And this going about with the
corpse was *just the same as the boy declared it.'
Of course the boy could not know what was to
come to pass, * but this crying spirit knew exactly
what would come to pass.' I was also told by a
person at St. Mellons that a ghost had been seen
sitting upon the old stone cross which stands on the
hillside near the church.
Other groaning spirits are sometimes heard. A
girl named Mary Morgan, living near Crumlyn
Bridge, while standing on the bridge one evening
was seized with mortal terror on hearing a groaning
voice going up the river, uttering the words, * O
Dduw, beth a wnaf fi ?' (O God, what shall I do ?)
many times repeated, amid direful groans. The
conclusion of this narration is a hopeless mystery,
as Mary fainted away with her fright.

This was at Evansville, Indiana, and
the banshee had appeared before the deaths of five
members of a family, the last of whom was the
father. His name was Feast, and the circumstances
attending the banshee's visits were gravely described
in a local journal as a matter of news. Less dis-
tinguished death-portents are common enough in the
United States. That the Cambrian portents are
so picturesque and clearly defined must be considered
strong testimony to the vivid imagination of the
Welsh. Figures born of the fancy, as distinguished
from creatures born of the flesh, prove their parent-
age by the vagueness of their outlines. The outlines
of the Cyhyraeth and the Gwrach y Rhibyn some-
times run into and mingle with each other, and so do
those of the Tolaeth and the Goblin Funeral ; but
the wonder is they are such distinct entities as they

Ellylldan (Welsh Fairy)

The Ellylldan is a species of elf exactly corre-
sponding to the English Will-o'-wisp, the Scandi-
navian Lyktgubhe, and the Breton Sand Yan y Tad.
The Welsh word dan means fire ; dan also means
a lure ; the compound word suggests a luring elf-
fire. The Breton Sand Yan y Tad (St. John and
Father)^ is a double ignis fatuus fairy, carrying
at its finger-ends five lights, which spin round like
a wheel. The negroes of the southern seaboard
states of America invest this goblin with an exagge-
ration of the horrible peculiarly their own. They
call it Jack-muh-lantern, and describe it as a hideous
creature five feet in height, with goggle-eyes and
huge mouth, its body covered with long hair, and
which goes leaping and bounding through the air
like a gigantic grasshopper. This frightful appari-
tion is stronger than any man, and swifter than any
horse, and compels its victims to follow it into the
swamp, where it leaves them to die. ^

Like all goblins of this class, the Ellylldan was;^
of course, seen dancing about in marshy grounds,
into which it led the belated wanderer; but, as a
distinguished resident in Wales has wittily said, the
poor elf ' is now starved to death, and his breath is
taken from him ; his light is quenched for ever by
the improving farmer, who has drained the bog;
and, instead of the rank decaying vegetation of the
autumn, where bitterns and snipes delighted to
secrete themselves, crops of corn and potatoes are
grown/ ^

A poetic account by a modern character, called
lolo the Bard, is thus condensed : * One night,
when the moon had gone down, as I was sitting on
a hill-top, the Ellylldan passed by. I followed it
into the valley. We crossed plashes of water where
the tops of bulrushes peeped above, and where the
lizards lay silently on the surface, looking at us with
an unmoved stare. The frogs sat croaking and
swelling their sides, but ceased as they raised a
melancholy eye at the Ellylldan. The wild fowl,
sleeping with their heads under their wings, made a
low cackle as we went by. A bittern awoke and
rose with a scream into the air. I felt the trail of
the eels and leeches peering about, as I waded
through the pools. On a slimy stone a toad sat
sucking poison from the night air. The Ellylldan
glowed bravely in the slumbering vapours. It rose
airily over the bushes that drooped in the ooze.
When I lingered or stopped, it waited for me, but
dwindled gradually away to a speck barely per-
ceptible. But as soon as I moved on again, it
would shoot up suddenly and glide before. A bat
came flying round and round us, flapping its wings
heavily. Screech-owls stared silently at us with
their broad eyes. Snails and worms crawled about.
The fine threads of a spider's web gleamed in the
light of the Ellylldan. Suddenly it shot away from
me, and in the distance joined a ring of its fellows,
who went dancing slowly round and round in a
goblin dance, which sent me off to sleep.' ^
Pwca, or Pooka, is but another name for the Ellyll-
dan, as our Puck is another name for the Will-o'-
wisp ; but in both cases the shorter term has a more
poetic flavour and a wider latitude. The name
Puck was originally applied to the whole race of
English fairies, and there still be few of the realm
who enjoy a wider popularity than Puck, in spite of
his mischievous attributes. Part of this popularity
is due to the poets, especially to Shakspeare. I
have alluded to the bard's accurate knowledge of
Vv^elsh folk-lore ; the subject is really one of unique
interest, in view of the inaccuracy charged upon him
as to the English fairyland. There is a Welsh
tradition to the effect that Shakspeare received his
knowledge of the Cambrian fairies from his friend
Richard Price, son of Sir John Price, of the priory
of Brecon. It is even claimed that Cwm Pwca, or
Puck Valley, a part of the romantic glen of the
Clydach, in Breconshire, is the original scene of the
* Midsummer Night's Dream ' — a fancy as light and
airy as Puck himself.^ Anyhow, there Cwm Pwca
is, and in the sylvan days, before Frere and Powells
ironworks were set up there, it is said to have been
as full of goblins as a Methodist's head is of piety.
And there are in Wales other places bearing like
names, where Pwca's pranks are well remembered
by old inhabitants.

Ellyllon (Welsh Fairy)
The Ellyllon are the pigmy elves who haunt the
groves and valleys, and correspond pretty closely
with the English elves. The English name was
probably derived from the Welsh el, a spirit, elf, an
element ; there is a whole brood of words of this
class in the Welsh language, expressing every
variety of flowing, gliding, spirituality, devilry,
angelhood, and goblinism. Ellyllon (the plural of
ellyll), is also doubtless allied with the Hebrew
Elilim, having with it an identity both of origin and
meaning.^ The poet Davydd ab Gwilym, in a
humorous account of his troubles in a mist, in the
year 1340, says :

Yr ydoedd ym mhob gobant
Ellyllon mingeimion gant.

There was in every hollow
A hundred wrymouthed elves.

The hollows, or little dingles, are still the places
where the peasant, belated on his homeward way
from fair or market, looks for the ellyllon, but fails
to find them. Their food is specified in Welsh
folk-lore as fairy butter and fairy victuals, ymenyn
tylwyth teg and bwyd ellyllon ; the latter the toad-
stool, or poisonous mushroom, and the former a
butter-resembling substance found at great depths
in the crevices of limestone rocks, in sinking for
lead ore. Their gloves, menyg ellyllon, are the
bells of the digitalis, or fox-glove, the leaves of
which are well known to be a strong sedative.
Their queen — for though there is no fairy-queen in
the large sense that Gwyn ap Nudd is the fairy-king,
there is a queen of the elves — is none other than the
Shakspearean fairy spoken of by Mercutio, who
comes In shape no bigger than an agate- stone
On the forefinger of an alderman.^

Shakspeare's use of Welsh folk-lore, it should be
noted, was extensive and peculiarly faithful.
Keightley in his ' Fairy Mythology ' rates the bard
soundly for his inaccurate use of English fairy
superstitions ; but the reproach will not apply as
regards Wales. From his Welsh informant Shak-
speare got Mab, which is simply the Cymric for a
little child, and the root^ of numberless words signi-
fying babyish, childish, love for children (mabgar),
kitten (mabgath), prattling (mabiaith), and the like,
most notable of all which in this connection is
rrvabinogi, the singular of Mabinogion, the romantic
tales of enchantment told to the young in by-gone ages.


"Then where is your
harp ? A Welshman even cannot dance without a
harp." '' Oh," said the little man, '' I can discourse
better dance music upon my fiddle." " Is it a fiddle
you call that stringed wooden spoon in your hand ? "
asked Tudur, for he had never seen such an instru-
ment before. And now Tudur beheld through the
dusk hundreds of pretty little sprites converging
towards the spot where they stood, from all parts
of the mountain. Some were dressed in white, and
some in blue, and some in pink, and some carried
glow-worms in their hands for torches. And so
lightly did they tread that not a blade nor a flower
was crushed beneath their weight, and every one
made a curtsey or a bow to Tudur as they passed,
and Tudur doffed his cap and moved to them in
return. Presently the little minstrel drew his bow
across the strings of his instrument, and the music
produced was so enchanting that Tudur stood trans-
fixed to the spot.' At the sound of the sweet melody,
the Tylwyth Teg ranged themselves in groups, and
began to dance. Now of all the dancing Tudur
had ever seen, none was to be compared to that
he saw at this moment going on. He could not
help keeping time with his hands and feet to the
merry music, but he dared not join in the dance, ' for
he thought within himself that to dance on a
mountain at night in strange company, to perhaps
the devil's fiddle, might not be the most direct route
to heaven.' But at last he found there was no resist-
ing this bewitching strain, joined to the sight of
the capering Ellyllon. ' '* Now for it, then," screamed
Tudur, as he pitched his cap into the air under the
excitement of delight. *' Play away, old devil ;
brimstone and water, if you like ! " No sooner were
the words uttered than everything underwent a
change. The gorse-blossom cap vanished from the
minstrel's head, and a pair of goat's horns branched
out instead. His face turned as black as soot ; a
long tail grew out of his leafy coat, while cloven
feet replaced the beetle-wing pumps. Tudur's heart
was heavy, but his heels were light. Horror was
in his bosom, but the impetus of motion was in his
feet. The fairies changed into a variety of forms.
Some became goats, and some became dogs, some
assumed the shape of foxes, and others that of cats.
It was the strangest crew that ever surrounded a
human being. The dance became at last so furious
that Tudur could not distinctly make out the forms
of the dancers. They reeled around him with such
rapidity that they almost resembled a wheel of fire.
Still Tudur danced on. He could not stop, the
devil's fiddle was too much for him, as the figure
with the goat's horns kept pouring it out with
unceasing vigour, and Tudur kept reeling around in
spite of himself. Next day Tudur's master ascended
the mountain in search of the lost shepherd and his
sheep. He found the sheep all right at the foot of
the Fron, but fancy his astonishment when, ascend-
ing higher, he saw Tudur spinning like mad in the
middle of the basin now known as Nant yr Ellyllon.'
Some pious words of the master broke the charm,
and restored Tudur to his home in Llangollen,
where he told his adventures with great gusto for
Many years afterwards.^


Polly Williams, a good dame who was born in
Trefethin parish, and lived at the Ship Inn, at
Pontypool, Monmouthshire, was wont to relate that,
when a child, she danced with the Tylwyth Teg.
The first time was one day while coming home from
school. She saw the fairies dancing in a pleasant,
dry place, under a crab-tree, and, thinking they
were children like herself, went to them, when they
induced her to dance with them. She brought
them into an empty barn and they danced there
together. After that, during three or four years,
she often met and danced with them, when going to
or coming from school. She never could hear the
sound of their feet, and having come to know that
they were fairies, took off her ffollachau (clogs), so
that she, too, might make no noise, fearful that the
clattering of her clog-shodden feet was displeasing
to them. They were all dressed in blue and green
aprons, and, though they were so small, she could
see by their mature faces that they were no children.
Once when she came home barefoot, after dancing
with the fairies, she was chided for going to school
in that condition ; but she held her tongue about the
fairies, for fear of trouble, and never told of them
till after she grew up. She gave over going with
them to dance, however, after three or four years,
and this displeased them. They tried to coax her
back to them, and, as she would not come, hurt her
by dislocating 'one of her walking members,'^
which, as a euphemism for legs, surpasses anything
charged against American prudery.
Contrasting strongly with this matter-of-fact
account of a modern witness is the glowing descrip-
tion of fairy life contained in the legend of the
Fairies of Frennifawr. About ten miles south of
Cardigan is the Pembrokeshire mountain called
Frennifawr, which is the scene of this tale : A
shepherd's lad was tending his sheep on the small
mountains called Frennifach one fine morning in
June. Looking to the top of Frennifawr to note
what way the fog hung — for if the fog on that
mountain hangs on the Pembrokeshire side, there
will be fair weather, if on the Cardigan side, storm
— he saw the Tylwyth Teg, in appearance like
tiny soldiers, dancing in a ring. He set out for
the scene of revelry, and soon drew near the ring
where, in a gay company of males and females, they
were footing it to the music of the harp. Never
had he seen such handsome people.....

Gwyllion (Welsh Fairy)

The Gwyllion are female fairies of frightful charac-
teristics, who haunt lonely roads in the Welsh
mountains, and lead night-wanderers astray. They
partake somewhat of the aspect of the Hecate of
Greek mythology, who rode on the storm, and was
a hag of horrid guise. The Welsh word gwyll is
variously used to signify gloom, shade, duskiness, a
hag, a witch, a fairy, and a goblin ; but its special
application is to these mountain fairies of gloomy
and harmful habits, as distinct from the Ellyllon of
the forest glades and dingles, which are more often
beneficent. The Gwyllion take on a more distinct
individuality under another name — as the Ellyllon
do in mischievous Puck — and the Old Woman of
the Mountain typifies all her kind. She is very
carefully described by the Prophet J ones, ^ in the
guise in which she haunted Llanhyddel Mountain
in Monmouthshire. This was the semblance of a
poor old woman, with an oblong four-cornered hat,
ash-coloured clothes, her apron thrown across her
shoulder, with a pot or wooden can in her hand,
such as poor people carry to fetch milk with, always
going before the spectator, and sometimes crying
* Wow up ! ' This is an English form of a Welsh cry
of distress, * Wwb ! * or ' Ww-bwb ! ' ^ Those who
saw this apparition, whether by night or on a misty
day, would be sure to lose their way, though they
might be perfectly familiar with the road. Some-
times they heard her cry, ' Wow up ! ' when they
did not see her. Sometimes when they went out
by night, to fetch coal, water, etc., the dwellers near
that mountain would hear the cry very close to
them, and immediately after they would hear it |
afar off, as if it were on the opposite mountain, in
the parish of Aberystruth. The popular tradition
in that district was that the Old Woman of the
Mountain was the spirit of one Juan White, who |
lived time out of mind in those parts, and was
thought to be a witch ; because the mountains were
not haunted in this manner until after Juan White's '
death.^ When people first lost their way, and saw I
her before them, they used to hurry forward and try i
to catch her, supposing her to be a flesh-and-blood ]
woman, who could set them right ; but they never
could overtake her, and she on her part never
looked back ; so that no man ever saw her face. ;
She has also been seen in the Black Mountain in I
Breconshire. Robert Williams, of Langattock, Crick- |
howel, ' a substantial man and of undoubted veracity,' I
tells this tale : As he was travelling one night over
part of the Black Mountain, he saw the Old
Woman, and at the same time found he had lost i
his way. Not knowing her to be a spectre he ;
hallooed to her to stay for him, but receiving no j
answer thought she was deaf. He then hastened
his steps, thinking to overtake her, but the faster he
ran the further he found himself behind her, at
which he wondered very much, not knowing the
reason of it. He presently found himself stumbling
in a marsh, at which discovery his vexation increased ;
and then he heard the Old Woman laughing at him
with a weird, uncanny, crackling old laugh. This
set him to thinking she might be a gwyll ; and
when he happened to draw out his knife for some
purpose, and the Old Woman vanished, then he was
sure of it ; for Welsh ghosts and fairies are afraid
of a knife.

Another account relates that John ap John, of
Cwm Celyn, set out one morning before daybreak
to walk to Caerleon Fair. As he ascended Milfre
Mountain he heard a shouting behind him as if it
were on Bryn Mawr, which is a part of the Black
Mountain in Breconshire. Soon after he heard the
shouting on his left hand, at Bwlch y Llwyn, nearer
to him, whereupon he was seized with a great fright,
and began to suspect it was no human voice. He
had already been wondering, indeed, what any one
could be doing at that hour in the morning, shouting
on the mountain side. Still going on, he came
up higher on the mountain, when he heard the
shouting just before him, at Gilfach fields, to the
right — and now he was sure it was the Old Woman
of the Mountain, who purposed leading him astray.
Presently he heard behind him the noise of a coach,
and with it the special cry of the Old Woman of the
Mountain, viz., ' Wow up ! ' Knowing very well
hat no coach could go that way, and still hearing its
noise approaching nearer and nearer, he became
thoroughly terrified, and running out of the road
threw himself down upon the ground and buried his
face in the heath, waiting for the phantom to pass.
When it was gone out of hearing, he arose ; and
hearing the birds singing as the day began to break,
also seeing some sheep before him, his fear went
quite off. And this, says the Prophet Jones, was
' no profane, immoral man,* but ' an honest, peace-
able, knowing man, and a very comely person ' more-

The exorcism by knife appears to be a Welsh
notion ; though there is an old superstition of wide
prevalence in Europe that to give to or receive
from a friend a knife or a pair of scissors cuts friend-
ship. I have even encountered this superstition in
America; once an editorial friend at Indianapolis
gave me a very handsome pocket-knife, which
he refused to part with except at the price of one
cent, lawful coin of the realm, asserting that we
should become enemies without this precaution. In
China, too, special charms are associated with
knives, and a knife which has slain a fellow-being is
an invaluable possession. In Wales, according to
Jones, the Gwyllion often came into the houses of
the people at Aberystruth, especially in stormy
weather, and the inmates made them welcome — not
through any love they bore them, but through fear
of the hurts the Gwyllion might inflict if offended
— by providing clean water for them, and taking
especial care that no knife, or other cutting tool,
should be in the corner near the fire, where the
fairies would go to sit. ' For want of which care
many were hurt by them.' While it was desirable
to exorcise them when in the open air, it was not
deemed prudent to display an inhospitable spirit
towards any member of the fairy world. The cases
of successful exorcism by knife are many, and no-
thing in the realm of faerie is better authenticated.
There was Evan Thomas, who, travelling by night
over Bedwellty Mountain, towards the valley of
Ebwy Fawr, where his house and estate were,
saw the Gwyllion on each side of him, some of them
dancing around him in fantastic fashion. He also
heard the sound of a bugle-horn winding in the air,
and there seemed to be invisible hunters riding by.
He then began to be afraid, but recollected his
having heard that any person seeing Gwyllion may
drive them away by drawing out a knife. So he
drew out his knife, and the fairies vanished directly.
Now Evan Thomas was * an old gentleman of such
strict veracity that he ' on one occasion ' did confess
a truth against himself,' when he was 'like to suffer
loss ' thereby, and notwithstanding he ' was per-
suaded by some not to do it, yet he would persist in
telling the truth, to his own hurt.'

Jones says that the Old Woman of the Mountain
has, since about 1800, (at least in South Wales,)
been driven into close quarters by the light of the
Gospel — in fact, that she now haunts mines — or in
the preacher's formal words, 'the coal-pits and
holes of the earth.'

Among the traditions of the origin of the Gwyllion
is one which associates them with goats. Goats are
in Wales held in peculiar esteem for their supposed
occult intellectual powers. They are believed to
be on very good terms with the Tylwyth Teg, and
possessed of more knowledge than their appear-
ance indicates. It is one of the peculiarities of the
Tylwyth Teg that every Friday night they comb the
goats' beards to make them decent for Sunday.
Their association with the GwylHon is related in the
legend of Cadwaladr's goat : Cadwaladr owned a
very handsome goat, named Jenny, of which he
was extremely fond ; and which seemed equally
fond of him ; but one day, as if the very diawl
possessed her, she ran away into the hills, with
Cadwaladr tearing after her, half mad with anger
and affright. At last his Welsh blood got so hot,
as the goat eluded him again and again, that he
flung a stone at her, which knocked her over a pre-
cipice, and she fell bleating to her doom. Cadwaladr
made his way to the foot of the crag ; the goat was
dying, but not dead, and licked his hand — which so
affected the poor man that he burst into tears, and
sitting on the ground took the goat's head on his
arm. The moon rose, and still he sat there.
Presently he found that the goat had become trans-
formed to a beautiful young woman, whose brown
eyes, as her head lay on his arm, looked into his in
a very disturbing way. * Ah, Cadwaladr,' said she,
* have I at last found you ?* Now Cadwaladr had a
wife at home, and was much discomfited by this
singular circumstance ; but when the goat — yn awr
maiden — arose, and putting her black slipper on
the end of a moonbeam, held out her hand to him,
he put his hand in hers and went with her.


Gwrach y Rhibyn (Welsh Fairy)
A frightful figure among Welsh apparitions is
the Gwrach y Rhibyn, whose crowning distinction is
its prodigious ugliness. The feminine pronoun is
generally used in speaking of this goblin, which
unlike the majority of its kind, is supposed to be
a female. A Welsh saying, regarding one of her
sex who is the reverse of lovely, is, ' Y mae mor
salw a Gwrach y Rhibyn,' (She is as ugly as the \
Gwrach y Rhibyn.) The spectre is a hideous being I
with dishevelled hair, long black teeth, long, lank,
withered arms, leathern wings, and a cadaverous
appearance. In the stillness of night it comes and
flaps its wings against the window, uttering at the
same time a blood-curdling howl, and calling by
name on the person who is to die, in a lengthened
dying tone, as thus : ' Da-a-a-vy ! ' ' De-i-i-o-o-o
ba-a-a-ch 1' The effect of its shriek or howl is in-
describably terrific, and its sight blasting to the
eyes of the beholder. It is always an omen of ;
death, though its warning cry is heard under vary-
ing circumstances ; sometimes it appears in the mist "!
on the mountain side, or at cross-roads, or by a piece
of water which it splashes with its hands. The
gender of apparitions is no doubt as a rule the
neuter, but the Gwrach y Rhibyn defies all rules
by being a female which at times sees fit to be
a male. In its female character it has a trick of
crying at intervals, in a most doleful tone, ' Oh !
oh ! fy ngwr, fy ngwr !' (my husband ! my hus-
band !) But when it chooses to be a male, this
cry is changed to * Fy ngwraig ! fy ngwraig!' (my
wife ! my wife !) or ' Fy mlentyn, fy mlentyn bach !'
(my child, my little child !) There is a frightful
story of a dissipated peasant who met this goblin
on the road one night, and thought it was a living
woman ; he therefore made wicked and improper
overtures to it, with the result of having his soul
nearly frightened out of his body in the horror
of discovering his mistake. As he emphatically
exclaimed, ' Och, Dduw ! it was the Gwrach y
Rhibyn, and not a woman at all.'
The Gwrach y Rhibyn recently appeared, accord-
ing to an account given me by a person who claimed
to have seen it, at Llandaff. Surely, no more
probable site for the appearance of a spectre so
ancient of lineage could be found, than that ancient
cathedral city where some say was the earliest
Christian fane in Great Britain, and which was
certainly the seat of the earliest Christian bishopric.
My narrator was a respectable-looking man of the
peasant-farmer class, whom I met in one of my
walks near Cardiff, in the summer of 1878. * It was
at Llandaff,' he said to me, ' on the fourteenth of
last November, when I was on a visit to an old
friend, that I saw and heard the Gwrach y Rhibyn.
I was sleeping in my bed, and was woke at midnight
by a frightful screeching and a shaking of my
window. It was a loud and clear screech, and the
shaking of the window was very plain, but it seemed
to go by like the wind. I was not so much
frightened, sir, as you may think ; excited I was —
that's the word — excited ; and I jumped out of bed
and rushed to the window and flung it open. Then
I saw the Gwrach y Rhibyn, saw her plainly, sir, a
horrible old woman with long red hair and a face
like chalk, and great teeth like tusks, looking back
over her shoulder at me as she went through the air
with a long black gown trailing along the ground
below her arms, for body I could make out none.
She gave another unearthly screech while I looked
at her ; then I heard her flapping her wings against
the window of a house just below the one I was in,
and she vanished from my sight. But I kept on
staring into the darkness, and as I am a living man,
sir, I saw her go in at the door of the Cow and
Snuffers Inn, and return no more. I watched the
door of the inn a long time, but she did not come
out. The next day, it's the honest truth I'm
telling you, they told me the man who kept the
Cow and Snuffers Inn was dead — had died in the
night. His name was Llewellyn, sir — you can ask
any one about him, at Llandaff — he had kept the
inn there for seventy years, and his family before
him for three hundred years, just at that very spot.
It's not these new families that the Gwrach y
Rhibyn ever troubles, sir, it's the old stock.' i

The close resemblance of this goblin to the
banshee (or benshi) will be at once perceived. The
same superstition is found among other peoples of
Celtic origin. Sir Walter Scott mentions it among
the highlands of Scotland.^ It is not traced among
other than Celtic peoples distinctly, but its associa-
tion with the primeval mythology is doubtless to be
found in the same direction with many other death-
omens, to wit, the path of the wind-god Hermes.

The frightful ugliness of the Gwrach y Rhibyn is
a consistent feature of the superstition, in both its
forms ; it recalls the Black Maiden who came to
Caerleon and liberated Peredur : ^ ' Blacker were
her face and her two hands than the blackest iron
covered with pitch ; and her hue was not more
frightful than her form. High cheeks had she, and
a face lengthened downwards, and a short nose with
distended nostrils. And one eye was of a piercing
mottled gray, and the other was as black as jet,
deep-sunk in her head. And her teeth were long
and yellow, more yellow were they than the flower
of the broom. And her stomach rose from the
breast-bone, higher than her chin. And her back
was in the shape of a crook, and her legs were large
and bony. And her figure was very thin and spare,
except her feet and legs, which were of huge size.'
The Welsh word ' gwrach ' means a hag or witch,

Pellings (Welsh Fairy)
A tribe of half-Fairies who are decended from Penelope

To return again to the fairies, some of them are
described as more comely and good-looking than the
rest but the fairy women are always
pictured as fascinating, though their offspring as
changelings are as uniformly presented in the light of
repulsive urchins ; but whole groups of the fairy popu-
lation are sometimes described as being as ugly of face
as they were thievish in disposition — those, for instance,
of BLanfabon, in Glamorganshire There is one
district, however, which is an exception to the tenor
of fairy physiognomy : it is that of the Pennant
neighbourhood, in Carnarvonshire, together with the
hills and valleys, roughly speaking, from Cwm Strattyn
to ILwytmor and from Drws y Coed to Dolbenmaen.
The fairies of that tract are said to have been taller
than the others, and characterized by light or even flaxen
hair, together with eyes of clear blue: Nor is that all, for we are told that they
would not let a person of dark complexion come near
them. The other fairies, when kidnapping, it
is true, preferred the blond infants of other people to
their own swarthy brats, which, perhaps, means that
it was a policy of their people to recruit itself with
men of the superior physique of the more powerful
population around them. The supposed fairy ances-
tress of the people of the Pennant Valley bears, in the
stories in point, such names as Penelope, Bella, Pelisha,
and Sibi, while her descendants are still taunted with
their descent— a quarrel which, within living memory,
used to be fought out with fists at the fairs at Penmorfa
and elsewhere. This seems to indicate a comparatively
late settlement ^ in the district of a family or group of
families from without, and an origin, therefore, some-
what similar to that of the Simychiaid and Cowperiaid
of a more eastern portion of the same count}',
rather than anything deserving to be considered with
the rest of the annals of Faery.

Plant Annwn (Welsh Fairy)
The Gwragedd Annwn (literally, wives of the lower
world, or hell) are the elfin dames who dwell under
the water. I find no resemblance in the Welsh
fairy to our familiar mermaid, beyond the watery
abode, and the sometimes winning ways. The
Gwragedd Annwn are not fishy of aspect, nor do
they dwell in the sea. Their haunt is the lakes
and rivers, but especially the wild and lonely lakes
upon the mountain heights. These romantic sheets
are surrounded with numberless superstitions, which
will be further treated of. In the realm of faerie
they serve as avenues of communication between
this world and the lower one of annwn, the shadowy
domain presided over by Gwyn ap Nudd, king of
the fairies. This sub-aqueous realm is peopled by
those children of mystery termed Plant Annwn, and
the belief is current among the inhabitants of the
Welsh mountains that the Gwragedd Annwn still
occasionally visit this upper world of ours.^ The
only reference to Welsh mermaids I have either
read or heard Is contained In Drayton's account of
the Battle of Aglncourt. There It Is mentioned,
among the armorial ensigns of the counties of
Wales :

As Cardigan, the next to them that went.
Came with a mermaid sitting on a rock.
Crumlyn Lake, near the quaint village of Briton
Ferry, Is one of the many In Wales which are a
resort of the elfin dames. It Is also believed that a
large town lies swallowed up there, and that the
Gwragedd 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 waters, and fairy bells are at times heard
ringing from these towers. The way the elfin dames
first came to dwell there was this : A long, ay, a
very long time ago, St. Patrick came over from
Ireland on a visit to St. David of Wales, just to say
* Sut yr y'ch chwl ? ' (How d ye do ?) ; and as they were
strolling by this lake conversing on religious topics In
a friendly manner, some Welsh people who had ascer-
tained that It was St. Patrick, and being angry at
him for leaving Cambria for Erin, began to abuse
him In the Welsh language, his native tongue. Of
course such an Insult could not go unpunished, and
St. Patrick caused his vllllfiers to be transformed
Into fishes ; but some of them being females, were
converted Into fairies Instead. It Is also related
that the sun, on account of this insolence to so holy
a man, never shed Its life-giving rays upon the dark
There is in * Cyraru Fu ' a mermaid story, but its mermaid feature
is apparently a modern embellishment of a real incident, and without
value here.

The Tolaeth is an ominous sound, imitating some
earthly sound of one sort or another, and always
heard before either a funeral or some dreadful
catastrophe. Carpenters of a superstitious turn of
mind will tell you that they invariably hear the
Tolaeth when they are going to receive an order to
make a coffin ; in this case the sound is that of the
sawing of wood, the hammering of nails, and the
turning of screws, such as are heard in the usual
process of making a coffin. This is called the
* Tolaeth before the Coffin.' The ' Tolaeth before
Death ' is a supernatural noise heard about the
house, such as a knocking, or the sound of footsteps
in the dead of night. Sometimes it is the sound of
a tolling bell, where no bell is ; and the direction
in which the ear is held at the time points out the
place of the coming death. Formerly the veritable
church-bell in its steeple would foretell death, by
tolling thrice at the hour of midnight, unrung by
human hands. The bell of Blaenporth, Cardigan-
shire, was noted for thus warning the neighbours.
The ' Tolaeth before the Burying ' is the sound of
the funeral procession passing by, unseen, but heard.
The voices are heard singing the ' Old Hundredth/
which is the psalm tune usually sung by funeral
bands ; the slow regular tramp of the feet is heard,
and the sobbing and groaning of the mourners.

Tylwyth Teg (Welsh Fairies)
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 dafel yn y wrach. Keep thy hold on the hag.

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

Mi eis i ir mwthlach '.' 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
they dropped there than the right infants were found to
have been sent home.

• The meaning of the word mwthlach is doubtful, as it is now current
in Gwyneit only in the sense of a soft, doughy, or puffy person who
is all of a heap, so to say. Pughe gives miuythlan and mwythlen 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 Laisren, edited
by Professor K. Meyer, in the Otia Merseiana, pp. 114, 117.


Or take the following, from J. H. Roberts' essay, as
given in Welsh in Edwards' Q,ymru 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
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 Filttir 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.


He could procure nothing readily that would
satisfy him as a mark, so it occurred to him to dot his
path with the chippings of his stick, which he whittled
all the way as he went back until he came to a familiar
track : the chips were to guide him back to the cave.
So when the morning came he and his friend set out,
but when they reached the point where the chips should
begin, not one was to be seen : the Tylwyth Teg had
picked up every one of them. So that discovery of
articles of brass— more probably bronze— was in vain.
But, says the writer, it is not fated to be always in vain,
for there is a tradition in the valley that it is a Gwydel,
' Goidel, Irishman,' who is to have these treasures, and
that it will happen in this wise : — A Gwydel will come
to the neighbourhood to be a shepherd, and one day
when he goes up the mountain to see to the sheep, just
when it pleases the fates a black sheep with a speckled
head will run before him and make straight for the cave :
the sheep will go in, with the Gwydel in pursuit trying
to catch him. When the Gwydel enters he sees the
treasures, looks at them with surprise, and takes posses-
sion of them ; and thus, in some generation to come,
the Gwydyl will have their own restored to them.
That is the tradition which Derfel Hughes found in the
vale of the Ogwen, and he draws from it the inference
which it seems to warrant, in words to the following
effect : — Perhaps this shows us that the Gwydyl had
some time or other something to do with these parts,
and that we are not to regard as stories without founda-
tions all that is said of that nation ; and the sajdngs of
old people to this day show that there is always some
spite between our nation and the Gwydyl. Thus, for
instance, he goes on to say, if a man proves changeable,
he is said to have become a Gwydel ( Y mae wedi trot 'n
Wydet), or if one is very shameless and cheeky he is
called a Gwydel and told to hold his tongue ( Taw yr
hen Wydel) ; and a number of such locutions used by
our people proves, he thinks, the former prevalence of
much contention between the two sister-nations. Ex-
pressions of the kind mentioned by Mr. Hughes are
well known in all parts of the Principality, and it is
difficult to account for them except on the supposition
that Goidels and Brythons lived for a long time face
to face, so to say, with one another over large areas in
the west of our island.


The most common name for the fairies in Welsh is
y Tylwyth Teg, ' the Fair or Beautiful Family ' ; but in
South Cardiganshire we have found them called Plant
Rhys-Dwfn, ' the Children of Rhys the Deep '(pp. 151, 158),
while in Gwent and Morgannwg they are more usually
known as Bendithy Mamau,' the Blessing of the Mothers'
(p. 174). Our fourteenth century poet, D. ab Gwilym,
uses the first-mentioned term, Tylwyth Teg, in poem
xxxix, and our prose literature has a word corr, cor in
the sense of a dwarf, and corres for a she dwarf. The
old Cornish had also cor, which in Breton is written
korr^, with a feminine korrez, and among the other
derivatives one finds korrik, ' a dwarf, a fairy, a wee little
sorcerer,' and korrigez or korrigan, ' a she dwarf, a fairy
woman, a diminutive sorceress.' The use of these words
in Breton recalls the case of the cor, called Rhudlwm or
' The difference between Mod. Welsh cor and Breton korris one of spelling,
for the reformed orthography of Welsh words only doubles the r where it is
dwelt on in the accented syllable of a longer word : in other terms, when
that syllable closes with the consonant and the next syllable begins with it.
Thus cor has, as its derivatives, cor-rach, 'a dwarf,' plural co-rdchod, cor-ryn,
' a male dwarf,' plural co-rynnod. Some of these enter into place-names,
such as Cwm Corryn near ILanaelhaearn (p. 217) and Cwm Corryn draining
into the Vale of Neath ; so possibly with Corwen for Cor-waen, in the sense of
' the Fairies' Meadow.' Cor and corryn are also used for the spider, as in gw^r
cor OT gtu^r corryn, 'a spider's web," the spider being so called on account of
its spinning, an occupation in which the fairies are represented likewise
frequently engaged ; not to mention that gossamer (guiawn) is also some-
times regarded as a product of the fairy loom (p. 103). The derivation of
cor is not satisfactorily cleared up : it has been conjectured to be related
to a Med. Irish word cerl, ' small, little,' and Latin curtus, ' shortened or
mutilated.' To me this means that the origin of the word still remains to be


Some additional light on the doggerel dialogue will be found
thrown by the following story, which I find cited in Welsh by one of the
Liverpool Eistetffod competitors : — There is in the parish of Yspytty Ifan,
in Carnarvonshire, a farm called Trwyn Swch, where eighty years ago
lived a man and his wife, who were both young, and had twins born to
them. Now the mother went one day to milk, leaving the twins alone in
the cradle -the husband was not at home — and who should enter the house
but one of the Tylwyth Teg I He took the twins away and left two of his
own breed in the cradle in their stead. Thereupon the mother returned
home and saw what had come to pass ; she then in her excitement
snatched the Tylwyth Teg twins and took them to the bridge that crosses
the huge gorge of the river Conwy not very far from the house, and she
cast them into the whirlpool below. By this time the Tylwyth Teg had
come on the spot, some trying to save the children, and some making for the
woman. ' Seize the old hag I ' {Crap aryr hen wrach f) said one of the chiefs
of the Tylwyth Teg. ' Too late ! ' cried the woman on the edge of the
bank ; and many of them ran after her to the house. As they ran three or
four of them lost their pipes in the field. They are pipes ingeniously made of
the blue stone {carreg las) of the gully. They measure three or four inches
long, and from time to time several of them have been found near the cave
of Trwyn Swch. — This is the first indication which I have discovered, that
the fairies are addicted to smoking.

P. 506. A Rhiw Cyferthwch (printed Rywgyverthwch) occurs in the Record
of Carnarvon, p. 200 ; but it seems to have been in Merionethshire, and far
enough from Arfon.
In the article already cited from the Romania, M. Paris finds
Twrch Trwyth in the boar Tortain of a French romance: see xxviii. 217,
where he mentions a legend concerning the strange pedigree of that beast.
The subject requires to be further studied.
A less probable explanation of Latio would be to suppose orti
understood. This has been suggested to me by Mr. Nicholson's treatment
of the ILanaelhaiarn inscription as Alt ortus Elmetiaco hie iacet, where
I should regard .<4 A' as standing for an earlier nominative Alecs, and intended
as the Celtic equivalent for Cephas or Peter : AH would be the word which
is in Med. Irish ail, genitive ailech, ' a rock or stone.'


The modern Welsh name for fairies is y Tylwyth
Teg, the fair folk or family. This is sometimes
lengthened into y Tylwyth Teg yn y Coed, the
fair family in the wood, or Tylwyth Teg y Mwn,
the fair folk of the mine. They are seen dancing
in moonlight nights on the velvety grass, clad in
airy and flowing robes of blue, green, white, or
scarlet — details as to colour not usually met, I think,
in accounts of fairies. They are spoken of as
bestowing blessings on those mortals whom they
select to be thus favoured ; and again are called
Bendith y Mamau, or their mothers blessing, that
is to say, good little children whom it is a pleasure
to know. To name the fairies by a harsh epithet
is to invoke their anger ; to speak of them in flatter-
ing phrase is to propitiate their good offices. The
student of fairy mythology perceives in this pro-
pitiatory mode of speech a fact of wide significance.
It can be traced in numberless lands, and back to
the beginning of human history, among the cloud-
hung peaks of Central Asia.


Among the traditions of the origin of the Gwyllion
is one which associates them with goats. Goats are
in Wales held in peculiar esteem for their supposed
occult intellectual powers. They are believed to
be on very good terms with the Tylwyth Teg, and
possessed of more knowledge than their appear-
ance indicates. It is one of the peculiarities of the
Tylwyth Teg that every Friday night they comb the
goats' beards to make them decent for Sunday.
Their association with the GwylHon is related in the
legend of Cadwaladr's goat : Cadwaladr owned a
very handsome goat, named Jenny, of which he
was extremely fond ; and which seemed equally
fond of him ; but one day, as if the very diawl
possessed her, she ran away into the hills, with
Cadwaladr tearing after her, half mad with anger
and affright. At last his Welsh blood got so hot,
as the goat eluded him again and again, that he
flung a stone at her, which knocked her over a pre-
cipice, and she fell bleating to her doom. Cadwaladr
made his way to the foot of the crag ; the goat was
dying, but not dead, and licked his hand — which so
affected the poor man that he burst into tears, and
sitting on the ground took the goat's head on his
arm. The moon rose, and still he sat there.
Presently he found that the goat had become trans-
formed to a beautiful young woman, whose brown
eyes, as her head lay on his arm, looked into his in
a very disturbing way. * Ah, Cadwaladr,' said she,
* have I at last found you ?* Now Cadwaladr had a
wife at home, and was much discomfited by this
singular circumstance ; but when the goat — yn awr
maiden — arose, and putting her black slipper on
the end of a moonbeam, held out her hand to him,
he put his hand in hers and went with her. As
for the hand, though it looked so fair, it felt just like
a hoof. They were soon on the top of the highest
mountain in Wales, and surrounded by a vapoury
company of goats with shadowy horns. These
raised a most unearthly bleating about his ears.
One, which seemed to be the king, had a voice that
sounded above the din as the castle bells of Car-
marthen used to do long ago above all the other
bells in the town. This one rushed at Cadwaladr
and butting him in the stomach sent him toppling
over a crag as he had sent his poor nannygoat.
When he came to himself, after his fall, the morning
sun was shining on him and the birds were singing
over his head. But he saw no more of either his
goat or the fairy she had turned into, from that
time to his death.


The Tylwyth Teg have a fatal admiration for lovely-
children. Hence the abundant folk-lore concerning
infants who have been stolen from their cradles, and
a plentyn-newid (change-child — the equivalent of
our changeling) left in its place by the Tylwyth
Teg. The plentyn-newid has the exact appearance
of the stolen infant, at first ; but its aspect speedily
alters. It grows ugly of face, shrivelled of form,
ill-tempered, wailing, and generally frightful. It
bites and strikes, and becomes a terror to the poor
mother. Sometimes it is idiotic ; but again it has
a supernatural cunning, not only impossible in a
mortal babe, but not even appertaining to the oldest
heads, on other than fairy shoulders. The veracious
Prophet Jones testifies to a case where he himself
saw the plentyn-newid — an idiot left in the stead
of a son of Edmund John William, of the Church
Valley, Monmouthshire. Says Jones : ' I saw him
myself. There was something diabolical in his
aspect,' but especially in his motions. He ' made
very disagreeable screaming sounds,* which used
to frighten strangers greatly, but otherwise he was
harmless. He was of a ' dark, tawny complexion.'
He lived longer than such children usually lived
in Wales in that day, (a not altogether pleasant
intimation regarding the hard lot to which such
children were subjected by their unwilling parents,)
reaching the age of ten or twelve years. But
the creed of ignorance everywhere as regards
changelings is a very cruel one, and reminds us of
the tests of the witchcraft trials. Under the
pretence of proving whether the objectionable baby
is a changeling or not, it is held on a shovel over
the fire, or it is bathed in a solution of the fox-glove,
which kills it ; a case where this test was applied
is said to have actually occurred in Carnarvonshire
in 1857. That there is nothing specially Welsh
in this, needs not to be pointed out. Apart from
the fact that infanticide, like murder, is of no
country, similar practices as to changelings have
prevailed in most European lands, either to test
the child's uncanny quality, or, that being admitted,
to drive it away and thus compel the fairies to
restore the missing infant. In Denmark the mother
heats the oven, and places the changeling on the
peel, pretending to put it in ; or whips it severely
with a rod ; or throws it into the water. In Sweden
they employ similar methods. In Ireland the
hot shovel is used. With regard to a changeling
which Martin Luther tells of in his ' Colloquia
Mensalia/ the great reformer declared to the
Prince of Anhalt, that if he were prince of that
country he would 'venture homicidium thereon,
and would throw it into the River Moldaw.' He
admonished the people to pray devoutly to God
to take away the devil, which ' was done accordingly ;
and the second year after the changeling died.'


In the great majority of these stories the hero
dies immediately after his release from the thraldom
of the fairies — in some cases with a suddenness and
a completeness of obliteration as appalling as
dramatic. The following story, well known in Car-
marthenshire, presents this detail with much force :
There was a certain farmer who, while going early
one morning to fetch his horses from the pasture,
heard harps playing. Looking carefully about for
the source of this music, he presently saw a company
of Tylwyth Teg footing it merrily in a corelw.
Resolving to join their dance and cultivate their
acquaintance, the farmer stepped into the fairy ring.
Never had man his resolution more thoroughly*
carried out, for having once begun the reel he was
not allowed to finish it till years had elapsed. Even
then he might not have been released, had it not
chanced that a man one day passed by the lonely
spot, so close to the ring that he saw the farmer
dancing. ' Duw catto ni ! ' cried the man, ' God
save us ! but this is a merry one. Hai, holo ! man,
what, in Heaven's name, makes you so lively?'
This question, in which the name of Heaven was
uttered, broke the spell which rested on the farmer,
who spoke like one in a dream : ' O dyn ! ' cried
he, * what's become of the horses ? ' Then he
stepped from the fairy circle and instantly crumbled
away and mingled his dust with the earth.

Go to the same place where you and the lad slept.
Go there exactly a year after the boy was lost. Let
it be on the same day of the year and at the same
time of the day ; but take care that you do not step
inside the fairy ring. Stand on the border of the
green circle you saw there, and the boy will come
out with many of the goblins to dance. When you
see him so near to you that you may take hold of
him, snatch him out of the ring as quickly as you can.'
These instructions were obeyed. I ago appeared,
dancing in the ring with the Tylwyth Teg, and was
promptly plucked forth. ' Duw ! Duw ! ' cried Tom,
' how wan and pale you look ! And don't you feel
hungry too?' 'No,' said the boy, 'and if I did,
have I not here in my wallet the remains of my
dinner that I had before I fell asleep ?' But when
he looked in his wallet, the food was not there.
' Well, it must be time to go home,' he said, with a
sigh ; for he did not know that a year had passed
by. His look was like a skeleton, and as soon as
he had tasted food, he mouldered away.



Another curious tradition relates that early one
Easter Monday, when the parishioners of Pencarreg
and Caio were met to play at football, they saw a
numerous company of Tylwyth Teg dancing. Being
so many in number, the young men were not
intimidated at all, but proceeded in a body towards
the puny tribe, who^ perceiving them, removed to
another place. The young men followed, whereupon
the little folks suddenly appeared dancing at the
first place. Seeing this, the men divided and
surrounded them, when they immediately became
invisible, and were never more seen there.


And so lightly did they tread that not a blade nor a flower
was crushed beneath their weight, and every one
made a curtsey or a bow to Tudur as they passed,
and Tudur doffed his cap and moved to them in
return. Presently the little minstrel drew his bow
across the strings of his instrument, and the music
produced was so enchanting that Tudur stood trans-
fixed to the spot.' At the sound of the sweet melody,
the Tylwyth Teg ranged themselves in groups, and
began to dance. Now of all the dancing Tudur
had ever seen, none was to be compared to that
he saw at this moment going on. He could not
help keeping time with his hands and feet to the
merry music, but he dared not join in the dance, ' for
he thought within himself that to dance on a
mountain at night in strange company, to perhaps
the devil's fiddle, might not be the most direct route
to heaven.' But at last he found there was no resist-
ing this bewitching strain, joined to the sight of
the capering Ellyllon. ' '* Now for it, then," screamed
Tudur, as he pitched his cap into the air under the
excitement of delight. *' Play away, old devil ;
brimstone and water, if you like ! " No sooner were
the words uttered than everything underwent a
change. The gorse-blossom cap vanished from the
minstrel's head, and a pair of goat's horns branched
out instead. His face turned as black as soot ; a
long tail grew out of his leafy coat, while cloven
feet replaced the beetle-wing pumps. Tudur's heart
was heavy, but his heels were light. Horror was
in his bosom, but the impetus of motion was in his
feet. The fairies changed into a variety of forms.
Some became goats, and some became dogs, some
assumed the shape of foxes, and others that of cats.


olly Williams, a good dame who was born in
Trefethin parish, and lived at the Ship Inn, at
Pontypool, Monmouthshire, was wont to relate that,
when a child, she danced with the Tylwyth Teg.
The first time was one day while coming home from
school. She saw the fairies dancing in a pleasant,
dry place, under a crab-tree, and, thinking they
were children like herself, went to them, when they
induced her to dance with them. She brought
them into an empty barn and they danced there
together. After that, during three or four years,
she often met and danced with them, when going to
or coming from school. She never could hear the
sound of their feet, and having come to know that
they were fairies, took off her ffollachau (clogs), so
that she, too, might make no noise, fearful that the
clattering of her clog-shodden feet was displeasing
to them. They were all dressed in blue and green
aprons, and, though they were so small, she could
see by their mature faces that they were no children.
Once when she came home barefoot, after dancing
with the fairies, she was chided for going to school
in that condition ; but she held her tongue about the
fairies, for fear of trouble, and never told of them
till after she grew up. She gave over going with
them to dance, however, after three or four years,
and this displeased them. They tried to coax her
back to them, and, as she would not come, hurt her
by dislocating 'one of her walking members,'^
which, as a euphemism for legs, surpasses anything
charged against American prudery.


Contrasting strongly with this matter-of-fact
account of a modern witness is the glowing descrip-
tion of fairy life contained in the legend of the
Fairies of Frennifawr. About ten miles south of
Cardigan is the Pembrokeshire mountain called
Frennifawr, which is the scene of this tale : A
shepherd's lad was tending his sheep on the small
mountains called Frennifach one fine morning in
June. Looking to the top of Frennifawr to note
what way the fog hung — for if the fog on that
mountain hangs on the Pembrokeshire side, there
will be fair weather, if on the Cardigan side, storm
— he saw the Tylwyth Teg, in appearance like
tiny soldiers, dancing in a ring. He set out for
the scene of revelry, and soon drew near the ring
where, in a gay company of males and females, they
were footing it to the music of the harp. Never
had he seen such handsome people, nor any so
enchantingly cheerful. They beckoned him with
laughing faces to join them as they leaned backward
almost falling, whirling round and round with joined
hands. Those who were dancing never swerved from
the perfect circle ; but some were clambering over the
old cromlech, and others chasing each other with sur-
prising swiftness and the greatest glee. Still others
rode about on small white horses of the most beautiful
form ; these riders were little ladies, and their dresses
were indescribably elegant, surpassing the sun in
radiance, and varied in colour, some being of bright
whiteness, others the most vivid scarlet. The males
wore red tripled caps, and the ladies a light fantastic
headdress which waved in the wind.


A Carmarthenshire tradition names among those
who lived for a period among the Tylwyth Teg no
less a person than the translator into Welsh of
Bunyan's ' Pilgrim's Progress.' He was called
I ago ap Dewi, and lived in the parish of Llan-
llawddog, Carmarthenshire, in a cottage situated in
the wood of Llangwyly. He was absent from the
neighbourhood for a long period, and the universal
belief among the peasantry was that I ago ' got out
of bed one night to gaze on the starry sky, as he
was accustomed (astrology being one of his favourite
studies), and whilst thus occupied the fairies (who
were accustomed to resort in a neighbouring
wood), passing by, carried him away, and he
dwelt with them seven years. Upon his return
he was questioned by many as to where he had
been, but always avoided giving them a reply.'


In those rare cases where it Is not dancing which
holds the victim of Tylwyth Teg in its fatal fascina-
tion, the seducer is music. There is a class of
stories still common in Wales, In which is preserved
a wondrously beautiful survival of the primitive
mythology. In the vast middle ground between
our own commonplace times and the pre-historic
ages we encounter more than once the lovely legend
of the Birds of Rhiannon, which sang so sweetly that
the warrior knights stood listening entranced for
eighty years. This legend appears in the Mabinogi
of ' Bran wen, daughter of Llyr,' and, as we read it
there, is a medieval tale ; but the medieval authors
of the Mabinogion as we know them were working
over old materials — telling again the old tales which
had come down through unnumbered centuries from
father to son by tradition. Cambrian poets of an
earlier age often allude to the birds of Rhiannon ;
they are mentioned in the Triads. In the Mabinogi,
the period the warriors listened is seven years.
Seven men only had escaped from a certain battle
with the Irish, and they were bidden by their dying
chief to cut off his head and bear it to London and
bury it with the face towards France.


The harp is played by Welsh fairies to an extent
unknown in those parts of the world where the
harp is less popular among the people. When any
instrument is distinctly heard in fairy cymmoedd
it is usually the harp. Sometimes it is a fiddle,
but then on close examination it will be discovered
that it is a captured mortal who is playing it ; the
Tylwyth Teg prefer the harp. They play the
bugle on specially grand occasions, and there is
a case or two on record where the drone of the
bagpipes was heard ; but it is not doubted that the
player was some stray fairy from Scotland or else-
where over the border. On the top of Craig-y-
Ddinas thousands of white fairies dance to the
music of many harps. In the dingle called Cwm
Pergwm, in the Vale of Neath, the Tylwyth Teg
make music behind the waterfall, and when they
go off over the mountains the sounds of their harps
are heard dying away as they recede. The story
which presents the Cambrian equivalent of the
Magic Flute substitutes a harp for the (to Welsh-
men) less familiar instrument. As told to me this
story runs somewhat thus : A company of fairies
which frequented Cader Idris were in the habit of
going about from cottage to cottage In that part of
Wales, in pursuit of information concerning the
degree of benevolence possessed by the cottagers.
Those who gave these fairies an ungracious wel-
come were subject to bad luck during the rest of
their lives, but those who were good to the little
folk became the recipients of their favour. Old
Morgan ap Rhys sat one night in his own chimney
corner making himself comfortable with his pipe
and his pint of cwrw da. The good ale having
melted his soul a trifle, he was In a more jolly mood
than was natural to him, when there came a little
rap at the door, which reached his ear dully through
the smoke of his pipe and the noise of his own
voice — for In his merriment Morgan was singing a
roystering song, though he could not sing any better
than a haw — which is Welsh for a donkey. But
Morgan did not take the trouble to get up at sound
of the rap ; his manners were not the most refined ;
he thought it was quite enough for a man on
hospitable purposes bent to bawl forth In ringing
Welsh, ' Gwaed dyn a'i gilydd ! Why don't you
come In when you've got as far as the door ?' The
welcome was not very polite, but It was sufficient.
The door opened, and three travellers entered,
looking worn and weary. Now these were the
fairies from Cader Idris, disguised In this manner
for purposes of observation, and Morgan never
suspected they were other than they appeared.



The circles In the grass of green fields, which
are commonly called fairy rings, are numerous in
Wales, and it is deemed just as well to keep out
of them, even in our day. The peasantry no
longer believe that the fairies can be seen dancing
there, nor that the cap of invisibility will fall on
the head of one who enters the circle ; but they
do believe that the fairies, in a time not long
gone, made these circles with the tread of their
tripping feet, and that some misfortune will probably
befall any person intruding upon this forbidden
ground. An old man at Peterstone-super-Ely told
me he well remembered in his childhood being
warned by his mother to keep away from the fairy
rings. The counsel thus given him made so deep
an impression on his mind, that he had never in his
life entered one. He remarked further, in answer
to a question, that he had never walked under a
ladder, because it was unlucky to walk under a
ladder. This class of superstitions is a very large
one, and is encountered the world over ; and the
fairy rings seem to fall into this class, so far as
present-day belief in Wales is concerned.


As she stood, struck with the miserable poverty of
the human abode, a faint sigh came from behind
the gorse. She went close and said, " Betty, where
are you ? " Betty instantly recognised her voice,
and ventured to turn herself round from the wall.
Mrs. Stanley then made a small opening in the
gorse barricade, which sadly pricked her fingers ;
she saw Betty in her bed and asked her, " Are you
not well ? are you cold, that you are so closed up ? "
" Cold ! no. It is not cold, Mrs. Stanley ; it is the
Tylwyth Teg ; they never will leave me alone,
there they sit making faces at me, and trying to
come to me." '' Indeed ! oh how I should like to
see them, Betty." "• Like to see them, is it ? Oh,
don't say so." " Oh but Betty, they must be so
pretty and good." ** Good ? they are not good."
By this time the old woman got excited, and Mrs.
Stanley knew she should hear more from her about
the fairies, so she said, "Well, I will go out ; they
never will come if I am here." Old Betty replied
sharply, '* No, do not go. You must not leave me.
I will tell you all about them. Ah ! they come and
plague me sadly. If I am up they will sit upon the
table ; they turn my milk sour and spill my tea ;
then they will not leave me at peace in my bed, but
come all round me and mock at me." " But Betty,
tell me what is all this gorse for ? It must have
been great trouble for you to make it all so close."
"Is it not to keep them off? They cannot get
through this, it pricks them so bad, and then I get
some rest." So she replaced the gorse and left old
Betty Griffith happy in her device for getting rid of
the Tvlwyth Teg.'


* This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so,' says
the old shepherd in ' Winter's Tale ;' sagely adding,
' Up with it, keep it close ; home, home, the next
way. We are lucky, boy, and to be so still, requires
nothing but secrecy.' ^ Here we have the traditional
belief of the Welsh peasantry in a nut-shell. Fairy
money is as good as any, so long as its source is
kept a profound secret ; if the finder relate the par-
ticulars of his good fortune, it will vanish. Some-
times — especially in cases where the money has been
spent — the evil result of tattling consists in there
being no further favours of the sort. The same
law governs fairy gifts of all kinds. A Breconshire
legend tells of the generosity of the Tylwyth Teg in
presenting the peasantry with loaves of bread, which
turned to toadstools next morning ; it was necessary
to eat the bread in darkness and silence to avoid
this transformation. The story of Gitto Bach, a
familiar one in Wales, is a picturesque example.
Gitto Bach (little Griffith), a good little farmer's boy
of Glamorganshire, used often to ramble to the top
of the mountain to look after his father's sheep.


On his return he would show his brothers and sisters
pieces of remarkably white paper, like crown pieces,
with letters stamped upon them, which he said were
given to him by the little children with whom he
played on the mountain. One day he did not
return. For two years nothing was heard of him.
Meantime other children occasionally got like
crown-pieces of paper from the mountains. One
morning when Gitto's mother opened the door there
he sat^ — the truant ! — dressed exactly as he was
when she saw him last, two years before. He had
a little bundle under his arm. ' Where in the world
have you been all this time ? ' asked the mother.
* Why, it's only yesterday I went away ! ' quoth
Gitto. ' Look at the pretty clothes the children gave
me on the mountain, for dancing with them to the
music of their harps.' With this he opened his
bundle, and showed a handsome dress ; and behold,
it was only paper, like the fairy money.

But usually, throughout Wales, it is simply a dis
continuance of fairy favour which follows blabbing.
A legend is connected with a bridge in Anglesea, of
a lad who often saw the fairies there, and profited
by their generosity. Every morning, while going to
fetch his father's cows from pasture, he saw them,
and after they were gone he always found a groat
on a certain stone of Cymmunod Bridge. The boy's
having money so often about him excited his father's
suspicion, and one Sabbath day he cross-questioned
the lad as to the manner in which it was obtained.
Oh, the meddlesomeness of fathers ! Of course the
poor boy confessed that it was through the medium
of the fairies, and of course, though he often went
after this to the field, he never found any money on
the bridge, nor saw the offended Tylwyth Teg again.
Through his divulging the secret their favour was


A Pembrokeshire Welshman told me this story as
a tradition well known in that part of Wales. lanto
Llewellyn was a man who lived in the parish of
Llanfihangel, not more than fifty or eighty years
ago, and who had precious good reason to believe in
the fairies. He used to keep his fire of coal balls
burning all night long, out of pure kindness of heart,
in case the Tylwyth Teg should be cold. That
they came into his kitchen every night he was well
aware ; he often heard them. One night when they
were there as usual, lanto was lying wide awake and
heard them say, ' I wish we had some good bread
and cheese this cold night, but the poor man has
only a morsel left ; and though it's true that would
be a good meal for us, it is but a mouthful to him,
and he might starve if we took it.' At this lanto
cried out at the top of his voice, * Take anything I've
got in my cupboard and welcome to you !' Then he
turned over and went to sleep. The next morning,
when he descended into the kitchen, he looked in
his cupboard, to see if by good luck there might be
a bit of crust there. He had no sooner opened the
cupboard door than he cried out, * O'r anwyl ! what's
this ?' for there stood the finest cheese he had ever
seen in his life, with two loaves of bread on top of
it. ' Lwc dda iti!' cried lanto, waving his hand
toward the wood where he knew the fairies lived ;
' good luck to you ! May you never be hungry or
penniless ! * And he had not got the words out of
his mouth when he saw — what do you think ? — a
shilling on the hob ! But that was the lucky shilling.


The thought will naturally occur that by fostering
belief in such tales as some of the foregoing, roguery
might make the superstition useful in silencing inquiry
as to Ill-gotten gains. But on the other hand the
virtues of hospitality and generosity were no doubt
fostered by the same Influences. If any one was
favoured by the fairies in this manner, the immediate
explanation was, that he had done a good turn to
them, generally without suspecting who they were.
The virtues of neatness, In young girls and servants,
were encouraged by the like notions ; the belief
that a fairy will leave money only on a clean-kept
hob, could tend to nothing more directly. It was
also made a condition of pleasing the Tylwyth Teg
that the hearth should be carefully swept and the
pails left full of water. Then the fairies would come
at midnight, continue their revels till daybreak,
sing the well-known strain of ' Toriad y Dydd,' or
' The Dawn,' leave a piece of money on the hob,
and disappear. Here Is seen a precaution against
fire In the clean-swept hearth and the provision of
filled water-pails. That the promised reward did not
always arrive, was not evidence it would never arrive ;
and so the virtue of perseverance was also fostered.


Concerning the origin of the Tylwyth Teg, there
are two popular explanations, the one poetico-reli-
gious in its character, the other practical and realistic.
Both are equally wide of the truth, the true origin of
fairies being found in the primeval mythology ; but
as my purpose is to avoid enlarging in directions
generally familiar to the student, 1 have only to
present the local aspects of this, as of the other -
features of the subject.

The realistic theory of the origin of the Tylwyth
Teg must be mentioned respectfully, because among
its advocates have been men of culture and good
sense. This theory presumes that the first fairies
were men and women of mortal flesh and blood,
and that the later superstitions are a mere echo of
tales which first were told of real beings. In quasi-
support of this theory, there is a well-authenticated
tradition of a race of beings who, in the middle of
the sixteenth century, inhabited the Wood of the
Great Dark Wood (Coed y Dugoed Mawr) in
Merionethshire, and who were called the Red
Fairies. They lived in dens in the ground, had
fiery red hair and long strong arms, and stole sheep
and cattle by night. There are cottages In Cemmaes
parish, near the Wood of the Great Dark Wood,
with scythes in the chimneys, which were put there
to keep these terrible beings out. One Christmas
eve a valiant knight named Baron Owen headed
a company of warriors who assailed the Red Fairies,
and found them flesh and blood. The Baron hung
a hundred of them ; but spared the women, one of
whom begged hard for the life of her son. The
Baron refused her prayer, whereupon she opened
her breast and shrieked, ' This breast has nursed
other sons than he, who will yet wash their hands
in thy blood. Baron Owen ! ' Not very long there-
after, the Baron was waylaid at a certain spot by
the sons of the ' fairy ' woman, who washed their
hands in his warm and reeking blood, in fulfilment
of their mother's threat. And to this day that spot
goes by the name of Llidiart y Barwn (the Baron s
Gate) ; any peasant of the neighbourhood will tell
you the story, as one told it to me. There is of
course no better foundation for the fairy features of
it than the fancies of the ignorant mind, but the
legend itself is — very nearly in this shape — historical.
The beings in question were a band of outlaws, who
might naturally find it to their interest to foster
belief in their supernatural powers.


Curiously interesting is the hypothesis concerning
the realistic origin of the Tylwyth Teg, which was
put forth at the close of the last century by several
writers, among them the Rev. Peter Roberts, author
of the ' Collectanea Cambrica.' This hypothesis
precisely accounts for the fairies anciently as being
the Druids, in hiding from their enemies, or if not
they, other persons who had such cause for living
concealed in subterraneous places, and venturing
forth only at night. ' Some conquered aborigines,'
thought Dr. Guthrie ; while Mr. Roberts fancied
that as the Irish had frequently landed hostilely
in Wales, * it was very possible that some small
bodies of that nation left behind, or unable to return,
and fearing discovery, had hid themselves in caverns
during the day, and sent their children out at night,
fantastically dressed, for food and exercise, and thus
secured themselves/ But there were objections to
this presumption, and the Druidical theory was the
favourite one. Says Mr. Roberts : ' The fairy
customs appeared evidently too systematic, and too
general, to be those of an accidental party reduced
to distress. They are those of a consistent and
regular policy instituted to prevent discovery, and
to inspire fear of their power, and a high opinion of
their beneficence. Accordingly tradition notes, that
to attempt to discover them was to incur certain
destruction. "They are fairies," says Falstaff: "he
that looks on them shall die." They were not to be
impeded in ingress or egress ; a bowl of milk was to
be left for them at night on the hearth ; and, in
return, they left a small present in money when
they departed, if the house was kept clean ; if not,
they inflicted some punishment on the negligent,
which, as it was death to look on them, they were
obliged to suffer, and no doubt but many unlucky
tricks were played on such occasions. Their general
dress was green, that they might be the better con-
cealed ; and, as their children might have betrayed
their haunts, they seem to have been suffered to go
out only in the night time, and to have been enter-
tained by dances on moonlight nights. These
dances, like those round the May-pole, have been
said to be performed round a tree ; and on an
elevated spot, mostly a tumulus, beneath which was
probably their habitation, or its entrance. The
older persons, probably, mixed as much as they
dared with the world ; and, if they happened to be
at any time recognised, the certainty of their ven-
geance was their safety. If by any chance their
society was thinned, they appear to have stolen
children, and changed feeble for strong infants.
The stolen children, if beyond infancy, being brought
into their subterraneous dwellings, seem to have had
a soporific given them, and to have been carried to
a distant part of the country ; and, being there
allowed to go out merely by night, mistook the
night for the day, and probably were not undeceived
until it could be done securely. The regularity and
generality of this system shows that there was a
body of people existing in the kingdom distinct from
its known inhabitants, and either confederated, or
obliged to live or meet mysteriously ; and their
rites, particularly that of dancing round a tree,
probably an oak, as Herne-s, etc., as well as their
character for truth and probity, refer them to a
Druidic origin. If this was the case, it is easy to
conceive, as indeed history shows, that, as the
Druids were persecuted by the Romans and Chris-
tians, they used these means to preserve themselves
and their families, and whilst the country was thinly
peopled, and thickly wooded, did so successfully ;
and, perhaps, to a much later period than is
imagined : till the increase of population made it
impossible. As the Druidical was one of the most
ancient religions, so it must have been one of the
first persecuted, and forced to form a regular plan of
security, which their dwelling in caves may have
suggested, and necessity improved.'


It will be observed that one of the points in this
curious speculation rests on the green dress of the
fairies. I do not call attention to it with any Quixotic
purpose of disputing the conclusion it assists ; it is
far more interesting as one feature of the general
subject of fairies' attire. The Welsh fairies are
described with details as to colour in costume not
commonly met with in fairy tales, a fact to which I
have before alluded. In the legend of the Place of
Strife, the Tylwyth Teg encountered by the women
are called ' the old elves of the blue petticoat/
A connection with the blue of the sky has here
been suggested. It has also been pointed out
that the sacred Druidical dress was blue. The
blue petticoat fancy seems to be local to North
Wales. In Cardiganshire, the tradition respecting
an encampment called Moyddin, which the fairies
frequented, is that they were always in green
dresses, and were never seen there but in the
vernal month of May. There is a Glamorgan-
shire goblin called the Green Lady of Caerphilly,
the colour of whose dress is indicated by her title.
She haunts the ruin of Caerphilly Castle at night,
wearing a green robe, and has the power of turn-
ing herself into ivy and mingling with the ivy
growing on the wall. A more ingenious mode of
getting rid of a goblin was perhaps never invented.
The fairies of Frennifawr, in Pembrokeshire, were
on the contrary gorgeous in scarlet, with red caps,
and feathers waving in the wind as they danced.
But others were in white, and this appears to be the
favourite hue of modern Welsh fairy costume, when
the Tylwyth Teg are in holiday garb. These various
details of colour are due to the fervour of the Welsh
fancy, of course, and perhaps their variety may in
part be ascribed to a keener sense of the fitness of
things among moderns than was current in earlier
times. White, to the Welsh, would naturally be
the favourite colour for a beautiful creature, dancing
in the moonlight on the velvet sward. The most
popular pet name for a Welsh lass is to-day exactly
what it has been for centuries, viz., Gwenny, the dimi-
nutive of Gwenllian (Anglicised into Gwendoline) — a
name which means simply white linen ; and the white
costume of the favourite fairies undoubtedly signifies
a dress of white Hnen. This fabric, common as it is
in our day, was In ancient times of inestimable value.
In the Mabinogion, linen Is repeatedly particularised
in the gorgeous descriptions of fabled splendour in
princely castles — linen, silk, satin, velvet, gold-lace,
and jewels, are the constantly-recurring features of
sumptuous attire. In his account of the royal tribes
of Wales, Yorke mentions that linen was so rare in
the reign of Charles VII. of France (I.e., in the fif-
teenth century) ' that her majesty the queen could
boast of only two shifts of that commodity.' The
first cause of the fairies' robes being white is evi-
dently to be discerned here ; and In Wales the
ancient sentiment as to whiteness remains. The
Welsh peasantry, coarsely and darkly clad them-
selves, would make white a purely holiday colour,
and devise some other hue for such commoner
fairies as the Bwbach and his sort :

The coarse and country fairy,

That doth haunt the hearth and dairy .^

So the Bwbach Is usually brown, often hairy ;
and the Coblynau are black or copper-coloured In
face as well as dress.


The common or popular theory, however, is in
Wales the poetico-religious one. This is, in a
word, the belief that the Tylwyth Teg are the souls
of dead mortals not bad enough for hell nor good
enough for heaven. They are doomed to live on
earth, to dwell in secret places, until the resurrec-
tion day, when they will be admitted into paradise.
Meantime they must be either incessantly toiling or
incessantly playing, but their toil is fruitless and
their pleasure unsatisfying. A variation of this
general belief holds these souls to be the souls of
the ancient Druids, a fancy which is specially im-
pressive, as indicating the duration of their penance,
and reminds us of the Wandering Jew myth. It is
confined mainly to the Coblynau, or dwellers in
mines and caves. Another variation considers the
fairies bad spirits of still remoter origin — the same
in fact who were thrown over the battlements of
heaven along with Satan, but did not fall into hell
— landed on the earth instead, where they are per-
mitted to tarry till doomsday as above. A detail
of this theory is in explanation of the rare appear-
ance of fairies nowadays ; they are refraining from
mischief in view of the near approach of the judg-
ment, with the hope of thus conciliating heaven.


The Prophet Jones, in explaining why the fairies
have been so active in Wales, expounds the poetico-
religious theory in masterly form. After stating that
some in Monmouthshire were so ignorant as to think
the fairies happy spirits, because they had music and
dancing among them, he proceeds to assert, in the
most emphatic terms, that the Tylwyth Teg are
nothing else, 'after all the talking about them,' but
the disembodied spirits of men who lived and died
without the enjoyment of the means of grace and
salvation, as Pagans and others, and whose punish-
ment therefore is far less severe than that of those
who have enjoyed the means of salvation. ' But
some persons may desire to know why these fairies
hape appeared in Wales more than in some other
countries ? to which I answer, that I can give no
other reason but this, that having lost the light of
the true religion in the eighth and ninth centuries of
Christianity, and received Popery in its stead, it
became dark night upon them ; and then these
spirits of darkness became more bold and intruding;
and the people, as I said before, in their great igno-
rance seeing them like a company of children in dry
clean places, dancing and having music among them,
thought them to be some happy beings, . . . and
made them welcome in their houses. . . . The Welsh
entered into familiarity with the fairies in the time
of Henry IV., and the evil then increased ; the
severe laws of that prince enjoining, among other
things, that they were not to bring up their children
to learning, etc., by which a total darkness came upon
them ; ^ which cruel laws were occasioned by the
rebellion of Owen Glandwr, and the Welsh which
joined with him ; foolishly thinking to shake off the
Saxon yoke before they had repented of their sins.*