Welsh Cave Legends
1 This seems to be the Goidelic word borrowed, which in Mod. Irish is written cnocc or cnoc, 'a hill': the native Welsh form is cnwch, as in Cnwch Coch in Cardiganshire, Cnwch Dernog (corrupted into Clwch Dernog) in Anglesey, printed Kuwgh Dernok in the Record of Carnarvon, p. 59, where it is associated with other interesting names to be noticed later.
2 All said by natives of Anglesey about rivers and mountains in their island must be taken relatively, for though the country has a very uneven surface it has no real mountain: they are apt call a brook a river and a hillock a mountain, though the majestic heights of Arfon are within sight.
3 See pp. 13-16 of his essay on the Neath Valley, referred to in a note at p. 439 above, where Craig y Ðinas is also mentioned.
4 This is an interesting word of obscure origin, to which I should like our ingenious etymologists to direct their attention.
5 See the Poetical Works of John Leyden (Edinburgh, 1875), p. 36 (Scenes of Infancy, part ii); also my Arthurian Legend, p. 18.
6 I am indebted for the English story to an article entitled 'The Two Pedlar Legends of Lambeth and Swaffham,' contributed by Mr. Gomme to the pages of the Antiquary, x. 202-5, in which he gives local details and makes valuable comparisons. I have to thank Mr. Gomme also for a cutting from the weekly issue of the Leeds Mercury for Jan. 3, 1885, devoted to 'Local Notes and Queries' (No. cccxii), where practically the same story is given at greater length as located at Upsall Castle in Yorkshire.
7 I have never been to the spot, and I owe these particulars partly to Mr. J. P. Owen, of 72 Comeragh Road, Kensington, and partly to the Rev. John Fisher, already quoted at p. 379. This is the parish where some would locate the story of the sin-eater, which others stoutly deny, as certain periodical outbursts of polemics in the pages of the Academy and elsewhere have shown. Mr. Owen, writing to me in 1893, states, that, when he last visited the dinas some thirty years previously, he found the mouth of the cave stopped up in order to prevent cattle and sheep straying into it.
8 Mr. Fisher refers me to an account of the discovery published in the Cambrian newspaper for Aug. 14, 1813, a complete file of which exists, as he informs me, in the library of the Royal Institution of South Wales at Swansea. Further, at the Cambrians' meeting in 1892 that account was discussed and corrected by Mr. Stepney-Gulston: see the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1893, pp. 163-7. He also 'pointed out that on the opposite side of the gap in the ridge the noted cave of Owain Law Goch was to be found. Near the Pant-y-llyn bone caves is a place called Craig Derwyðon, and close by is the scene of the exploits of Owain Law Goch, a character who appears to have absorbed some of the features of Arthurian romance. A cave in the locality bears Owain's name.'
9 As in ILewelyn's charter to the Monks of Aberconwy, where we have, according to Dugdale's Monasticon, v. 673a, a Scubordynemreis, that is Scubor Dyn Emreis, 'Din-Emreis Barn,' supposed to be Hafod y Borth, near Beðgelert: see Jenkins' Beð Gelert, p. 198. In the Myvyrian, i. 195a, it has been printed Din Emrais.
10 See Somer's Malory's Morte Darthur, xxi. v (=vol. i. p. 849), and as to the Marchlyn story see p. 236 above. Lastly some details concerning ILyn ILydaw will be found in the next chapter.
11 The oldest spellings known of this name occur in manuscript A of the Annales Cambriæ and in the Book of ILan Dâv as Elized and Elised, doubtless pronounced Elisseð until it became, by dropping the final dental, Elisse. This in time lost its identity by assimilation with the English name Ellis. Thus, for example, in Wynne's edition of Powell's Caradog of ILancarfan's History of Wales (London, 1774), pp. 22, 24. Elised is reduced to Elis. In the matter of dropping the ð compare our Dewi, 'St. David,' for Dewið, for an instance of which see Duffus Hardy's Descriptive Catalogue, i. 119. The form Eliseg with a final g has no foundation in fact. Can the English name Ellis be itself derived from Eliseð?
12 Boncyn is derived from bonc of nearly the same meaning, and bonc is merely the English word bank borrowed: in South Wales it is pronounced banc and used in North Cardiganshire in the sense of hill or mountain.
13 The name occurs twice in the story of Kulhwch and Olwen: see the Mabinogion, p. 107, where the editors have read Ricca both times in 'Gormant, son of Ricca.' This is, however, more than balanced by Rita in the Book of ILan Dâv, namely in Tref Rita, 'Rita's town or stead,' which occurs five times as the name of a place in the diocese of ILandaff; see pp. 32, 43, 90, 272. The uncertainty is confined to the spelling, and it has arisen from the difficulty of deciding in medieval manuscripts between t and c: there is no reason to suppose the name was ever pronounced Ricca.
14 This can hardly be the real name of the place, as it is pronounced Gwybrnant (and even Gwybrant), which reminds me of the Gwybr fynyð on which Gwyn ab Nûð wanders about with his hounds: see Evans' facsimile of the Black Book of Carmarthen, p. 50a, where the words are, dy gruidir ar wibir winit.
15 Dugdale has printed this (v. 673a) Carrecerereryr with one er too much, and the other name forms part of the phrase ad capud Weddua-Vaur, 'to the top of the Great Gwyðfa'; but I learn from Mr. Edward Owen, of Gray's Inn, that the reading of the manuscript is Wedua vawr and Carrecereryr.
16 The MSS. except B have y 6ylva, which is clearly not the right word, as it could only mean 'his place of watching.'
17 See Derfel Hughes' ILandegai and ILanllechid, p. 53. As to Drystan it is the Pictish name Drostan, but a kindred form occurs in Cornwall on a stone near Fowey, where years ago I guessed the ancient genitive Drustagni; and after examining it recently I am able to confirm my original guess. The name of Drystan recalls that of Essyllt, which offers some difficulty. It first occurs in Welsh in the Nennian Genealogies in the Harleian MS. 3859: see Pedigree I in the Cymmrodor, ix. 169, where we read that Mermin (Merfyn) was son of Etthil daughter of Cinnan (Cynan), who succeeded his father Rhodri Molwynog in the sovereignty of Gwyneð in 754. The spelling Etthil is to be regarded like that of the Welsh names in Nennius, for some instances of which se §73 (quoted in the next chapter) and the Old Welsh words calaur nouel, patel, so spelt in the Juvencus Codex: see Skene, ii.2: in all these l does duty for ll. So Etthil is to be treated as pronounced Ethill or Ethyll; but Jesus College MS. 20 gives a more ancient pronunciation (at least as regards the consonants) when it calls Cynan's daughter Ethellt: see the Cymmrodor, viii. 87. Powell, in his History of Wales by Caradog of ILancarfan, as edited by Wynne, writes the name Esylht; and the Medieval Welsh spelling has usually been Essyllt or Esyllt, which agrees in its sibilant with the French Iselt or Iseut; the Breton-looking change from Eth to Es or Is in this name remains a somewhat doubtful point. Professor Zimmer, in the Zeitschrift für französische Sprache und Litteratur, xii. 73-5, points out that the name is an Anglo-Saxon Ethylda borrowed, which he treats as a 'Kurzform für Ethelhild': see also the Revue Celtique xii. 397, xiii. 495. The adoption of this name in Wales may be regarded as proof of intermarriage or alliance between an English family and the royal house of Gwyneð as early as the eighth century.
18 See the Brython for 1861, pp. 331-2, also Cymru Fu, p. 468, where Glasynys was also inclined to regard the Hairy Fellow as being Owen.
19 I have never seen a copy, but Mr. Fisher gives me the title as follows: Prophwydoliaeth Myrðin Wyllt yn nghyda ber Hanes o'i Fywyd, wedi eu tynu allan 0 Lyfr y Daroganau . . . Caerfyrðin . . . Pris dwy Geiniog. It has no date, but Mr. Fisher once had a copy with the date 1847. Recently he has come across another versified prophecy written in the same style as the printed ones, and referring to an Owain who may have been Owen Lawgoch. The personage meant is compared to the most brilliant of pearls, Owain glain golyaf. The prophecy is to be found at the Swansea Public Library, and occurs in a seventeenth century manuscript manual of Roman Catholic Devotion, Latin and Welsh. It gives 1440 as the year of the deliverance of the Brytaniaid. It forms the first of two poems (fo. 37), the second of which is ascribed to Taliessin. Such is Mr. Fisher's account of it, and the lines which he has copied for me cling to the same theme of the ultimate triumph of the Kymry. Quite recently I have received further information as to these prophecies from Mr. J. H. Davies, of Lincoln's Inn (p. 354), who will, it is to be hoped, soon publish the results of his intimate study of their history in South Wales.
20 Record of Carnarvon, p. 133, to which attention was called by me in the Report of the Welsh Land Commission, p. 648: see now The Welsh People, pp. 343-4, 593-4.
21 Nor was Owen the only Welshman in the king of France's service: there was Owen's chaplain, who on one occasion distinguished himself greatly in battle. He is called in Froissart's text David House, but the editor has found from other documents that the name was Honvol Flinc, which is doubtless Howel, whatever the second vocable may have been: see Froissart, viii, pp. xxxviii, 69.
22 As to the original destination of the flotilla, see Kervyn de Lettenhove's edition of Froissart (Brussels, 1870-7), viii. 435-7, where the editor has brought together several notes, from which it appears that Owen tried unsuccessfully to recruit an army in Spain, but that he readily got together in France a considerable force. For Charles V, on May 8, 1372, ordered the formation of an army, to be placed under Owen's command for the reconquest of his ancestors' lands in Wales, and two days later Owen issued a declaration as to his Welsh claims and his obligations to the French king; but the flotilla stopped short with Guernsey. It is not improbable, however, that the fear in England of a descent on Wales by Owen began at least as early as 1369. In his declaration Owen calls himself Evain de Gales, which approaches the Welsh spelling Ewein, more frequently Ywein, modern Ywain, except that all these forms tended to be supplanted by Owain or Owen. This last is, strictly speaking, the colloquial form, just as Howel is the colloquial form of Hywel, and bowyd of bywyd, ' life.'
23 For the account of Owen's life see the Chroniques de J. Froissart publieés pour la Société de l'Histoire de France, edited with abstracts and notes by Siméon Luce, more especially vols. viii. pp. 44-9, 64, 66-71, 84, 122, 190, and ix. pp. 74-9, where a summary is given of his life and a complete account of his death. In Lord Berners' translation, published in Henry VIII's time, Owen is called Yuan of Wales, as if anybody could even glance at the romances without finding that Owen ab Urien, for instance, became in French Ywains or Ivains le fils Urien in the nominative, and Ywain or Ivain in régime. Thomas Johnes of Hafod, whose translation was published in 1803-6, betrays still greater ignorance by giving him the modern name Evan; but he had the excuse of being himself a Welshman.
24 For copies of some of the documents in point see Rymer's Fædera, viii. 356, 365, 382.
25 I have not been able to find a copy of this work, and for drawing my attention to the passage in Hanes Cymru I have again to thank Mr. Fisher. The pedigree in question will be found printed in Table I in Askew Roberts' edition of Sir John Wynne's History of the Gwydir Family (Oswestry, 1878); and a note, apparently copied from Miss ILwyd, states that it was in a Hengwrt MS. she found the identification of Owen Lawgoch. The editor surmises that to refer to p. 865 of Hengwrt MS. 351, which he represents as being a copy of Hengwrt MS. 96 in the handwriting of Robert Vaughan the Antiquary.
26 This has already been undertaken: on Feb. 7, 1900, a summary of this chapter was read to a meeting of the Hon. Society of Cymmrodorion, and six weeks later Mr. Edward Owen, of Gray's Inn, read an elaborate paper in which he essayed to fix more exactly Yvain de Galles' place in the history of Wales. It would be impossible here to do justice to his reasoning, based as it was on a careful study of the records in point. Let it suffice for the present, however, that the paper will in due course appear in the Society's Transactions. Mr. J. H. Davies also informs me that he is bringing together items of evidence, which tend, as he thinks, to show that Miss ILwyd's information was practically correct. Before, however, the question can be considered satisfactorily answered, some explanation will have to be offered of Froissart's statement, that Yvain's father's name was Aymon.
27 We seem also to have an instance in point in Carmarthenshire, where legend represents Owen and his men sleeping in Ogof Myrðin, the name of which means Merlin's Cave, and seems to concede priority of tenancy to the great magician: see the extinct periodical Golud yr Oes (for 1863), i. 253, which I find to have been probably drawing on Eliezer Williams' English Works (London, 1840), p. 156.
28 For the Greek text of the entire passage see the Didot edition of Plutarch, vol. iii. p. 511 (De Defectu Oraculorum, xviii); also my Arthurian Legend, pp. 367-8. It is curious to note that storms have, in a way, been associated in England with the death of her great men as recently as that of the celebrated Duke of Wellington: see Choice Notes, p. 270.
29 See my Arthurian Legend, p. 335. I am indebted to Professor Morfill for rendering the hexameters into English verse.
Or take the following, from J. H. Roberts' essay, as given in Welsh in Edwards' Cymru 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 Filltir 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 returning home from a merry-making at Amnoð. On the sward in front of the cave what should he see but scores of the Tylwyth Teg singing and dancing! He never saw another assembly in his life so fair, and great was the trouble he had to resist being drawn into their circles.
Let us now come to the treasure caves, and begin with Ogof Arthur, 'Arthur's Cave,' in the southern side of Mynyð y Cnwc1 in the parish of ILangwyfan, on the south-western coast of Anglesey. The foot of Mynyð y Cnwc is washed by the sea, and the mouth of the cave is closed by its waters at high tide, but the cave, which is spacious, has a vent-hole in the side of the mountain.2 So it is at any rate reported in the Brython for 1859, p. 138, by a writer who explored the place, though not to the end of the mile which it is said to measure in length. He mentions a local tradition, that it contains various treasures, and that it temporarily afforded Arthur shelter in the course of his wars with the Gwyðelod or Goidels. But he describes also a cromlech on the top of Mynyð y Cnwc, around which there was a circle of stones, while within the latter there lies buried, it is believed, an iron chest full of ancient gold. Various attempts are said to have been made by the more greedy of the neighbouring inhabitants to dig it up, but they have always been frightened away by portents. Here then the guardians of the treasure are creatures of a supernatural kind, as in many other instances, and especially that of Dinas Emrys to be mentioned presently.
Next comes the first of a group of cave legends involving treasure entrusted to the keeping of armed warriors. It is taken from Elijah Waring's Recollections and Anecdotes of Edward Williams, Iolo Morgannwg (London, 1850), pp. 95-8, where it is headed 'A popular Tale in Glamorgan, by Iolo Morgannwg'; a version of it in Welsh will be found in the Brython for 1858, p. 162, but Waring's version is in several respects better, and I give it in his words:—'A Welshman walking over London Bridge, with a neat hazel staff in his hand, was accosted by an Englishman, who asked him whence he came. "I am from my own country," answered the Welshman, in a churlish tone. "Do not take it amiss, my friend," said the Englishman; "if you will only answer my questions, and take my advice, it will be of greater benefit to you than you imagine. That stick in your hand grew on a spot under which are hid vast treasures of gold and silver; and if you remember the place, and can conduct me to it, I will put you in possession of those treasures."
'The Welshman soon understood that the stranger was what he called a cunning man, or conjurer, and for some time hesitated, not willing to go with him among devils, from whom this magician must have derived his knowledge; but he was at length persuaded to accompany him into Wales; and going to Craig-y-Dinas [Rock of the Fortress], the Welshman pointed out the spot whence he had cut the stick. It was from the stock or root of a large old hazel: this they dug up, and under it found a broad flat stone. This was found to close up the entrance into a very large cavern, down into which they both went. In the middle of the passage hung a bell, and the conjurer earnestly cautioned the Welshman not to touch it. They reached the lower part of the cave, which was very wide, and there saw many thousands of warriors lying down fast asleep in a large circle, their heads outwards, every one clad in bright armour, with their swords, shields, and other weapons lying by them, ready to be laid hold on in an instant, whenever the bell should ring and awake them. All the arms were so highly polished and bright, that they illumined the cavern, as with the light of ten thousand flames of fire. They saw amongst the warriors one greatly distinguished from the rest by his arms, shield, battle-axe, and a crown of gold set with the most precious stones, lying by his side.
'In the midst of this circle of warriors they saw two very large heaps, one of gold, the other of silver. The magician told the Welshman that he might take as much as he could carry away of either the one or the other, but that he was not to take from both the heaps. The Welshman loaded himself with gold: the conjurer took none, saying that he did not want it, that gold was of no use but to those who wanted knowledge, and that his contempt of gold had enabled him to acquire that superior knowledge and wisdom which he possessed. In their way out he cautioned the Welshman again not to touch the bell, but if unfortunately he should do so, it might be of the most fatal consequence to him, as one or more of the warriors would awake, lift up his head, and ask if it was day. "Should this happen," said the cunning man, "you must, without hesitation, answer No, sleep thou on; on hearing which he will again lay down his head and sleep." In their way up, however, the Welshman, overloaded with gold, was not able to pass the bell without touching it—it rang—one of the warriors raised up his head, and asked, "Is it day?" "No," answered the Welshman promptly, "it is not, sleep thou on;" so they got out of the cave, laid down the stone over its entrance, and replaced the hazel tree. The cunning man, before he parted from his companion, advised him to be economical in the use of his treasure; observing that he had, with prudence, enough for life: but that if by unforeseen accidents he should be again reduced to poverty, he might repair to the cave for more; repeating the caution, not to touch the bell if possible, but if he should, to give the proper answer, that it was not day, as promptly as possible. He also told him that the distinguished person they had seen was ARTHUR, and the others his warriors; and they lay there asleep with their arms ready at hand, for the dawn of that day when the Black Eagle and the Golden Eagle should go to war, the loud clamour of which would make the earth tremble so much, that the bell would ring loudly, and the warriors awake, take up their arms, and destroy all the enemies of the Cymry, who afterwards should repossess the Island of Britain, reestablish their own king and government at Caerlleon, and be governed with justice, and blessed with peace so long as the world endures.
'The time came when the Welshman's treasure was all spent: he went to the cave, and as before overloaded himself. In his way out he touched the bell: it rang: a warrior lifted up his head, asking if it was day, but the Welshman, who had covetously overloaded himself, being quite out of breath with labouring under his burden, and withal struck with terror, was not able to give the necessary answer; whereupon some of the warriors got up, took the gold away from him, and beat him dreadfully. They afterwards threw him out, and drew the stone after them over the mouth of the cave. The Welshman never recovered the effects of that beating, but remained almost a cripple as long as he lived, and very poor. He often returned with some of his friends to Craig-y-Dinas; but they could never afterwards find the spot, though they dug over, seemingly, every inch of the hill.'
This story of Iolo's closes with a moral, which I omit in order to make room for what he says in a note to the effect, that there are two hills in Glamorganshire called Craig-y-Dinas—nowadays the more usual pronunciation in South Wales is Craig y Ðinas—one in the parish of ILantrissant and the other in Ystrad Dyfodwg. There was also a hill so called, Iolo says, in the Vale of Towy, not far from Carmarthen. He adds that in Glamorgan the tale is related of the Carmarthenshire hill, while in Carmarthenshire the hill is said to be in Glamorgan. According to Iolo's son, Taliesin Williams3 or Taliesin ab Iolo, the Craig y Ðinas with which the Cave of Arthur (or Owen Lawgoch) is associated is the one on the borders of Glamorgan and Brecknockshire. That is also the opinion of my friend Mr. Reynolds, who describes this craig and dinas as a very bold rocky eminence at the top of the Neath Valley, near Pont Neð Fechan. He adds that in this tale as related to his mother 'in her very young days' by a very old woman, known as Mari Shencin y Clochyð, 'Jenkin the Sexton's Mary,' the place of Arthur was taken by Owen Lawgoch, 'Owen of the Red Hand,' of whom more anon.
The next Arthurian story is not strictly in point, for it makes no allusion to treasure; but as it is otherwise so similar to Iolo's tale I cannot well avoid introducing it here. It is included in the composite story of Bwca 'r Trwyn, 'the Bogie of the Nose,' written out for me in Gwentian Welsh by Mr. Craigfryn Hughes. The cave portion relates how a Monmouthshire farmer, whose house was grievously troubled by the bogie, set out one morning to call on a wizard who lived near Caerleon, and how he on his way came up with a very strange and odd man who wore a three-cornered hat. They fell into conversation, and the strange man asked the farmer if he should like to see something of a wonder. He answered he would. 'Come with me then,' said the wearer of the cocked hat, 'and you shall see what nobody else alive to-day has seen.' When they had reached the middle of a wood this spiritual guide sprang from horseback and kicked a big stone near the road. It instantly moved aside to disclose the mouth of a large cave; and now said he to the farmer, 'Dismount and bring your horse in here: tie him up alongside of mine, and follow me so that you may see something which the eyes of man have not beheld for centuries.' The farmer, having done as he was ordered, followed his guide for a long distance: they came at length to the top of a flight of stairs, where two huge bells were hanging. 'Now mind,' said the warning voice of the strange guide, 'not to touch either of those bells.' At the bottom of the stairs there was a vast chamber with hundreds of men lying at full length on the floor, each with his head reposing on the stock of his gun. 'Have you any notion who these men are ? ' 'No,' replied the farmer, 'I have not, nor have I any idea what they want in such a place as this.' ' Well,' said the guide, 'these are Arthur's thousand soldiers reposing and sleeping till the Kymry have need of them. Now let us get out as fast as our feet can carry us.' When they reached the top of the stairs, the farmer somehow struck his elbow against one of the bells so that it rang, and in the twinkling of an eye all the sleeping host rose to their feet shouting together, 'Are the Kymry in straits?' 'Not yet: sleep you on,' replied the wearer of the cocked hat, whereupon they all dropped down on their guns to resume their slumbers at once. 'These are the valiant men,' he went on to say, 'who are to turn the scale in favour of the Kymry when the time comes for them to cast the Saxon yoke off their necks and to recover possession of their country.' When the two had returned to their horses at the mouth of the cave, his guide said to the farmer, 'Now go in peace, and let me warn you on the pain of death not to utter a syllable about what you have seen for the space of a year and a day: if you do, woe awaits you.' After he had moved the stone back to its place the farmer lost sight of him. When the year had lapsed the farmer happened to pass again that way, but, though he made a long and careful search, he failed completely to find the stone at the mouth of the cave.
To return to Iolo's yarn, one may say that there are traces of his story as at one time current in Merionethshire, but with the variation that the Welshman met the wizard not on London Bridge but at a fair at Bala, and that the cave was somewhere in Merioneth: the hero was Arthur, and the cave was known as Ogof Arthur. Whether any such cave is still known I cannot tell; but a third and interestingly told version is given in the Brython for 1858, p. 179, by the late Gwynionyð who gives the story as the popular belief in his native parish of Troed yr Aur, halfway between Newcastle Emlyn and Aber Porth, in South Cardiganshire. In this last version the hero is not Arthur, but the later man as follows:—Not the least of the wonders of imagination wont to exercise the minds of the old people was the story of Owen Lawgoch. One sometimes hears sung in our fairs the words:—
Yr Owain hwn yw Harri 'r Nawfed This Owen is Henry the Ninth,
Syð yn trigo 'ngwlad estronied, &c. Who tarries in a foreign land, &c.
But this Owen Lawgoch, the national deliverer of our ancient race of Brythons, did not, according to the Troed yr Aur people, tarry in a foreign land, but somewhere in Wales, not far from Offa's Dyke. They used to say that one Dafyð Meirig of Bettws Bledrws, having quarrelled with his father, left for ILoegr4, 'England.' When he had got a considerable distance from home, he struck a bargain with a cattle dealer to drive a herd of his beasts to London. Somewhere at the corner of a vast moor Dafyð cut a very remarkable hazel stick; for a good staff is as essential to the vocation of a good drover as teeth are to a dog. So while his comrades had had their sticks broken before reaching London, Dafyð's remained as it was, and whilst they were conversing together on London Bridge a stranger accosted Dafyð, wishing to know where he had obtained that wonderful stick. He replied that it was in Wales he had had it, and on the stranger's assuring him that there were wondrous things beneath the tree on which it had grown, they both set out for Wales. When they reached the spot and dug a little they found that there was a great hollow place beneath. As night was spreading out her sable mantle, and as they were getting deeper, what should they find but stairs easy to step and great lamps illumining the vast chamber! They descended slowly, with mixed emotions of dread and invincible desire to see the place. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, they found themselves near a large table, at one end of which they beheld sitting a tall man of about seven foot. He occupied an old-fashioned chair and rested his head on his left hand, while the other hand, all red, lay on the table and grasped a great sword. He was withal enjoying a wondrously serene sleep; and at his feet on the floor lay a big dog. After casting a glance at them, the wizard said to Dafyð: 'This is Owen Lawgoch, who is to sleep on till a special time, when he will wake and reign over the Brythons. That weapon in his hand is one of the swords of the ancient kings of Prydain. No battle was ever lost in which that sword was used.' Then they moved slowly on, gazing at the wonders of that subterranean chamber; and they beheld everywhere the arms of ages long past, and on the table thousands of gold pieces bearing the images of the different kings of Prydain. They got to understand that it was permitted them to take a handful of each, but not to put any in their purses. They both visited the cave several times, but at last Dafyð put in his purse a little of the gold bearing the image of one of the bravest of Owen's ancestors. But after coming out again they were never able any more to find Owen's subterranean palace.
Those are, says Gwynionyð, the ideas cherished by the old people of Troed yr Aur in Keredigion, and the editor adds note that the same sort of story is current among the peasantry of Cumberland, and perhaps of other parts of Britain. This remark will at once recall to the reader's mind the well-known verses5 of the Scottish poet, Leyden, as to Arthur asleep in a cave in the Eildon Hills in the neighbourhood of Melrose Abbey. But he will naturally ask why London Bridge is introduced into this and Iolo's story, and in answer I have to say, firstly, that London Bridge formerly loomed very large in the popular imagination as one of the chief wonders of London, itself the most wonderful city in the world. Such at any rate was the notion cherished as to London and London Bridge by the country people of Wales, even within my own memory. Secondly, the fashion of selecting London Bridge as the opening scene of a treasure legend had been set, perhaps, by a widely spread English story to the following effect:—A certain pedlar of Swaffham in Norfolk had a dream, that if he went and stood on London Bridge he would have very joyful news; as the dream was doubled and trebled he decided to go. So he stood on the bridge two or three days, when at last a shopkeeper, observing that he loitered there so long, neither offering anything for sale nor asking for alms, inquired of him as to his business. The pedlar told him his errand, and was heartily laughed at by the shopkeeper, who said that he had dreamt that night that he was at a place called Swaffham in Norfolk, and that if he only dug under a great oak tree in an orchard behind a pedlar's house there, he would find a vast treasure; but the place was utterly unknown to him, and he was not such a fool as to follow a silly dream. No, he was wiser than that; so he advised the pedlar to go home to mind his business. The pedlar very quietly took in the words as to the dream, and hastened home to Swaffham, where he found the treasure in his own orchard. The rest of the story need not be related here, as it is quite different from the Welsh ones, which the reader has just had brought under his notice.6
To return to Owen Lawgoch, for we have by no means done with him: on the farm of Cil yr Ychen there stands a remarkable limestone hill called y Ðinas, 'the Fortress,' hardly a mile to the north of the village of ILandybïe, in Carmarthenshire. This dinas and the lime-kilns that are gradually consuming it are to be seen on the right from the railway as you go from ILandeilo to ILandybïe. It is a steep high rock which forms a very good natural fortification, and in the level area on the top is the mouth of a very long cavern, known as Ogo'r Ðinas, 'the Dinas Cave.' The entrance into it is small and low, but it gradually widens out, becoming in one place lofty and roomy with several smaller branch caves leading out of it; and it is believed that some of them connect Ogo'r Ðinas with smaller caves at Pant y ILyn, 'the Lake Hollow,' where, as the name indicates, there is a small lake a little higher up: both Ogo'r Ðinas and Pant y ILyn are within a mile of the village of ILandybïe.7 Now I am informed, in a letter written in 1893 by one native, that the local legend about Ogo'r Ðinas is that Owen Lawgoch and his men are lying asleep in it, while another native, Mr. Fisher, writing in the same year, but on the authority of somewhat later hearsay, expresses himself as follows:—'I remember hearing two traditions respecting Ogo'r Ðinas: (1) that King Arthur and his warriors lie sleeping in it with their right hands clasping the hilts of their drawn swords ready to encounter anyone who may venture to disturb their repose—is there not a dinas somewhere in Carnarvonshire with a similar legend? (2) That Owen Lawgoch lived in it some time or other: that is all that I remember having heard about him in connection with this ogof.' Mr. Fisher proceeds, moreover, to state that it is said of an ogof at Pant y ILyn, that Owen Lawgoch and his men on a certain occasion took refuge in it, where they were shut up and starved to death. He adds that, however this may be, it is a fact that in the year 1813 ten or more human skeletons of unusual stature were discovered in an ogof there.8
To this I may append a reference to the Geninen for 1896, p. 84, where Mr. ILeufer Thomas, who is also a native of the district, alludes to the local belief that Owen Lawgoch and his men are asleep, as already mentioned, in the cave of Pant y ILyn, and that they are to go on sleeping there till a trumpet blast and the clash of arms on Rhiw Goch rouse them to sally forth to combat the Saxons and to conquer, as set forth by Howells: see p. 381 above. It is needless to say that there is no reason, as will be seen presently, to suppose Owen Lawgoch to have ever been near any of the caves to which allusion has here been made; but that does not appreciably detract from the fascination of the legend which has gathered round his personality; and in passing I may be allowed to express my surprise that in such stories as these the earlier Owen has not been eclipsed by Owen Glyndwr: there must be some historical reason why that has not taken place. Can it be that a habit of caution made Welshmen speak of Owen Lawgoch when the other Owen was really meant?
The passage I have cited from Mr. Fisher's letter raises the question of a dinas in Carnarvonshire, which that of his native parish recalled to his mind; and this is to be considered next. Doubtless he meant Dinas Emrys formerly called Din Emreis,9 'the Fortress of Ambrosius,' situated near Beðgelert, and known in the neighbourhood simply as y Dinas, 'the Fort.' It is celebrated in the Vortigern legend as the place where the dragons had been hidden, that frustrated the building of that king's castle; and the spot is described in Lewis' Topographical Dictionary of Wales, in the article on Bethgelart (Beð-Celert), as an isolated rocky eminence with an extensive top area, which is defended by walls of loose stones, and accessible only on one side. He adds that the entrance appears to have been guarded by two towers, and that within the enclosed area are the foundations of circular buildings of loose stones forming walls of about five feet in thickness. Concerning that Dinas we read in the Brython for 1861, p. 329, a legend to the following effect:—Now after the departure of Vortigern, Myrðin, or Merlin as he is called in English, remained himself in the Dinas for a long time, until, in fact, he went away with Emrys Ben-aur,'Ambrosius the Gold-headed'—evidently Aurelius Ambrosius is meant. When he was about to set out with the latter, he put all his treasure and wealth into a crochan aur, 'a gold cauldron,' and hid it in a cave in the Dinas, and on the mouth of the cave he rolled a huge stone, which he covered up with earth and sods, so that it was impossible for anyone to find it. He intended this wealth to be the property of some special person in a future generation, and it is said that the heir to it is to be a youth with yellow hair and blue eyes. When that one comes near to the Dinas a bell will ring to invite him to the cave, which will open of itself as soon as his foot touches it. Now the fact that some such legend was once currently believed about Beðgelert and Nanhwynain is proved by the curious stories as to various attempts made to find the treasure, and the thunderstorms and portents which used to vanquish the local greed for gold. For several instances in point see the Brython, pp. 329-30; and for others, showing how hidden treasure is carefully reserved for the right sort of heir, see p. 148 above. To prove how widely this idea prevailed in Carnarvonshire, I may add a short story which Mrs. Williams-Ellis of Glasfryn got from the engineer who told her of the sacred eel of ILangybi (p. 366):—There was on Pentyrch, the hill above ILangybi, he said, a large stone so heavy and fixed so fast in the ground that no horses, no men could move it: it had often been tried. One day, however, a little girl happened to be playing by the stone, and at the touch of her little hand the stone moved. A hoard of coins was found under it, and that at a time when the little girl's parents happened to be in dire need of it. Search had long been made by undeserving men for treasure supposed to be hidden at that spot; but it was always unsuccessful until the right person touched the stone to move. The failure of the wrong person to secure the treasure, even when discovered, is illustrated by a story given by Mr. Derfel Hughes in his Antiquities of ILandegai and ILanllechid, pp. 35-6, to the effect that a servant man, somewhere up among the mountains near Ogwen Lake, chanced to come across the mouth of a cave with abundance of vessels of brass (pres) of every shape and description within it. He went at once and seized one of them, but, alas! it was too heavy for him to stir it. So he resolved to go away and return early on the morrow with a friend to help him; but before going he closed the mouth of the cave with stones and sods so as to leave it safe. While thus engaged he remembered having heard how others had like him found caves and failed to refind them. 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 Gwyðel, 'Goidel, Irishman,' who is to have these treasures, and that it will happen in this wise:—A Gwyðel 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 Gwyðel in pursuit trying to catch him. When the Gwyðel enters he sees the treasures, looks at them with surprise, and takes possession of them; and thus, in some generation to come, the Gwyðyl 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 Gwyðyl had some time or other something to do with these parts, and that we are not to regard as stories without foundations all that is said of that nation; and the sayings of old people to this day show that there is always some spite between our nation and the Gwyðyl. Thus, for instance, he goes on to say, if a man proves changeable, he is said to have become a Gwyðel (Y mae wedi troi'n Wyðel), or if one is very shameless and cheeky he is called a Gwyðel and told to hold his tongue (Taw yr hen Wyðel); and a number of such locutions used by our people proves, he thinks, the former prevalence of much contention between the two sister-nations. Expressions 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 next story to be mentioned belongs to the same Snowdonian neighbourhood, and brings us back to Arthur and his Men. For a writer who has already been quoted from the Brython for 1861, p. 331, makes Arthur and his following set out from Dinas Emrys and cross Hafod y Borth mountain for a place above the upper reach of Cwmllan, called Tregalan, where they found their antagonists. From Tregalan the latter were pushed up the bwlch or pass, towards Cwm Dyli; but when the vanguard of the army with Arthur leading had reached the top of the pass, the enemy discharged a shower of arrows at them. There Arthur fell, and his body was buried in the pass so that no enemy might march that way so long as Arthur's dust rested there. That, he says, is the story, and there to this day remains in the pass, he asserts, the heap of stones called Carneð Arthur, 'Arthur's Cairn': the pass is called Bwlch y Saethau, 'the Pass of the Arrows.' Then Ogof ILanciau Eryri is the subject of the following story given at p. 371 of the same volume:—After Arthur's death on Bwlch y Saethau, his men ascended to the ridge of the ILiweð and descended thence into a vast cave called Ogof ILanciau Eryri, 'the young Men of Snowdonia's Cave,' which is in the precipitous cliff on the left-hand side near the top of ILyn ILydaw. This is in Cwm Dyli, and there in that cave those warriors are said to be still, sleeping in their armour and awaiting the second coming of Arthur to restore the crown of Britain to the Kymry. For the saying is:—
ILancia' 'Ryri a'u gwyn gyll a'i hennill hi.
Snowdonia's youths with their white hazels will win it.
As the local shepherds were one day long ago collecting their sheep on the ILiweð, one sheep fell down to a shelf in this precipice, and when the Cwm Dyli shepherd made his way to the spot he perceived that the ledge of rock on which he stood led to the hidden cave of ILanciau Eryri. There was light within; he looked in and beheld a host of warriors without number all asleep, resting on their arms and ready equipped for battle. Seeing that they were all asleep, he felt a strong desire to explore the whole place; but as he was squeezing in he struck his head against the bell hanging in the entrance. It rang so that every corner of the immense cave rang again, and all the warriors woke uttering a terrible shout, which so frightened the shepherd that he never more enjoyed a day's health; nor has anybody since dared as much as to approach the mouth of the cave.
Thus far the Brython, and I have only to remark that this legend is somewhat remarkable for the fact of its representing the Youths of Eryri sleeping away in their cave without Arthur among them. In fact, that hero is described as buried not very far off beneath a carneð or cairn on Bwlch y Saethau. As to the exact situation of that cairn, I may say that my attention was drawn some time ago to the following lines by Mr. William Owen, better known as Glaslyn, a living bard bred and born in the district:—
Gerllaw Carneð Arthur ar ysgwyð y Wyðfa
Y gorweð gweðillion y cawr enwog Ricca.
Near Arthur's Cairn on the shoulder of Snowdon
Lie the remains of the famous giant Ricca.
These words recall an older couplet in a poem by Rhys Goch Eryri, who is said to have died in the year 1420. He was a native of the parish of Beðgelert, and his words in point run thus:—
Ar y drum oer dramawr, On the ridge cold and vast,
Yno gorweth; Ricca Gawr. There the Giant Ricca lies.
From this it is clear that Rhys Goch meant that the cairn on the top of Snowdon covered the remains of the giant whose name has been variously written Ricca, Ritta, and Rhita. So I was impelled to ascertain from Glaslyn whether I had correctly understood his lines, and he has been good enough to help me out of some of my difficulties, as I do not know Snowdon by heart, especially the Nanhwynain and Beðgelert side of the mountain:—The cairn on the summit of Snowdon was the Giant's before it was demolished and made into a sort of tower which existed before the hotel was made. Glaslyn has not heard it called after Ricca's name, but he states that old people used to call it Carneð y Cawr, 'the Giant's Cairn.' In 1850 Carneð Arthur, 'Arthur's Cairn,' was to be seen on the top of Bwlch y Saethau, but he does not know whether it is still so, as he has not been up there since the building of the hotel. Bwlch y Saethau is a lofty shoulder of Snowdon extending in the direction of Nanhwynain, and the distance from the top of Snowdon to it is not great; it would take you half an hour or perhaps a little more to walk from the one carneð to the other. It is possible to trace Arthur's march from Dinas Emrys up the slopes of Hafod y Borth, over the shoulder of the Aran and Braich yr Oen to Tregalan—or Cwm Tregalan, as it is now called—but from Tregalan he would have to climb in a north-easterly direction in order to reach Bwlch y Saethau, where he is related to have fallen and to have been interred beneath a cairn. This may be regarded as an ordinary or commonplace account of his death. But the scene suggests a far more romantic picture; for down below was ILyn ILydaw with its sequestered isle, connected then by means only of a primitive canoe with a shore occupied by men engaged in working the ore of Eryri. Nay with the eyes of Malory we seem to watch Bedivere making, with Excalibur in his hands, his three reluctant journeys to the lake ere he yielded it to the arm emerging from the deep. We fancy we behold how 'euyn fast by the banke houed a lytyl barge wyth many fayr ladyes in hit,' which was to carry the wounded Arthur away to the accompaniment of mourning and loud lamentation; but the legend of the Marchlyn bids us modify Malory's language as to the barge containing many ladies all wearing black hoods, and take our last look at the warrior departing rather in a coracle with three wondrously fair women attending to his wounds.10
Some further notes on Snowdon, together with a curious account of the Cave of ILanciau Eryri, have been kindly placed at my disposal by Mr. Ellis Pierce (Elis11 o'r Nant) of Dolwyðelan:—In the uppermost part of the hollow called Cwmllan is Tregalan, and in the middle of Cwm Tregalan is a green hill, or rather an eminence which hardly forms a hill, but what is commonly called a boncyn12 in Carnarvonshire, and between that green boncyn and the Clogwyn Du, 'Black Precipice,' is a bog, the depth of which no one has ever succeeded in ascertaining, and a town—inferred perhaps from tre in Tregalan—is fabled to have been swallowed up there. Another of my informants speaks of several hillocks or boncyns as forming one side of this little cwm; but he has heard from geologists, that these green mounds represent moraines deposited there in the glacial period. From the bottom of the Clogwyn Du it is about a mile to Bwlch y Saethau. Then as to the cave of ILanciau Eryri, which nobody can now find, the slope down to it begins from the top of the ILiweð, but ordinarily speaking one could not descend to where it is supposed to have been without the help of ropes, which seems incompatible with the story of the Cwm Dyli shepherd following a sheep until he was at the mouth of the cave; not to mention the difficulty which the descent would have offered to Arthur's men when they entered it. Then Elis o'r Nant's story represents it shutting after them, and only opening to the shepherd in consequence of his having trodden on a particular sod or spot. He then slid down unintentionally and touched the bell that was hanging there, so that it rang and instantly woke the sleeping warriors. No sooner had that happened than those men of Arthur's took up their guns—never mind the anachronism—and the shepherd made his way out more dead than alive; and the frightened fellow never recovered from the shock to the day of his death. When these warriors take up their guns they fire away, we are told, without mercy from where each man stands: they are not to advance a single step till Arthur comes to call them back to the world.
To swell the irrelevancies under which this chapter labours already, and to avoid severing cognate questions too rudely, I wish to add that Elis o'r Nant makes the name of the giant buried on the top of Snowdon into Rhitta or Rhita instead of Ricca. That is also the form of the name with which Mrs. Rhys was familiar throughout her childhood on the ILanberis side of the mountain. She often heard of Rhita13 Gawr having been buried on the top of Snowdon, and of other warriors on other parts of Snowdon such as Moel Gynghorion and the Gist on that moel. But Elis o'r N ant goes further, and adds that from Rhita the mountain was called Wyðfa Rhita, more correctly Gwyðfa Rita, 'Rhita's Gwyðfa.' Fearing this might be merely an inference, I have tried to cross-examine him so far as that is possible by letter. He replies that his father was bred and born in the little glen called Ewybrnant,14 between Bettws y Coed and Pen Machno, and that his grandfather also lived there, where he appears to have owned land not far from the home of the celebrated Bishop Morgan. Now Elis' father often talked, he says, in his hearing of 'Gwyðfa Rhita.' Wishing to have some more definite evidence, I wrote again, and he informs me that his father was very fond of talking about his father, Elis o'r Nant's grandfather, who appears to have been a character and a great supporter of Sir Robert Williams, especially in a keenly contested political election in 1796, when the latter was opposed by the then head of the Penrhyn family. Sometimes the old man from Ewybrnant would set out in his clocs, 'clogs or wooden shoes,' to visit Sir Robert Williams, who lived at Plas y Nant, near Beðgelert. On starting he would say to his family, Mi a'i hyibio troed Gwyðfa Rhita ag mi ðo'n ol rwbrud cin nos, or sometimes foru. That is, 'I'll go round the foot of Rhita's Gwyðfa and come back some time before night': sometimes he would say 'to-morrow.' Elis also states that his father used to relate how Rhita's Gwyðfa was built, namely by the simple process of each of his soldiers taking a stone to place on Rhita's tomb. However the story as to Rhita Gawr being buried on the top of Snowdon came into existence, there can be no doubt that it was current in comparatively recent times, and that the Welsh name of y Wyðfa, derived from it, refers to the mountain as distinguished from the district in which it is situated. In Welsh this latter is Eryri, the habitat, as it were, of the eryr, 'eagle,' a bird formerly at home there as many local names go to prove, such as Carreg yr Eryr,15 'the Stone of the Eagle,' mentioned in the boundaries of the lands on Snowdon granted to the Abbey of Aberconwy in ILewelyn's charter, where also Snowdon mountain is called Wedua vawr, 'the Great Gwyðfa.' Now, as already suggested, the word gwyðfa takes us back to Rhita's Carneð or Cairn, as it signified a monument, a tomb or barrow: Dr. Davies gives it in his Welsh-Latin Dictionary as Locus Sepulturæ, Mausoleum. This meaning of the word may be illustrated by a reference in passing to the mention in Brut y Tywysogion of the burial of Madog ab Maredyð. For under the year 1159 we are told that he was interred at Meifod, as it was there his tomb or the vault of his family, the one intended also for him(y 6ydua16), happened to be.
Against the evidence just given, that tradition places Rhita's grave on the top of Snowdon, a passing mention by Derfel Hughes (p. 52) is of no avail, though to the effect that it is on the top of the neighbouring mountain called Carneð Lywelyn, 'ILewelyn's Cairn,' that Rhita's Cairn was raised. He deserves more attention, however, when he places Carneð Drystan, 'Tristan or Tristram's Cairn,' on a spur of that mountain, to wit, towards the east above Ffynnon y ILyffaint.17 For it is worthy of note that the name of Drystan, associated with Arthur in the later romances, should figure with that of Arthur in the topography of the same Snowdon district.
Before leaving Snowdon I may mention a cave near a small stream not far from ILyn Gwynain, about a mile and a half above Dinas Emrys. In the ILwyd letter (printed in the Cambrian Journal for 1859, pp. 142,209), on which I have already drawn, it is called Ogo'r Gwr Blew, 'the Hairy Man's Cave'; and the story relates how the Gwr Blew who lived in it was fatally wounded by a woman who happened to be at home, alone, in one of the nearest farm houses when the Gwr Blew came to plunder it. Its sole interest here is that a later version18 identifies the Hairy Man with Owen Lawgoch, after modifying the former's designation y Gwr Blew, which literally meant 'the Hair Man,' into y Gwr Blewog,. 'the Hairy Man.' This doubtful instance of the presence of Owen Lawgoch in the folklore of North Wales seems to stand alone.
Some of these cave stories, it will have been seen, reveal to us a hero who is expected to return to interfere again in the affairs of this world, and it is needless to say that Wales is by no means alone in the enjoyment of imaginary prospects of this kind. The same sort of poetic expectation has not been unknown, for instance, in Ireland. In the summer of 1894, I spent some sunny days in the neighbourhood of the Boyne, and one morning I resolved to see the chief burial mounds dotting the banks of that interesting river; but before leaving the hotel at Drogheda, my attention was attracted by a book of railway advertisement of the kind which forcibly impels one to ask two questions: why will not the railway companies leave those people alone who do not want to travel, and why will they make it so tedious for those who do? But on turning the leaves of that booklet over I was inclined to a suaver mood, as I came on a paragraph devoted to an ancient stronghold called the Grianan of Aileach, or Greenan-Ely, in the highlands of Donegal. Here I read that a thousand armed men sit resting there on their swords, and bound by magic sleep till they are to be called forth to take their part in the struggle for the restoration of Erin's freedom. At intervals they awake, it is said, and looking up from their trance they ask in tones which solemnly resound through the many chambers of the Grianan: 'Is the time come?' A loud voice, that of the spiritual caretaker, is heard to reply: 'The time is not yet.' They resume their former posture and sink into their sleep again. That is the substance of the words I read, and they called to my mind the legend of such heroes of the past as Barbarossa, with his sleep interrupted only by his change of posture once in seven years; of Dom Sebastian, for centuries expected from Moslem lands to restore the glories of Portugal; of the Cid Rodrigo, expected back to do likewise with the kingdom of Castile; and last, but not least, of the O'Donoghue who sleeps beneath the Lakes of Killarney, ready to emerge to right the wrongs of Erin. With my head full of these and the like dreams of folklore, I was taken over the scene of the Battle of the Boyne; and the car-driver, having vainly tried to interest me in it, gave me up in despair as an uncultured savage who felt no interest in the history of Ireland. However he somewhat changed his mind when, on reaching the first ancient burial mound, he saw me disappear underground, fearless of the Fomhoraigh; and he began to wonder whether I should ever return to pay him his fare. This in fact was the sheet anchor of all my hopes; for I thought that in case I remained fast in a narrow passage, or lost my way in the chambers of the prehistoric dead, the jarvey must fetch me out again. So by the time I had visited three of these ancient places, Dowth, Knowth, and New Grange, I had risen considerably in his opinion; and he bethought him of stories older than the Battle of the Boyne. So he told me on the way back several bits of something less drearily historical. Among other things, he pointed in the direction of a place called Ardee in the county of Louth, where, he said, there is Garry Geerlaug's enchanted fort full of warriors in magic sleep, with Garry Geerlaug himself in their midst. Once on a time a herdsman is said to have strayed into their hall, he said, and to have found the sleepers each with his sword and his spear ready to hand. But as the intruder could not keep his hands off the metal wealth of the place, the owners of the spears began to rouse themselves, and the intruder had to flee for his life. But there that armed host is awaiting the eventful call to arms, when they are to sally forth to restore prosperity and glory to Ireland. That was his story, and I became all attention as soon as I heard of Ardee, which is in Irish Áth Fhir-dheadh, or the Ford of Fer-deadh, so called from Fer-deadh, who fought a protracted duel with Cúchulainn in that ford, where at the end, according to a well-known Irish story, he fell by Cúchulainn's hand. I was still more exercised by the name of Garry Geerlaug, as I recognized in Garry an Anglo-Irish pronunciation of the Norse name Godhfreydhr, later Godhroedh, sometimes rendered Godfrey and sometimes Godred, while in Man and in Scotland it has become Gorry, which may be heard also in Ireland. I thought, further, that I recognized the latter part of Garry Geerlaug's designation as the Norse female name Geirlaug. There was no complete lack of Garries in that part of Ireland in the tenth and eleventh centuries; but I have not yet found any historian to identify for me the warrior named or nicknamed Garry Geerlaug, who is to return blinking to this world of ours when his nap is over. Leaving Ireland, I was told the other day of a place called Tom na Hurich, near Inverness, where Finn and his following are resting, each on his left elbow, enjoying a broken sleep while waiting for the note to be sounded, which is to call them forth. What they are then to do I have not been told: it may be that they will proceed at once to solve the Crofter Question, for there will doubtless be one.
It appears, to come back to Wales, that King Cadwaladr, who waged an unsuccessful war with the Angles of Northumbria in the seventh century, was long after his death expected to return to restore the Brythons to power. At any rate so one is led in some sort of a hazy fashion to believe in reading several of the poems in the manuscript known as the Book of Taliessin. One finds, however, no trace of Cadwaladr in our cave legends: the heroes of them are Arthur and Owen Lawgoch. Now concerning Arthur one need at this point hardly speak, except to say that the Welsh belief in the eventual return of Arthur was at one time a powerful motive affecting the behaviour of the people of Wales, as was felt, for instance, by English statesmen in the reign of Henry II. But by our time the expected return of Arthur—rexque futurus—has dissipated itself into a commonplace of folklore fitted only to point an allegory, as when Elvet Lewis, one of the sweetest of living Welsh poets, sings in a poem entitled Arthur gyda ni, 'Arthur with us':—
Mae Arthur Fawr yn cysgu, Great Arthur is still sleeping,
A'i ðewrion syð o'i ðeutu, His warriors all around him,
A'u gafael are y cleð: With grip upon the steel:
Pan ðaw yn ðyð yn Nghymru, When dawns the day on Cambry,
Daw Arthur Fawr i fynu Great Arthur forth will sally
Yn fyw—yn fyw o'i feð! Alive to work her weal!
Not so with regard to the hopes associated with the name of Owen Lawgoch; for we have it on Gwynionyð's testimony, p. 464, that our old baledwyr or ballad men used to sing about him at Welsh fairs: it is not in the least improbable that they still do so here and there, unless the horrors of the ghastly murder last reported in the newspapers have been found to pay better. At any rate Mr. Fisher (p. 379) has known old people in his native district in the ILychwr Valley who could repeat stanzas or couplets from the ballads in question. He traces these scraps to a booklet entitled Merlin's Prophecy,19 together with a brief history of his life, taken from the Book of Prognostication. This little book bears no date, but appears to have been published in the early part of the nineteenth century. It is partly in prose, dealing briefly with the history of Merlin the Wild or Silvaticus, and the rest consists of two poems. The first of these poems is entitled Dechreu Darogan Myrðin, 'the Beginning of Merlin's Prognostication,' and is made up of forty-nine verses, several of which speak of Owen as king conquering all his foes and driving out the Saxons: then in the forty-seventh stanza comes the couplet which says, that this,; who is tarrying in a foreign land. The other poem is of a more general character, and is entitled the Second Song of Merlin's Prognostication, and consists of twenty-six stanzas of four lines each like the previous one; but the third stanza describes Arthur's bell and Caerlleon, 'Caerleon,' ringing with great vigour to herald the coming of Owen; and the seventh stanza begins with the following couplet:—
Ceir gweled Owen Law-goch yn d'od i Frydain Fawr,
Ceir gweled newyn ceiniog yn nhref Gaerlleon-gawr.
Owen Lawgoch one shall to Britain coming see,
And dearth of pennies find at Chester on the Dee.
It closes with the date in verse at the end, to wit, 1668, which takes us back to very troublous times: 1668 was the year of the Triple Alliance of England, Sweden, and Holland against Louis XIV; and it was not long after the Plague had raged, and London had had its Great Fire. So it is a matter of no great surprise if some people in Wales had a notion that the power of England was fast nearing its end, and the baledwyr thought it opportune to refurbish and adapt some of Merlin's prophecies as likely to be acceptable to the peasantry of South Wales. At all events we have no reason to suppose that the two poems which have here been described from Mr. Fisher's data represented either the gentry of Wales, whose ordinary speech was probably for the most part English, or the bardic fraternity, who would have looked with contempt at the language and style of the Prognostication. For, apart from careless printing, this kind of literature can lay no claim to merit in point of diction or of metre. Such productions represent probably the baledwyr and the simple country people, such as still listen in rapt attention to them doing at Welsh fairs and markets what they are pleased to regard as singing. All this fits in well enough with the folklore of the caves, such as the foregoing stories represent it. Here I may add that I am informed by Mr. Craigfryn Hughes of a tradition that Arthur and his men are biding their time near Caerleon on the Usk, to wit, in a cave resembling generally those described in the foregoing legends. He also mentions a tradition as to Owen Glyndwr—so he calls him, though it is unmistakably the Owen of the baledwyr who have been referred to by Mr. Fisher—that he and his men are similarly slumbering in a cave in Craig Gwrtheyrn, in Carmarthenshire. That is a spot in the neighbourhood of ILandyssil, consisting of an elevated field terminating on one side in a sharp declivity, with the foot of the rock laved by the stream of the Teifi. Craig Gwrtheyrn means Vortigern's Rock, and it is one of the sites with which legend associates the name of that disreputable old king. I am not aware that it shows any traces of ancient works, but it looks at a distance an ideal site for an old fortification. An earlier prophecy about Owen Lawgoch than any of these occurs, as kindly pointed out to me by Mr. Gwenogvryn Evans, in the Peniarth MS. 94(= Hengwrt MS. 412, p. 23), and points back possibly to the last quarter of the fourteenth century. See also one quoted by him, from the Mostyn MS. 133, in his Report on MSS. in the Welsh Language, i. 106. Probably many more such prophecies might be discovered if anybody undertook to make a systematic search for them.
But who was Owen Lawgoch, if there ever was such a man? Such a man there was undoubtedly; for we read in one of the documents printed in the miscellaneous volume commonly known as the Record of Carnarvon, that at a court held at Conway in the forty fourth year of Edward III a certain Gruffyð Says was adjudged to forfeit all the lands which he held in Anglesey to the Prince of Wales—who was at that time no other than Edward the Black Prince—for the reason that the said Gruffyð had been an adherent of Owen: adherens fuisset Owino Lawegogh (or Lawgogh) inimico et proditori predicti domini Principis et de consilio predicti Owyni ad mouendam guerram in Wallia contra predictum dominum Principem.20 How long previously it had been attempted to begin a war on behalf of this Owen Lawgoch one cannot say, but it so happens that at this time there was a captain called Yeuwains, Yewains, or Yvain de Gales or Galles, 'Owen of Wales,' fighting on the French side against the English in Edward's Continental wars. Froissart in his Chronicles has a great deal to say of him, for he distinguished himself greatly on various critical occasions. From the historian's narrative one finds that Owen had escaped when a boy to the court of Philip VI of France, who received him with great favour and had him educated with his own nephews. Froissart's account of him is, that the king of England, Edward III, had slain his father and given his lordship and principality to his own son as Prince of Wales; and Froissart gives Owen's father's name as Aymon, which should mean Edmond, unless the name intended may have been rather Einion. However that may have been, Owen was engaged in the Battle of Poitiers in 1356, and when peace was made he went to serve in Lombardy; but when war between England and France broke out again in 1369, he returned to France. He sometimes fought on sea and sometimes on land, but he was always entrusted by the French king, who was now Charles V, with important commands.21 Thus in 1372 he was placed at the head of a flotilla with 3,000 men, and ordered to operate against the English: he made a descent on the Isle of Guernsey,22 and while there besieging the castle of Cornet, he was charged by the king of France to sail to Spain to invite the king of Castile to send his fleet again to help in the attack on La Rochelle. Whilst staying at Santander the earl of Pembroke was brought thither, having been taken prisoner in the course of the destruction of the English fleet before La Rochelle. Owen, on seeing the earl of Pembroke, asks him with bitterness if he is come there to do him homage for his land, of which he had taken possession in Wales. He threatens to avenge himself on him as soon as he can, and also on the earl of Hereford and Edward Spencer, for it was by the fathers of these three men, he said, his own father had been betrayed to death. Edward III died in 1377, and the Black Prince had died shortly before. Owen survived them both, and was actively engaged in the siege of Mortagne sur Mer in Poitou, when he was assassinated by one Lamb, who had insinuated himself into his service and confidence, partly by pretending to bring him news about his native land and telling him that all Wales was longing to have him back to be the lord of his country—et lui fist acroire que toute li terre de Gales le desiroient mout á ravoir á seigneur. So Owen fell in the year 1378, and was buried at the church of Saint-Léger,23 while Lamb returned to the English to receive his stipulated pay. When this happened Owen's namesake, Owen Glyndwr, was nearly thirty years of age. The latter was eventually to assert with varying fortune on several fields of battle in this country the claims of his elder kinsman, who, by virtue of his memory in France, would seem to have rendered it easy for the later Owen to enter into friendly relations with the French court of his day.24
Now as to Yvain de Galles, the Rev. Thomas Price (Carnhuanawc) in his Hanes Cymru, 'History of Wales,' devotes a couple of pages, 735-7, to Froissart's account of him, and he points out that Angharad ILwyd, in her edition of Sir John Wynne's History of the Gwydir Family,25 had found Owen Lawgoch to have been Owen ab Thomas ab Rhodri, brother to ILewelyn, the last native prince of Wales. One of the names, however, among other things, forms a difficulty: why did Froissart call Yvain's father Aymon? So it is clear that a more searching study of Welsh pedigrees and other documents, including those at the Record Office,26 has to be made before Owen can be satisfactorily placed in point of succession. For that he was in the right line to succeed the native princes of Wales is suggested both by the eagerness with which all Wales was represented as looking to his return to be the lord of the country, and by the opening words of Froissart in describing what he had been robbed of by Edward III, as being both lordship and principality—la signourie et princeté. Be that as it may, there is, it seems to me, little doubt that Yvain de Galles was no other than the Owen Lawgoch, whose adherent Gruffyð Says was deprived of his land and property in the latter part of Edward's reign. In the next place, there is hardly room for doubt that the Owen Lawgoch here referred to was the same man whom the baledwyr in their jumble of prophecies intended to be Henry the Ninth, that is to say the Welsh successor to the last Tudor king, Henry VIII, and that he was at the same time the hero of the cave legends of divers parts of the Principality, especially South Wales, as already indicated.
Now without being able to say why Owen and his analogues should become the heroes of cave legends contemplating a second advent, it is easy to point to circumstances which facilitated their doing so. It is useless to try to discuss the question of Arthur's disappearance; but take Garry Geerlaug, for instance, a roving Norseman, as we may suppose from his name, who may have suddenly disappeared with his followers, never more to be heard of in the east of Ireland. In the absence of certain news of his death, it was all the easier to imagine that he was dozing quietly away in an enchanted fortress. Then as to King Cadwaladr, who was also, perhaps, to have returned to this world, so little is known concerning his end that historians have no certainty to this day when or where he died. So much the readier therefore would the story gain currency that he was somewhere biding his time to come back to retrieve his lost fortunes. Lastly, there is Owen Lawgoch, the magic of whose name has only been dissipated in our own day: he died in France in the course of a protracted war with the kings of England. It is not likely, then, that the peasantry of Wales could have heard anything definite about his fate. So here also the circumstances were favourable to the cave legend and the dream that he was, whether at home or abroad, only biding his time. Moreover, in all these cases the hope-inspiring delusion gained currency among a discontented people, probably, who felt the sore need of a deliverer to save them from oppression or other grievous hardships of their destiny.
The question can no longer be prevented from presenting itself as to the origin of this idea of a second advent of a hero of the past; but in that form it is too large for discussion here, and it would involve a review, for instance, of one of the cardinal beliefs of the Latterday Saints as to the coming of Christ to reign on earth, and other doctrines supposed to be derived from the New Testament. On the other hand, there is no logical necessity why the expected deliverer should have been in the world before: witness the Jews, who are looking forward not to the return but to the birth and first coming of their Messiah. So the question here may be confined more or less strictly to its cave-legend form; and though I cannot answer it, some advance in the direction whence the answer should come may perhaps be made. In the first place, one will have noticed that Arthur and Owen Lawgoch come more or less in one another's way; and the presumption is that Owen Lawgoch has been to a certain extent ousting Arthur, who may be regarded as having the prior claim, not to mention that in the case of the Gwr Blew cave, p. 481, Owen is made by an apparently recent version of the story to evict from his lair a commonplace robber of no special interest. In other words, the Owen Lawgoch legend is, so to say, detected spreading itself.27 That is very possibly just what had happened at a remoter period in the case of the Arthur legend itself. In other words, Arthur has taken the place of some ancient divinity, such as that dimly brought within our ken by Plutarch in the words placed at the head of this chapter. He reproduces the report of a certain Demetrius, sent by the emperor of Rome to reconnoitre and inspect the coasts of Britain. It was to the effect that around Britain lay many uninhabited islands, some of which are named after deities and some after heroes; and of the islands inhabited, he visited the one nearest to the uninhabited ones. Of this the dwellers were few, but the people of Britain treated them as sacrosanct and inviolable in their persons. Among other things, they related to him how terrible storms, diseases, and portents happened on the occasion of any one of the mighty leaving this life. He adds:— 'Moreover there is, they said, an island in which Cronus is imprisoned, with Briareus keeping guard over him as he sleeps; for, as they put it, sleep is the bond forged for Cronus. They add that around him are many divinities, his henchmen and attendants.'28
What divinity, Celtic or pre-Celtic, this may have been who recalled Cronus or Saturn to the mind of the Roman officer, it is impossible to say. It is to be noticed that he sleeps and that his henchmen are with him, but no allusion is made to treasure. No more is there, however, in Mr. Fisher's version of the story of Ogo'r Ðinas, which, according to him, says that Arthur and his warriors there lie sleeping with their right hands clasping the hilts of their drawn swords, ready to encounter anyone who may venture to disturb their repose. On the other hand, legends about cave treasure are probably very ancient, and in some at least of our stories the safe keeping of such treasure must be regarded as the original object of the presence of the armed host.
The permission supposed to be allowed an intruder to take away a reasonable quantity of the cave gold, I should look at in the light of a sort of protest on the part of the story-teller against the niggardliness of the cave powers. I cannot help suspecting in the same way that the presence of a host of armed warriors to guard some piles of gold and silver for unnumbered ages must have struck the fancy of the story-tellers as disproportionate, and that this began long ago to cause a modification in the form of the legends. That is to say, the treasure sank into a mere accessory of the presence of the armed men, who are not guarding any such thing so much as waiting for the destined hour when they are to sally forth to make lost causes win. Originally the armed warriors were in some instances presumably the henchmen of a sleeping divinity, as in the story told to Demetrius; but perhaps oftener they were the guardians of treasure, just as much as the invisible agencies are, which bring on thunder and lightning and portents when any one begins to dig at Dinas Emrys or other spots where ancient treasure lies hidden. There is, it must be admitted, no objection to regarding the attendants of a divinity as at the same time the guardians of his treasure. In none, however, of these cave stories probably may we suppose the principal figure to have originally been that of the hero expected to return among men: he, when found in them, is presumably to be regarded as a comparatively late interloper. But it is, as already hinted, not to be understood that the notion of a returning hero is itself a late one. Quite the contrary; and the question then to be answered is, Where was that kind of hero supposed to pass his time till his return? There is only one answer to which Welsh folklore points, and that is, In fairyland. This is also the teaching of the ancient legend about Arthur, who goes away to the Isle of Avallon to be healed of his wounds by the fairy maiden Morgen; and, according to an anonymous poet,29 it is in her charms that one should look for the reason why Arthur tarries so long:—
Immodice lœsus Arthurus tendit ad aulam
Regis Avallonis, ubi virgo regia, vulnus
Illius tractans, sanati membra reservat
Ipsa sibi: vivuntque simul, si credere fas est.
Avallon's court see suffering Arthur reach:
His wounds are healed, a royal maid the leech;
His pains assuaged, he now with her must dwell,
If we hold true what ancient legends tell.
Here may be cited by way of comparison Walter Mapes' statement as to the Trinio, concerning whom he was quoted in the first chapter, p. 72 above. He says, that as Trinio was never seen after the losing battle, in which he and his friends had engaged with a neighbouring chieftain, it was believed in the district around ILyn Syfaðon, that Trinio's fairy mother had rescued him from the enemy and taken him away with her to her home in the lake. In the case of Arthur it is, as we have seen, a fairy also or a lake lady that intervenes; and there cannot be much room for doubt, that the story representing him going to fairyland to be healed is far older than any which pictures him sleeping in a cave with his warriors and his gold all around him. As for the gold, however, it is abundantly represented as nowhere more common than in the home of the fairies: so this metal treated as a test cannot greatly help us in essaying the distinction here suggested. With regard to Owen Lawgoch, however, one is not forced to suppose that he was ever believed to have sojourned in Faery: the legendary precedent of Arthur as a cave sleeper would probably suffice to open the door for him to enter the recesses of Craig y Ðinas, as soon as the country folk began to grow weary of waiting for his return. In other words, most of our cave legends have combined together two sets of popular belief originally distinct, the one referring to a hero gone to the world of the fairies and expected some day to return, and the other to a hero or god enjoying an enchanted sleep with his retinue all around him. In some of our legends, however, such as that of ILanciau Eryri, the process of combining the two sets of story has been left to this day incomplete.