gwartheg y llyn

"kine of the lake." The milk-white Welsh fairy cattle, which were in the possession of the elfin ladies of Llyn Barfor, a lake among the hills near Aberdovey. A farmer who lived near Dyssyrnant managed to catch one of these cows, which had fallen in love with the cattle of his herd. The calves, the quality of the milk and butter which came from this cow had never been seen in Wales before, and the fame of the Fuwch Gyfeiliorn, which was what they called the cow, spread through the country. The farmer, who had been poor before, became rich, and owned vast herds.

After some years the farmer thought the cow was getting old and decided to have the animal butchered. He fattened her up and brought her to the market. The butcher struck the animal between the eyes, and a shriek resounded through the air, as the bludgeon went through the goblin head of the elfin cow, and knocked over nine adjoining men, while the butcher went frantically whirling around. Then the astonished assemblage beheld a green lady standing on a crag high up over the lake, and crying with a loud voice said:

"Dere di felen Einion,
Cyrn Cyfeiliorn — braith y Llyn,
A'r foel Dodin,
Codwch, dewch adre."
"Come yellow Anvil,
Stray horns — speckled one of the lake,
And of the hornless Dodin,
Arise, come home."

The elfin cow arose and went home, taking all her progeny to the third and fourth generations with her, and was never seen again. Only one cow remained of all the farmer's herd, and she had turned from milky white to raven black. In despair the farmer drowned himself in the lake of the green ladies, and the black cow became the progenitor of the existing race of Welsh black cattle.

See also crodh mara.



  • Sikes, W. (1880). British Goblins: Welsh folk-lore, fairy mythology, legends and traditions. London: Sampson Low, pp. 36-37.