tylwyth teg

"Fair family." The fairies of Welsh folklore. The tylwyth teg live in caves and on mountains, and are seen dancing in moon-lit nights on the velvety grass, clad in airy and flowing robes of blue, green, white, or scarlet. They never speak and only communicate by signs, and are versed in country lore. They are unable to touch iron. Although they are generally friendly, if mischievous, they covet golden-haired human children and will often kidnap them, leaving changelings or crimbils in their place. This plentyn-newid ("change-child") has the exact appearance of the stolen infant, at first; but it soon grows ugly of face, shriveled of form, ill-tempered, etc.

A lengthened form is y tylwyth teg yn y coed, "the fair family in the wood," or tylwyth teg y mwn, "the fair family of the mine." They are called Bendith y Mamau, "the Mother's Blessing," in Glamorgan. To name fairies by a harsh epithet is to invoke their anger while speaking of them in flattering phrase is to propitiate their good offices.

Goats were believed to on very good terms with the tylwyth teg, who every Friday night comb goats' beards to make them decent for Sunday.



  • Cooper, J.C., ed. (1997). Brewer's Book of Myth and Legend. Oxford: Helicon Publishing Ltd.
  • Sikes, W. (1880). British Goblins: Welsh folk-lore, fairy mythology, legends and traditions. London: Sampson Low, pp. 12, 54, 56.