LIFE ON THE FRINGE - 9: More Demons, Heroes and Tongue-twisters from Wales

These pleasant green fields and hills belie a turbulent mythological past, or sorcery, jealousy and greed

Rolling countryside leading to the mountains - what we think of at the mention of Wales - Cymru to native speakers
Rolling countryside leading to the mountains - what we think of at the mention of Wales - Cymru to native speakers | Source
Would Hafgan the dueller have looked like this? In thinking he had slain Arawn he had instead killed Pwyll
Would Hafgan the dueller have looked like this? In thinking he had slain Arawn he had instead killed Pwyll | Source

Hafgan, Hefeydd Hen, Heilyn and Heinin

HAFGAN in Welsh mythology means 'Summer White'. He was a rival and opponent of Arawn, king of Annwn, with whom he engaged yearly in single combat. By legend Hafgan was slain by Pwyll and not Arawn. As punishment for a hunting offence Pwyll had become Arawn for a year, during which the yearly combat took place. Pwyll had been forewarned by Arawn that should Hafgan be killed, it could only be achieved by a single blow. With a second blow he would recover. Knowing this Pwyll struck Hafgan once only and ignored Hafgan's plea to put him out of his death agony with a second blow;

HEFEYDD HEN ('Hen' meant 'old' or 'ancient' - past it?) was the father of Rhiannon, Pwyll's wife;

HEILYN was one of the Britons who lived through the hard war in the .land of the Gaels between Matholwch and Benigeid Vran. Heilyn is thought to have opened the magic door through which the seven survivors escaped from the island at Gwales. He had spent four-score years there on the way back from Ireland after the war ended;.

HEININ was the chief bard - poet and historian - at the court of King Arthur at Camelot at the time Taliesin showed there. A bard was important to spread news or stories of the good deeds of kings and noblemen

Forge your way through the legends of heroes, villains and monsters of the days of Arthur and Merlin, otherworldly beings and other nightmarish characters from early Briton lore, Morgan the Fay and her son Mordred will speed Arthur's end at his last battle with the Saxons.

Helena, empress and saint

Coins of the Eastern Roman empire showing the empress Helena
Coins of the Eastern Roman empire showing the empress Helena | Source
and Helena as saint, shown in this statue of her at St Peter's Basilica, Vatican.
and Helena as saint, shown in this statue of her at St Peter's Basilica, Vatican. | Source

Helena, Helig ap Glannowg, Hir Atrym and Hir Erwn

HELENA, was the daughter of King Coel, thought to be the founder of a settlement where the Romans built Colchester. In legend she married Constantius Chlorus, the Roman emperor after peace was agreed between him and Coel, ending a three year siege invested by the Romans. Their son was Constantine 'the Great'. An early convert to Christianity and instrumental in converting her son. On pilgrimage to the Holy Land she is said to have found a fragment of the true cross;

HELIG AP GLANNOWG was the ruler of one of the Welsh kingdoms in the 6th Century. This kingdom is said to have lain about ten miles out to sea from Colwyn Bay. After the 19th Century sightings were said to have been made of the ruins of Helig's palace;

HIR ATRYM and HIR ERWN were legendary brothers of Culhwch and Olwen. These brothers' appetites saw them consuming any amount of food put before them before they laid waste to the land around them

Hwychdwn, Hydwn and Bleddyn

HWYCHDWN was the second son of the brothers Gwydion Fab Don and Gilfaethwy and brother to Hydwn in Welsh lore. Hwychdwn was born when the brothers were in the second year of their punishment in animal shape and was thus born in the form of a wild hog. He was metamorphosed into human shape by Math Fab Mathonwy who had imposed the punishment on his parents. (By the nature of the curse one of the brothers had to be the female animal);

HYDWN was the first son of Gwydion Fab Don and Gilfaethwy. He was born in the form of a fawn at the time the brothers had been condemned by Math Fab Mathonwy to one year each as deer, as wild swine and as wolves for the rape of Goewin. Another part of their punishment was that they had to produce offspring by the end of each successive year according to whatever form they were then.

The third offspring, BLEDDYN was born as a wolf - each was changed into human form by Math at the end of the punishment

Next: Beginning with the Gaels

Hog, fawn, wolf - the three sons of the brothers cursed by Math

Hydwn was born in the second year of punishment as a piglet
Hydwn was born in the second year of punishment as a piglet | Source
Hwychdwn, born in the first year of the brothers' punishment as a fawn
Hwychdwn, born in the first year of the brothers' punishment as a fawn | Source
The third son, Bleddyn born in the third year of the brothers' punishment as a wolf cub. All three were metamorphosed into human shape after the third year by Math Fab Mathonwy
The third son, Bleddyn born in the third year of the brothers' punishment as a wolf cub. All three were metamorphosed into human shape after the third year by Math Fab Mathonwy | Source

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6 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

What? Am I the only one reading this stuff? Well they are all missing out on a great education and entertainment. I'm glad I am the wise one on HP who ventures into your gated community. Thank you Alan!


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Gate's kept open for interested visitors (it only gets shut to stop strays). Maybe once a few readers see you looking at my 'shop window' there'll be a few more on the block on their way.

Nice to see you here, Bill. Stand there looking long enough and we might get a crowd along.

I'm going to start the Gaelic batch tonight. Got your Guinness - or Bushmills?


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

You're not the only one reading! Interesting to compare some of the names and stories with Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles which I enjoyed growing up. Not that Alexander ever claimed his stories had much to do with the actual legends, but the similarities are interesting.


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

Hello again Aethelthryth. Have you read about your namesake, the innkeeper's wife at the 'Eel Trap' in 'the old city of London in RAVENFEAST' (last couple of chapters)?

Nice of you to stop by and share your observations. I daresay there will be variations, depending on sources. I've come across a few discrepancies between a book I was reading and Wikipedia. Prydain was the Celts' name for Britain, from which the Romans derived Britannia - am I right?


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

Sorry, missed that about another Aethelthryth!

I think you are right about "Prydain", though being from the American Southwest I know more about Spanish names than Romano-British! By the way, one of your pictures in a Hub some time back reminded me of the Southwestern joke - I mean legend - of the jackalope (http://www.jackalope.com/legend-of-jackalope)


alancaster149 profile image

alancaster149 3 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) Author

You might be interested that Celts from the Iberian peninsula arrived in Hibernia (Ireland to you) BC. There are one or two legends linked with that migration, and another one from Hibernia to somewhere north of Greece/Thrace.

The Spaniards at the time of the colonisation of the Americas were a mix of Celts (migrated from Helvetia and Gaul), Visigoths (started in Scandinavia, migrated to the Caspian Sea area and west via Rome to the Iberian peninsula) and then there were the Berbers who at one stage reached the Pyrenees fighting Charlemagne's son Roland).

As for Aethelthryth, she's in the back end of the book 'RAVENFEAST' and near the beginning of 'OVERTHROWN', not on the Hub page.

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