LIFE ON THE FRINGE - 9: More Gallic Demons and Heroes
These pleasant green fields and hills, grazing sheep and cattle, belie a turbulent mythological past, of sorcery, jealousy and greed
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. Above all his task was to entertain. Nothing helped a feast more than a good yarn, told well with drama.
Forge your way through the legends of heroes. Travel back through the mists of time, meet villains and monsters of the days of Arthur and Merlin and earlier. Otherworldly beings and other nightmarish characters emerge from early Briton lore. Morgan the Fay and her son Mordred will speed Arthur's end in his last battle with the Saxons... The hand will rise from the waters and catch Excalibur, the sword drawn from the stone by Arthur in his youth.
Helena, empress and saint
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; Constantine would establish an empire in the east that rivalled Rome and eventually expanded beyond the Black Sea. We would know the empire in its heyday as Byzantium, its emperors including Basil 'the Bulgar-slayer' and Alexios Komnenos (more on him elsewhere, in the VIKING series in relation to the Varangian Guard).
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 metamorphosed into human form by Math at the end of the punishment.
Next: Beginning with the Gaels