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Folk stories
Sheep in Wales

Tales Of Wales (page 2)

Page 1: Vicars & Tramps | Page 2: The Lady of the Lake

2: The Lady of the Lake & the Physicians of Myddfai

In the 12th century a young man fell in love with a woman who emerged from the magic lake - Llyn y Fan Fach, in the hills above the village of Myddfai. He was allowed to marry her providing he was faithful, didn't give her three needless blows, nor touch her with iron. She came with a dowry of goats, cattle, sheep and horses. They were very happy and she bore him three sons.

Unfortunately he struck his wife once when she laughed during a funeral, once when she cried at a wedding, and then (to cap it all) he accidently touched her with the metal bit of a bridle as she helped him to harness a horse.

She cried, "You have struck me the last blow. Farewell!" Turning her back on him, she called to the animals to follow her, and disappeared into the lake. The distraught husband drowned in the deep waters of the lake in his frantic search for her.

The lady's three sons often went to the lake, and one day she re-emerged and told Rhiwallon, the eldest, that he must become a man of medicine and be "a benefactor to mankind by giving relief from pain and misery through healing all manner of diseases".

Rhiwallon and his sons Cadwgan, Gruffydd and Einion all became physicians. Their fame spread. They compiled a treatise published in The Red Book of Hergest, containing prescriptions such as this cure for coughs:-

Coarsely powdered mustard seed boiled with figs in strong ale - also for rheumatism, chilblains, and for preventing drunkenness.



The story of Lady of the Lake is a common old Welsh folk tale and it could possibly relate right back to early race memories of meetings between 2 cultures - the Celts and the people of the Bronze Age. In some versions Rhiwallon is described as tall and fair and the lady as small and dark - apparently typical of both races. Bronze Age people often lived on or beside lakes and were noted for their healing powers and understanding of herbal remedies etc. The warlike Celts arrived with the ability to forge iron. Their iron weapons would have struck fear into the hearts of the indigenous people - thus being 'touched' with iron could mean death.

Silage bales take revenge on the farmers in Brecon Beacons National Park

Photo: Silage bales take revenge on local farmers in the Brecon Beacons National Park!

Tourist Info: Llyn y Fan Fach (grid ref SN 802 218) is high up on the escarpment of the Black Mountain (not to be confused with the Black Mountains) at the western end of the Brecon Beacons. Not accessible by bike, but cycling in the Tywi Valley to the west is recommended - around Rhandirmwyn, Cilycwm, Llandovery, Myddfai, Llangadog, Bethlehem, and Llandeilo etc (Ordnance Survey landranger map 146). If you're into hill climbing, try going up around the hamlets of Capel Gwynfe, Llanddeunan, Talsarn and the moorland road to Trecastle (Ordnance Survey landranger map 160). Llandovery would make a good base for a short cycling holiday.

Please note: the photo of a lake at the top of the page is not this lake. It's actually The Lake at Ellesmere, Shropshire (in the northern Welsh Borders).

Now read Vicars & Tramps

See also...

Folk stories from Wales: page 2


Lost Lanes Wales: 36 glorious bike rides in Wales and the Welsh Borders
buy from Amazon
buy from Waterstones

The Story of Wales DVD
from Amazon UK

The Welsh Cake Bookbook
(Flavours of Wales)
from Amazon UK
from Amazon USA