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Llanfwrog Changeling Legend


Source: Welsh Folk-lore

A mother took her child to the gleaning field, and left it sleeping under
the sheaves of wheat whilst she was busily engaged gleaning. The Fairies
came to the field and carried off her pretty baby, leaving in its place
one of their own infants. At the time, the mother did not notice any
difference between her own child and the one that took its place, but
after awhile she observed with grief that the baby she was nursing did
not thrive, nor did it grow, nor would it try to walk. She mentioned
these facts to her neighbours, and she was told to do something strange
and then listen to its conversation. She took an egg-shell and pretended
to brew beer in it, and she was then surprised to hear the child, who had
observed her actions intently, say:--

Mi welais fesen gan dderwen,
Mi welais wy gan iar,
Ond ni welais i erioed ddarllaw
Mewn cibyn wy iar.

I have seen an oak having an acorn,
I have seen a hen having an egg,
But I never saw before brewing
In the shell of a hen's egg.

This conversation proved the origin of the precocious child who lay in
the cradle. The stanza was taken down from Roberts's lips. But he could
not say what was done to the fairy changeling.

In Ireland a plan for reclaiming the child carried away by the Fairies
was to take the Fairy's changeling and place it on the top of a dunghill,
and then to chant certain invocatory lines beseeching the Fairies to
restore the stolen child.

There was, it would seem, in Wales, a certain form of incantation
resorted to to reclaim children from the Fairies, which was as
follows:--The mother who had lost her child was to carry the changeling
to a river, but she was to be accompanied by a conjuror, who was to take
a prominent part in the ceremony. When at the river's brink the conjuror
was to cry out:--

Crap ar y wrach--

A grip on the hag;

and the mother was to respond--

Rhy hwyr gyfraglach--

Too late decrepit one;

and having uttered these words, she was to throw the child into the
stream, and to depart, and it was believed that on reaching her home she
would there find her own child safe and sound.

I have already alluded to the horrible nature of such a proceeding. I
will now relate a tale somewhat resembling those already given, but in
this latter case, the supposed changeling became the mainstay of his
family. I am indebted for the Gors Goch legend to an essay, written by
Mr. D. Williams, Llanfachreth, Merionethshire, which took the prize at
the Liverpool Eisteddfod, 1870, and which appears in a publication called
Y Gordofigion, pp. 96, 97, published by Mr. I. Foulkes, Liverpool.

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