Coblynau Or Knockers

: Welsh Folk-lore

have been described as a species of Fairies,

whose abode was within the rocks, and whose province it was to indicate

to the miners by the process of knocking, etc., the presence of rich

lodes of lead or other metals in this or that direction of the mine.

That the words Tylwyth Teg and Ellyll are convertible terms appears

from the following stanza, which is taken from the Cambrian Magazine,

vol. ii, p. 58.
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Pan dramwych ffridd yr Ywen,

Lle mae Tylwyth Teg yn rhodien,

Dos ymlaen, a phaid a sefyll,

Gwilia'th droed--rhag dawnsva'r Ellyll.

When the forest of the Yew,

Where Fairies haunt, thou passest through,

Tarry not, thy footsteps guard

From the Goblins' dancing sward.

Although the poet mentions the Tylwyth Teg and Ellyll as identical,

he might have done so for rhythmical reasons. Undoubtedly, in the first

instance a distinction would be drawn between these two words, which

originally were intended perhaps to describe two different kinds of

beings, but in the course of time the words became interchangeable, and

thus their distinctive character was lost. In English the words Fairies

and elves are used without any distinction. It would appear from Brand's

Popular Antiquities, vol. II., p. 478., that, according to Gervase of

Tilbury, there were two kinds of Goblins in England, called Portuni and

Grant. This division suggests a difference between the Tylwyth Teg

and the Ellyll. The Portuni, we are told, were very small of stature

and old in appearance, statura pusilli, dimidium pollicis non

habentes, but then they were senili vultu, facie corrugata. The

wrinkled face and aged countenance of the Portuni remind us of nursery

Fairy tales in which the wee ancient female Fairy figures. The pranks of

the Portuni were similar to those of Shakespeare's Puck. The species

Grant is not described, and consequently it cannot be ascertained how

far they resembled any of the many kinds of Welsh Fairies. Gervase,

speaking of one of these species, says:--If anything should be to be

carried on in the house, or any kind of laborious work to be done, they

join themselves to the work, and expedite it with more than human


In Scotland there were at least two species of elves, the Brownies and

the Fairies. The Brownies were so called from their tawny colour, and

the Fairies from their fairness. The Portuni of Gervase appear to have

corresponded in character to the Brownies, who were said to have employed

themselves in the night in the discharge of laborious undertakings

acceptable to the family to whose service they had devoted themselves.

The Fairies proper of Scotland strongly resembled the Fairies of Wales.

The term Brownie, or swarthy elve, suggests a connection between them

and the Gwylliaid Cochion, or Red Fairies of Wales.