A Three Hours Fairy Dance Seeming As A Few Minutes


The Rev. R. Jones's mother, when a young unmarried woman, started one

evening from a house called Tyddyn Heilyn, Penrhyndeudraeth, to her home,

Penrhyn isaf, accompanied by their servant man, David Williams, called on

account of his great strength and stature, Dafydd Fawr, Big David. David

was carrying home on his back a flitch of bacon. The night was dark, but

calm. Williams walked somewhat in the rear of his young mistress, an

she, thinking he was following, went straight home. But three hours

passed before David appeared with the pork on his back.

He was interrogated as to the cause of his delay, and in answer said he

had only been about three minutes after his young mistress. He was told

that she had arrived three hours before him, but this David would not

believe. At length, however, he was convinced that he was wrong in his

time, and then he proceeded to account for his lagging behind as


He observed, he said, a brilliant meteor passing through the air, which

was followed by a ring or hoop of fire, and within this hoop stood a man

and woman of small size, handsomely dressed. With one arm they embraced

each other, and with the other they took hold of the hoop, and their feet

rested on the concave surface of the ring. When the hoop reached the

earth these two beings jumped out of it, and immediately proceeded to

make a circle on the ground. As soon as this was done, a large number of

men and women instantly appeared, and to the sweetest music that ear ever

heard commenced dancing round and round the circle. The sight was so

entrancing that the man stayed, as he thought, a few minutes to witness

the scene. The ground all around was lit up by a kind of subdued light,

and he observed every movement of these beings. By and by the meteor

which had at first attracted his attention appeared again, and then the

fiery hoop came to view, and when it reached the spot where the dancing

was, the lady and gentleman who had arrived in it jumped into the hoop,

and disappeared in the same manner in which they had reached the place.

Immediately after their departure the Fairies vanished from sight, and

the man found himself alone and in darkness, and then he proceeded

homewards. In this way he accounted for his delay on the way.

In Mr. Sikes's British Goblins, pp. 79-81, is a graphic account of a

mad dance which Tudur ap Einion Gloff had with the Fairies, or Goblins,

at a place called Nant-yr-Ellyllon, a hollow half way up the hill to

Castell Dinas Bran, in the neighbourhood of Llangollen. All night, and

into the next day, Tudur danced frantically in the Nant, but he was

rescued by his master, who understood how to break the spell, and release

his servant from the hold the Goblins had over him! This he did by

pronouncing certain pious words, and Tudur returned home with his master.

Mr. Evan Davies, carpenter, Brynllan, Efenechtyd, who is between seventy

and eighty years old, informed the writer that his friend John Morris

told him that he had seen a company of Fairies dancing, and that they

were the handsomest men and women that he had ever seen. It was night

and dark, but the place on which the dance took place was strangely

illuminated, so that every movement of the singular beings could be

observed, but when the Fairies disappeared it became suddenly quite dark.

Although from the tales already given it would appear that the Fairies

held revelry irrespective of set times of meeting, still it was thought

that they had special days for their great banquets, and the eve of the

first of May, old style, was one of these days, and another was Nos Wyl

Ifan, St. John's Eve, or the evening of June 23rd.

Thus sings Glasynys, in Y Brython, vol. iii. p. 270:--

Nos Wyl Ifan.

Tylwyth Teg yn lluoedd llawen,

O dan nodded tawel Dwynwen,

Welir yn y cel encilion,

Yn perori mwyn alawon,

Ac yn taenu hyd y twyni,

Ac ar leiniau'r deiliog lwyni,

Hud a Lledrith ar y glesni,

Ac yn sibrwd dwyfol desni!

I am indebted to my friend Mr Richard Williams, F.R.H.S., Newtown,

Montgomeryshire, for the following translation of the preceding Welsh


The Fairy Tribe in merry crowds,

Under Dwynwen's calm protection,

Are seen in shady retreats

Chanting sweet melodies,

And spreading over the bushes

And the leafy groves

Illusion and phantasy on all that is green,

And whispering their mystic lore.

May-day dances and revelling have reached our days, and probably they

have, like the Midsummer Eve's festivities, their origin in the far off

times when the Fairy Tribe inhabited Britain and other countries, and to

us have they bequeathed these Festivals, as well as that which ushers in

winter, and is called in Wales, Nos glan gaua, or All Hallow Eve. If

so, they have left us a legacy for which we thank them, and they have

also given us a proof of their intelligence and love of nature.

But I will now briefly refer to Fairy doings on Nos Wyl Ifan as

recorded by England's greatest poet, and, further on, I shall have more

to say of this night.

Shakespeare introduces into his Midsummer Night's Dream the prevailing

opinions respecting Fairies in England, but they are almost identical

with those entertained by the people of Wales; so much so are they

British in character, that it is no great stretch of the imagination to

suppose that he must have derived much of his information from an

inhabitant of Wales. However, in one particular, the poet's description

of the Fairies differs from the more early opinion of them in Wales.

Shakespeare's Fairies are, to a degree, diminutive; they are not so small

in Wales. But as to their habits in both countries they had much in

common. I will briefly allude to similarities between English and Welsh

Fairies, confining my remarks to Fairy music and dancing.

To begin, both danced in rings. A Fairy says to Puck:--

And I serve the Fairy Queen

To dew her orbs upon the green.

Midsummer Night's Dream, Act II., S I.

And allusion is made in the same play to these circles in these words:--

If you will patiently dance in our round

And see our moonlight revels, go with us.

Act II., S. I.

Then again Welsh and English Fairies frequented like spots to hold their

revels on. I quote from the same play:--

And now they never meet in grove or green,

By fountain clear, or spangled starlight sheen.

Act II., S. I.

And again:--

And never since the middle summer's spring

Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead

By paved fountain or by rushy brook

Or by the beached margent of the sea,

To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind.

Act II., S. I

And further the Fairies in both countries meet at night, and hold their

Balls throughout the hours of darkness, and separate in early morn. Thus

Puck addressing Oberon:--

Fairy King, attend and hark;

I do hear the morning lark.

Act IV., S. I.

Now until the break of day

Through this house each Fairy stray

. . . . . .

. . . . . .

Trip away, make no stay,

Meet we all at break of day.

Act V., S. I.

In the Welsh tales given of Fairy dances the music is always spoken of as

most entrancing, and Shakespeare in felicitous terms gives utterance to

the same thought--

Music, lo! music, such as charmeth sleep.

I am indebted to the courtesy of the Rev. R. O. Williams, M.A., Vicar of

Holywell, for the following singular testimony to Fairy dancing. The

writer was the Rev. Dr. Edward Williams, at one time of Oswestry, and

afterwards Principal of the Independent Academy at Rotherham in

Yorkshire, who was born at Glan Clwyd, Bodfari, Nov. 14th, 1750, and died

March 9, 1813. The extract is to be seen in the autobiography of Dr.

Williams, which has been published, but the quotation now given is copied

from the doctor's own handwriting, which now lies before me.

It may be stated that Mr. Wirt Sikes, in his British Goblins, refers to

the Dwarfs of Cae Caled, Bodfari, as Knockers, but he was not justified,

as will be seen from the extract, in thus describing them. For the sake

of reference the incident shall be called--The Elf Dancers of Cae Caled.