Corwrion Changeling Legend


Once on a time, in the fourteenth century, the wife of a man at Corwrion

had twins, and she complained one day to the witch who lived close by, at

Tyddyn y Barcut, that the children were not getting on, but that they

were always crying, day and night. 'Are you sure that they are your

children?' asked the witch, adding that it did not seem to her that they

were like hers. 'I have my doubts also,' said the mother. 'I wonder if
somebody has changed children with you,' said the witch. 'I do not

know,' said the mother. 'But why do you not seek to know?' asked the

other. 'But how am I to go about it?' said the mother. The witch

replied, 'Go and do something rather strange before their eyes and watch

what they will say to one another.' 'Well I do not know what I should

do,' said the mother. 'Oh,' said the other, 'take an egg-shell, and

proceed to brew beer in it in a chamber aside, and come here to tell me

what the children will say about it.' She went home and did as the witch

had directed her, when the two children lifted their heads out of the

cradle to see what she was doing, to watch, and to listen. Then one

observed to the other:--'I remember seeing an oak having an acorn,' to

which the other replied, 'And I remember seeing a hen having an egg,' and

one of the two added, 'But I do not remember before seeing anybody brew

beer in the shell of a hen's egg.'

The mother then went to the witch and told her what the twins had said

one to the other, and she directed her to go to a small wooden bridge not

far off, with one of the strange children under each arm, and there to

drop them from the bridge into the river beneath. The mother went back

home again and did as she had been directed. When she reached home this

time, to her astonishment, she found that her own children had been

brought back.

There is one important difference between these two tales. In the

latter, the mother drops the children over the bridge into the waters

beneath, and then goes home, without noticing whether the poor children

had been rescued by the goblins or not, but on reaching her home she

found in the cradle her own two children, presumably conveyed there by

the Fairies. In the first tale, we are informed that she saw the goblins

save their offspring from a watery grave. Subjecting peevish children to

such a terrible ordeal as this must have ended often with a tragedy, but

even in such cases superstitious mothers could easily persuade themselves

that the destroyed infants were undoubtedly the offspring of elfins, and

therefore unworthy of their fostering care. The only safeguard to

wholesale infanticide was the test applied as to the super-human

precociousness, or ordinary intelligence, of the children.

Another version of this tale was related to me by my young friend, the

Rev. D. H. Griffiths, of Clocaenog Rectory, near Ruthin. The tale was

told him by Evan Roberts, Ffriddagored, Llanfwrog. Mr. Roberts is an

aged farmer.