The Gwragedd Annwn, Wales



The Gwragedd Annwn are Welsh water faeries, beautiful Lake
Maidens who occasionally take mortals to be their husbands. One 
well-known legend tells of a young man who used to graze his cattle 
by a small lake near the Black Mountains, Wales. One day he saw a most 
enchanting creature rowing gently to and from in a golden boat on the surface 
of the lake. He fell deeply in love with her and offered her some of the bread he 
had brought from home. It was too hard and the beautiful lady disappeared into 
the depths. The young man's mother gave him some unbaked dough to take 
with him the next day and he offered this to the faerie but she answered that 
it was too soft and again disappeared. On the third day his mother gave 
him some lightly baked bread and this passed muster. Three figures 
rose from the lake, an old men with a beautiful daughter on either 
side of him. The girls were identical and the father told the 
young farmer that he was in love if he could point her out. 
The farmer would have given up in despair but
one slightly moved her foot and he, 

recognizing her slipper, 
won her hand



  The water-faerie was given a fine dowry 
and they lived together happily. However, the young 
farmer had been warned that he would lose his beautiful wife
should he striker her three times causelessly. It so happened that, 
although they were indeed blissfully happy, Gwragedd Annwn had 
some curious faerie ways; she might weep at a wedding or laugh and sing 
at the funeral of a child and this eventually led her to her loving husband 
reproving her three times, more by a love-tap than a blow, but this 
was enough and she was forced to leave him. She did not forget 
her sons however and taught them many secrets of medicine 
so that they became famed physicians

 

 Four illustrations by Alan Lee (1947-) of
 the Gwragedd Annwn from the book 'Faeries'
by Alan Lee and Brian Froud.

Purchase the book here: UK & US 


In some Welsh legends, the Gwragedd Annwn inhabit 
beautiful islands that are only visible on New Year's Day and are 
only accessible via a small door in a rock on the mainland. Any mortal 
man lucky enough to find the door will be able to visit the island and find 
himself feted and fed with delicacies by the beautiful inhabitants. Unfortunately, 
the poor fellows always wake up on the shore of the lake on the day after 
New Year's Day and can never find their way back to the enchanted 
island. In these stories, the unhappy mortals 
usually waste away with longing


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