Explore: For another haunted lake, see The Men of Ardudwy. For other supernatural monsters, see John Gethin and the Candle.
[notes by LKG]
This story is part of the Welsh Fairy Tales unit. Story source: The Welsh Fairy Book by W. Jenkyn Thomas with illustrations by Willy Pogány (1908).
Before that time no one lived therein, but it was full of bears, wolves, beavers, and Bannog oxen; no one, therefore, has a right to the Isle of Britain but the Cymry, for they first settled in it. They gave to it the name of the Honey Island, on account of the great quantity of honey they found (Britain is a later name). Hu ruled them with justice, establishing wise regulations and religious rites, and those who through God's grace had received poetic genius were made teachers of wisdom. Through their songs, history and truth were preserved throughout the ages until the art of writing was discovered.
Some time after they came to the Honey Island, the Cymry were much troubled by a monster called an Afanc, which broke the banks of Llyn Llion, in which it dwelt, and flooded their lands. No spear, dart, or arrow made any impression upon its hide, so Hu Gadarn resolved to drag it from its abode and to place it where it could do no harm. A girl enticed it from its watery haunt, and while it slept with its head on her knees it was bound with long iron chains. When it woke and perceived what had been done, it got up, and, tearing off its sweetheart's breast in revenge, hurried to its old refuge.
But the chains were fastened to Hu Gadarn's team of Bannog oxen, which pulled it out of the lake and dragged it through the mountains to Llyn y Ffynnon Las, the Lake of the Green Well, in Cwm Dyli, in Snowdonia. A pass through which they laboured has ever since been called Bwlch Rhiw'r Ychen, the Pass of the Slope of the Oxen. One of the oxen dropped one of its eyes through its exertions in this defile, and the place is styled Gwaun Llygad Ych, the Moor of the Ox's Eye. A pool was formed where the eye fell, which is known as Pwll Llygad Ych, the Pool of the Ox's Eye; this pool is never dry, though no water rises in it or flows into it except when rain falls, and no water flows out of it, but it is always of the same depth, reaching just to the knee-joint.
The Afanc could not burst the banks of the Lake of the Green Well, but it is still dangerous to go near it. If a sheep falls into the lake it is at once dragged down to the bottom, and it is not safe even for a bird to fly across it.
Next: The Devil's Bridge