Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 4, 1893.djvu/74

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Sacred Wells in Wales.

explain why there is now a lake where there was once but a well. In other words, the euhemerised version is itself evidence corroborative of Mr. Fisher's older version. This, in the form in which he got it from his grandfather, provokes comparison, as he suggests, with the Irish legend of the formation of Loch Ree and Lough Neagh in the story of the Death of Eochaid McMaireda.[1] In that story also there is a horse, but it is a magic horse, who forms the well which eventually overflows and becomes the large body of water known as Lough Neagh. For the magic well was placed in the charge of a woman called Liban; she one day left the cover of the well open, and the catastrophe took place—the water issuing forth and overflowing the country. Liban herself, however, was not drowned, but only changed into a salmon—a form which she retained for three centuries. In my Arthurian Legend, p. 361, I have attempted to show that the name Liban may have its Welsh equivalent in that of Llion, occurring in the name of Llyn Llion, or Llion's Lake, the bursting of which is described in the latest series of Triads (iii, 13, 97) as causing a sort of deluge. I am not certain as to the nature of the relationship between those names, but it seems evident that the stories have a common substratum, though it is to be noticed that no well, magic or otherwise, figures in the Llyn Llion legend, which makes the presence of the monster called the Avanc the cause of the waters bursting forth. So Hu the Mighty, with his team of famous oxen, is made to drag the monster out of the lake. There is, however, another Welsh legend concerning a great overflow in which a well does figure: I allude to that of Cantre'r Gwaelod, or the Bottom Hundred, a fine spacious country supposed to be submerged

  1. The story may now be consulted in O'Grady's Silva Gadeltca, i, 233-7; translated in ii, 265-9. On turning over the leaves of this splendid collection of Irish lore, I chanced on an allusion to a well which, when uncovered, was about to drown the whole locality, but for a miracle performed by St. Patrick to arrest the flow of its waters. See op. cit., i, 174; ii, 196.