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Llyn Du'r Arddu

In 'Celtic Folklore Welsh And Manx' (1901) John Rhys describes the following tale he was told concerning a fairy bride in the summer of 1881. ‘An old woman, called Siân Dafydd, lived at Helfa Fawr, in the dingle called Cwm. Brwynog, along the left side of which you ascend as you go to the top of Snowdon, from the village of lower Llanberis, or Coed y Ddol, as it is there called. She was a curious old person, who made nice distinctions between the virtues of the respective waters of the district: thus, no other would do for her to cure her of the defaid gwylltion, or cancerous warts, which she fancied that she had in her mouth, than that of the spring of Tai Bach, near the lake called Llyn Ffynnon y Gwas, though she seldom found it out, when she was deceived by a servant who cherished a convenient opinion of his own, that a drop from a nearer spring would do just as well. Old Siân has been dead over thirty-five years, but I have it, on the testimony of two highly trustworthy brothers, who are of her family, and now between sixty and seventy years of age, that she used to relate to them how a shepherd, once on a time, saw a fairy maiden (un o'r Tylwyth Teg) on the surface of the tarn called Llyn Du'r Arddu, and how, from bantering and joking, their acquaintance ripened into courtship, when the father and mother of the lake maiden appeared to give the union their sanction, and to arrange the marriage settlement. This was to the effect that the husband was never to strike his wife with iron, and that she was to bring her great wealth with her, consisting of stock of all kinds for his mountain farm. All duly took place, and they lived happily together until one day, when trying to catch a pony, the husband threw a bridle to his wife, and the iron in that struck her. It was then all over with him, as the wife hurried away with her property into the lake, so that nothing more was seen or heard of her. Here I may as well explain that the Llanberis side of the steep, near the top of Snowdon, is called Clogwyn du'r Arddu, or the Black Cliff of the Arddu, at the bottom of which lies the tarn alluded to as the Black Lake of the Arddu, and near it stands a huge boulder, called Maen du'r Arddu, all of which names are curious, as involving the word du, black. Arddu itself has much the same meaning, and refers to the whole precipitous side of the summit with its dark shadows, and there is a similar Arddu near Nanmor on the Merionethshire side of Beddgelert.

One of the brothers, I ought to have said, doubts that the lake here mentioned was the one in old Siân's tale; but he has forgotten which it was of the many in the neighbourhood.’

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