One of the most popular Welsh legends is the story of the Girl of Llyn y Fan Fach, also known as the Lady of the Lake. There are various versions of this ancient tale, which has been passed down through thousands of years of Celtic oral storytelling tradition.
In fact, there are two separate stories with similar titles; a well known one associated with the legends of King Arthur, and a lesser known one which is set in Carmarthenshire in south east Wales. It begins at a lake below the Black Mountains, where a young man was sitting watching his cattle and sheep.
As the man sat daydreaming by the lake shore, a beautiful girl emerged from the water, and walked slowly towards him before disappearing. The man was enchanted by her lovely presence, and when she re-emerged, he begged her to stay. However, the girl would vanish and reappear twice more before the man could convince her to stay with him.
The couple fall in love, and the girl’s father grants them permission to marry. However, there is a special and strange condition attached: the man must not touch his bride three times with metal, or she will go away from him forever. The man readily agrees that he will never do such a thing, and the couple marry and go to live in a nearby village.
The couple live happily and prosper, breeding horses, cattle and sheep which they trade at the local markets. One year the man accidently taps his wife with a horseshoe, and the following year the same happens with a ring. Finally, he manages to accidentally touch her with a bridle, and the lady walks back into the lake, with all their animals following on.
According to The Guardian, Llyn y Fan Fach is home to ancient Stone Age remains, and there is also evidence of Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements. This may explain the significance of the metal in the story, as Stone Age people encountered metal workers for the first time.
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