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Lynclys, and Helig ab Glannog's territory including Traeth Lafan.
Perhaps it is best to begin with historical events, namely those implied in the encroachment of the sea and the sand on the coast of Glamorganshire, from the Mumbles, in Gower, to the mouth of the Ogmore, below Bridgend. It is believed that formerly the shores of Swansea Bay were from three to five miles further out than the present strand, and the oyster dredgers point to that part of the bay which they call the Green Grounds, while trawlers, hovering over these sunken meadows of the Grove Island, declare that they can sometimes see the foundations of the ancient homesteads overwhelmed by a terrific storm which raged some three centuries ago. The old people sometimes talk of an extensive forest called Coed Arian, Silver Wood,' stretching from the foreshore of the Mumbles to Kenfig Burrows, and there is a tradition of a longlost bridle path used by many generations of Mansels, Mowbrays, and Talbots, from Penrice Castle to Margam Abbey. All this is said to be corroborated by the fishing up every now and then in Swansea Bay of stags' antlers, elks' horns, those of the wild ox, and wild boars' tusks, together with the remains of other ancient tenants of the submerged forest. Various references in the registers of Swansea and Aberavon mark successive stages in the advance of the desolation from the latter part of the fifteenth century down. Among others a great sandstorm is mentioned, which overwhelmed the borough of Cynffig or Kenfig, and encroached on the coast generally : the series of catastrophes seems to have culminated in an inundation caused by a terrible tidal wave in the early part of the year 1607'.
1 For most of my information on this subject I have to thank Mr. David Davies, editor of the South Wales Daily Post, published at Swansea.
To return to Kenfig, what remains of that old town is near the sea, and it is on all sides surrounded by hillocks of finely powdered sand and flanked by ridges of the same fringing the coast. The ruins of several old buildings half buried in the sand peep out of the ground, and in the immediate neighbourhood is Kenfig Pool, which is said to have a circumference of nearly two miles. When the pool formed itself I have not been able to discover: from such accounts as have come in my way I should gather that it is older than the growing spread of the sand, but the island now to be seen in it is artificial and of modern makel. The story relating to the lake is given as follows in the volume of the Iolo Manuscripts, p. 194, and the original, from which I translate, is crisp, compressed, and, as I fancy, in lolo's own words:
“A plebeian was in love with Earl Clare's daughter : she would not have him as he was not wealthy. He took to the highway, and watched the agent of the lord of the dominion coming towards the castle from collecting his lord's money. He killed him, took the money, and produced the coin, and the lady married him. A splendid banquet was held : the best men of the country were invited, and they made as merry as possible. On the second night the marriage was consummated, and when happiest one heard a voice : all ear one listened and caught the words, “Vengeance comes, vengeance comes, vengeance comes," three times. One asked, "When ?” “In the ninth generation (ách),” said the voice. "No reason for us to fear,” said the married pair ; "we shall be under the mould long before.” They lived on, however, and a goresgynnya,
"I am indebted for this information to Mr. J. Herbert James of Vaynor, who visited Kenfig lately and has called my attention to an article headed "The Borough of Kenfig,' in the Archæologia Cambrensis for 1898: see more especially the maps at pp. 138-42.
that is to say, a descendant of the sixth direct generation, was born to them, also to the murdered man a goresgynnya, who, seeing that the time fixed was come, visited Kenfig. This was a discreet youth of gentle manners, and he looked at the city and its splendour, and noted that nobody owned a furrow or a chamber there except the offspring of the murderer: he and his wife were still living. At cockcrow he heard a cry, “Vengeance is come, is come, is come.” It is asked, “On whom?” and answered, "On him who murdered my father of the ninth âch.” He rises in terror: he goes towards the city; but there is nothing to see save a large lake with three chimney tops above the surface emitting smoke that formed a stinking ...' On the face of the waters the gloves of the murdered man float to the young man's feet: he picks them up, and sees on them the murdered man's name and arms; and he hears at dawn of day the sound of praise to God rendered by myriads joining in heavenly music. And so the story ends.'
On this coast is another piece of water in point, namely Crymlyn, or 'Crumlin Pool,' now locally called the Bog. It appears also to have been sometimes called Pwllt Cynan, after the name of a son of Rhys ab Tewdwr, who, in his flight after his father's defeat on Hirwaen Wrgan, was drowned in its waters?. It lies
Here the Welsh has a word edafwr, the exact meaning of which escapes me, and I gather from the remarks of local etymologers that no such word is now in use in Glamorgan.
? See the Book of Aberpergwm, printed as Brut y Tywysogion, in the Myvyrian Archaiology, ii. 524; also Morgan's Antiquarian Survey of East Gower, p. 66, where the incident is given from 'Brut y Tywysogion, A. D. 1088.' It is, however, not in what usually passes by the name of Brut y Tywysogion, but comes, as the author kindly informs me, from a volume entitled ' Brut y Tywysogion, the Gwentian Chronicle of Caradoc of Lancarvan, with a translation by the late Aneurin Owen, and printed for the Cambrian Archæological Association, 1863': see pp. 70-1.
on Lord Jersey's estate, at a distance of about one mile east of the mouth of the Tawe, and about a quarter of a mile from high-water mark, from which it is separated by a strip of ground known in the neighbourhood as Crymlyn Burrows. The name Crymlyn means Crooked Lake, which, I am told, describes the shape of this piece of water. When the bog becomes a pool it encloses an island consisting of a little rocky hillock showing no trace of piles, or walling, or any other handiwork of man? The story about this pool also is that it covers a town buried beneath its waters. Mr. Wirt Sikes' reference to it has already been mentioned, and I have it on the evidence of a native of the immediate neighbourhood, that he has often heard his father and grandfather talk about the submerged town. Add to this that Cadrawd, to whom I have had already (pp. 23, 376) to acknowledge my indebtedness, speaks in the columns of the South Wales Daily News for February 15, 1899, of Crymlyn as follows :
It was said by the old people that on the site of this bog once stood the old town of Swansea, and that in clear and calm weather the chimneys and even the church steeple could be seen at the bottom of the lake, and in the loneliness of the night the bells were often heard ringing in the lake. It was also said that should any person happen to stand with his face towards the lake when the wind is blowing across the lake, and if any of the spray of that water should touch his clothes, it would be only with the greatest difficulty he could save himself from being attracted or sucked into the water. The lake was at one time much larger than at present. The efforts made to drain it have drawn a good deal of the water from it, but only to convert it
· For this also I have to thank Mr. Herbert James, who recently inspected the spot with Mr. Glascodine of Swansea.
into a bog, which no one can venture to cross except
in exceptionally dry seasons or hard frost.'
On this I wish to remark in passing, that, while common sense would lead one to suppose that the wind blowing across the water would help the man facing it to get away whenever he chose, the reasoning here is of another order, one characteristic in fact of the ways and means of sympathetic magic. For specimens in point the reader may be conveniently referred to page 360, where he may compare the words quoted from Mr. Hartland, especially as to the use there mentioned of stones or pellets thrown from one's hands. In the case of Crymlyn, the wind blowing off the face of the water into the onlooker's face and carrying with it some of the water in the form of spray which wets his clothes, howsoever little, was evidently regarded as establishing a link of connexion between him and the body of the water-or shall I say rather, between him and the divinity of the water ?—and that this link was believed to be so strong that it required the man's utmost effort to break it and escape being drawn in and drowned like Cynan. The statement, supremely silly as it reads, is no modern invention ; for one finds that Nennius—or somebody else-reasoned in precisely the same way, except that for a single onlooker he substitutes a whole army of men and horses, and that he points the antithesis by distinctly stating, that if they kept their backs turned to the fascinating flood they would be out of danger. The conditions which he had in view were, doubtless, that the men should face the water and have their clothing more or less wetted by the spray from it. The passage (869) to which I refer is in the Mirabilia, and Geoffrey of Monmouth is found to repeat it in a somewhat better style of Latin (ix. 7): the following is the Nennian version :