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Criccieth – The fairies of Ystumcegid

On the outskirts of Criccieth, on the way to Cwm Pennant, lies the farm of Ystumcegid. It is not far from the ruins of the mansion Cefn y Fan which was burnt down by Owain Glyndwr. The name of the farm derives from the words Ystum, a bend in the river and Cegid, a poisonous plant (Hemlock in English). In some old documents it is named Ystumcuddiedig. There is a cromlech here; the stones remaining from an ancient burial mound.

The country folk, in times gone by, associated these structures with fairies and many stories abound. In one legend it is called “Coeten Arthur” - Arthur’s Quoit referring to a game played by King Arthur. One day the farmer, whose name we do not know, was walking by the river when he came across a ring of rushes. He accidently kicked it, disturbing some fairies that were coming out to dance. They spirited him away to live amongst themselves which he did for a while. He fell in love with one of them and married her but wanted to return to the land of human beings. His wife agreed but only on condition that he never touched iron and if he did she would return to the land of fairies. With this mutual understanding they went back to his home at Ystumcegid where they lived happily for many years and had several children. One day he was preparing his unruly stallion to go to the fair at Penmorfa but was having trouble. When he attempted to throw the bridle over the horse’s head he missed and it struck his wife. She was very sad and concerned about her children and before she disappeared she recited the following poem. “If my son should feel the cold, Let him wear his father’s coat; If the fair one feels the cold, Let him wear my petticoat.” It was said that there were many descendants of this couple in the district. On Penmorfa Fair Day if a dispute arose and there was bad feeling or even fighting, people would insult those from Cwm Pennant by referring to them as “Belsians” that is
half fairy, half human with yellow skin and dark hair.

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