Pwyll was ruler of seven parts of Dyfed, in southwest Wales. One day he
decided to go out hunting. So he, his dogs and some men went out in the forest of Glyn
Cuch. His dogs picked up the trail of a stag and he chased after them, leaving his fellow
His pack of dogs was joined by another pack, which was chasing the stag
and then brought it down. The dogs of this strange pack had coats of snow white and
glowing red ears. He chased off these dogs so that his dogs could eat their fill of the
The owner of the strange pack came and insulted Pwyll, for his lack of
honour in allowing his dogs to feed of others' kill.
Pwyll did not think much of him but he offered to do something to win
back his favour. It was then that he learnt the owner of the dogs was Arawn, king of
Annwn, the Celtic Underworld.
Arawn said that another king in Annwn was trying to take over his
territory. Pwyll would go to Arawn's home and pretend to be him for one year. At the end
of the year the encroaching king, King Hafgan, would meet Pwyll, disguised as Arawn, and
Pwyll would have to deal him a deathblow. He was not to hit Hafgan again, as this would
restore him to health. The following day they would meet in the woods again. During this
year Arawn would rule in Pwyll's place.
That night Pwyll feasted in Arawn's court. Arawn's wife was the fairest
lady he had every seen and they were very friendly. When time came for bed, however, Pwyll
turned his back on her for this was not his own wife.
This went on for the entire year.
When the time came he went and met Hafgan. The first blow Pwyll struck
was fatal to Hafgan and despite all his pleadings Pwyll would not strike him again. So
Hafgan had to return home to die.
All the knights present swore allegiance to Arawn, the sole king of
Annwn. By noon the next day the whole of Annwn was under his rule.
The time had come for Pwyll to return to the meeting place. He went
there and found Arawn waiting for him.
They returned to their original appearance and went home.
After a night of feasting Arawn and his wife went to bed. He continued
to be close to her and was surprised at her quiet. Upon being questioned his wife said
that he had been quiet for a year she was surprised at his sudden change. So he told her
what had actually happened over the past year. Pwyll was truly an honourable friend.
When Pwyll questioned his subjects about his reign over the past year
and to found that he had made a wonderful friend.
Sometime later Pwyll was at a feast when he went outside and sat on a
mound called Gorsedd Arberth. He and his men saw a lady on a pearl white horse riding past
and no matter what no one could catch up to her. This happened again the following night.
Then on the third night Pwyll took his own horse and chased after her. He couldn't catch
up to her and so he called out to her to stop and wait for him.
She did and this started a conversation. Her name was Rhiannon,
daughter of Hefeydd. She had been pledged to a man she did not love and she wanted to
marry Pwyll. They decided to meet at her father's house a year from then.
Pwyll went, with a hundred men, and attended the feast. During the
feast a man, Gwawl, walked in and Pwyll granted him what he desired, not knowing that it
was Rhiannon he wanted.
Pwyll and Rhiannon planned that he would attend a feast at her father's
house in a year's time. Pwyll would come dressed as a beggar but a hundred of his men
would hide in the orchards outside. He would take a bag, that had a spell on it, and ask
for it to be filled. The spell was such that the bag could never be filled unless a man of
worth stood on the food inside. The bag would then close up over Gwawl's head and Pwyll
could blow his hunting horn and his men could attack.
A year later things happened as they planned and Rhiannon and Pwyll
Several years later a son was born to them, on the eve of May but he as
stolen, that same night, when his watchers fell asleep. They fooled Rhiannon into thinking
that she had beaten her son to death, by smearing her with the blood of a dead puppy and
placing its bones in her lap. She didn't believe them but she accepted her punishment.
Her punishment was that she had to sit outside by the mounting block,
for seven years, and offer to carry in any man who would let her. Few men allowed her for
the remainder of that year.
On the eve of May, in another place, a man sat watching as his mare
foaled. She always foaled on May-eve but her colts were never found and he wanted to see
what happened to it.
As her colt began to stand a giant claw came through the window and
grabbed the colt. Teyrnon, the man, cut it off at the elbow, trying to stop it. He ran
outside to see what it was but remembering that he had left his door open he rushed back
to see what had happened to the colt. He was there along with a baby boy in swaddling
He and his wife raised this boy, named Grwi. By the end of the year the
boy was like one of three years of age. After two years he was like one of six years of
age and already badgering the stable boys to let him take the horses to water. They still
had the colt that he had found with and they broke it and gave it to the boy.
During this time they heard of Rhiannon and her punishment. They
wondered, for the boy had appeared on the eve of May and he bore a resemblance of Pwyll.
They knew that he was Pywll and Rhiannon's son.
The next day Tyrnon, two knights and Gwri rode towards Arbeth, the home
They found Rhiannon but refused her offer to be carried, instead they
walked with her.
When she heard that the boy was her son she cried out that she could be
delivered of her care, meaning her punishment. And so Gwri was named Pryderi, which means
care in their Celtic language.
Teyrnon refused any reward and he and his two knights returned home
content with the praise that they had received.
Pryderi grew up into a fine king and married the daughter of the high
king of Ireland.