The Cave of the Young Men of Snowdonia – The Welsh Fairy Book

I don’t think anyone would be surprised to learn that a lover and writer of fantasy fiction would also have a love of ancient folk tales. Years ago, when I learned that Diana Gabaldon listed The Welsh Fairy Book as one of her sources/inspirations for Outlander, I knew I had to have a copy. The story below is short and sweet, but it always stuck out in my mind due to the power of the imagery. Please enjoy!

The Welsh Fairy Book – W. Jenny Thomas, published 1907

The Cave of the Young Men of Snowdonia

Countless as were the warriors of Arthur in the cave of Craig y Dinas, there is yet another army of them sleeping in Snowdonia.

Their resting-place is in the steep cliff which is on the left-hand side near the top of Llyn Llydaw. This is how it was discovered. A sheep fell down to a shelf in this precipice, and the Cwm Dyli shepherd, who was a famous climber, with infinite trouble made his way to the spot to rescue the animal. To his astonishment he found there an opening into the rock, only partially hidden by loose stones and turf. He cleared these away, and saw a vast cave stretching into the bowels of the mountain. There was a bright light within; he looked in and saw a host of warriors without number, all asleep, with white hazel wands in their hands. He watched for a long time to see if they would show any signs of waking, but none stirred. Seeing that they were so fast asleep, he felt a great desire to enter the cave and explore it. But as he was squeezing in he struck his head against a bell suspended just above the entrance inside. It rang so that every corner of the immense cavern rang again. All the warriors woke up, and, springing to their feet, gave forth a terrific shout. This so frightened the shepherd that he made off as quickly as he could, and nearly broke his neck on his way down the face of the precipice. From that time he never enjoyed a day’s health, and he died before his time. Nobody has since dared as much as to approach the mouth of the Cave of the Young Men of Snowdonia.

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