The Freckled Cow, Y Fuwch Frech, Fairies in Welsh folklore and mythology, a tale from Clawdd Newydd Wales
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Category: Fairies
Sub Category: Fairy or Mythic Animals
Title: The Freckled Cow, Y Fuwch Frech


In ages long gone by, my informant knew not how long ago, a wonderful cow had her pasture land on the hill close to the farm, called Cefn Bannog, after the mountain ridge so named. It would seem that the cow was carefully looked after, as indicated by the names of places bearing her name. The site of the cow house is still pointed out, and retains its name, Preseb y Fuwch Frech—the Crib of the Freckled Cow. Close to this place are traces of a small enclosure called Gwal Erw y Fuwch Frech, or the Freckled Cow’s Meadow.| There is what was once a track way leading from the ruins of the cow house to a spring called Ffynon y Fuwch Frech, or the Freckled Cow’s Well, and it was, tradition says, at this well that the cow quenched her thirst. The well is about 150 yards from the cow house. Then there is the feeding ground of the cow called, Waen Banawg, which is about half a mile from the cow house. There are traces of walls several feet thick in these places. The spot is a lonely one, but ferns and heather flourish luxuriantly all about this ancient homestead. It is also said that this cow was the mother of the Ychain Banawg, or large-horned oxen. | But now to proceed to the tradition that makes the memory of this cow dear to the inhabitants of the Denbighshire moorland.|
Old people have transmitted from generation to generation the following strange tale of the Freckled Cow. | Whenever any one was in want of milk they went to this cow, taking with them a vessel into which they milked the cow, and, however big this vessel was, they always departed with the pail filled with rich milk, and it made no difference, however often she was milked, she could never be milked dry. This continued for a long time, and glad indeed the people were to avail themselves of the inexhaustible supply of new milk, freely given to them all. At last a wicked hag, filled with envy at the people’s prosperity, determined to milk the cow dry, and for this purpose she took a riddle with her, and milked and milked the cow, until at last she could get no more milk from her. But, sad to say, the cow immediately, upon this treatment, left the country, and was never more seen. Such is the local history of the Freckled Cow.|Tradition further states that she went straight to a lake four miles off, bellowing as she went, and that she was followed by her two children the Dau Eidion Banawg, the two long-horned oxen, to Llyn dau ychain, the Lake of the Two Oxen, in the parish of Cerrig-y-drudion, and that she entered the lake and the two long-horned oxen, bellowing horribly, went, one on either side the lake, and with their mother disappeared within its waters, and none were ever afterwards seen.|A footnote to this story:-|Notwithstanding that tradition buries these celebrated cattle in this lake, I find in a book published by Dr. John Williams, the father of the Rev. John Williams, M.A., Vicar of Llanwddyn, in the year 1830, on the “Natural History of Llanrwst,” the following statement. The author in page 17, when speaking of Gwydir, says:—|“In the middle court (which was once surrounded by the house), there is a large bone, which appears to be the rib of some species of whale, but according to the vulgar opinion, it is the rib of the Dun Cow (y Fuwch Frech), killed by the Earl of Warwick.”|It may be stated that Llanrwst is not many miles distant from Cerrig-y-drudion and yet we have in these places conflicting traditions, which I will not endeavour to reconcile.


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