It was in those early days, after the Romans in the south had left the
island, and the Cymric king, Vortigern, was hard pressed by the Picts
and Scots of the north. To his aid, he invited over from beyond the
North Sea, or German Ocean, the tribes called the Long Knives, or
Saxons, to help him.
But once on the big island, these friends became enemies and would not
go back. They wanted to possess all Britain.
Vortigern thought this was treachery. Knowing that the Long Knives
would soon attack him, he called his twelve wise men together for
their advice. With one voice, they advised him to retreat westward
behind the mountains into Cymry. There he must build a strong fortress
and there defy his enemies.
So the Saxons, who were Germans, thought they had driven the Cymry
beyond the western borders of the country which was later called
England, and into what they named the foreign or Welsh parts.
Centuries afterwards, this land received the name of Wales.
The place chosen for the fortified city of the Cymry was among the
mountains. From all over his realm, the King sent for masons and
carpenters and collected the materials for building. Then, a solemn
invocation was made to the gods by the Druid priests. These grand
looking old men were robed in white, with long, snowy beards falling
over their breasts, and they had milk-white oxen drawing their
chariot. With a silver knife they cut the mistletoe from the
tree-branch, hailing it as a sign of favor from God. Then with harp,
music and song they dedicated the spot as a stronghold of the Cymric
Then the King set the diggers to work. He promised a rich reward to
those men of the pick and shovel who should dig the fastest and throw
up the most dirt, so that the masons could, at the earliest moment,
begin their part of the work.
But it all turned out differently from what the king expected. Some
dragon, or powerful being underground, must have been offended by this
invasion of his domain; for, the next morning, they saw that
everything in the form of stone, timber, iron or tools, had
disappeared during the night. It looked as if an earthquake had
swallowed them all up.
Both king and seers, priests and bards, were greatly puzzled at this.
However, not being able to account for it, and the Saxons likely to
march on them at any time, the sovereign set the diggers at work and
again collected more wood and stone.
This time, even the women helped, not only to cook the food, but to
drag the logs and stones. They were even ready to cut off their
beautiful long hair to make ropes, if necessary.
But in the morning, all had again disappeared, as if swept by a
tempest. The ground was bare.
Nevertheless, all hands began again, for all hearts were united.
For the third time, the work proceeded. Yet when the sun rose next
morning, there was not even a trace of either material or labor.
What was the matter? Had some dragon swallowed everything up?
Vortigern again summoned his twelve wise men, to meet in council, and
to inquire concerning the cause of the marvel and to decide what was
to be done….(William Elliot Griffis)
DA SEGUIRE DOMANI