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The Afanc (Welsh, pronounced with f as in English v, sometimes also called Addanc) is a lake monster from Welsh mythology. Its exact description varies; it is described alternately as resembling a crocodile, beaver or dwarf-like creature, and is sometimes said to be a demon. The lake in which it dwells also varies; it is variously said to live in Llyn Llion, Llyn Barfog, near Brynberian Bridge or in Llyn yr Afanc, a lake near Betws-y-Coedmarker that was named after the creature.

Legends and traditions

The afanc was a monstrous creature that, like most lake monsters, was said to prey upon any foolish enough to fall into or swim in its lake.

One tale relates that it was rendered helpless by a maiden who let it sleep upon her lap; while it slept, the maiden's fellow villagers bound the creature in chains. The creature was awakened and made furious; its enraged thrashings crushed the maiden, in whose lap it still laid. It was finally dragged away to the lake Cwm Ffynnon, or killed by Peredur.

Some later legends ascribe the creature's death to King Arthur or to Percival (Peredur's name in the later Arthurian legend of the continent and England). Close to Llyn Barfog in Snowdoniamarker is a hoof-print petrosomatoglyph etched deep into the rock "Carn March Arthur", or the "Stone of Arthur's Horse", which was supposedly made by King Arthur's mount, Llamrai, when it was hauling the afanc from the lake.

Iolo Morganwg

According to a version of an afanc legend as put forth by the famous forger of myths and folklore Iolo Morganwg, its thrashings caused massive flooding which ultimately drowned all inhabitants of Britainmarker save for two people, Dwyfan and Dwyfach, from whom the later inhabitants of Prydain descended.

According to one version of the myth, also put forth by Iolo Morgannwg, Hu Gadarn's oxen dragged the afanc out of the lake; once it was out of the water, it was powerless and could be killed. This version locates the creature in Llyn Llion.


The correct rendering of this name in Modern Welsh depends on the specific source. The Middle Welsh avanc of Llyn Barfog is afanc in Modern Welsh, a word which is now used to mean "Beaver". The form avanc/afanc is also used in the Red Book of Hergest and most other medieval sources. In the Middle Welsh version of Peredur's tale, in the White Book of Rhydderch, the creature in the cave is called the addanc. Afanc is by far the most common spelling.

See also


  1. Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru (University of Wales Dictionary), vol. I, p.41, afanc

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