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Sabrina


Hafren is the Welsh Goddess of the river Severn and her Latin name is Sabrina

Like many mythical stories Sabrina's legend contains: kings, battles and a wicked stepmother.

Her story was even legendary and ancient when it was written by Geoffrey of Monmouth in his chronicle: History of the Kings of Britain, c.1138.

There was in ancient times a warrior called Brutus, who Geoffrey of Monmouth wrote, was leader of a band of Trojan exiles from Italy who had fled to and settled in ancient Britain. He ruled Britain for twenty-four years. When he died, his lands were divided into four parts. His eldest son, Locrin, took the part which is now England, the second son, Camber, took a part, which is now Wales and the youngest son, Albanact, took a part, now known as Scotland. Corineus the king's champion was given Cornwall. Corineus had a beautiful daughter called Gwendolen and she became engaged to King Locrin in a diplomatic agreement. 

Before Locrin and Gwendolen could be married, Britain was invaded by the Huns, under their chief Humber. The young King Locrin of England, led the fight against these invaders and succeeded in beating Humber, who was eventually killed by drowning in the river which is still named after him.

The Huns had a princess, Estrildis, who after the battle was captured and King Locrin fell in love with her. Locrin was then threatened by Corineus with a battle axe and was forced marry his fiancé Gwendolen.

King Locrin couldn't give up his love for Estrildis and secretly kept her in an underground cave. She and Locrin had a daughter, Sabre (or in Latin Sabrina). Locrin and Gwendolen had a son called Madan.

After the death of his father-in-law Corineus of Cornwall, Locrin divorced Gwendolen, made Estrildis his Queen and their daughter Sabre, a princess.

The furious Gwendolen raised a Cornish army against the King and Locrin was killed in battle. Gwendolen then declared herself ruler of Britain for her son Madan.

In revenge Gwendolen commanded that Estrildis and her daughter Sabre be thrown into the mighty river and be drowned. She ordered the river to be named after Sabre hoping this would be a reminder of the infidelity of Locrin. Instead, the name later became Severn or in Latin Sabrina, making the damsel Sabrina immortal.

The great poet John Milton was inspired by Sabrina's story and turned her into a Water Nymph in his masque, “Comus”

When you next gaze at the river Severn think of the Water Nymph Sabrina.

Sabrina also features in Welsh folklore. Here is one version of the story, imagine the telling of it being passed down the generations, around a crackling fire:

Mother Plynlimon had 3 daughters, Rheidol, Wye and Severn. She told them all to make their best way to the sea. Rheidol obeyed her mother perfectly and forged her way to the sea by the shortest and most direct route reaching the sea near Aberystwyth. Wye became so enamoured with the loveliness of the country through which she passed, she kept wandering around to see so much beauty in Mid Wales and meandered for miles out her way before she reached the sea. Severn or in Latin Sabrina, cascaded through the spectacular Welsh mountains and glided across wide fertile valleys, before surging into the sea. She became serene, beautiful and was often feared for being too powerful.

Today her powerful waters are controlled and held back by two immense dams at Llyn Clywedog near the historic town of Llanidloes. The route to this captivating 6 mile stretch of water is one of the most scenic journeys in the Country.  

You can also walk beside her on the legendary 224 mile Severn way and reach mother Plynlimon where she and her sisters are playful streams.