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Sabrina

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,

King Locrin fell madly in love with her...

Corineus was not happy that Locrin had found love somewhere other than with his daughter and threatened him with a  battle axe, ensuring that King Locrin made good on his promise and was forced marry his fiancé Gwendolen.

However, King Locrin couldn't give up his love for Estrildis...

in desperation and under the guise of true love he secretly kept Estrildis in an underground cave. She and Locrin had a daughter, Sabre (or in Latin Sabrina).

Meanwhile above ground in his public marriage Locrin and Gwendolen had a son called Madan.

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

Gwendolen was incandescent with rage... 

The furious Gwendolen raised a Cornish army against the King.

King Locrin was killed in battle.

Gwendolen then declared herself ruler of Britain for her infant son Madan.

In revenge for the affair between Locrin and Estrildis,  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.



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.

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

"There is a gentle Nymph not farr from hence,
That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream, 
Sabrina is her name, a Virgin pure,
Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine,
That had the Scepter from his father Brute.
The guiltless damsell flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged stepdam Guendolen, 
Commended her innocence to the flood
That stay’d her flight with his cross-flowing course,
The water Nymphs that in the bottom plaid,
Held up their pearled wrists and took her in,

And underwent a quick immortal change
Made Goddess of the River; still she retains
Her maid’n gentlenes, and oft at Eeve
Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,

The clasping charm, and thaw the numming spell,
If she be right invok’t in warbled Song,
For maid’nhood she loves, and will be swift 
To aid a Virgin, such as was her self
In hard besetting need, this will I try
And adde the power of som adjuring verse."


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

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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 Aber
ystwyth. 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.

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