Skip to Content

Henwen: Mythical Creatures

Henwen is a mythical creature that appears in Welsh legend. The name Henwen translates to “Old White” in English, which is fitting for the female pig that gave birth to Cath Palug, a monstrous cat that is often depicted battling either Cai (Sir Kay) or King Arthur. According to Welsh Triads, Henwen is one of the Three Generous Animals of Britain, along with the Blackbird of Cilgwri and the Stag of Rhedynfre.

Henwen’s role in Welsh mythology has made her a popular figure in literature and art. She is often depicted as a wise and powerful creature, with the ability to foretell the future and guide those who seek her out. Her association with Cath Palug has also made her a symbol of chaos and destruction, as the monstrous cat is said to have killed 180 warriors on the Isle of Anglesey. Despite this, Henwen remains a beloved figure in Welsh folklore, representing both the power of nature and the mysteries of the unknown.

Overall, Henwen is a fascinating creature that continues to captivate the imagination of people around the world. Whether viewed as a symbol of wisdom or destruction, she remains an important part of Welsh mythology and a testament to the enduring power of storytelling.

Origins of Henwen

Welsh Mythology

Henwen is a sow that features prominently in Welsh mythology. According to Welsh Triads, Henwen gave birth to Cath Palug, a monstrous cat that battled either Cai or King Arthur. The sow also gave birth to many other creatures, some beautiful and benevolent, some malevolent and evil. Among the creatures that the Henwen gave birth to were a bee, a piglet, a wolf cub, and an eagle.

The Tale of Taliesin

The tale of Taliesin is a medieval Welsh story that features Henwen. In the story, Henwen is an enchanted pig whose offspring were going to cause untold trouble for Britain. She was tended by the magician Coll, and letter sticks formed from rods made of ash and carved with runic symbols were stuck into the ground. Henwen, when asked a question, would point her nose at different sticks in turn, spelling out an answer.

The tale of Henwen is an allegorical account of the harrying of a female religious leader across southwest Britain. It is believed that the story of Henwen is a representation of the goddess Cerridwen, who is associated with the sow in Welsh mythology.

Physical Description

Henwen is a mythical creature that appears in Welsh legends. She is a sow, which is a female pig, and her name means “Old White.” According to the Welsh Triads, Henwen gave birth to Cath Palug, a monstrous cat depicted as combating with either Cai (Sir Kay) or King Arthur of Arthurian Legends.

Porcine Features

As a sow, Henwen has many porcine features. She has a round body, short legs, and a snout. Her skin is covered in bristly hairs, and she has large, floppy ears. Henwen is said to be a large creature, much larger than an ordinary pig.

Symbolic Markings

In Welsh mythology, Henwen is often depicted with symbolic markings. She is said to have a white coat, which represents purity and innocence. Her eyes are said to be bright and intelligent, representing wisdom and knowledge. Henwen is also said to have a distinctive marking on her forehead, which is said to be a symbol of her power and status as a mythical creature.

Overall, Henwen is a fascinating mythical creature that has captured the imaginations of people for centuries. Her porcine features and symbolic markings make her a unique and intriguing figure in Welsh mythology.

Powers and Abilities


Henwen, the legendary sow, was known for her prophetic abilities. She was believed to have the power to predict the future and guide people towards their destiny. According to Welsh mythology, Henwen’s prophetic powers were so strong that she could even foretell the outcome of battles and wars. Many people sought her guidance to make important decisions in their lives.

Agricultural Fertility

Henwen was also associated with agricultural fertility. It was believed that wherever she went, crops would grow abundantly. She was said to have the ability to bless fields with her touch, ensuring that the harvest would be bountiful. Farmers would often seek her out to bless their crops and ensure a good harvest.

According to the Welsh legend, Henwen had the power to create various creatures as offspring, some of which were bountiful and some were baneful. At different locations, she engendered different creatures as offspring, such as a grain of wheat and a bee, a piglet, a grain of barley and a bee, and a grain of rye.

Overall, Henwen’s powers and abilities were highly respected and sought after in Welsh mythology. She was a symbol of wisdom, fertility, and prosperity, and her legend continues to be told to this day.

Henwen’s Journey

Henwen is a mythical creature from Welsh mythology. She is a great white sow, and her journey is an interesting one. It is said that Henwen’s journey began when she was tended by Coll, one of Britain’s three great swineherds. Her journey took her through several places, and she gave birth to several offspring along the way.

Flight from King Arthur

One of the most notable events in Henwen’s journey was her flight from King Arthur. It was prophesied that Henwen’s offspring would harm Britain, and so King Arthur chased and tried to destroy her. However, Henwen managed to escape and continued on her journey.

Births Along the Way

During her journey, Henwen gave birth to several offspring. One of her offspring was a grain of wheat, which grew into a giant wheat field. Another was a bee, which flew into a hive and produced an abundance of honey. She also gave birth to a bird, which flew into a tree and produced an abundance of fruit.

Henwen’s journey is a fascinating one, and her offspring brought prosperity and abundance wherever they went. Her story is a reminder of the importance of fertility and abundance in Welsh mythology.

Cultural Significance

Henwen, the clairvoyant pig, holds a significant place in Welsh mythology. The creature is believed to have the gift of prophecy and was highly revered by the ancient Welsh people.

Literary References

Henwen has been featured in various works of literature, including The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. In the book, Henwen is kept by Dallben and Coll and looked after by Taran, the young protagonist of the series. The pig’s ability to see into the future is a pivotal plot point in the story.

Modern Depictions

Henwen has also made appearances in modern media, including the Walt Disney adaptation of The Chronicles of Prydain, The Black Cauldron (1985). In the film, Henwen is depicted as a clairvoyant pig who is sought after by the villainous Horned King for her ability to locate the titular Black Cauldron.

Overall, Henwen’s cultural significance lies in her ability to see into the future and her role as a symbol of prophecy and divination in Welsh mythology.

Comparative Mythology

Henwen, the mythical sow of Welsh folklore, is a creature that has fascinated people for centuries. While there is no direct parallel to Henwen in other cultures, there are similar creatures that appear in mythologies from around the world.

Similar Creatures in Other Cultures

One such creature is the Erymanthian Boar of Greek mythology. Like Henwen, the Erymanthian Boar is a large, wild animal that is difficult to capture or control. In Norse mythology, there is the Gullinbursti, a boar with golden bristles that is ridden by the god Freyr. Both the Erymanthian Boar and the Gullinbursti share some similarities with Henwen, such as their association with fertility and abundance.

Influence on European Folklore

Henwen’s story has also had an impact on European folklore. In the medieval Welsh tale Culhwch and Olwen, the hero Culhwch is tasked with capturing Henwen in order to win the hand of a princess. This story has similarities to other European tales, such as the French story of the Queste del Saint Graal (the Quest for the Holy Grail) and the German tale of the Nibelungenlied.

Overall, while there may not be a direct parallel to Henwen in other cultures, her story and characteristics have influenced mythologies and folklore across Europe.