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Wales has a long tradition of sharing stories. Before they were written down these stories were transmitted orally from one generation to the next. One person would recite the story that they had heard, and another who was listening would learn the story and recite it to others from memory, hence keeping the story alive. This page contains a small selection of folk tales that have been shared throughout Wales.

One of the most famous folk tales is the collection of medieval Welsh prose known as the Mabinogi. These are a fascinating mix of dramatic and mysterious tales of magic, tragedy, romance, fantasy, humour, betrayal, conflict, justice, adventure, morality, and human nature. There are eleven stories in all, and they include the earliest prose stories found anywhere in Britain. 

Abram Wood a Romani Gypsy storyteller arrived in Wales in the 18th century and was known for sharing exciting folk tales. Most of the stories are based in the deep dark woods and feature a hero called Jack. The stories include chilling tales, full of magic, creatures of all kinds and twists and turns. Today, storytellers are still sharing variations of his stories.

Another legendary character is Twm Sion Cati, who sometimes corresponds to Robin Hood or Rob Roy. Legend tells the tale of Twm, a man of two identities. During the day, he was known as the esteemed Thomas Jones. But as night fell, he transformed into the notorious and cunning outlaw, Twm Sion Cati.

Questions to discuss

  • What makes a good folk tale?
  • How were these folk tales shared?
  • How are they adapted today?


  • Compare - are there similarities to some of these legends?
  • Re-create - can you perform and film one of these stories?
  • Share - Tell the tale out loud. Can the learners remember the story to share it again?
  • Adapt - Many of these stories were adapted over the years, can the learners make small changes to the story to put their own stamp on it?

Learning experiences

(derived from the statements of what matters)

Languages, Literacy and Communication
  • Language and belonging
  • Listen and understand
  • Using imagination
  • Understanding literature
Expressive Arts
  • Representing personal, social and cultural identities
  • Performing
  • Exploring purpose and meaning
  • Social and cultural importance
  • Identity
  • Social similarities and differentiation

The Mabinogi

Have you heard of the giant Bendigeidfran and his sister Branwen? Did you hear the story about Gwydion the wizard and Blodeuwedd, the woman created from flowers? These legends are part of the Mabinogi or Mabinogion stories, and the earliest written version of the Mabinogi is found in The White Book of Rhydderch. 

More information about the White Book of Rhydderch

Welsh Gypsy Folk-tales

This book contains stories and articles relating to Welsh Gypsy folk-tales, mainly from the Journal of the Gypsy Lore Society, collected and edited by John Sampson between 1891-1930. These folk tales were brought to Wales by Abram Wood and other Romani Gypsy when they arrived in Wales in the 18th century. Below is a story titled 'Winter'.

The learners of Monkton Priory Community School's version of 'Winter'.

Romani family with vardos, near Swansea, Geoff Charles, 1953

Twm Siôn Cati

A popular folk tale for people in west Wales in particular as the stories are based around Tregaron. Based on a real person, some of his stories are more true than others. He is often compared to Robin Hood, fighting for the common people and opposing the authorities. 

Case study

The Communities of Wales project has supported Monkton Priory Community Primary School to learn more about storytelling in Wales. Around 40% of Monkton Priory's learners come from a Gypsy and Traveller background. The project highlighted the variety of folk tales in Wales and gave learners the opportunity to tell their own stories. The learners participated in a storytelling workshop with author Richard O'Neill and a filmmaking session organised by Into Film Cymru. The group produced their own videos based on Richard O'Neill's message 'Treat others as you would like to be treated'.

More information