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For the tanker RFA Olwen, see RFA Olwen (A122).

In Welsh mythology, Olwen is the daughter of the giant Ysbaddaden and cousin of Goreu. She is the heroine of the story Culhwch and Olwen in the Mabinogion.

Her father is fated to die if she ever marries, so when Culhwch (sometimes spelled as Kilhwch) comes to court her, he is given a series of immensely difficult tasks which he must complete before he can win her hand. With the help of his cousin King Arthur, Culhwch succeeds and the giant dies, allowing Olwen to marry her suitor.

The name "Olwen" reappears in the folktale Einion and Olwen, about a sheep herder who travels to the Otherworld to marry Olwen. The tale was collected at the turn of the 20th century but is certainly related to Culhwch and Olwen.

The meaning of the name Olwen is "white footprint".[1] According to legend, she was so gentle and fragile that white lilies would grow in her footprints.

Alternative spelling: Olwyn (name).

Notable persons with this name[edit]

  • Olwen Fouéré, Breton/Irish actress on stage and in film
  • Olwen Hufton, British historian of early modern Europe, women's history and social history
  • Olwen Wymark, American playwright and author

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Welsh ol "footprint, track" and gwen "white, fair, blessed"", cited from http://www.behindthename.com/name/olwen