Beddgelert is a village in North Wales situated at the foot of Snowdon, where Llewelyn the Great had a house in the 12th/13th centuries. The story goes that he was given a hound, Gelert, who refused to go hunting with his master. Llewelyn returns from the hunt to find the dog’s face covered in blood so he kills it mistakenly thinking it has eaten his young son in his cradle. Soon he discovers the baby is safe and that Gelert actually killed a wolf who was attacking his baby son. Llewelyn is grief stricken and buries the dog in ‘Gelert’s Grave.’ As Jennifer Westwood points out in ‘Albion – A Guide to Legendary Britain’ a version of this story occurs throughout the world in different forms from Sanskrit tales to the Red Book of Hergest in Wales.
Not far from Beddgelert is the ‘Grail Castle’ of Dinas Emrys, a small hill fort who’s mythology sits at the heart of ‘The Matter of Britain.’ Again, the story goes that Vortigern (5th century warlord /king) was trying to build a fortress on Dinas Emrys but it was always falling down. Finally, after many attempts, he consulted his sages and magicians who said it could only be built after a boy of virgin birth was found and brought to the hill. They were dispatched throughout the land and in Carmarthen found the boy Merlin (originally Ambrosius) who was brought to Dinas Emrys. He ‘saw’ that there were two dragons fighting in the hill; one white, one red (the white dragon represented the Saxons, the red dragon represented the Welsh).This tale comes to us via Nennius in about 800 AD and is retold by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century. It reveals an ancient Celtic lineage where great treasure will be found by a youth with blue eyes and blonde hair. Coming back to earth, archaeology shows us that there was occupation of Dinas Emrys in the Iron Age, in the fifth century and in the twelfth century.
Location: On the A498 in Snowdonia National Park
Coordinates: Beddgelert 53° 0′ 39.6″ N, 4° 6′ 7.2″ W Dinas Emrys 53° 1′ 19.2″ N, 4° 4′ 44.4″ W
Photo Credits: Beddgelert: Matt Buck, Wiki Images, Creative Commons Licence Dinas Emyrs: Rhion Pritchard, Wiki Images, Creative Commons Licence