Over the New Year I spent some time in Wales with a group of friends – a couple of walks, a few beers and some exceptional scenery. For me, Snowdonia ranks right up there alongside the Yorkshire Dales and the west coast of Scotland.
On the trip we took a couple of days to visit Beddgelert, home of a small village at the foot of a steep valley, and the site of a famous legend. Beddgelert translates as “Gelert’s Grave”, Gelert being the subject of a legendary Welsh tale about a royal owner and his loyal dog.
Below is the inscribed stone at Beddgelert that recounts the tale.
If you’re having trouble reading it I’ve translated it below. I’ve also added the odd bit of punctuation too to make it a bit more legible!
In the 13th century Llywelyn, Prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert “the faithful hound” who was unaccountably absent. On Llewelyn’s return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The prince, alarmed, hastened to find his son and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answrered by a child’s cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He burned Gelert here. The spot is called Beddgelert.
Now I hate to ruin the illusion, but this is probably not true. In fact, many very similar stories exist from around the globe, with one replacing a wolf for a snake.
Unfortunately there is no recorded evidence for Gelert the hero dog, and the link between the tale and the place was actually forged in the 1700s by an enterprising landlord who wanted to bring tourists to the village.
It’s still a great story though, and certainly doesn’t take away from the local area’s beauty.