The Red Dragon of Wales
Location: Dinas Emrys
Ever wondered why the Welsh flag has Red Dragon on it? Well that’s because according to legend two dragons were found in Snowdonia here at the peak of Dinas Emrys. Visit there now and you will find a tranquil walk that takes you through trees, past streams and across vast open landscape. It’s peaceful and when you reach your destination, you’ll be greeted by a view that you won’t soon forget. But apparently it wasn’t always so calm.
Long ago, in the 5th century a Celtic King by the name of Vortigern decided this would be an excellent spot for his fort, it was high up, had an excellent view of any oncoming trouble and was tough enough for enemies to approach too. He set his men to building but each day they returned to the fort they would find there work undone, with all the materials knocked to the ground. King Vortigern was tired of this set back and turned to sorcerers to aid him, they told him of a boy who was born after his mother was impregnated by the Devil himself, if Vortigern wanted this land he would have to spill the blood of this boy across it to relieve the tremors. After much searching the boy was found in a nearby village and brought to the King, this boys name was Myrddin Emrys, more commonly known as the wizard Merlin. Merlin told Vortigern that spilling his blood would not work, that actually two dragons were beneath the ground and it was in fact they that were causing the issue. Vortigern ordered his men to dig and just as Merlin said they found two dragons, a red and a white one. The two dragons fought tooth and claw but eventually the white dragon relented and fled. The red dragon returned to its slumber and King Vortigern was able to build his fort after all.
It is said that the white dragon represents the Saxon invasion and that the red represents the Welsh repelling them from there home. As such the red dragon has become a symbol of pride for the country and you can visit its home here at Dinas Emrys.
King Arthur’s Adventures
Seeing as we’ve talked about Merlin and his origin story why not talk about the many adventures of the legendary King Arthur? As told in the historic book of legends The Mabinogion there are many tales of Arthur that take place across Wales. Some believe that his magical sword ‘Excalibur’ was gifted to him here by the lady of the lake, Llydaw, Ogwen and Dinas are all lakes which have been linked to this specific tale. There is also a hoof print set into stone on the bank of Lake Barfog which is just near Betws y Coed that is said to have come from Arthur’s horse during a battle with a monster. Perhaps the most well-known story however takes place on Mount Snowdon is of his battle with a great giant named Rhitta who wore a cloak made from the beards of his foes. That’s got to be one of the manliest cloaks in history!