Gelert the Dog
The quiet and stunning village of Beddgelert will certainly be a welcome place to rest your bones (especially after hiking up the nearby Dinas Emrys in search of dragons. With a calm river running through it, cosy stone houses and friendly residents will have you wanting to spend more than just an evening there. But this quaint and peaceful village is built on a legend wrought with regret and with sadness, a tale that teaches us we must always look before we leap and involves the historic Welsh leader, Llywelyn the Great.
More than 800 years ago Prince Llywelyn the Great ruled over Wales. He had a wife, a baby boy and his faithful dog Gelert by his side as well as a kingdom to rule over, it seemed that he could not ask for more in life, he was indeed a lucky man. One day he decided to go out on a hunt and to take his wife with him (after all she would surely be impressed by his skill with a bow) and they left with a hunting party leaving their son and dog in the care of a nurse and servant. This pair however were somewhat irresponsible and not being aware of how much attention a baby needs decided they would head off into the mountains for an afternoon jaunt. Later that evening after a successful hunt Llywelyn returned to his home, Gelert ran out to greet him however the Prince found himself in shock as he saw that the dog was covered in blood. He darted inside and his heart sank like lead when he saw the baby’s cradle overturned and blood splattered across the floor. Filled with grief and blind rage Llywelyn drew his sword turned to Gelert and ran him through. The dog whimpered his final sounds, both in shock and in pain, the sound was so very jarring and as it was made the Prince heard the cry of his young son. He ran to the cradle and turned it over, underneath lay his son unharmed and next to him the body of a wolf.
Wracked with remorse he buried his faithful companion in a nearby meadow and marked the grave with a mound of stones. This would then be known as Beddgelert, a name that translated means Gelert’s grave.
The Stone Eagles of Ifor Bach
Location: Castle Coch
If you decide to visit Castle Coch in Tongwynlais you’ll be greeted by a fairy tale castle with rounded ramparts and sloped roofs, it’s a marvellous sight and has been restored to match the more modern expectations of such a building by the Marquess of Bute. Don’t let the restoration fool you though, according to legend this was originally a medieval castle owned by a mysterious nobleman by the name of Ifor Bach. This story tells us that when the man died, he was actually buried underneath the castle, he was worried that he would be disturbed during his afterlife so to prevent this he turned two of his men into stone eagles. These are said to guard him and there have even been stories of them chasing away graverobbers, so if you visit, I’d keep your hands to yourself.