The legend of King Arthur is rooted deep in Welsh history.
North Wales famed for it’s beautiful and rugged terrain is a land steeped in legend and mystery.
Few are bigger or have more universal appeal than that of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Links to Arthurian mythology are deeply rooted in Welsh history, dating back to the dark ages. Much of the stories come from generations of local folklore, and many of the places mentioned in the tales are located right here in Wales.
Professor Raluca Radulescu, lead of Bangor University’s MA in Arthurian Literature is referencing the Welsh links to the King Arthur stories: “The historical roots of Arthur are in Wales, and more specifically North Wales, and with the story of Myrddin (Merlin of later day) and King Vortigern at Dinas Emrys (Beddgelert).
“With the two dragons fighting, and Llyn Ogwen’s associations with Arthur’s sword Excalibur, one cannot get any closer to the heart of these beloved and internationally-known medieval Welsh legends.
There are several Welsh lakes which are claimed to be the final resting place for the the sword Caledfwlch (Excalibur). Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen – all of which are in Snowdonia National Park have been linked to the legendary weapon. In Legend of the Sword, Arthur actor Charlie Hunnam throws his sword into one of these lakes, filmed near the valley of Nant Gwynant.
Llyn Dinas is close to the fort of Dinas Emrys and is said to be where Arthur’s knight Sir Owain battled a giant. Local folklore says that the hill by the lake is where Merlin’s treasure is buried.
Tryfan, one of the movie’s locations is said to be the final resting-place of Sir Bedwyr (Bedivere), Arthur’s faithful knight who returned the infamous weapon to the Lady of the Lake at the request of the fatally injured King.
According to one legend, when the sword was thrown towards the lake, a woman’s arm clothed in silk reached up from the depths of the water, catching the blade before pulling it under.
There are conflicting tales over which lake Bedivere threw the sword into – some say Llyn Llydaw, others insist it was thrown into Llyn Ogwen.
Legend says that the summit of Mount Snowdon, Wales’s tallest mountain was the home of Rhitta Gawr, a giant and a tyrant who wore a cape made from beards of his enemies.
When Arthur refuses to part with his facial hair, the monster challenged Arthur to a battle. Arthur overcame the giant with a blow that cut the giant in two.
Arthur’s knights then buried Rhitta, constructing a burial chamber over the body right on the top of the mountain. The area then became known as Yr Wyddfa Fawr, translated as ‘The Great Tomb’.
Eventually it became just Yr Wyddfa which is the Welsh name for Snowdon.
Beddgelert (Gelert’s Grave ), a small village in Snowdonia was thought to be the location of a great fortress built by the Welsh King Gwrtheryn – also referred to as Vortigern – from where he defeated the Saxons.
The myth tells of the struggle the King had with his building work, as each day’s work was destroyed overnight. His advisors told him that he needed to sacrifice a child who had been ‘born of no father or mother’ and use the child’s blood to mix in with the mortar.
A child was found, who was conceived by a demon – his name Myrddin Emrys.
Myrddin dreamt every night, ahead of his slaughter that he knew the answer. He told the King that each night, a great fight was taking place between two dragons, one red and one white, in a pool underneath the building. Following the child’s advice, the King dug up the foundations of the fort and found the dragons. They then plied the dragons with alcohol and removed them from the ground.
Myrddin, who would later become Merlin, Arthur’s mentor, explained the dragons represented the Saxons (white) and the Welsh (red). While the white dragon seemed to be triumphant at first, it was later defeated by the red, symbolising that there would be a time in the future when the Welsh would be freed from Saxon rule.
Hardly anything remains of the ancient hill fort at Dinas Emrys – named in honour of Myrddin – but the pool is apparently still there in the form a small rectangle. filled with tall grass.
It is said that Arthur’s final battle took place on Mount Snowdon. Some stories describe how Mordred, Arthur’s nephew is given control of the kingdom while he is away at war in Rome.
Mordred usurps the throne in his absence and forges a relationship with Arthur’s wife Gwenhwyfar (Guinevere). News reached Arthur and he returns home to fight at the Battle of Camlann.
A huge battle took place where Arthur and his knights fought Mordred and were brought down by enemy arrows. This area is now known as Bwlch y Saethau or the Pass of the Arrows. Mordred was ultimately killed, but Arthur was said to have been mortally wounded.
Legend says that Arthur’s body was was covered with stones, which to this day is still known as still known as Carnedd Arthur (Arthur’s Cairn).
After his death, his knights were said to have buried themselves in a cave on the top of the nearby mountain Y Lliwedd where they lie in slumber ready to fight for Wales against their enemies, led by King Arthur.
Another tale describes how Arthur was taken to Avalon, a magical island, to recover from his wounds.
Today ramblers on the Watkin Path can visit the spot of Arthur’s ‘death’ in Coed y Brenin, located just before the path joins with the Rhyd Ddu path, close to the summit.
According to some mythology, Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) which is located just off the Llyn Peninsula is in fact the Island of Avalon.
The island is home to around 20,000 saints. Some claim that the island is where Arthur himself is said to be buried however other stories claim the island is the final resting place of Myrddin (Merlin).
Legend tells that the wreckage of Arthur’s ship lies at the bottom of Bardsey Sound – the area of water between the island and the mainland.
Avalon is where the enchantress Morgan le Fay and her nine sisters lived on the island, and was the mystical place where Arthur’s magical sword Caledfwlch (Excalibur) was forged.
By Zara Whelan of The Daily Post
Is it a bird, is it a plane ? No, it’s my big brother.
Appropriate song…… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CevxZvSJLk8
Have a wonderful new week. May this one pass without conflict and with a new understanding and appreciation of those who are a little different than us but are our brothers and sisters nonetheless. There will be faces without smiles and it will bring you pleasure to put one there as it will to give or receive a hug. Be generous with them. I thank you my friends for your recent understanding. The infection is lessening in my foot but is unfortunately fighting back by starting again higher in the leg. It will still mean I’m unable to spend as much time at the computer as usual. Hugs to you all.