We are in Beddgelert, North Wales, just south of Snowdon. Meaning literally the grave of Gelert, Beddgelert was once described as “a few dozen hard grey houses, huddled together in some majestic mountain scenery”.
A short walk south of the village, following the footpath along the banks of the Glaslyn leads to its most famous historical feature, “Gelert’s Grave”.
According to legend, the stone monument in the field marks the resting place of Gelert, the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.
The story, as written on the tombstone reads:
“In the 13th century Llewelyn, 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 answered 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 buried Gelert here“.
As story goes, beside the his son’s cradle, lay the body of a giant wolf covered with wounds, the result of a fight to the death with hound Gelert.
Apparently the truth is that this story was made up by local traders some time ago in an attempt to lure Snowdon’s visitors to their village.
Apparently the place name actually refers to Gelert, a sixth century saint from the area, but this legend was well known by the time English writer George Borrow visited Beddgelert in 1854 as part of the journey through the country the results of which he published in 1862 in his book titled ‘Wild Wales’.
The author calls the valley of Gelert “a wondrous valley – rivalling for grandeur and beauty any vale either in the Alps or Pyrenees” and Beddgelert, in fact, is unrivalled within Snowdonia with Its stone built dwellings, inns and hotels surrounded by the finest scenery of North Wales, with Snowdon, the highest peak in England and Wales, dominating the skyline a few miles to the north. Wooded valleys, rocky slopes and mountain lakes fill the surrounding countryside and the village, in keeping with its location in the Snowdonia National Park, is picturesque and unspoilt.