Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Legend of Gelert

Beddgelert is Welsh for Gelert's Grave. The legend is that one day Prince Llywelyn the Great of Snowdonia returned to his castle nearby to find the cradle of his baby son upturned, no sign of the baby and his favourite hunting hound Gelert with blood around his mouth.

A distressed Llywelyn thought that Gelert had killed the baby and stabbed him with his sword. As Gelert lay dying Llywelyn heard a child's cry, lifted the cradle and found his son safe and sound underneath; hidden behind the cradle was a dead wolf, killed by Gelert to save the little prince.

Overcome by remorse Llywelyn carried his hound to the river side and buried him there with a stone marking his head and another marking his feet; it is said that after the incident Llywelyn never smiled again.

He also built a church, dedicated to St Mary, close by to thank God for the life of his son.

Legend also says that although this story is based on ancient tales it was used, towards the end of the 18th century, by David Pritchard the owner of a local inn, The Royal Goat, to bring people to the village to boost his trade. It is said that with the help of the parish clerk he placed the stones near the river and invented the hound's name; apparently the stones are only 200 years old.

In spite of this the tale of Gelert is such a powerful and moving one that the village of Beddgelert and Gelert's grave are visited each year by thousands of people. Everytime we visit I have to go and look at Gelert's grave and the bronze statue gazing up at the nearby hills.

Here is a link to the story of Llywelyn and Gelert - link.


  1. What a story. It looks an amazing and quite spiritual place. xx

  2. Such a sad story. Thank you for sharing it accompanied by your lovely pictures xxx

  3. Sssh don't say it's not really true -I often use that story for assembly in school.
    Lovely pics!!!
    Love Kathy xxx

  4. Oh what a tragic tale true or otherwise. I suppose the moral of the story is not to jump to conclusions! x

  5. The legend of Gelert is such a sad story. I remember reading it when I was a child and crying! I have never been to Gelert's grave. Thank you for taking me there.

  6. What a poignant story and with a very good moral to it - it feels better to believe that it may be true! Thanks for the link to the story as well. Fascinating. I love these historical tales and legends.


  7. I've been there!! We visited on one of our fortnight long camping trips to Wales. In fact, I still have the postcard we bought as a souvenir - must be about close to 40 years old now!

    Thanks for the memories!

  8. The Celtic myths are wonderful and they don't always have happy endings, this is a really sad one. The statue of the hound is lovely, I'm not surprised that you keep going back to it.

  9. that's a great story - and fab that it's been used in a school assembly.
    I have a distant memory that Ilam Church, near Ilam Hall youth hostel, has a monument to Gelert, too.
    Can someone confirm or categorically deny this for me?

  10. Hi stefn, I visited Ilam (see my pst of 2nd January 2011) recently and didn't see anything about Gelert - we had a quick look in the church and the only thing I could find was St bertram's tomb - he became a hermit after his wife and baby were killed by a wolf - a wolf comes into the Gelert legend I wonder if this is the connection?