Top Welsh Legends

Our heartland of Wales is full of myth and folklore. With wizards, kings and dragons weaved into its rich tapestry of time. Our land is one of wonder and mystery with stories and mythology. These stories of go back a long chapter in time, and like many stories, record an epoch that was a renaissance of welsh culture. One that is rekindling all over. Our modern day legends might not be cloaked in armour or with staff in hand, but they carry the same strength of heart as their fore fathers, ” Calon ” as we call it.

Many of our legends are famous around the world.  Want to know some of the best ones out there?  We have compiled this list of some of the top Welsh legends so that you can make your Welsh travels come to life with a pinch of the past..

 

1. King Arthur

There are plenty of traces of King Arthur across the Welsh land.  One of the most notable are the three lakes that people claim contain Excalibur, Llydaw, Dinas, and Ogwen.  At first thought, this seems impossible but a mystical sword could be in three lakes at one time if it was placed there with a long-forgotten magic.

Imprinted on a rock near Llyn Barfog is a hoofprint from a horse.  The steed that left this mark was Llamrai, King Arthur’s steed himself.  It is said that this hoofprint was left with Llamrai pulled a great monster from the lake’s deep water.

Then there are the other associates of King Arthur that have traces back to the Welsh lands.

The is a song link of Arthur to our lands in Anglesey , with the small village called Trearddur Bay, which in welsh is Arthurs bay. This sits next to a village called kingsland, on holy island. They say the past leads clues. There is no doubt that Arthur was on Anglesey during his rule and I imagine it was from Aberfraw which he was stationed.

 

2. Merlin the WizardMerlin the Wizard

Merlin is the famed wizard that protected King Arthur and helped him to become the king he was.  There are many traces of the wizard throughout Welsh legend and the Welsh lands. One example of this is Merlin’s Oak. This tree stood in Carmathen and it was said that the oak had one of Merlin’s strongest protect spells upon it.

It was said that if the tree was removed, the town would be flooded.  At first a group of towns people poisoned the tree. But the stump remained and the town stayed safe.  However, when the stump was set on fire in the 1970’s something amazing happened, the town saw a flood that rivaled many of the recent floods.

Next we will discuss Bardsey Island and as you will see, it is also part of Arthurian and Merlin legends.

An interesting story I found online of a blogger visiting Bardsey island ..

Just a side note for anyone interested, my family where lighthouse keepers who looked after bardsey Island for many many years, we have a strong connection with the place.

 

4. Bardsey Island

Speak with any resident of Bardsey Island, or anyone versed in Welsh lore for that matter, and you will discover that the small island known as Bardsey is the burial place of Merlin and home to his glass coffin.  As such, Bardsey would also be the home to the 13 treasures of Britain.

While most will shrug the burial of Merlin off as a myth, locals are quick to tell you the story is true.  There is even a rock that is thought to be a marker for Merlin’s burial site.

The name Bardsey, was derived from the word Bard. A bard was the highest accolade a druid scholar could attain. Merlin was a Bard, as he had mastered the teachings of Astronomy, Biology and natural sciences. He reportedly lived there for many years and was buried there along with 20,000 other saints.

There is no doubt that this island was special and still is.

An interesting story I found online of a blogger visiting Bardsey island ..

Just a side note for anyone interested, my family where lighthouse keepers who looked after bardsey Island for many many years, we have a strong connection with the place.

 

5. Mabinigion Stories

The Mabinigion Stories are a set of tales that go back to the 11thcentury. Many of these tales resemble those that have inhabited the imaginations of children for ages, including Arthurian legend.  Mystical horses, fay, and heroes are intertwined in the tales.  Some of the characters in these otherworldly tales are believed to have been loosely based on actual historical figures.

Locations from the Mabinigion Stories are up and down the Western coast of Wales.  Traveling through these areas almost feels as if you are travelling through the tales themselves.  Reading these stories before traveling to Wales will give any journeyer a different experience from what they were expecting.  A good start to a tour of a mystical land.

6. Gelert

Llywelyn the Great was a Prince of Gwynedd ages ago.  One day he was with his wife and son at the village of Beddgelert. The two left their son to go hiking in the mountains.  Upon their return, they were greeted by their dog Gelert running out of the house with blood flowing from his mouth.  The grief struck couple ran into the baby’s room only to find it in shambles. Llywelyn ran outside and slay the dog, assuming that the Gelert had killed the baby.

As the Gelert’s dying whimpers wore out a new sound ripped through the air, the sound of a crying baby.  The couple once again ran into the room to find the baby behind the crib along with a massive wolf.  Instantly Llwelyn the Great knew that he had done wrong.

As a tribute to the dog that had so gallantly defended his son, he carried the body with a hung head and buried Gelert upon a meadow with a cairn to mark the grave.  Visit the spot to this day.

 

7. Prince Madog

Prince Madog, also known as Madoc, was a Welsh prince who sailed across the ocean to the Americas well before Christopher Columbus and his ships. Legend says that Owain Gwynedd was Prince Madog’s father and Gwynedd’s noted violence was what caused Madog to seek a life at sea.

While there is no confirmed landing point there are stories of the ship’s crew moving up and down the Americas.  Some legends even state that Prince Madog and his crew were the founders of ancient civilizations such as the Aztec, Maya, and Inca.  Many of those who believe in the stories of Prince Madog believe that some ancient architectural structures from the area were built by his party.

8. Llywelyn The Great

Remember how we discussed Llywelyn the Great up above?  Well he was famous for more than his dog.  He was a political leader in the area and believed in resurrecting what had been lost from the Welsh culture.  His political beliefs were controversial, not everyone from Wales liked the idea of Llywelyn’s policy.

Throughout his years of ruling, Llywelyn was able to keep Wales separate from all of the other ruling powers that tried to take it.  This included getting in fights with lords in the area but also negotiating strongly.  In 1234, he negotiated a two year peace that was continually renewed until the end of his reign.

Llywelyn was a strong leader and fighter.  In 1240, he passed away as the leader of Wales.  In his place, Dafydd ap Llywelyn took over as ruler of Wales. Dafydd was his son.

9. Owain Glyn Dwr

Owain Glyn Dwr was the last of the Welsh rulers to hold the title Prince of Wales. As leader of Wales he started a war against the English over the rule of wales.  The battles were fierce and the ware itself was long.  However, England won in the end.

What was amazing was that Owain Glyn Dwr escaped capture at the end of the war. He then continued to evade the English crown and their militaries for years.  None of the Welsh citizens would give up any information on Owain.  Six years after fleeing the English government, a former follower of Owain reported that he had died.  Glyn Dwr appears in Shakespeare’s Henry IV under the name Owen Glendower and is a man who is ruled by unusual forces and powered by his emotions.

10. Excalibur

Remember how we mentioned earlier that Excalibur is believed to be in Wales?  We wanted to go into a little more detail about that.  The sword that powered the legend of King Arthur was believed to have been in a number of lakes throughout Wales.  Because Wales and England did not exist in their same geographical layout then, the closest that tales can get is one of three lakes:  Llydaw, Dinas, and Ogwen.

Recently a group of rangers who were working near Llyn Ogwen discovered a sword in the ground.  Testing on the sword has discovered that the blade dates back to the age of King Arthur. While the sword was not found in the lake, it was found close enough that disturbance over the years could explain its location.  Local myths about the sword being in the lake also would back up the sword belonging to King Arthur.  The most supportive fact is that the embellishments on the hilt match the Mabinogion description of the sword.

The sword is available for viewing at Ogwen Cottage but it is important to note that it may be taken away from time to time for Arthurian experts and archeologists to examine it.

11. Dolwyddelan Castle And Princess Gwenllian

 

Princess Gwenllian was the daughter of Llywelyn the Great and as fathers did for their princesses back then, he commissioned Dolwyddelan Castle for her.  Unfortunately, Princess Gwenllian never had the chance to see the castle.  She was sent away from her people and never even got to speak her own language.

You can view the castle now in hills.  The castle is described as being simple but it was built on land that saw many troops and many battles.  You simply must see this place of history when you visit Wales.

Wales is a land full of legend.  From magic to war, so many things happened to this land that occupies the Western part of the British peninsula.  Many of these legendary places can be explored in modern time.  The land has managed to keep much of its heritage

 

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