September 11, 2019 4 min read

Beddgelert and Gelert's Grave

Beddgelert is a small town in Gwynedd, north Wales in the UK and in the Snowdonia National Park. Its resident population is less than 500 at the time of the last Census in 2011. It is often described as the prettiest town in Snowdonia and the town, Gelert's grave and the surrounding area are major tourist attractions.

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The mountain Moel Hebog towers over the town and Wales' (and England's) highest mountain, Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) at a height of 1,085 metres or 3,560 feet, is only a few miles away. Snowdon is the tallest of 15 peaks in Wales over 914 metres or 3,000 feet. Snowdon mountain itself is actually the wettest place in Wales, averaging over 180 inches of rain each year!

Two small rivers meet in Beddgelert, the Glaslyn and the Colwyn and at the centre of the town is its famous old stone bridge.  

Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway

Beddgelert is now a 'stop' on the picturesque Snowdonia narrow gauge heritage  railway, (1 foot 11 1/2 inches or 597 millimetres gauge) also known as the Ffestiniog Railway or the Welsh Highland Railway. This railway runs from Blaennau Ffestiniog in Meirionydd to Caernarfon in Gwynedd via Porthmadog, Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass and Rhyd Ddu. Altogether you can experience the mountains of Snowdonia from over 40 Km (25 miles) of stunningly scenic railway.

Ffestiniog - Welsh Highland Railway - Blaenau Ffestiniog to Caernarfon via Snowdonia

Here are the postcodes of all the stations for satnav and cover the Ffestiniog railway route;

Caernarfon LL55 2YD
Bontnewydd LL54 5TY
Dinas LL54 5UP
Tryfan Junction LL54
Waunfawr LL55 4AQ
Plasynant LL54 7YR
Snowdon Ranger LL54 7YS
Rhyd Ddu LL54 6TN
Meillionen LL54 4UU
Beddgelert LL54 4UY
Nantmor LL55 4YG

Pont Croesor LL48 6BQ
Porthmadog LL49 9NF
Boston Lodge Halt LL48 6HT
Minffordd LL48 6HF
Penrhyn LL48 6RB
Plas Halt LL41 3AQ
Tanybwlch LL41 3AQ
Dduallt LL41 3YT
Tanygrisiau LL41 3TW
Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3ES

Gelert's Grave and the Legend of his death

Beddgelert means Gelert's Grave in English and the town is the centre of the legend and tragedy of Gelert the faithful dog and the location of the grave of Gelert.

Gelerts grave

The legend of Gelert is one of the best known and loved in Wales and is the story of a faithful hound and the sadness and tragedy of his death. 

One of the Kings of Gwynedd, Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) lived from 1173 to 1240 and he eventually became the King of all of Wales. His real name was Llywelyn ap Iorwerth. Llywelyn Fawr had a palace in the part of Snowdonia now known as Beddgelert. Llywelyn was a keen hunter and would spend many happy days hunting in the surrounding countryside. Llywelyn had a baby child and he would leave his favourite hound, Gelert to guard his child when he was hunting. On the fateful day, when Llywelyn returned he found Gelert covered in blood and there was no sign of the child. Llywelyn thougtht that Gelert had killed his child and in his anger he killed Gelert with his sword. When Gelert was howling and dying, Llywelyn heard the cryinh of his child from under his cradle and discovered the body of a dead wolf by his side - Gelert has saved his child from the wolf but it was too late and Gelert, the faithful hound had dyed.

Llywelyn was distraught and struck with remorse. He carried the body of his faithful dog outside the castle walls, and buried him near the banks of the river Glaslyn where everyone could see the grave of his favourite brave hound, and hear the story of his brave fight with the wolf to defend Llywelyn's child. It is said that after this day, Llywelyn never smiled again. Gelert's grave is still where he was buried today and visited by many thousands of tourists each year.

Gelert's Legend - Myth or truth?

We now know that the town took its name of Beddgelert from a saint named Kilart or Celert, rather than from after Llywelyn's faithful hound, Gelert. Today, memorial stones mark the place of Gelert's grave, and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh ‘The grave of Gelert’. One small problem however, is that the memorial stones are actually less than 200 years old! The "grave" is attributed to a David Pritchard, landlord of the Goat Hotel in Beddgelert in the late eighteenth century, who connected the legend to the village to encourage tourism. 

On the supposed grave of Gelert there are two slate memorials, one in Welsh and the other in English. The latter reads:

Gelert's Grave Inscriptions

IN THE 13TH CENTURY, LLYWELYN, PRINCE OF NORTH WALES, HAD A PALACE AT BEDDGELERT. ONE DAY HE WENT HUNTING WITHOUT GELERT "THE FAITHFUL HOUND" WHO WAS UNACCOUNTABLY ABSENT. ON LLYWELYN'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 THE SWORD INTO THE HOUND'S SIDE THINKING IT HAD KILLED HIS HEIR. THE DOG'S DYING YELL WAS ANSWERED BY A CHILD'S CRY. LLYWELYN SEARCHED AND DISCOVERED HIS BOY UNHARMED BUT NEAR BY 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. THE SPOT IS CALLED BEDDGELERT.

Some images of the Gelert's Grave memorial:-

Gelert's grave inscription English and Welsh

Bedd Gelert - Legend of the faithful hound gelert

Bedd Gelert - Faithful hound Gelert

 

  Gelert, the faithful hound Gelerts grave - gelert the faithful hound  Beddgelert and the Gelert grave area

Whether the story is based on legend, myth or history it is still an entertaining and engaging one but also a very sad one. To many children (and adults in Wales and worldwide) the legend of Gelert is true and very sad indeed.

About FelinFach

Our company, FelinFach Natural Textiles is located in the heart of the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire near to Boncath. We design Welsh blankets, Welsh woollen blankets and throws which are traditionally woven at Welsh mills. We also design and make natural hand dyed yarn, cotton, silk and wool scarves and other handmade products. We are a proud supporter of the Campaign for Wool, Global Welsh and Wales International.

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