The legends and myths of Wales are so
numerous it would take years to tell all the
stories. All the legends and myths have been
told through the centuries by one generation to
the next, and without question bits have been
added to the stories, and some bits taken away.
But what remains consistent is all the legends
and myths have there base in history and fact.
It is this history and fact that makes the stories
so much a part of the Welsh culture, and gives
it a proud and unique heritage to stand upon. It
is here that we shall begin sharing snippets of
this wondrous and magnificent oral and written
The red dragon has long been an emblem
associated with the country of Wales. It is the
mark of bravery and victory, and has been a
symbol for the Welsh people since the Middle
Ages. The dragon graces shields and
standards and is part of many families crest
or coat of arms.
When King Henry VII was crowed as the King
of England in 1485, it is said that he ordered
the Red Dragon become part of the official
flag of the principality of Wales. And the
Welsh are fiercely proud of their Dragon. 'Y
Ddraig Goch a ddyry Gychwyn' - the Red
Dragon will show the way. And he most
St. David grew up in Ceredigion and kept company
with monk, learning their ways and the Bible.
David learned at the hand of a blind teacher
named Paulinus, and it was due to this teacher
that David discovered his gift for helping people.
He laid his hands over the eyes of the teacher and
restored his sight. David then began to travel
throughout Wales, sharing his gift.
It is said that while David was speaking to a flock
of the faithful, he was not able to be heard or
seen by all who had come to listen. and because
of this problem the ground rose up and lifted him
to heights where he could be seen and heard by
God came to David and told him to build a
monastery in the Glyn Rhoysn valley. This today is
where St. David's Cathedral (also known as the
smallest city in Europe) is located, on the grounds
of the old monastery.
St David is the Patron saint of Wales and her
people and he died on March I. This is St. David's
day in Wales and is celebrated every year. This is
celebrated every year as the national day of
thanksgiving, and is traditionally signified by
women wearing a daffodil and the men wearing a
leek, both which are Welsh National symbols.
One of the best known, and loved, folk-tales in
Wales is the story of a faithful hound.
The story goes that in the thirteenth-century,
Prince Llywelyn the Great had a palace at
Beddgelert in Caernarvonshire, and as the
Prince was a keen hunter, he spent much of his
time in the surrounding countryside.
He had many hunting dogs, but one day when
he summoned them as usual with his horn, his
favourite dog Gelert didn't appear, so
regretfully Llywelyn had to go hunting without
When Llywelyn returned from the hunt, he was
greeted by Gelert who came bounding towards
him …his jaws dripping with blood.
The Prince was appalled, and a horrible
thought came into his mind …was the blood on
the dog's muzzle that of his one-year old son?
His worst fears were realised when he saw in
the child's nursery, an upturned cradle, and
walls spattered with blood! He searched for
the child but there was no sign of him.
Llywelyn was convinced that his favourite
hound had killed his son.
Mad with grief he took his sword and plunged it
into Gelert's heart.
As the dog howled in his death agony, Llywelyn
heard a child's cry coming from underneath the
upturned cradle. It was his son, unharmed!
Beside the child was an enormous wolf, dead,
killed by the brave Gelert.
Llywelyn was struck with remorse and carried
the body of his faithful dog outside the castle
walls, and buried him where everyone could see
the grave of this brave animal, and hear the
story of his valiant fight with the wolf.
To this day, a cairn of stones marks the place,
and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh 'The
grave of Gelert'. Every year thousands of people
visit the grave of this brave dog; slight problem
however, is that the cairn of stones is actually
less than 200 years old!
Nevertheless this story has great appeal. History
and myth appear to have become a little
confused when in 1793, a man called David
Pritchard came to live in Beddgelert. He was the
landlord of the Royal Goat Inn and knew the
story of the brave dog and adapted it to fit the
village, and so benefit his trade at the Inn.
He apparently invented the name Gelert, and
introduced the name Llywelyn into the story
because of the Prince's connection with the
nearby Abbey, and it was with the help of the
parish clerk that Pritchard, not Llywelyn, raised
According to local legend, Merlin was born in
the area around Carmarthen in South Wales. He
was raised by his mother and the nuns in the
Church of St Peter. Merlin's mother was thought
to be the daughter of the King of South Wales.
His father was described by people of the time
as a spirit who lived between the moon and the
Merlin spent most of his time in the area of
Carleon where he was a great help to King
Arthur. He also spent time roaming in the
lowlands of Scotland after a terrible defeat at
the Battle of Arfderydd in 573AD. It is said that
he roamed the lowlands for more than 50 years
with only a pig and the animals of the area for
his only companionship.
In the twilight of Merlin's life, he fell in love
with a beautiful young woman named Vivien.
Vivien seduced Merlin with her beauty and
charms and persuaded him to reveal his secrets
of his mysticism to her. I n return for this, she
promised him unending love.
When Merlin capitulated and told all his secrets
to this woman who promised to love him, the
cunning Vivien put a spell on Merlin which cast
him into a deep slumber. She left him in a cave
for all eternity, only to come out of the sleep if
and when King Arthur and his men awaken.
There are stones set around the Carmarthen
area that are connected with Merlin's
prophecies .The most famous part of his
legacy is the Priory Oak Tree in Carmarthen of
which one of the prophecies said 'When
Merlin's tree shall tumble down, then shall
fall Carmarthen town'. According to the
legend, if this prophecy ever comes true, this
will lead to a time of great danger for the
On Merlin's Hill near Abergwili outside of
Carmarthen, you can visit the area where the
cave holding the sleeping Merlin is reputed to
be, and hear the moaning of a man cursing his
folly of love. The hill is set amongst the
beautiful farmland of the Tywi River valley
and is easily visited for those who wish to
partake of the mystery and lore surrounding
Merlin. The visitor's centre offers an
exhibition of artifacts from the Carmarthen
area as well as some historical perspective of
the South Wales area, Be prepared, because
the home of Merlin's cave is also a working
dairy farm! The past and present are working
side by side, preserving the legend of Merlin
and his contribution to the folklore of Wales.