The Legends Of Wales

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The Legends Of Wales

  1. 1. 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 tradition.
  2. 2. 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 certainly has!
  3. 3. 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 all. 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.
  4. 4. 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 him. 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.
  5. 5. 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 the cairn!
  6. 6. 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 earth. 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.
  7. 7. 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 country. 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.

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