Iron sword in the stone sculpture at Llanberis in the Snowdonia National Park
King Arthur is heavily associated with Snowdonia, with several names bearing his name. Cegin Arthur and Ffynnon Arthur reputedly have healing properties, and many tales associated with caves across the region tell of a sleeping Arthur who awaits the call to return with his men to rescue Wales.
The lakes of Llydaw, Dinas and Ogwen, amongst many others, claim to contain the magical Excalibur.
A stone reputedly bearing the hoof print of Arthur’s horse ‘Llamrai’ can be found on the banks of Lake Barfog near Betws y Coed. It is said that the mark was made when Arthur and his horse dragged a monster from the lake’s deep waters.
Arthur is also associated with mount Snowdon, where he reputedly killed the mountain’s most famous resident – Rhitta, a fearsome giant who created a cape for himself out of the beards of his enemies. His corpse was covered in huge stones by Arthur’s men at the summit of the mountain.
Bardsey Island off the coast of the Llyn Peninsula also has Arthurian associations. It is said to be the burial place of Merlin who lies in a glass coffin surrounded by the 13 treasures of Britain and nine bardic companions. Bardsey is also claimed to be the fabled Avalon.
Merlin is also associated with Gwyrtheyrn. Vortigen, a cruel and unpopular 5th Century warlord, escaped his enemies by running away to the mountain of Aran near Beddgelert.
He instructed his men to build him a castle on the site but every morning the men would find the previous day’s construction destroyed. Vortigen’s advisers told him to seek an orphan boy reared by the fairies.
His men finally found the boy Myrddin Emrys, or Merlin for short. The boy explained that two dragons – one white and one red – in a lake underneath the site of the proposed castle, were in mortal combat, and that the red dragon (the Welsh) was thwarting the white dragon (the Saxons).
On hearing the news Vortigen fled and Merlin handed over the castle to Emrys Wledig, and to this day the remains of the ancient fort of Dinas Emrys can still be seen.
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