Nestled in the heart of Snowdonia National Park, the picturesque village of Beddgelert is home to one of Wales' most enduring and poignant legends—the story of Gelert. This heart-wrenching tale has captured the imagination of generations, leaving a lasting mark on the culture and history of the region.
The legend of Gelert is part of the rich tapestry of Welsh folklore. As the story goes, Llywelyn the Great, King of Gwynedd and Prince of Wales, was an avid hunter who often ventured into the surrounding hills and valleys with his loyal and beloved dog, Gelert. Gelert was no ordinary hound; he was a courageous and faithful companion who had saved Llywelyn from many dangers during their hunting expeditions.
One day, Llywelyn decided to leave Gelert behind at home when he set out on a hunt. The prince's decision was prompted by concern for his infant son, sleeping in his cot inside a ground floor room. Leaving Gelert behind to guard the child, Llywelyn and his companions rode off determined to enjoy a day of hunting.
However, when he returned to his home later that day, Llywelyn was met by a happy, wagging Gelert, but the hound's muzzle was stained with blood. Rushing to his son's room, Llywelyn found the cradle was overturned and the baby's blankets in tatters. Overwhelmed by a rush of fear and anger, Llywelyn believed that his loyal hound had savagely attacked his son. In his grief and rage, Llywelyn unsheathed his sword and struck down Gelert, ending the life of his most faithful companion.
Almost immediately, Llywelyn heard the cry of a baby. He overturned the cradle to find his son safe and well. Nearby was the body of a dead wolf. Llywelyn realised, too late, that Gelert had not harmed the child; he had protected the infant from a wolf that had entered the home and sought to kill the prince's son.
Llywelyn was overcome with grief, but the deed had been done. All he could do was to bury Gelert with all due ceremony, and the village was renamed Beddgelert, meaning "Gelert's Grave" in Welsh, to honour the memory of the faithful hound.
This is a truly sad story, but it is just a story. According to experts the "faithful hound folk-tale motif" originated in India and has since spread all over the world. The story of Gelert has captured the hearts of countless people and many visitors come to Beddgelert to pay their respects every year. The legend has been passed down through the generations and remains an integral part of the cultural heritage of Wales.