“ Address: Beddgelert / Snowdonia / Wales „
When I'm at home I live not very far from Beddgelert where Gelert's Grave is situated and have visited it many times when I walk along the neighbouring Aberglaslyn Pass. It's located in a beautiful spot by the river within one of Snowdonia's many valleys and mountains. Very picturesque.
Gelert's Grave itself isn't actually much. It's a fenced off area with a couple of trees and a plaque that tells of a story about a former prince of North Wales and his dog, the dog was loyal, Prince Llywelyn came back from hunting to find his son gone from his cot, Gelert the dog had blood all over his mouth, so Llywelyn plunged a sword into him but his son was fine and Gelert had fought off a wolf. The story is pretty well known to me as we've done it in school. It's a nice or sad little story whichever way you look at it, but unfortunately it's a story that was made up in order to encourage visitors to Beddgelert. Nothing is buried there. It worked though as Beddgelert draws in thousands of visitors a year, tourist season is a nightmare there, but they're mainly there for the scenery, sadly not for Gelert's Grave.
Apart from that there isn't much there. I wouldn't recommend going to Beddgelert just to see the grave, the village has much more to offer. I go to Gelert's Grave every now and again as it's en-route when I walk along the Aberglaslyn Pass.
When my sister and I took her grandson's to North Wales over Easter we visited the beautiful village of Beddgelert, we adults had never heard of the place before and were firmly put in our places by the four and six year old boys who had not only heard of Beddgelert but had learned the most wonderful legend about the village at school just weeks before we visited.
In the early 13th century Prince Llewellyn ruled the land of Gwynedd and when his son was born was overjoyed to have a heir. One day the Prince couldn't find his favourite loyal Irish Wolfhound, Gelert, so set off hunting without him, on his return he was greeted by the faithful dog but was confused to see his face covered in blood. The Prince ran across to the crib where his beloved son was sleeping only to find his bedsheets bloodied and torn with the child gone, in a fit of grief he plunged his sword into Gelert dealing him a fatal wound - he had killed his infant child, after all. Only, no, as Gelert looked at his Master and screamed his dying cries the Prince heard a baby's cry. In wonderment he went to look and discovered his son lying unharmed next to the body of a huge wolf who Gelert had obviously slain in order to save the child.
Realising his devastating error he rushed back to Gelert only it was too late, the heroic dog was dead. Prince Llewellyn is said to have been so full of remorse that he never smiled again, he buried Gelert in a beautiful spot and the village sprang up around the grave. The very name 'Beddgelert' translates to the Grave of Gelert.
They were immensely excited when they realised where we were and regaled us with the tale, which I happened to mention to a chap in Gelert Gifts and he told me they were quite right - and then suggested we go and have a look at the grave itself as it was just a short walk away along the river. Well, we had enjoyed the story and the excited looks on the boys' faces was enough for us to ask for directions and we set off on a lovely walk through Beddgelert to see the grave - not quite sure what we would find but surely this is education at its very best when a child can go back to school after the holidays and say they actually SAW the root of the legend they had just learned about.
The grave itself is beautiful; it has the air of tranquility that you find in cemeteries which surprised myself and my sister as when we chatted later we ascertained that the legend of Gelert is just that, a legend, so there would probably not be anything really buried under here. Yet it retained that peaceful atmosphere around the general vicinity that could be explained by the fact that the grave is surrounded by calming greenery and a beautiful river, but somehow it seemed like more than that to me.
The grave features two large and well maintained plaques of slate which tell the story I told you above, once in English and again in Welsh. The area immediately surrounding the grave is beautifully well kept, but then again the whole of Snowdonia is beautifully well kept so perhaps it's not surprising that such an important tourist attraction should look so wonderful. The grave is actually fenced off but a pathway will lead you around the perimeter, the fence also encloses a large boulder (presumably the headstone of Gelert) and a lovely old tree - the fence is situated to be as close as possible to the slate plaques so you can be sure of an excellent view and the promise of some beautiful photographs. We were actually rather naughty and allowed the boys to clamber over the fence so as to take a couple of photographs of them up close to the slates for them to take to school, luckily there was no-one else visiting the grave at the same time as us so we avoiding having people looking at us as though we were lowering the tone!
The grave is free to visit and once you've seen it I recommend heading over to Gelert Gifts as they sell a range of items relating to the legend, I bought a beautiful fridge magnet which shows Prince Llewellyn's cottage and the text of the story as printed on the slate in the grave itself. They also have pamphlets on the counter detailing the haunting story which are free, of course my sister's grandsons grabbed one each to add to their growing pile of Gelert goodies to show their teachers.
I completely recommend seeing Gelert's Grave if you are ever in Beddgelert, it's a charming piece of folklore and you might just learn something as we did!
The famous resting place of Llywelyn Prince of North Wales faithfull hound.