Learn the story behind this loving tribute to man’s best friend.
Who could fail to be entranced by the tale of the faithful hound Gelert, slain in error by his master Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd? According to the story, Llywelyn returns one day from hunting to find his baby son missing from his cradle and is greeted by his wolfhound Gelert, his face smeared with blood. Believing the dog to have killed his son, Llywelyn draws his sword and slays him. Only then does he hear the cries of the baby, lying unharmed beneath the cradle – next to the body of a huge wolf. Overcome with remorse, Llywelyn buries the dog and, it is said, never smiles from that day forth.
The tale is a familiar one, and variants of it exist across the globe. In the case of Gelert, this particular story was invented in the 1790s by David Prichard, landlord of the Goat Hotel, Beddgelert as a way to encourage tourism in the area. So who was the real Gelert?
The real Gelert may have been a 7th-century hermit who lived in a cave near to a sacred well. The well is known today as the Holy Well of St Celer (near Llandysul), an alternative spelling of Gelert’s name. It is said that pilgrims flocked here in medieval times to be healed by Gelert and the sacred waters. Gelert is thought to have been martyred, though the mound known as Beddgelert (said to be Gelert’s grave) is not believed to be associated with the hermit. It is generally considered to be a natural feature rather than something man-made.
National Trust Craflwyn
- Accessible by Public Transport
- Info Point
- Buggy Access
- Good Walks Nearby
- Family Walk
- Wheelchair Access
Village is at junction of A498 and A4085
Bangor - 22 miles, Porthmadog - 8 miles
Beddgelert bus stop
There is a cycle track from Rhyd Ddu to Beddgelert
Signposted from village - 1 mile walk
Walk suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Dogs to be kept on a lead
Full Grid Reference Number: SH590477
OS Landranger map sheet 115
- 01766 890595
- Gelert's Grave, Beddgelert