This is the sad story of Gelert, the faithful hound of prince Llewelyn, and how the villiage of Beddgelert came to be named so.
Llewelyn and his dog lived in a castle in the rugged mountains of Eryri, Gwynedd many years ago. The prince loved to hunt and Gelert was his favourite and most fearless companion.
The prince had a beloved son. Sadly, his wife died during childbirth. On her deathbed, Llewelyn promised he would cherish the boy.
One day, Llewelyn decided to join his men on a hunt. His son was fast asleep in his cradle. Despite having a nurse, Llewelyn decided to leave loyal Gelert behind to protect the homestead. As he left he stroked the dog’s huge, shaggy head.
"Guard him well, Gelert," he said. "Until I return."
Gelert’s wagged his tail and his eyes remained on his master’s face until Llewelyn softly closed the door behind him.
Whilst out hunting, Llewelyn thought of his son. One day they would hunt the wolves of the ancient, dark forests side by side.
The prince returned late, tired but successful. He went straight to the bedchamber to see his little son.
But as he entered the room he beheld a horrific sight. Furniture lay upturned, tapestries had been ripped from the walls and the cradle lay on the floor. It was empty and the bedding was stained with blood.
As Llewelyn stood rooted to the spot, he felt a familiar nose nuzzle the palm of his hand. He looked down to see Gelert’s eyes gazing up at him, his head and paws were covered with blood.
"You wicked creature!" roared the prince. "This dog has killed my son!" and without hesitation he drew his dagger and plunged it deep into Gelert’s side. As the dog slumped to the ground, the prince heard a soft cry from behind the upturned cradle.Llewelyn moved the cradle aside and found his son, unharmed, next to the body of a huge dead wolf. The picture soon became clear: Gelert had killed the wolf to protect his son.
Filled with remorse, Llelwelyn knelt and gently stroked his faithful friend and Gelert’s tail thumped the ground slowly for the last time.
Image Source: Ann Hemmings
Gelert’s body was buried outside the castle walls, in a pretty spot close to the river. The stone slab, inscribed with Gelert’s name, still marks the grave and the village nearby is called ‘Beddgelert’ – which means Gelert’s grave. Here is a picture of Welsh Gift Shop's Ann - who visited the grave to pay her respects!