Gelert’s Grave at Beddgelert
Beddgelert may have a population of just over six-hundred and be set in a beautiful location, but its fame and popularity has spread throughout the world due to a small mound called ‘Gelert’s Grave’. It’s also the nearest village to the scenic Glaslyn Gorge and the Aberglaslyn Pass and the car park provides easy access for climbing the mountain ‘Moel Hebog,’ which overlooks the village in the West. The Sygun Copper Mine, another popular attraction, is only a short drive away.
Beddgelert is situated eight miles north of Porthmadog in a secluded valley at the confluence of two rivers, the Afon Glaslyn and Afon Colwyn. Above the junction of the rivers, in the village centre, stands the old two-arched stone bridge. The village was probably named after the early Christian missionary Celert (or Cilert) with the earliest appearance of the name, as it appears today, in 1258. Parts of village church, The Church of St. Mary, date from the twelfth century.
The Welsh Highland Railway now stops at the village since its station was reopened in 2009, linking it with Porthmadog to the South and Caernarfon on the North coast.
The stunning landscape surrounding the village was used in the 1958 movie, ‘The Inn of the Sixth Happiness’, starring Ingrid Bergman, Robert Donat and Curt Jürgens (there is a plaque in the village to this effect). The slopes of Moel Dyniewyd were transformed into a Chinese city, a Chinese fort was built at nearby Nantmor and a Chinese village appeared on the terraced working of a disused copper mine. Most of the children in the film were played by Chinese school children bussed-in from Liverpool. A gold-painted statue of Buddha used as a prop in the film is now located in Portmeirion.
The author Alfred Bestall wrote and illustrated some of the Rupert Bear stories while he lived in the village. There is a small area dedicated to the bear, ‘Rupert Garden,’ which is a short walk from Alfred Bestall’s old house at the foot of Mynydd Sygun.
While this sad tale may have been told throughout Europe for hundreds of years, it was the brainwave of David Pritchard, the eighteenth century landlord of the nearby Goat Hotel, to connect it with the village in order to boost tourism in the town and my word it certainly worked…
In the 13th Century Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, “The Faithful Hound”, who was unaccountable absent.
On Lleywelyn’s return, the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The Prince alarmed hastened to find his son and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a childs’s cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed but near by lay the body of a mighty wolfe which Gelert had slain.
The Prince, filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here. The spot is called Beddgelert “The Grave of Gelert”.