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The Legend of Gelert

The grave of Gelert

Gelert's grave, final resting place of Prince Llewelyn's faithful hound

In the Glaslyn Valley high in the mountains of Snowdonia in north Wales is the little picturesque village of Beddgelert. Among its attractions today, on the outskirts of the village, is the grave of possibly this country's most famous dog; Gelert.

The grave has the tale displayed on two stones, one in English and one in Welsh.

 

Gelert by Charles Burton Barber

"Gelert"
Charles Burton Barber
(1845–1894)

The statue of Gelert
The statue of Gelert

Gelert is the name of the legendary dog associated with the village of Beddgelert
(whose name means 'Gelert's Grave').

The story, as written on the tombstone reads:

"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 unaccountably absent.

On Llewelyn'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 child's cry.

Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed,
but near by lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain.

The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again.
He buried Gelert here".

The tale of Gelert was immortalised further by the Hon W R Spencer (1769-1834), in his poem:

'Beth-Gelert'
The spearman heard the bugle sound,
And cheerily smiled the morn;
And many a brach, and many a hound,
Obeyed Llewellyn's horn.

And still he blew a louder blast,
And gave a louder cheer:
"Come, Gelert, come, why are thou last
Llewellyn's horn to hear!
"Oh, where does faithful Gelert roam?
The flower of all his race!
So true, so brave -- a lamb at home,
A lion in the chase!"

'Twas only at Llewellyn's board
The faithful Gelert fed;
He watched, he served, he cheered his lord,
And sentinel'd his bed.
In sooth he was a peerless hound,
The gift of Royal John -
But now no Gelert could be found,
And all the chase rode on.

And now as over rocks and dells
The gallant chidings rise,
All Snowdon's craggy chaos yells
With many mingled cries.
That day Llewellyn little loved
The chase of hart or hare;
And scant and small the booty proved,
For Gelert was not there.

Unpleased Llewellyn homeward hied,
When, near the portal-seat,
His truant, Gelert, he espied,
Bounding his lord to greet.
But when he gained the castle-door,
Aghast the chieftain stood;
The hound all o'er was smeared with gore --
His lips, his fangs ran blood!

Llewellyn gazed with fierce surprise,
Unused such looks to meet,
His favourite checked his joyful guise,
And crouched and licked his feet.
Onward in haste Llewellyn passed --
And on went Gelert too --
And still, where'er his eyes were cast,
Fresh blood-gouts shocked his view!

Contact Paws In Britain 01233 861337 info@pawsforawalk.co.uk
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