Rising just 250ft above Afon Glaslyn and overlooking Llyn Dinas is Dinas Emrys, a small wooded hill just outside Beddgelert. People drive past on the way to visit Beddgelert, and probably don’t give it a second look, but do those people know what happened there c1500 years ago?
In the 5th century a warlord, by the name of Vortigern, fled from the Anglo Saxons and took refuge in North Wales.
Vortigern chose Dinas Emrys as the site for a hillfort and to be his “royal” retreat. Little remains of the buildings that once stood on the hill, and excavations in the 20th century revealed several periods of habitation. The earliest being during the Iron Age. A “pool” thought to be an artificial construction may date to this era.
Each day, Vortigerns’ men would work hard constructing the foundations of the hill fort, and each night the work would collapse into a pile of rubble. This continued for many weeks, so Vortigern spoke with his elders to come up with a solution. It was decided that the blood of a young orphan boy must be spilt on the foundations as an offering. The King sent his men away to search for such a boy. They soon returned with a boy who went by the name of Myrddin Emrys. Following the advice of his elders, the King planned to sacrifice the boy to appease the supernatural powers that prevented the building of the hill fort.
Myrddin managed to persuade the King that the problem was that the fort would not stand due to a hidden pool containing two dragons who fought each night causing the foundations to collapse. He explained how the White Dragon would eventually be defeated by the Red Dragon. The King ordered his men to dig down and expose this pool and to release the dragons. Eventually after many days, the men came across the pool and the two dragons were released and began fighting to the death. Although injured and exhausted the red dragon was victorious.
The Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) became the symbol of Wales and is a heraldic symbol that appears on the national flag.
Myrddin Emrys grew up to become Merlin the wizard of Arthurian legend.