The Legends and Myths Surroundong Snowdon

Snowdon is full of magic and legend and you can feel it in the air as you walk along the many paths to the summit. Whether it be giants, huge water monsters or Excalibur and the lady of the lake, Snowdon is steeped in myth and legend.

Rhitta Gawr – The Giant

King Arthur features heavily in the history of Snowdon and is actually claimed as being responsible for the mountain being as high as it is. The legend has it that there once lived a fierce Giant King called Rhitta Gawr who was feared throughout all of Wales. He would take the beards of his defeated enemies to make clothes out of and he lived in a cave on the mountain.

Having defeated most of his enemies, Rhitta Gawr challenged King Arthur and as a result, Arthur with a group of men, set out to slay the giant king. A huge battle took place on the slopes of Snowdon and the feared giant king was defeated by the King and his men.

Arthur buried the slain giant at the top of Snowdon and he and his men covered the giant’s body with huge rocks making the mountain as tall as it is today. The welsh name for Snowdon is Yr Wyddfa Fawr meaning ‘The Great Tomb’ referring to the final resting place of the giant king – Rhitta Gawr.

Rhitta Gawr
The Afanc

The Afanc

Glaslyn is a lake that lies beneath the summit of Snowdon at the end of Miners Path. It is a beautiful blue colour and in Welsh it is called Llyn Ffynnon Las (Lake of the Blue Fountain).

Legend has it that the people of nearby Betws Y Coed and surrounding area were once plagued by terrible flooding. The cause of this flooding was not a natural phenomenon but instead was caused by a terrible water beast called the Afanc.

This Afanc, who could only live in water, was hideous and had skin so tough that it couldn’t be penetrated by sword or spears so the local villagers got together to decide on a plan of action in how to tackle such a tremendous and wicked monster.

The villagers decided that, as they couldn’t slay it, the best course of action would be to capture the beast and take it lake far away where it couldn’t do any more harm. As they couldn’t use spears or swords a brave and beautiful farmer’s daughter volunteered to try and lure the Afanc out of the water by singing it a lullaby. So soft and sweet was the girl’s voice that the Afanc came out of the water and fell asleep listening to the beautiful melody. At which point, the villagers tied up the monster and carried him far off.

It was well known to the villagers that Glaslyn was a bottomless lake so thy decided to take the monster here where he would be able to do no more harm. To this day, the Afanc is still living in the depths of the blue lake beneath the summit of Snowdon unable to cause any more harm to the residents and Betws Y Coed.

Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake and Excalibur are both myths and legends set in one of the lakes on the slopes of Snowdon. It was during Arthur’s fiercest and final battle where he was mortally struck by an arrow that he and his knights took refuge in a cave on the miners track. Excalibur was the sword of the King of England and Arthur could not have this sword falling into enemy hands so, knowing that he would not survive the wound, Arthur commanded Bedevere to take the sword and place it somewhere safe.

Bedevere left his beloved king with his knights in the cave and went to the nearest lake he could find – Llyn Ffynnon Las. It was here that Bedevere hurled the sword and instead of landing in the middle of the lake, it was caught by the outstretched hand of woman with a white silk sleeve. She shook the sword in the air 3 times before withdrawing back to the lake where the sword lies to this day waiting the return of Arthur and his brave knights.

King Arthur