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Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2020. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 33006

Map Reference SH54NE

Grid Reference SH591481

Unitary (Local) Authority Gwynedd

Old County Caernarfonshire

Community Beddgelert

Type of Site VILLAGE

Broad Class CIVIL

Period Post Medieval

Site Description Beddgelert is situated were the river Colwyn meets the river Glaslyn. Before the construction of the Cob at Porthmadog the river was tidal and ships sailed all the way to the village centre. The parish church of St Mary's (NPRN 43763) has 12th century origins, it was built on the site of a presumed Celtic Clas and subsequently a late 7th century Augustinian Priory, and is traditionally regarded as one of the oldest religious foundations in Wales.

Beddgelert means the 'grave of Gelert' refering to Gelert, a sixth century saint from the area. The 'Gelert's Grave' situated near the village, was erected c.1802 by David Pritchard, first tenant-manager of the Beddgelert Hotel (now the Royal Goat Hotel, NPRN 16816). Drawing on pre-existing mythology he revived and partly reinvented the story of the loyal hound Gelert, whose master was Llewelyn Fawr.

From the late 18th century there was a marked increase in English visitors and artists to Snowdonia and North Wales as tourists of the 'Picturesque'. Gelert's Grave subsequently played an important role in the history of early Welsh tourism.

Beddgelert was also a mining village and has terraces of workers' housing, providing accommodation for miners at the nearby Sygun Fawr Copper Mine (NPRN 33771) and local slate quarries. A short-lived narrow gauge railway built through Beddgelert from Caernarfon to Porthmadog to transport slate and copper opened in the 1920s, by which time most of the mines and quarries were closing.

RCAHMW, 2009.

Beddgelert was the site of an Augustinian Priory founded in the early thirteenth century. According to legend, the village takes its name from Gelert, a hound belonging to Llewelyn ap Iorwerth (d.1240), who had saved his baby son from wolves, but before realising his son was still alive, Llewlyn killed the hound. Full of remorse, after discovering his error, the prince buried him near the village. In truth, the memorial stone marking ‘Gelert’s grave’ was erected in 1802 by David Prichard, the first manager of the Royal Goat Hotel, as marketing ploy to attract sentimental tourists to his establishment. It appears to have worked as the legend, his name and the hotel feature in numerable travellers’ accounts of their visits to Beddgelert throughout the nineteenth century.

Record updated as part of the AHRC-funded project 'Journey to the Past: Wales in historic travel writing from France and Germany'.
R. Singer (Bangor University) and S. Fielding (RCAHMW), 2017.

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