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Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)

We continue walking in the footsteps of legendary Welsh wizard, mysterious mentor of King Arthur – Merlin.

Another remarkable place associated with Merlin is Dinas Emrys.

Dinas Emrys near Beddgelert, Snowdonia, North Wales is an Iron Age hill fort. It features in several legends as being the strongest place in Britain. This sacred site would be remarkable for those who interested in the legend of King Arthur and Merlin of course.

Travel Tips:

To find the site, from Beddgelert turn right on the A498 heading towards Capel Curig. After one mile turn left into the Craflwyn Centre (National Trust) and park here. You will find a visitors centre and toilet. Entrance to the ruins area is free.

The walk to Dinas Emrys should take 30 – 40 minutes and includes a special waterfall.

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)Very beautiful waterfall on the way to Dinas Emrys

Battle Of The Dragons

According to the legend, Vortigern, a 5th Century ruling warlord and king of Britons, had fled into Wales to escape Anglo-Saxon invaders. He decided to settle at Dinas Emrys as this site would prove good to defend against the enemy. Day after day his men would work hard building the first of several proposed towers; but the next morning they would return to find the masonry collapsed in a heap.

These strange and mysterious events continued for several weeks. Eventually Vortigern sought advice and was told to seek the help of a young fellow not conceived by mortal man. The King sent soldiers out to scour the land for such a child. Finally they found a boy who met this unusual description, called Myrddin Emrys (Merlin Ambrosius). Following the advice of his councillors, Vortigern planned to sacrifice young Merlin to appease the strange supernatural forces that were undermining his efforts to build a fortress. Merlin thought this was a terrible idea, and instead explained that the hill fort could not be built because of a hidden pool that contained two dragons. He told Vortigern that although the White Dragon of the Saxons was winning the battle at present, it would soon be defeated by the Welsh Red Dragon.

Following Vortigern’s defeat, the fort was given to Emrys Wledig (Ambrosius Aurelianus), hence its name Dinas Emrys.

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)Detail from Lambeth Palace Library MS 6 folio 43v illustrating an episode in Historia Regum Britanniae (c. 1136). Pictured above Vortigern sits at the edge of a pool whence two dragons emerge, one red and one white, which do battle in his presence.

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)Very beautiful dragon bench on the trail to Dinas Emrys


Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)There is an excellent walk to the summit of Dinas Emrys with breath-taking views of Snowdonia.

Only modest relics of defensive walls and foundations of the tower have survived to this day.

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)Ruins of what is considered to be an 11th Century tower at Dinas Emrys

Travel Tips:

This lovely hike is recommend by National Trust, route details. Waterfalls, streams, dragon bench, lots of sheep, ladders stiles over the rock walls – great views at the end. 

Archaeology of Dinas Emrys

Today little remains above ground, however in 1910 and 1954-56 archaeologists excavated the site of Llywelyn’s castle at Dinas Emrys and have identified several periods of habitation; the earliest dating to perhaps the 1st or 2nd century. They also found the cellar of the castle and the foundations of the tower. A cistern inside the structure has been identified which may have been the hidden pool and have some connection with the legendary tale of Vortigern and the dragons.

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)On the top of the hill

Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)Spectacular views of Snowdonia from the hill
Walking In The Footsteps Of Legends: Merlin (Part 2)On the trail to Dinas Emrys

Hidden treasure

It is believed that Merlin hid his treasures in a cave at Dinas Emrys. He placed it in a golden vessel, which was put with his golden chair inside the cavern. He then rolled a large rock over the entrance and covered it with earth and green turf. It is said that the discoverer of the treasure will be ‘golden-haired and blue-eyed’. When that lucky person is close to entrance of the cave, a bell will ring to invite him or her into the cave, which will open of its own accord as soon as that person’s foot touches it.


Mysterious Wales / Chris Barber


Arthurian Legend

Timeless Myths 


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