The Red Dragon Rises again at Dinas Emrys

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Latest update 04.03.2013 11:04

Standing proud on the A498 to the east of Beddgelert, Dinas Emrys appears to be just another hill leading up towards the high reaches of Snowdon - but this place is special: Here be dragons!

Commanding one of the main routes into Snowdonia, Dinas Emrys is an ancient hill-fort steeped in myth and legend. The origins of the fortress lie in the Iron Age, with re-use in the 12th century associated with the princes of Gwynedd. The site is linked to stories about the 6th century King Vortigern, Emrys (aka Merlin), the Mabinogion and, most famously of all, the red dragon of Wales. This symbolic story tells of a fight between a white and a red dragon, with the red dragon being the resounding victor.

Currently, Dinas Emrys is part of an exciting ERDF-funded heritage tourism project to tell the story of the princes of Gwynedd – the most powerful dynasty in medieval Wales, which traced its ancestry to ancient times. During a period of feuding and turmoil in the 12th century, a stone tower was built on the summit of the hill – probably as a statement of status and power.

"Dinas Emrys is a truly amazing location" said Kathy Laws, our archaeologist. "Be it because of the dragons, Merlin or the Princes and the medieval way of life in Nantgwynant – this is a very important place for the identity of Wales."

In order to both preserve and interpret the significance of the site – it is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and sits within a SSSi and SAC – the Trust is working with a team of twelve local volunteers to lead bespoke guided walks.

"It is terrific to have so many people interested in being involved" said Sarah McCarthy, our Project Manager. "The volunteers have given up a considerable amount of time to train as guided-walk leaders and, through their enthusiasm and local knowledge, will bring the place to life.

Through this Cadw-inspired Princes of Gwynedd project, we are working with Conwy and Gwynedd Councils and the Snowdonia National Park to create new opportunities for visitors as well as local people to engage with the rich legacy of the princes. The volunteer-led guided walks are a key part of our work in the project, and are a great way of sharing the stories and significance of Dinas Emrys and the wider landscape of Beddgelert in a dynamic and sustainable way.

The first official guided walk took place on 1 March for St David’s Day, and to mark the event we held an art workshop with the kids form Ysgol Beddgelert where we built an amazing dragon costume that fit the whole class! and we topped the day off with the first walk of the season and the ceremonial raising of the Welsh flag on the summit of Dinas Emrys. This could be the first time Y Ddraig Goch (the Red Dragon) has been flown there so it'll be a special day all round!

For future guided walks up to Dinas Emrys, keep an eye out on out events page!