Rangers unearth legendary Welsh sword

Ranger team with the sword at Llyn Ogwen with Tryfan in the background
Published : 01 Apr 2017

In an extraordinary find, a team of rangers working on a footpath near Llyn Ogwen recently discovered a sword in the ground. After careful cleaning and verification, experts believe the sword dates back to the 6th century, which coincides with the days of King Arthur.

Our Archaeologist, Kathy Laws, said: “Snowdonia is shrouded in myths and legends and there are countless stories about King Arthur. Locally there are claims Excalibur ended up in Llyn Llydaw whilst other legends implicate Llyn Ogwen. We didn’t actually find the sword in the lake, but the proximity and the age of the piece support Llyn Ogwen’s claim to the legend.

“It’s astonishing to think, that after all these years, it would turn up during what has been dubbed as the ‘Year of Legend’ by Visit Wales. We’re just gobsmacked!”

The group of rangers were out checking paths, as part of our ongoing work to maintain the stunning landscape of Snowdonia, when they caught a glimpse of something buried in the mud.

Sword on the ground near Llyn Ogwen
Sword on the shores of Llyn Ogwen, Gwynedd
Sword on the ground near Llyn Ogwen

Lead Ranger, Dewi Roberts said: “We were just resurfacing a section of the path when a glint caught my attention. We weren’t sure what it was to begin with so we carried on digging, even though it was covered in mud it was obvious that we’d found a sword.

“We all tried pulling it out carefully, but it was actually Iolo’s tug that released the full length of the sword into the air. Looking back it was quite a surreal moment. We’re all aware of the legend, and instinctively, almost immediately started teasing him, that he must be the chosen one, the reincarnation of King Arthur. We had no idea at the time that the sword could actually be that old and could potentially be Excalibur - we haven’t seen Iolo for a few days, we think he’s busy researching his family tree!”

We are continuing to work with Arthurian experts and archaeologists to verify the exact age of the sword and whether the faint embellishments along the hilt match the sword described in the Mabinogion.

The sword will be on display at Ogwen Cottage with more information available from the rangers base.Visitors can also embark on a walk around Llyn Ogwen, taking in the discovery site for themselves.