Snowdon Part 1: Myths and legends

The most talked about and walked about mountain in Britain, Snowdon, is one of the main reasons people come to stay with us at Aberconwy House. As we are only about 30 -40 minutes drive away to some of the main routes traversed up the mountain we have the perfect spot to plan a climb or rest up after the descent.


Our children have always thought that it was called Snowdon as it gets ‘Snowed On’, but actually they are not far off the mark.  The name Snowdon comes from the Old English name for the mountain snaw dun, which means ‘snow hill’. The Welsh name for the mountain is Yr Wyddfa, which means “the tumulus,” which is a mound of stones over a grave or more commonly ‘the tomb’.  It has also been known as Yr Wyddfa Fawr (the great tomb) and Carnedd y Cawr (the cairn of the giant) and this is where the myths and legends begin. The word Eryri, meaning ‘highland’ or as some believe ‘abode of eagles’ is sometimes applied to the mountain, but generally is used to describe Snowdonia as an area.

Rhita Gawr       

It was believed from an Arthurian legend, that there lived a giant (the then King of Wales) at the top of the mountain called Rhitta Gawr who made himself a cloak from the beards of the kings he had killed.  Apparently King Arthur fought the giant, slaying and burying him in a tomb on the summit, hence the name, Yr Wyddfa Fawr. King Arthur’s men are thought to have slept in a cave on Y Lliwedd waiting for their King’s return.  Another legend says that King Arthur died at Bwlch y Saethau on the ridge between Snowdon and Y Lliwedd and a cairn existed on the spot until the 1850’s.  At King Arthur’s death Bedwyr (Bedivere) threw Arthur’s sword Excalibur into Llyn Llydaw, a lake below the mountain.


Additional myths relate to the lake Llyn Ffynnon Las, now known as Glaslyn where it is told that a water monster called an afanc, that had terrorized nearby villages, had been chained and drowned in the lake after it was lured out of the water by a maiden.

Clogwyn Arddu  Which stone is it???

If you want powers to help you climb harder and higher then you need to seek out the magical stone called Maen Du’r Arddu below the cliff Clogwyn du’r Arddu.

Snowdon walking  snowdon-summit

Whether these stories are true or not, there is no denying there is a majesty to the mountain and most walkers/climbers of the mountain come down with a legend or at least a story or two about their adventures.  We’re always ready to hear about the latest achievement in scaling the highest mountain in England and Wales, so get your walking boots on and come and find your own story to tell about your journey up and down Snowdon.

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