Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Mount Snowdon

Welsh: Yr Wyddfa
Snowden, Snowdonia, Synadoun, Synadowne

Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and one of the most iconic peaks in the United Kingdom. It is part of the Snowdon Massif, a group of mountains in Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd.

It features in Nennius’s and Geoffrey’s tale of Vortigern. Vortigern sought to build a fortress on Snowdon as a defense against the Saxons, but each night, all construction completed during the previous day would disappear. Vortigern’s advisors told him that the foundation of Snowdon had to be sprinkled with the blood of a fatherless child. The king’s emissaries embarked on a search for such a child, and returned with a young Ambrosius (in Nennius) or Merlin (in Geoffrey of Monmouth).

The child prevented his own execution by showing Vortigern a lake hidden beneath the foundation of the fortress. Within the lake, the child revealed two worms or dragons, one white, one red. The creatures fought each other, and the white was victorious, which, the child said, foretold Vortigern’s eventual defeat. Vortigern fled Snowdon, which became known as Dinas Emrys. According to the Welsh tale of Lludd and Llefelys, the dragons had been buried in Snowdon by Lludd Llaw Ereint, son of the king of Britain.

Snowdon is named as the capital of Wales in Historia Meriadoc. In Renaut de Bâgé’s Le Bel Inconnu, it is a city at the base of the Snowdon mountains, perhaps to be identified with Segontium (Caernarfon). It was ruled by Esmeree the Blonde, Queen of Wales, but it was laid waste by two sorcerers named Mabon and Evrain, until Gawain’s son, Guinglain, traveled to the city and lifted the curse by killing the enchanters.

The giant King Rhitta Gawr, who fashioned clothes out of the beards of his fallen enemies, fell to his death from the summit of the mountain.

Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park, known as Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri in Welsh, is a stunning and expansive protected area located in northwest Wales. The establishment of Snowdonia National Park as a protected area for conservation and recreation came in the twentieth century, to preserve the natural beauty and heritage of the region. Here are some historical highlights for the region during the period of 0-800 AD.

Ancient Britons
Prior to the Roman conquest of Britain in the first century AD, the area that would later become Snowdonia National Park was inhabited by various Celtic tribes, including the Ordovices. These ancient Britons left behind archaeological evidence of their settlements, including hillforts and burial sites.

Roman Occupation
The Romans established a presence in Wales during the first century AD, and the region was part of the province of Britannia. Roman roads, forts, and other structures were built in the area, contributing to the Romanization of the local population.

Early Medival Wales
After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the early fifth century, the region saw the emergence of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, one of the medieval Welsh kingdoms. The kings of Gwynedd played a significant role in the history of Wales during this period.

The early medieval period saw the development of Arthurian legends, and Snowdonia is sometimes associated with King Arthur and his legendary exploits. Legends such as The Dream of Rhonabwy are set in this region.

Welsh Princes and Kingdoms
Throughout the early medieval period, various Welsh princes and rulers held sway in the region. Snowdonia was dotted with hillforts and castles as these rulers sought to assert their control.

Christianity and Viking Raids
The spread of Christianity also played a role in the region’s history during this period. Early Christian churches and monasteries were established, contributing to the religious and cultural life of the area. The Viking Age saw occasional raids on the Welsh coast, including areas near Snowdonia, as Norse invaders sought to expand their territories.

See also
Afon Cegin Arthur | The Legend of King Arthur
Ffynnon Cegin Arthur | The Legend of King Arthur
Valbone | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Historia Brittonum | Probably Nennius, early 9th century