When it comes to learning about Welsh history and culture, Snowdonia is a great place to go. Whether it is the fact that Welsh is widely spoken there, the presence of so many castles (albeit mainly built by the English) and numerous folk tales such as the tragedy of the faithful hound Gelert, Snowdonia is a great place to visit – as well as to get a Welsh love spoon!
Of course, for most the prime reason for visiting is the stunning landscape of mountains, valleys and lakes. Yet some may wonder how the various peaks got their names. Translations from Welsh will reveal that Tryfan is three peaks and Cadair Idris is the Chair of Idris (a mythical giant), but some will wonder how the titles Carnedd Llewellyn and Carnedd Dafydd came about.
Translating as Llewellyn’s Cairn and Dafydd’s Cairn respectively, these are two of the highest peaks in Wales and are two of the seven peaks over 3,000 on the Carneddau ridge, forming almost half of the 15-peak Welsh 3,000s challenge. Great mountains though they are, walkers who merely climb them to tick off the list may miss the significance of their names.
It is widely believed that the names are derived from Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and his brother Dafydd ap Gruffudd, the last independent princes of Wales. Another tradition holds that Llywelyn the Great accounts for one of the names and Dafydd ap Gruffudd the other.
Llywelyn the Great was certainly a major historic figure, dominating Wales for 45 years before his death in 1240, taking the principality to the brink of full nation statehood.
The princes Dafydd and Llewellyn later took up the cause again, before being finally defeated in battle in 1282 near Builth Wells by the forces of Edward I, better known for his conflicts with William Wallace and the Scots.
Nowadays, English visitors are more likely to wield an ice cream than a sword. But high among the greatest mountains of Wales, there are two perennial reminders of different times and a rich royal history.