Gelert, the Faithful Hound

Folklore / Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

When King John – he who battled Robin Hood – gave his daughter to be married to Llewelyn Fawr, he also presented his son-in-law with a puppy.  Gelert, the Welshman named it, and it grew into a strong, fierce defender and helpmeet of his master.

When Llewelyn went hunting, Gelert bounded through the forest to bring back the prey.  As Llewelyn sat in council, Gelert sat beside him, daring all present to attack the prince.  And when Llewelyn paused before his fire, Gelert rolled onto his back and begged to be petted.  Gelert lay under Llewelyn’s table, awaiting the scraps, and curled next to him as Llewe lyn slept.

Years of faithful service passed.  When Llewelyn’s wife bore a sun, Gelert loved the baby, licking its little face, and standing guard over his cot.

Until one day, Llewelyn was outside in his garden, and heard a commotion inside the house.  The baby was screaming.  Whipping out his sword, he dashed back inside, into the bedroom, where the cot lay upside down, Gelert’s jaws covered in blood.  In outrage and grief, Llewelyn swung the sword at his dog, and sliced off Gelert’s head with a single blow, then rushed to the cot.

As he pulled it upright, there lay his baby son, alive and unhurt, and beside him, a huge wolf, savaged to death by Gelert.

The sorrowful Llewelyn buried the body of his dog that had been faithful to the last, and renamed the village Beddgelert: “the grave of Gelert.”

Beddgelert, Wales