Mountain of the Lost Princess

On Carnedd Gwenllian (thanks to the Geograph project)

The hills are cold, hazardous.  The freezing clouds descend on Snowdonia ruthlessly, and the rain turns the underfoot into a morass.  Here amongst the forbidding mountains stands the greatest monument to a lost princess.  By the hard work of a society dedicated to her memory, the name of Gwenllian of Gwynedd now adorns one of the 3,000-foot mountains of Caernarfonshire.

Gwenllian cried her first in Abergwyngregyn while the court wept for her mother, Eleanor, or Elen, dying in childbirth.  She lay in her cradle when her father, Llywelyn the Last, was slain at Builth Wells, and was barely walking when her uncle, Dafydd, was taken and hanged for rebellion against King Edward. She was dangerous  – the last of the line of the princes whose ancestry ran back to those who had borne the name “King of Britain”, a kingdom which contracted into the mountain fastness of Snowdon.  King Edward was her uncle though, and he bore her away and placed her in a nunnery in Lincolnshire, never to hear her native Welsh tongue again.

In 2009 the mountain’s name was changed to Carnedd Gwenllian, from the bland ‘Garnedd Uchaf’ (a daft name; it is not the highest).  It followed a campaign by a society founded in Gwenllian’s memory.

Some years later I stood on the flank of the mountain, walking up from Abergwyngregyn, Llywelyn’s capital and now a little village, Aber, squashed into the valley.  With two small children in tow we could not climb to the summit, but we stood looking around us at the spectacle.  Here now reunited next to each other stand the peaks named Llywelyn, Elen, Dafydd and Gwenllian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *