King Arthur and his knights are associated with several places across Ceredigion you can explore, from the coast of Cardigan Bay and the banks of the River Teifi to the ridges of the Cambrian Mountains. Some tales are full of humour and mischief, whilst others are of heroic feats and giant slaying.
King Arthur and his Knights
One tale tells how King Arthur was once caught trying to steal the cloak of St Padarn. The saint caused the ground to open up and swallow Arthur. The king was captive underground until he apologised!
King Arthur’s nephew, Gwalchmai, (Gawain) killed three murderous Ceredigion giants. Maelor Gawr, a giant who lived near Aberystwyth was captured and granted his final request - to blow his horn three times. Maelor’s son, Cornippyn, was out hunting and heard the sound of his father’s horn, rode to the rescue, leaping over the River Ystwyth, but was slain in the ensuing battle. That night, Maelor’s other cruel sons, Crugyn and Bwba, were also mysteriously killed. Look out for the giants’ legendary hilltop forts of Cefn Crugun and Castell Bwba near Llanilar and Llanbadarn Fawr near Aberystwyth.
In the tale of Culhwch and Olwen, two of Arthur’s knights, Cai and Bedwyr (or Sir Bedivere) are described sitting on the summit of Pumlumon in the ‘strongest of winds’ and nearby, between the gorge of the river Rheidol and the ridge of Erw Barfau near Devil's Bridge in the Cambrian Mountains, Cai and Bedwyr dug a pit to trap the bearded giant Dulas. Not far away, in the woods across the river to the village of Pontrhydygroes is a place called Maenarthur – the stone of Arthur.
Geraint, another of King Arthur’s knights, celebrated in Tennyson’s poem Geraint and Enid, is reputedly buried at Penbryn, near the site where he was killed at the battle of Llongborth. His fortress was Dungeraint, where the castle of Cilgerran now stands in the Teifi Valley.
The Book of Taliesin, which contains poems by the 6th century poet of ‘the old north’, eulogies to Cunedda and Dylan Eil Don as well as tales in which the bard claims to travel with King Arthur to Annwfn - the celtic otherworld. The manuscript is one of the treasures of the National Library of Wales at Aberystwyth.