Cantre’r Gwaelod is Wales’s very own Atlantis, and the tale is one of Wales’s best known legends. Do some features along the shore of Cardigan Bay suggests that there may be some truth to the tale?
The Lost Land of Cantre’r Gwaelod
According to the legend, Cantre’r Gwaelod was the rich and fertile ‘lowland hundred’ and sixteen cities governed by Gwyddno Garanhir, whose palace, Caer Wyddno, was reputedly near Aberystwyth. The land stretched across what is today the open sea of Cardigan Bay, and lay below sea level, protected by sea walls. The guardian of the sea defences was Seithennyn, a friend of the king charged with the all important role of shutting the sea gates every night. One night Seithennyn, who liked his drink, was at a feast in the king's palace, and forgot to shut the sea gates. It was a stormy night and the high spring tides broke through, quickly flooding Cantre’r Gwaelod, and forcing its people to flee to the hills.
The tale is first recorded in the 'Black Book of Carmarthen along with tales of Arthur and Merlin. This precious manuscript is in the keeping of the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth.
Visit Ynyslas to discover the petrified forest – best seen in winter when the strong tides wash away the sand - or listen out for the sound of bells from under the waves between Ynyslas and Aberdyfi, across the Dyfi estuary, immortalised in the popular welsh folk song 'Clychau Aberdyfi (The Bells of Aberdyfi).
Download a map and route guide for Borth to Ynyslas Cantre'r Gwaelod walk that takes in the Dyfi National Nature Reserve and the beach where you'll find the sunken forest.
Alternatively, walk south from Borth along the Coast Path towards Clarach and Aberystwyth to see Sarn Cynfelyn causeway that stretches out to sea at Wallog. Download the map and route guide for Borth (south)to Wallog Cantre'r Gwaelod walk.
At Borth, Ceredigion based sculptor Ben Dearnley has carved scenes from the tale on a giant slab of slate. Read Ben's account of carving on site and what inspired him, and find out what happens at the summer solstice.