Cadar Idris


Cadar Idris is the highest peak, at 893 meters, within the southern mountain limits of Snowdonia. It also has a reputation for the myths and legends of a giant.

Cadar Idris is the highest peak at 893 meters within the southern mountain limits of Snowdonia that curve north from the river Conwy to River Dyfi on the north west coast of Wales. Cadar Idris is the second highest mountain in Wales and is located within the comote of Mirionydd. Although its snuggled in-between two other mountains of Mynydd Moel 863m and Mynydd Pencoed 766m. The geographical feature of a saddle named Cyfrwy connecting Pen-y-Cadar to Mymydd Moel, conjours up a specific landscape feature creating a chair of giant proportions associated with Idris Gawr.

The summit of Pen y Gair 893m taken from the pony path on
the approach across Cyfrwy, the Giants seat - 2006

This natural geographic feature combined with three large boulders on the valley floor below became connected and enhanced with Idris the Giant. Stories of the Giant being seated in his landscape chair together together with removing some irritating grit from inside his shoes, to be cast aside within its proximity. Together in oral story form brings the landscape to life, while creating cognitive images in the listeners mind around an open camp fire, or in the pub; these then can be verified within the mountainous landscape during the daylight hours. Yet further additional information can be gleamed such as staying overnight above on Pen y Gadair can have some unfavorable or even beneficial side effects. The intrepid individaul either becomes mad or is instantaniously turned into a poet fired and charged with the inspirational awen. Such changes in human nature can't be claimed by the landscape of Cadar Idris alone. Tradition gives the same features obtainable at the grave of Taliesin, together with the Black Stone of Arddu in Llanberis. Each locality the story teller informs has an identical abillity to transform, an individual having undertaking a single night stopover on these verious places. The landscape comes alive through the story retelling, yet the traditional literature transcribed from oral sources can also englighten one more on the Giant Idris.

Cadar Seat nested inbetween two high points view from summit

Meic Stephen notes that Idris exploits broke out in song when Felica Freeman wrote a poem titled 'The rocks of Cadar Idris' which was published in 1832. Additionally a melody which accompanied this was composed by the Bard Alaw (1776-1851) aka John Parry in 1804 which was burrowed from another song 'Jenny Jones' (Stephen 1998, 77). The later work of the Bard Lewys Dwnn in the 'Heraldic Visitations of Wales' published by the Welsh Text Society in 1846. Interpretations of Idris becomes split through his interpretation of the sources arriving at two Idris's. The first is Idris Arw - Idris the Coarse and the second is Idris Gawr - Idris the Giant. (Dwnn 1846). In this instance Idris is no longer a giant and has been brought down to a human being size, in the first instant by Dwnn recording. Yet the endearment of the additional 'coarse', does this point to Idris temperament and manner of dealing or acting with others when in company?

Irrespectively, for important people, such as Idris to become imbebed in literature and even song, up to a certain point there is, in most cases, some element of truth. Such as the astronimcal factors associated to Idris may be unwoven through the triads. Indeed to be recalled in the oral and later written triads provides a memory aid for the Bards kick starting a mental process to associated knowledge from the bardic memory banks to be expanded on.So one wonders about this giant and the tall/large associated stories, and whether there is any historicity available.

The only place which will either confirm or denie a historical Idris is to turn to the early genealogy sources. The trail might start with Sualda ab (son of) Idris, a historical figure who was a Prince within Merionydd whom resided in 630 AD/CE. This then indicates that Idris as far as one is aware, is a real person associated to the same area. So who was Idris? Peter Bartum gives us a choice, one can accept either the lengendary figure of Idris the Giant or, alternatively there is the historical Idris ap Gwyddno of Merionydd who died in 632 AD/CE who is the father of Sualda; as indicated through recorded in the Harleian geneaology. Idris is noted as the son of Gwyddno (560 AD/CE), however its been indicated early geneaologists and antiquirian recorders often got the two Gwyddno mixed up. Often associating the father of Idris to be Gwyddno the owner of the lower cantref or submerged hundred, connected with Talisen appearance within the basket on Gwyddno weir (Bartrum 1993, 346). At least then one has arrived at the crossroads, where there is a choice available to continue down the legendary road of the giants, or instead move along an other path towards uncovering the historicity of Idris as a person.


Batrum, P.C., 1993, A Welsh Classical Dictionary, University of Wales Press

Dion-Kennedy, M., 1997, Celtic Myth and Legend: A-Z of People and Places, Blandford Press

Dwnn, L, 1846, Heraldic Visitations of Wales, Llandovey, 2 vols

Jones, I.W., 1998, Enwau Eryri: Place names in Snowdonia, Y Lolfa Cyf

Stephens, M., 1998, The New Companion to the Literature of Wales, University of Wales Press

Squire, C., 1998, Celtic Myth and Legends, Parragon

Internet Sources
acessed 13th September 2006
acessed 13th September 2006 acessed 13th September 2006

September, 2006

Cadar Idris, Merionydd, Myth, Wales,
Filed under: