ERYRI SNOWDONIA - BORN OUT OF FIRE - SCULPTED BY ICE - SHROUDED IN LEGEND
Whilst most people who visit, love and live in Snowdonia, or Eryri, assume that every mountain, valley, lake and river (mynydd, cwm, llyn and afon, respectively) has existed there since time began, the geology of the region, in fact, began far away in the Antarctic region of the southern hemisphere.
More than 600 million years ago the micro-continent Avalonia was formed from volcanic eruptions off the northern edge of the super-continent Gondwana. This was the beginning of a journey of over 9,000 miles, as tectonic plates moved, collided and slipped both past and underneath each other over the next 570 million years, eventually resulting in the igneous rock strata underlying what is now England and Wales.
The mountains of the Snowdonia National Park were later sculpted by glaciers into the amazing range of peaks and valleys we see today, with Snowdon, at 3,560 feet, as its highest point. The ancient igneous rocks that began their journey when Avalonia first emerged are now visible in all their glory in the crags of Snowdonia. The famous Welsh slate, created by folding and compression as continental collisions exerted their pressure some 300 million years ago, is a relative youngster by comparison, although it has formed the basis of industry in the region that can be traced as far back as Roman times.
Intense geological forces, fire and ice have thus formed the stunning Snowdonia region, resulting in its unique flora and fauna and giving rise to its rich mythology and history.
With local settlements dating back over 9,000 years, the culture of the region has developed through the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages, early Celtic links with Gaul, the arrival of the Romans and subsequent conflicts through Saxon and Norman times. Snowdonia is therefore a rich source of myths and legends, some with roots in prehistory, refashioned and retold to fit the superstitions and challenges faced by the peoples of Eryri over the centuries.
The Welsh name for Snowdon is Yr Wyddfa (the barrow) reflecting the myth that the mountain is the cairn marking the burial site of Rhitta Gawr, a giant who was defeated by King Arthur and his men. The Arthurian legends are very much connected to this region with many believing that the character of Merlin has its roots in much older tales of a druid from Anglesey.
On the eastern flanks of Snowdon, in Cwm Dyli, lies Llyn Glaslyn (The Blue Lake), home of the mythical water monster Afanc and the legendary resting place of the sword Excalibur, thrown there by Sir Bedivere before King Arthur’s final journey to the mystical island of Avalon.
With their ancient Celtic kings, wizards, giants, water monsters and the Tylwyth Teg (fairy folk), Snowdonia’s rich myths and legends mirror the incredible story of an ancient land born of fire and ice that has been the inspiration behind our journey to create Eryri Snowdonia Gin - The Spirit of the Welsh Mountains.
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