SNPA Strapline

Learning About

Harlech Castle


The Legend of Rhita Gawr

At one time, there were two kings in Britain; Nynniaw and Peibiaw. One night, they were both riding through the country, under the stars, and Nynniaw said:

“Look at the vast and beautiful land I have.”

“Where is it?”, asked Peibiaw.

“This whole area”, answered Nynniaw.

“You look how many cows and sheep I have grazing your land”.

“All of the stars you see”, said Peibiaw, “in the fiery gold of every one of them and the moon is their shepherd, leading them”.

“They cannot stay on my land”, said Nynniaw.

“Yes they can”, replied Peibiaw.

And then, the situation deteriorated and a war was announced between them both. Rhita Gawr, king of Wales heard about the quarrel between the two kings and decided to put an end to it by attacking both kings. Rhita succeeded to conquer and kill them and cut off their beards.

When the other twenty eight kings of the Island of Britain heard of Rhita’s victory and the disrespect paid to Nynniaw and Peibiaw, they decided that they must take their revenge on Rhita Gawr. War was announced by the twenty eight kings, but Rhita emerged victorious. All of the other kings were killed and Rhita cut off their beards.

Rhita took their beards and created a cloak of the beards, reaching from his shoulder to the floor.

Rhita was known as a brave and fair leader and from the time he defeated the kings, peace was made between all of the countries of the world and their kings.

Rhita Gawr’s fall came when he battled against king Arthur. Rhita had conquered and killed all of the other kings of Britain and he was eager to add Arthur’s beard to his cloak. Arthur succeeded to kill Rhita and it is said that he is buried under a cairn of stones on the summit of Snowdon.

And this marks the end of the Legend of Rhita Gawr.