Wednesday 8 July 2015

Llech Ronw - the Slate of Gronw

As part of a cultural tour of North Wales we needed to track down a memorable site or scene from the Mabinogion. This is a 12th to 13th century compilation of stories written up from the oral tradition and not to be confused with Mabinogi, a multiplayer online role-playing game based on Irish mythology as opposed to Welsh prose!

The site we chose was Llech Ronw, the Slate of Gronw.

Gronw had run off with Blod and tried to kill her husband Lleu with a spear. Lleu was badly wounded but managed to metamorphose into an eagle and fly off. The story ends with a scene in which Lleu is about to hurl a spear at Gronw who pleads to be given a stone for protection; he blames the woman:

‘Lord, since I did what I did to you through the maliciousness of a woman, I beg of you for God’s sake let me put the stone I see there on the bank between me and the blow.’

Lleu grants the request but his spear goes straight through several inches of slate to kill his wife’s lover.

Both these scenes took place on the Cynfal river and the stone, rediscovered some years ago, has been set on concrete beside the Afon Bryn Saeth, a tributary of the Cynfal. Bryn Saeth, translating to ‘Hill of the Arrow’, is the name of the farmstead where it stands. It’s a 5 to 10 minute walk up from the main road at Bontnewydd to grid ref SH714407.

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