Dinas Emrys near Beddgelert, Snowdonia, North Wales is an Iron Age hill fort. It features in several legends as being the strongest place in Britain. This sacred site is associated with the Welsh Wizard Merlin (Welsh: Myrddin), so is of interest and a sacred place of pilgrimage to those interested in the legend of King Arthur.
To find the site, from Beddgelert turn right on the A498 heading towards Capel Curig. After one mile turn left into the Craflwyn Centre (National Trust) and park here. You will find a visitors centre and toilet. The walk to Dinas Emrys should take 30 – 40 minutes and includes a special waterfall.
As the legend goes, Vortigern (a 5th Century ruling warlord) had fled into Wales to escape Anglo-Saxon invaders. He decided to settle at Dinas Emrys as this site would prove good to defend against the enemy. Day after day his men would work hard building the first of several proposed towers; but the next morning they would return to find the masonry collapsed in a heap.
These strange events continued for several weeks. Eventually Vortigern sought advice and was told to seek the help of a young boy not conceived by mortal man. The King sent soldiers out to scour the land for such a child. They found a boy who met this unusual description, called Myrddin Emrys (Merlin Ambrosius). Following the advice of his councillors, Vortigern planned to sacrifice young Merlin to appease the strange supernatural forces that were undermining his efforts to build a fortress. Merlin (not unsurprisingly) thought this was a terrible idea, and instead explained that the hill fort could not be built because of a hidden pool that contained two dragons. He told Vortigern that although the White Dragon of the Saxons was winning the battle at present, it would soon be defeated by the Welsh Red Dragon. Following Vortigern’s defeat, the fort was given to Emrys Wledig (Ambrosius Aurelianus), hence its name Dinas Emrys.
This legend has strong parallels with the building of Buddhist Samye monastery in Tibet. The king of Tibet had invited an Indian monk called Santarakshita to found the first Buddhist monastery in his country. Each day the workmen would make a good start on building the masonry walls. Each night, a local demon living in a nearby river would take down the work done during the day.
Santarakshita suggested that Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) be invited from Northern India to subdue the demons. Padmasambhava, a great tantric master performed a ritual dance that prepared the ground for the monastery and opened Tibet to the new religion of the Buddha.
On one of our pilgrimages to Dinas Emrys, it was blessed by Rigdzin Shikpo who performed a feast offering here.
Lama Shenpen, Tara, Kristina, Samten and Samshi on a Buddhist pilgrimage to the sacred site in August 2015: