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  Vortigern Studies > Vortigern > The Realm of Vortigern > Nant

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The Realm of Vortigern
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Vortigern's valley
Robert Vermaat

old maps
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maps of
Nant Gwrtheyrn

Nant Gwrtheyrn
Lleyn, Gwynedd
Reasonable acces for the disabledPrivate land, ask for permission
Nearest town: Nefyn
Nearest village: Porth y Nant
Map reference: SH 350450
Location of Nant Gwrtheyrn by UK Streetmap

Around 1770, Thomas Pennant (1726-1798) was travelling through North Wales writing his "Tours of Wales". He wrote about a valley called Nant Gwrtheyrn ('the valley of Vortigern'), close to Nefyn on the Lleyn peninsula.

Nant Gwrtheyrn seen from the summit of Yr Eifl.
Nant Gwrtheyrn seen from the summit of Yr Eifl. (click here to enlarge)

Looking into Nant GwrtheyrnThe source for this name of this valley, which is the only one in Wales named after Vortigern, is not known. Vortigern's legends do take him to north Wales (especially Snowdonia), but never to the Lleyn peninsula itself. But maybe the legend about his death did travel to this area, as there are many more places that are connected with Vortigern in the direct neighborhood.

At least until around the year 1700 a stone grave covered with a turf mound existed there, which was called Vortigern's Grave (Bedd Gwrtheyrn) by the local population. George Borrow, writing in 1862 (Wild Wales), described it as follows: "It was in a wind-beaten valley of Snowdon, near the sea, that his dead body decked in green armour had a mound of earth and stones raised over it". I have no doubt that the valley of Nant Gwrtheyrn was meant here, however the actual distance between Snowdownia and the Lleyn peninsula.

The river through Nant GwrtheyrnA later visitor, Owen Rhoscomyl in 1905, mentioned that he could still make out "what are reckoned as the foundations of his castle, and a green mound under which his ashes are believed to be buried."

Another site connected with Vortigern was Vortigern's Tower, known locally as 'Vortigern's Castle', which was once marked on the old nineteenth-century parish map. That site is by far too small for a hillfort, but no doubt local legend saw in the small mound the perfect place for Vortigern's Tower. Indeed, a small (and much later) motte castle could very well have been the origin of the mound, which is, however, also seen as Vortigern's burial mound. A better candidate for Castel Gwrtheyrn, or Vortigern's fortress, no matter the local name, is the hill-fort of Tre'r Ceiri. The close proximity to the sites in northern Gwynedd could hint that it was connected through local legend with the Merlin-legends and Dinas Emrys.

Porth y Nant, the small harbour.
Porth y Nant, the small harbour.
here to enlarge).


The chapel of Nant Gwrtheyrn, with Tre'r Ceiri in the background.
The chapel of Nant Gwrtheyrn, with Yr Eifl in the background. (click here to enlarge).


Looking out over Nat Gwrtheyrn. The National Language Centre lied below, and the site of the castle (mound) across the valley.
Looking out over Nant Gwrtheyrn. The National Language Centre lies below, and the site of the castle (mound) across the valley. (click here to enlarge)


The end of the road for this backwater,  the beach of Nant Gwrtheyrn.
The end of the road for this backwater, the beach of Nant Gwrtheyrn.
here to enlarge).

There are also several locations nearby, bearing names familiar to us, such as Carn Fadrun, or the 'fort of Modrun' (she was a granddaughter of Vortigern).

The large pictures used with kind permission from Jake Livingston and Joe Boyles, and the top picture used with kind permission from Stuart Stevenson.


VortigernStudies is copyright Robert Vermaat 1999-2008. All rights reserved