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Mystery of the Lost Kingdom of Llys Helig - Mystery Files
The Lost Kingdom of Llys Helig
There is a local legend in North Wales concerning a lost Kingdom - or more precisely a Principality that once occupied a considerable part of North Wales, but which no longer exists. The legend of this fabled lost Kingdom goes something like this:
Once upon a time, way back in the 6th century, there was a Prince by the name of "Helig ap Glannwg" (Helig son of Glannwg), who's sons went on to establish many churches in the North Wales area. He owned large tracts of land situated between the Menai Strait, off the north coast of Gwynedd and the Great Ormes Head near Llandudno in North Wales. His Palace was known as Llys Helig (Helig's Court)
The daughter of Prince Helig had fallen in love with a young man. Unfortunately he was a commoner and therefore was not eligible to marry her. The girl had many other suitors chasing her but she was only interested in this particular young man. Prince Helig, realising that his daughter would never be happy unless she married him, took the young man aside and told him that if he was to go away, and return with a golden torque (the mark of a Nobleman) around his neck, then he would allow him to marry his daughter.
So off the young man went to find his fortune. He did, however feel under some pressure. He realised that the longer he was away, the more likely it would be that Helig's daughter would find someone else to marry. So he reasoned that he needed to acquire his golden torque sooner rather than later.
Not long afterwards the young man came across a nobleman riding in some woodlands. At this point the legend gets a bit vague and it is not clear whether the nobleman was a suitor for Heligs daughter and a duel ensued, or whether he was just a random nobleman who was set upon by the young man in order to steal his torque. Whatever the case, the result was the same. The nobleman lay dead and the young man rode back to Llys Helig wearing the golden torque to claim his bride.
All went well. Prince Helig agreed to the marriage and a date was set. However when the young man confessed to Heligs daughter how he had managed to acquire his torque in such a short time, she insisted that he go back and get rid of the body so that no one would find out what he had done. He returned to the area and set about burying the body in some undergrowth. As he dug, legend says he could hear a ghostly chant in Welsh "Dial a Ddaw - Dial a Ddaw" (Revenge will come - revenge will come).
When the deed was done, the young man returned to Helig's daughter and told her about the voice, who basically reassured him that it was all nonsense. They married and lived happily for many decades, however one night as they were holding a great feast at Llys Helig, the sea rolled in over the land drowning the palace and nearly all of it's occupants. According to the legend, the only people to survive was the maid who sounded the alarm as she saw the sea burst into the wine cellar, and her lover the court jester.
The Lost Kingdom - A Legend?
So are these tales of a lost kingdom merely legends, or are they folk memories of something that actually happened long ago in the mists of time? What is the evidence - if any - for a lost kingdom?
It is evident that forest once flourished in many areas around the welsh coast that are now covered in sea. At very low tide the stumpy remains of the trees are visible all along the coast from Borth, on the mid West Wales coast to as far east as Splash Point in Rhyl, North Wales.
But of course, this story of a lost Kingdom is just a legend... Isn't it?
Well... The interesting thing about the legend of the Lost Kingdom of Llys Helig is that it is not the only lost Kingdom that was said to have disappeared by drowning off the coast of Wales. There are other legendary lost kingdoms such as "Cantre'r Gwaelod" (the Lowland Hundred) which was said to be a vast tract of fertile land situated between Bardsay Island and Ramsay Island at the bottom of what is now Cardigan bay, West Wales.
A number of expeditions were mounted in the past to try to pinpoint the location (if any) of the fabled lost Kingdom of Llys Helig. In 1864, the Reverends Richard Parry and Charlton Hall wrote a paper for the Liverpool Geological society. They had set out accompanied by a Geologist and two local boatmen to investigate an area off the coast of Penmaenmawr in North Wales which was said to be the site of the lost kingdom.
Their report stated that although the area was completely swamped with seaweed, it was obvious to them that beneath all the vegetation were the remains of walls that ran in perfectly straight and regular lines. They took rough measurements of what they believed to be walls and came up with the plan of a building at least 100 yards long - This, they concluded could well have been Helig's Palace, and the remnants of the lost kingdom.
One final piece of intriguing evidence concerns the church of St Michael in the quiet market town of Abergele on the North Wales Coast. The church was built on the site of an even earlier church which is said to date from pre-mediaeval times. Hidden in the north wall of this churchyard is a gravestone.
The gravestone there today is a replacement for the badly eroded original. The legend written upon the stone is recorded in both Welsh and English, and it says "Here Lyeth in St.Michaels Churchyard, a man who had his dwelling three miles to the north". If you take a map and measure three miles north of the graveyard you will find that you are - two and a half miles out to sea!
The Lost Kingdom of Llys Helig
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