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18 April 2014
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Myths and Legends
Cantre’r Gwaelod – The Lost Land of Wales

A 'gored' or fishtrap between Aberarth and Aberaeron, once owned by Gwyddno Garanhir?
© Roy Carpenter
Many versions of the same story exist to explain how this area came to be claimed by the sea. Until about the 17th Century, the lost land was called Maes Gwyddno (the land of Gwyddno). This early legend has it that the land was drowned when the priestess of a fairy well allowed the water to overflow.

But the legend which is known and told today, calls the land Cantre’r Gwaelod, which extended some 20 miles west of the current shoreline into what is now Cardigan Bay, and was ruled as part of the Kingdom of Meirionnydd by Gwyddno Garanhir (Longshanks), born circa 520 AD.

The land was said to be extremely fertile, so much so that it was said that any acre there was worth four acres elsewhere. The catch was that the land depended on a dyke to protect it from the sea. The dyke had sluice gates that were opened at low tide to drain the water from the land, and closed as the tide returned.


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