|Dinas Emrys is a small hill-fort in the valley of Nant Gwynant. It is thought to be originally Iron Age, but was reused many times since.
Nennius wrote about some of the happenings at the fort (with his usual embroiderings). You can read a translation of the original at the
Internet Medieval Sourcebook - this is rather a precis.
Vortigern had a bit of an embarrassing episode in which he had a child with his own daughter. His advisors told him it might be best to find a nice quiet place in the country and build a secure fort there. Vortigern found an ideal site at Dinas Emrys and arranged for builders and carpenters to start work. However, after the building materials were delivered, they mysteriously disappeared during the night. This happened three times.
The advisors were called in again - what was going on? Apparently it wasn't the neighbours stealing stuff - what Vortigern actually needed was to find a boy born without a father, and then to sprinkle the foundation stones with the child's blood. Despite already having a poor reputation Vortigern didn't seem to see anything wrong with this and sent his men out to search for such a boy - and eventually they found one (his mother claimed that she had never slept with a man).
The boy was brought back to the king. Unimpressed by the sound of his fate he showed Vortigern the true source of his problems. Under a pavement lay a pool - and in the pool a vase containing a tent. In the tent were two dragons, one red and one white. They began to fight. The white one seemed to be winning, but then the red one prevailed and the white was driven from the tent. The boy explained the scene - it represented how the Welsh would eventually recover their lands from the Saxons.
He added that the citidel was actually destined for himself, and that Vortigern would have to go elsewhere. Which he did. The boy's name was Ambrose (Emrys in Welsh, and this bit could be a fudge to fit other stories) - later known as Merlin.
Posted by Rhiannon
25th June 2004ce
Edited 10th April 2013ce