from me, Caradoc, dear visitor. When Ole R. D. asked me to write
a few words on my friend Merlin I was filled with trepidation.
Such are the many stories buried in folklore about Merlin, that
I thought mine would be just another one. However, I can tell
you of him with some confidence, for living close to one another
as we do in the mountains here in Wales we have been friends for
many hundreds of years.
During the recent time that we walked south to Cardiff on a journey
of rediscovery of the land of Wales, for I had not be south since
the time of Owain Glyndwr. I thought it a good time to ask Merlin
of his early life. So it is that my writings are based on the
many conversations we have had, and on those we had during that
epic journey through Wales.
If I've told you once
Arthur Pendragon, I have told you many times, that is the way home
to Caerfyrddin (Carmarthen)
Greetings from me
Caradoc, here! among the mountains of Snowdonia
in north Wales
we began our journey south out of the mountains I began to think
that perhaps it would be difficult for you to understand about
the town of Caerfyrddin ( Oops sorry Carmarthen, but being many
hundreds of years old I find it is easier for me to use Welsh
verse; please forgive me ) and the legend of Merlin's oak tree.
You see Caerfyrddin prior to the arrival of the Roman in Britain,
was just a wee Welsh hamlet situated in a clearing on the banks
of the tidal water of the river Tywi. It was accessed from both
the river and a dangerous way through the forest of trees which
were abundant everywhere at that time.
tree of which I speak is today just a small withered stump residing
in a museum in Caerfyrddin. It stood in modern times in the middle
of a fork in the road as you approached Caerfyrddin from the village
of Glangwilli in the east. In fact it was the very same road that
ran from Dinefwr castle to the castle of Caerfyrddin. The sturdy
old oak was a favorite tree of Merlin's as he grew up as a boy,
sorry did I not tell you, O yes Merlin was born in Caerfyrddin.
those years when Merlin played among the branches of the oak tree
he was know to his friends as Ambrosius, it was only in latter
years that he became Merlin the Wizard. Merlin told me that his
name came from the Latin name Merdinus; the name of his birthplace
Myrddin. The old Oak tree wasn't anything special to anyone except
that is to Merlin; he loved it so much that during a row with
a playmate in the tree, who said that the tree was going to be
cut down, Merlin forecast that :-
Oak shall tumble down, so then shall fall Carmarthen Town
is why to protect what was left and also the legend, but more
likely the possibility of the tree being knocked down by modern
day traffic thereby invoking Merlin's prediction, the authorities
moved its remains into the Museum for safe keeping late in the
I found Merlin to be a very complex person during our walk, however,
his loyalty to King Arthur and the knights of the round table
could not be questioned. It seems, so he said, that he wandered
away from Caerfyrddin at an early age and somehow arrived at the
court of Uther Pendragon in Cornwall. There having been trained
by monks, he soon became proficient in outwitting magicians, accomplished
in feats of engineering and of producing spells. It was a spell
that helped to transport the huge stones of Stonhenge from their
site on the Cardigan coast. Soon after, it was his ever increasing
powers as a magician and prophet that came to the front, in doing
so they helped Uther's son Arthur to secure the Wessex crown.
When the crown in England fell vacant there was anarchy among
the lords, for each and everyone thought it should be theirs and
fought in an attempt to seize it for his own. It was however,
in a bid to stop the bitter fighting, Merlin's idea for the sword
in the stone. Having got the Archbishop of Canterbury to arrange
for the Lords of Wessex to meet at a churchyard one morning, Merlin
provided the sword and the stone and declared that whoever could
remove the sword would be granted by consent the crown. Naturally
he made sure, through sorcery that it was Arthur who succeeded
in withdrawing it; thereby forcing the lords to swear fealty to
When Arthur decided to build the great castle of Camelot, O yes
the castle was built but Merlin would not declare where; even
though I tried every guile I knew to get him to do so, he helped
him to draw up the plans. Merlin did tell me however, that it
was a most magnificent place despite the fact that it was never
absolutely completed. The castle had a beautiful marble hall and
a great round table, O Merlin did say that the table was his innovation,
for he felt that no man was superior to the king and neither was
the king to his knights.
Arthur assisted by Merlin, ruled the kingdom with a strength that
no man had previously been able to: for Merlin was Court Wizard,
Prophet and Principal court advisor to Arthur and his knights
of the round table, it may have continued that way for years;
had it not been for the love of a man for a woman.
was Lancelot of all people, Arthur's favorite knight, who caused
the beginning of the end of Camelot. For it was he who fell in
love with Guinivere; Arthur's Queen. His doing so began the break
up of the court of Arthur Pendragon, for there were many who sat
around the table who loathed him for falling in love with her.
himself was sickened by the whole shabby affair, for he felt that
Guinivere should have behaved in such a way as not to have comprised
the friendship and the camaraderie that Arthur had with is favorite
Lancelot. However, it was not to be, and soon Lancelot and Guinivere
were besotted with each other.
situation became so intolerable that in the dead of night, some
months after the affair started, Merlin slipped away from the
confines of Camelot. When it was discovered he was missing, his
departure caused pandemonium throughout the castle, for everyone
believed he had been killed. During the months which followed
his disappearance the knights of the round table searched far
and wide in vain, in a bid to find his killer/killers and grave.
When the love affair of the queen reached the ears of Arthur,
Lancelot was banished from the company of those of the round table.
Then the arguments started as each knight tried to replace him
in Arthur's favor.. soon there was the threat of war as each knight
began to take the side of one or the other. When war broke out
the knights fought for those they had sided with. O it was a bloody
and senseless war, before the land had been strong bonded by the
fellowship of the table and Arthur Pendragon, but all that disappeared.
When the final bloody and useless great battle occurred, as you
probably already know, Arthur was mortally wounded, so he made
his way to "The Lake" whence came his final act; that
of throwing his sword into the water and it disappearing below
the surface, only to reappear for a short while clasped in the
hand of a lady.
So the great
Arthur Pendragon was dead, gone too was the fellowship of the
knights of the round table. That great institution that had ruled
the land with thought, compassion, justice and a feeling of unity.
Sorry what was that? what happened to Merlin did you say? well
the scribes and those well versed in the art of composing at the
time, wrote ream after ream of poems about both, where and how
Merlin had died and of his burial place of course.
However as for myself !
It was while I stood outside my home, here in Snowdonia, on a
warm early Autumn morning many hundreds of years ago that I saw,
as I looked across the beautiful valley in which I live, smoke
rising from a place where I had seen none rise at anytime previously.
As I began to wonder as to its cause, I saw a shadowy figure appear
high on the mountainside above it; then a hand rise in a cheery
that's right Merlin had come home; but not home to Caerfyrddin
in the south, but here to the solace of the mountains of the north;
Nevertheless home again to our beloved Wales.