Bryn Myrddin (Merlin's Hill),
Merlin's Tree (The Priory Oak).
The hill is one of many places in Britain reputed to be the prison of Merlin, where Merlin lies asleep in a cave awaiting the call to return and help his fellow countrymen. According to tradition it is possible to hear his groans from under the hill if you listen hard enough. In legend Merlin was born in Carmarthen 2 miles away from the hill.
The whole of the area around the valley of the River Towy is associated with him, a stone known as Merlin's Stone was associated with a prophesy that a Raven would drink of the blood of a man from the stone. This is said to have come true after it fell on a man who was digging for treasure thought to be buried underneath it.
When the Roman armies entered the Towy Valley in AD 75 and established first a fort and then a town at Moridunum, the modern Carmarthen, the hillfort may still have been a focus of economic power, perhaps for tribal gatherings.
In 1188, Gerald of Wales wrote that Merlin was born in Carmarthen. Merlin - King Arthur's guardian with magical powers - is believed to have lived in a cave on Merlin's Hill. This cave was to serve as his home and tomb as, according to legend, he was locked there in bonds of enchantment by his lover. Alas, the cave has become lost with the passage of time but many still hear Merlin clanking his chains on Merlin's Hill.
Legendary and Historical Background
In the lower section of Bryn Myrddin, there is a legendary hidden cave where Merlin was trapped by Vivien. As the legend goes, Merlin was in love with the sorceress and taught her the craft and certain spells. After earning his trust, she used the spells he taught her to imprison him in, perhaps, the cavern in Bryn Myrddin.
This is one of the many "cave-legends" in the Arthurian tradition. In some, Merlin alone is trapped by Vivien, as is the case here. In others, Arthur and his knights are sleeping in a cave, waiting for the time when Britain needs such benevolent rule again, and Merlin is not present. Still others, such as Alderley Edge, blend these. In this particular legend, Arthur, Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table wait and prepare to come again.
Location and Description
This hill is about a mile out of town and rises steeply off the A40. It is not marked that we saw, but it is easily found using the Ordnance Survey Grid Reference.
To see a Streetmap.co.uk map of the area around Bryn Myrddin, click here.