The Legend of Gelert the Dog
One of the best known and loved folk-tales in Wales is the story of a faithful hound, and the Staffordshire potters were as always, quick to capitalise on this sad and poignant tale.
The story goes that in the thirteenth-century, Prince Llywelyn the Great had a palace at Beddgelert in Caernarvonshire, North Wales. The Prince was a keen hunter, and spent much of his time in the surrounding countryside. He had many hunting dogs, but one day when he summoned them as usual with his horn, his favourite dog Gelert didn’t appear, so regretfully Llywelyn had to go hunting without him.
When Llywelyn returned from the hunt he was greeted by Gelert who came bounding towards him… his jaws dripping with blood. The Prince was appalled, and a horrible thought came into his mind… was the blood on the dog’s muzzle that of his one-year old son? His worst fears were realised when he saw in the child’s nursery, an upturned cradle and walls spattered with blood! He searched for the child but there was no sign of him. Llywelyn was convinced that his favourite hound had killed his son.
Mad with grief he took his sword and plunged it into Gelert’s heart. As the dog howled in death, Llywelyn heard a child’s cry coming from underneath the upturned cradle. It was his son, unharmed! Beside the child was an enormous wolf, dead, killed by the brave Gelert. Llywelyn was struck with remorse and carried the body of his faithful dog outside the castle walls and buried him where everyone could see the grave of this brave animal, and hear the story of his valiant fight with the wolf. To this day, a cairn of stones marks the place, and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh ‘The grave of Gelert’. Every year thousands of people visit the grave of this brave dog.
More Figures of the month
This is a fine pair of Staffordshire clowns, both standing 6 ½” tall, dating to circa 1860. Each is wearing pantaloons, with the figure on the left holding a cane.
This is an interesting example of a Scottish hunter, wearing kilt and underglaze blue coat, with a dog at his knee and a rifle resting near his right hand. The figure stands 14 ¼” tall and dates to about 1860.
This is a pair of recumbent Bullmastiff dogs, approximately 6” tall, dating to around 1850-1860. This English breed was developed as a guard dog in the nineteenth century and is also known as the Gamekeeper’s Night Dog.
This is a rare figure of Prince Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, second child and eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. He stands with his right hand resting on the head of a brown and white dog, and his left hand on the barrel of a rifle.
This is a rare Crimean War figure representing two naval gunners with a cannon. One sailor stands upright with his right foot on the cannon, and his right hand to his head as if saluting. The second sailor is kneeling while priming the cannon.
This is a rare pair of Staffordshire figures representing two of the four seasons, Winter and Summer. Each figure stands a little over 6 ½” tall and dates to around 1850 – 1860.