Mur Murianau

The halfway point of the Rhyd Ddu path is marked by a flatter grassy area (from which the path climbs more steeply over rocky terrain, coming out on the broad shoulder of Llechog ridge).

Here there are the remains of a couple of small old buildings. One of these was once a refreshment hut, popular when this was known as ‘The Beddgelert Path’.

It is also the location of ‘Mur Murianau’, an ancient temple. It is said that a row of stones encircles the site, and four large boulders are arranged in such a way that resembles an altar.

At a height of about 525m, it is also close to halfway between sea level and the summit of Snowdon.

Mur Murianau was described by David Jenkins in his book ‘Bedd Gelert – Its Facts, Fairies and Folk-lore‘ (1899), in which he wrote the following:

Mur Murianau. — Following the Rhyd – ddu path to Snowdon, we come to a structure called the “Half-Way House,” and made of corrugated iron, which supplies the usual refreshments at fairly moderate prices. Those who were well acquainted with this path always made a point of resting here, as it is the last place where a drink of water from the rocks can be secured. Those who had taken the precaution of carrying a little to eat with them made the best use of it here, so as to be the better able to battle with the harder half of the journey. Now, of course, the uninitiated will take the hint from the very existence of this house, and will need no friendly advice.

How few of those who have passed this spot during the last eighty or ninety years have ever noticed anything peculiar about it! As a level patch, on a very rugged mountain slope, its very ease to the limbs of the painfully wearied descender must have arrested a little attention, but it never dawned upon the thousands that have passed through its very centre that this was once ‘holy ground.”  When the reader visits this sacred spot, he will see at its upper end, on the left-hand side of the path, some old sheepfolds. Let him stand by these, and take in every detail connected with its features, ignoring for the time being the “Half-Way House,” and the little stone structure recently erected in front of the sheepfolds.

He will see the remains of several circular huts, on some of which the sheepfolds themselves have been erected. Then he will look straight in front of him in a south-western direction, and he will see a small hillock of all but bare rock, which forms a natural wall on that side of the flat space. On the right-hand side he will find traces of an old wall, which ran from the rock behind him to the hillock opposite, and another wall, similar to the one on our right, enclosed the space on the left, traces of which still remain visible. The rock behind him formed the fourth wall. These two natural walls, and the walls on our right and left, enclose a space of about 180 feet by 120 feet.

On the rocky elevation in front of him he will see a large stone of an irregular triangular shape, resting on three small stones, one at each angle. Its thinnest angle points to the enclosure, and the whole stone seems to lean in that direction. Its upper surface is slightly dented. Close by, to the right of it, are two similar but smaller stones; these also, no doubt, rested at one time on three stone props, but have now slipped off, crushing their supports under them. Everything bears evidence of order and arrangement, and the tradition of the neighbourhood probably preserves a true explanation of the ruins. Its explanation is that they are the remains of a famous old temple, right on the ascent of the Welsh Parnassus, where Druidical ceremonies were performed in all their pomp.

The circular huts may either have belonged to the sacred institution, or to a later time, when they provided shelter for the small bands of skirmishers who strove to drive back the oppressors of their land.

The meaning of the name Mur Murianau is “Mur y Muriau” (The Enclosure of Enclosures), or the Chief Sanctuary. We very much hope that the establishment, which is now erected on this level space, will not lead to the obliterating of the traces of these old ruins.

Back to the top

Back to the home page