A Pentraeth Legend, The Three Leaps

by Sue

Most people driving past the entrance to Plas Gwyn manor house, on the outskirts of Pentraeth on Anglesey, might well be surprised to learn that they are passing a commemorative monument that has stood there for over 800 years.

It may not look much like a monument as it is made up of three large boulders grouped together in a narrow field alongside the entrance, but it does mark an event that happened eight centuries ago, and it is known as "The Three Leaps."

There is history attached to these stones, and a touching love story which happened somewhere between 1200 and 1230 AD. The Prince of Wales at the time was Llywelyn the Great.

The Prince had more than one palace in Wales, but a favourite was Aberffraw on Anglesey, where his whole court came to stay from time to time, and to enjoy the hunting and fishing in the area.

He was always accompanied by his elite band of warriors, known in Welsh as "y teulu" (the family). These men had to be of noble birth, but, also, in addition to the usual martial skills, had to achieve a worthwhile deed, or overcome an almost impossible ordeal in order to qualify.

The Prince was fortunate to have by his side an able and astute seneschal (chief steward) called Ednyfed Fychan. His job was to oversee his master's affairs both in and outside the court and he was very highly respected.

Ednyfed was married and had a very beautiful daughter called Angharad. She was just coming up to marriageable age and it was her father's fervent wish that she would marry a man that she loved, and find lasting happiness.

This, in itself, was rather unusual for the time because, in many families, women were not highly regarded. Daughters, in noble families, were used as pawns by marrying them off to men who could either enrich the family coffers, or to seal a bargain, or even to form an advantageous alliance, whatever their age.

Angharad, therefore, was fortunate in having a loving and considerate father in Ednyfed, because she had already fallen in love with Einion, the son of the Lord of Gwalchmai. It was true that Einion was of noble blood, but, as yet, he had not achieved anything really worthwhile.

Ednyfed was aware of this and could see problems ahead. Prince Llywelyn would have to approve of the match, because of Ednyfed's high standing at court, and the most exacting standards would be demanded of any prospective son-in-law. This is where Ednyfed had to be very astute.

He knew that young Einion was a master at an ancient, athletic sport called "Hop, Skip and Jump." This could well be the answer. He set about organising a whole day event, and the chosen venue was a place now called Plas Gwyn in Pentraeth.

It was to be held on the bank of the River Nodwydd, which
ran down to the sea at Red Wharf Bay. The eventual winner would win the hand of Angharad.

This particualar athletic event has its equivalent in today's Olympic Games, but it is now called "The Triple Jump", although its origin is Celtic and very old.

When the sons of noble families in the area heard about the contest, they flocked to Plas Gwyn in droves. Each one was eager to prove himeself, knowing that winning Angharad's hand would probably lead to a place in the Prince's "teulu" as well.

The day wore on, with the lengths of the jumps increasing from 15 to 20 feet, then To 30 feet and even to 40 feet. The pace was gruelling, and halfway through many had to give up, weeping with disappointment.

By late afternoon, only a handful remained, with Einion amongst them. They forced themselves to the limit of their endurance.

At last, Einion, with a superhuman effort, succeeded in jumping an unbelievable 50 feet, which none of the others could match. One rival dropped dead with a heart attack in his rage and despair.

So ended a marathon event. Angharad was overjoyed. She could now marry her Einion. Ednyfed too, was content. He had done his duty by his daughter and his Prince.

Three huge boulders were rolled to the site and planted in the ground to commemorate an outstanding "Triple Leap".
These stones were investigated some years ago by an archaeological team from Bangor University.

Their antiquity has been confirmed. It was found, also, that similar to icebergs, only one third of each one is above the surface, and two thirds below ground.

The arrangement of the group of stones is not a natural one and, therefore, the conclusion was drawn that they were
placed there by man.

Comments for A Pentraeth Legend, The Three Leaps

Click here to add your own comments

May 28, 2022
Angharad's Sweet Heart
by: Gareth Y Welis Gwyrdd

Finally, on a superb sunny day I set out to find the stones and managed to find one of them buried in tall grass and nettles (ouch!!) near Plas Gwyn. Shall return later in the year to find the others when then grass isn't so high. But did Angharad actually marry Enion her alleged sweet heart as in the cute story? Genealogical evidence suggests that Angharad ferch Ednyfed Fychan was married to Tegwared y Bais Wen. Tegwared was a 'natural born' son of Llywelyn Fawr and was fostered by Ednyfed Fychan. For arms he bears three white star leaps on a sable chevron on a white field . To answer the other question posted here ; the fourth marker stone is said to be in the woods adjacent to the field.

Jul 08, 2021
Spoil sport
by: Kevin

I'm trying not to be a "spoilsport" and I love these Welsh legends, but...
for a hop and a skip and a jump it would need four boulders to mark the three leaps.

Jul 07, 2009
Love those Anglesey Rocks
by: Bobi Tudor

I lived on Anglesey for 11 years and always wondered if those rocks meant anything historical. Now I know, so when I come back to Red Wharf Bay they will mean more to me then a few rock on the ground. I live in the States now.... But would rather be on Anglesey....

Jul 06, 2009
stones in Pentraeth
by: Anonymous

a very interesting legend .. .Where are the stones exactly?

Nov 27, 2007
The Three Stone Cops
by: Anonymous

In 1996 I wrote a song inspired by the Three Leaps called The Three Stone Cops. In 1997 I formed a band and gave it the same name. Ten years later I recorded the song in Caernarfon's Galeri with the help of a charity called Complete Control Music. If you'd like to hear the song visit.

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Your Anglesey Story.

footer for Anglesey page