What are Britain’s 13 treasures, and what do the Druids and Merlin the Wizard have to do with them?

When Joan Rowling described the Deathly Hallows, and the Horcruxes and Tolkien portrayed Middle-earth, they both drew influence from Celtic and Welsh mythology – and something of medieval Britain’s traditions has almost inevitably been recreated in the narratives of Harry Potter and the hobbits. The feats that were accomplished, the spectacular battles that were fought, and, more importantly, the things that were directly tied to all of this have been kept in stories. The act of naming Welsh treasures transports you to a world of gods and heroes, a realm ruled by magical forces that is centuries old but continues to be interesting and inspirational.

The 1500-year-old myths’ treasures

A list of thirteen magical artifacts collectively referred to as Britain’s Thirteen Treasures can be found in Welsh tales or, more accurately, in Welsh manuscripts. The country of the people who described these magical things served as a determinant for the objects’ location. They were known as the Welsh and were Celtic people that lived in Wales, which is located in the southwestern region of Britain.

The valuables that are described in the chronicles of the Welsh reportedly belonged to kings who ruled at the beginning of British history. These rulers could have been actual or legendary, such as King Arthur, who is the most well-known figure in Celtic mythology. According to one version of the mythology, the wizard Merlin went on a search for each and every one of the items, and at the end of his life, he was able to acquire them all. They believe that the Druids, a mystery organization of ancient sages, are connected somehow to the discovery of the wealth.

When the hero of an old tale was assigned an impossible duty, such as, for example, having a formal opportunity to deny a suitor for the hand of the king’s daughter, magic and magical things featured in the tales. The thirteen treasures of Britain include anything from weaponry and ordinary goods to clothes and even “transport” from the middle ages.

The first item on the list is the White-Hilt, the Sword of Rhydderch Hael. It was rumored that the king who governed the Britons in the seventh century owned it at one point. He was willing to give the weapons to anyone who asked for them. Still, only a select few were granted the following power: the sword, if he took it from the hands of a noble man, would burst into flames without causing any harm to the owner; however, if the thoughts of those around him were impure, it would burn the owner.

Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir
Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir

The Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir was rumored to have been home to the legendary long-legged Gwyno Garanir, who eventually metamorphosed into a heron. This location was said to be much more tranquil and lovely. When it was opened again, they would take out enough food for one hundred times that amount, even if they had only put in enough for one person.

The Horn of Brân Galed from the North brought back from the North was the third treasure, and it contained whatever a person could desire. It was stated that Hercules was the one who originally had the Horn and that this happened a very long time ago.

A fourth mythical item known as  The Chariot of Morgan Mwynfawr provided the person who was in it with a magically quick arrival to where he wanted to be.

The Halter of Clydno Eiddyn, which was attached to the foot of the bed, “worked” like this: the owner of the magical thing needed to “guess and” imagine a horse, and she appeared in the room in this very halter.

The sixth artifact, known as the Knife of Llauwfrodedd Farchog, could be used during the war, but it also had a magical function to play during times of peace. This artifact had the capacity to serve as cutlery and slice meat for a total of twenty-four individuals at the same time.

The Cauldron of Dyrnwch the Giant was used to ascertain whether a man was courageous. When cooked by a bold man, the meat in the cauldron boiled in a flash, but when it was prepared by a coward, the water in the cauldron did not boil at all.

Another test was offered in the form of a sharpening stone called the Whetstone of Tudwal Tudglyd, which was the eighth treasure. If a brave man sharpened the sword, then any blow dealt to the opponent would be lethal; however, a coward would not be able to sharpen a sword or someone injured by it.

A test determined the origin – noble or simple; the Coat of Padarn Beisrudd determined everything: he sat on an aristocrat as expected but did not fit on a commoner.

The Crock and the Dish of Rhygenydd the Cleric were the tenth and eleventh treasures, respectively. It was as easy as using the Horn of Bran: whatever you wished for in terms of nourishment would immediately be included within the mystical artifacts. The chess game that belonged to Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio, the ruler of North Solway in the sixth century, came in at number twelve on the list. The playing field was composed of gold, while the figures, which represented the players, were made of silver. The latter could move freely about the playing area and compete independently from the former.

The thirteenth treasure is well known to Potter fans – Mantle, which makes the one who puts it on invisible. It belonged to King Arthur. Those damn dozen magical artifacts weren’t static. In subsequent stories, Britain’s list of treasures may have been different. For example, the Mantle of Eurfon Tegau, which judged whether or not a lady had broken her marriage vows or was honest to her husband and the norms of decency, may have been added to the list. In the first scenario, the length of the Mantle she wore would only extend down to her knees, while in the second scenario, it would reach to the ground.

 In addition, the Ring of Invisibility, which had formerly belonged to Merlin and possessed the same ability as the Invisibility Cloak, would occasionally appear on the list. If according to a different tradition, some other riches were added to the list of thirteen treasures, the total number of magic things would still be thirteen; but, something would be taken from the primary list. And in the end, as some of the Welsh tales claim, they all got to the same Merlin; he took them with him when he left this planet in order to prevent common people from acquiring any of the treasures.

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