Bardsey Island is off the northwest tip of Wales. From the town of Aberdaron, head west towards Uwchmynydd. Bardsey Island is 1.5 miles (2.5km) in length and, at its widest point, it is just over half a mile (1km) across. The mountain, Mynydd Enlli, rises to a height of 167m. Bardsey Island covers an area of 180 hectares, most of which is farmed.
Bardsey Island has been a place of pilgrimage since the early years of Christianity, and there are signs of settlements on the island that date from earlier periods. It became a focal point for the Celtic Christian Church, attracting many monks, and Bardsey Island is believed that St Cadfan began building a monastery on the island in the sixth century.
The Abbey ruins that you can see on Bardsey Island today are the 13th century Augustinian Abbey of St. Mary’s and was in use until the dissolution of the Monasteries in 1537. The well-known reference to Bardsey Island as the burial place of twenty thousand ‘saints’ dates from the early middle ages, when three pilgrimages to Bardsey Island were said to equal one to Rome.
The legends about Bardsey Island differ. One legend says that Merlin is buried at Bardsey Island. Another is an adaptation of the cave legend, where he lives in solitude as a hermit. A variation of this legend has Merlin living in a magical house of glass. Making Bardsey Island the "Isle of Glass" legend incorporates Celtic mythology about the otherworld.
Arthurian Sites in Wales