TWMBARLWM is a popular walking destination for many in and outside of Gwent. It provides a scenic look over the Caerphilly borough but there are many interesting stories of old surrounding the mountain – from it being the burial place of an old Welsh giant king to a place of judgement for ancient druids.

The iron age hill fort at Twmbarlwm was believed to have been built by the Silurian Druids during the Roman occupation and it is said to be where the druids made their judgement and guilty people were thrown off the top and into the valley below.

Here we take a look at some of the myths and legends surrounding Twmbarlwm and its famous tump.

Bran and the bees

A popular folktale relating to Twmbarlwm is the fact that a chieftain – thought to be Silurian chieftan, Bran - is buried under the tump on the mountain, waiting to rise up and save Wales.

Bran – known as Bran the Blessed – was a giant and high king of Wales. It is said in the Mabinogion that he sailed to Ireland to rescue his sister Branwen who was being mistreated and beaten by the Irish king Matholwch – who she was married to. The cause of this related to Bran and Branwen’s half-brother Efnysien who – when Matholwch arrived at Harlech to seek permission to marry Branwen – mutilated the Irish king’s horses, angry his permission wasn’t sought.

A battle ensues between the Irish and Bran and his warriors, in which Bran is mortally wounded. He tells the seven survivors to cut his head off and take it back with them. They returned to Harlech and Bran’s head continued to talk for seven years.

They moved to what is known as Gwales (believed to be Grassholm Island just off Dyfed) and lived there for a further 80 years. They then take Bran’s head to the ‘white hill’ which scholars believe to be where the Tower of London now stands and bury it facing France to ward off invasions.

It is not fully known how or when locals in Wales adopted the legend of his final resting place as Twmbarlwm, but that is where the legend comes from.

South Wales Argus:

In the local legend, the ancient chieftain – who they believe to be Bran – is buried under the tump and is guarded by a swarm of bees who will attack the intruders if disturbed.


A story from a group of council workers in the 1980s gave credibility to this legend as they were sent to repair some erosion on the tump. They told how when they were digging into the tump to install new steps, thousands of bees began flying around their heads and forced them to abandon the work for the day. It is said they headed back towards their works van and found that half of the van was covered in bees.

The legend is also being kept alive with a special bee installation at Cwmcarn’s Scenic Drive and with a unique mural at Cwmcarn Hotel.

Pool of Avarice

There is a story in Fred Hando’s The Pleasant Land of Gwent that talks about a mansion house on the mountain, which was then buried after a sudden, violent movement of the mountain saw the hillside open up. It is said in Mr Hando’s book that prior to this happening, a poor relative of the family living in the house approached them and asked for aid, but the lady of the house turned him away.

South Wales Argus:

Local shepherds had since said that they could hear strange cries coming from the pool on stormy nights.

You can find out more about the legends and myths by visiting