(Not by me)
The Welsh dragon remains a strong national symbol of Wales but what are the origins of the iconic red dragon?
Some of the earliest references to dragons can be found in ancient Welsh literature between 400 and 700 AD. Following the retreat of the Roman empire, Britain was subject to a period or major upheaval where warring tribes struggled to gain the upper hand.
As with much of literature much can be read into the symbolic aspect of the dragon. Dragon's represent strength and power but also destruction.
Ancient Welsh poets Aneirin and Taliesin used the Welsh word for dragon "draig" to mean warrior or leader. Later in 800 A.D The dragon emerged as a symbol of national independence in the Historia Brittonum ascribed to Nennius. Here the dragon represents national independence in the story of the red dragon battling with the white dragon of the Saxon enemy.
Later during the Norman conquest in the 11th century, the dragon was used by both the Norman's and the Anglo Saxons in their standard. The Bayeux tapestry clearly shows King Harold close to a dragon standard as he falls at the Battle of Hastings and on the pennant of one of duke William's messengers.
It would take the Normans more than two centuries to fully conquer Wales through slow process of colonisation. Nonetheless Welsh culture and the Welsh language survived along with its national identity.
The red dragon we know today would eventually become a symbol of Wales at the time of the Tudor dynasty. Despite all the bad press about English oppression, Henry VII who faced king Richard III at the battle of Bosworth in 1485 one of his battle standards carried a red dragon described by chroniclers as "Red ffyry dragon peyntid upon white and Grene Sarcenet".
Perhaps in an early attempt at propaganda, the dragon banner was supposed to represent Henry Tudor's claim to be a true representative of the ancient kings of Britain by adopting a recognisable symbol of the Welsh nation.
Today the Welsh dragon continues to sit proud as a national symbol. Perhaps the latest chapter in the history of the Welsh dragon will be the "Waking the Dragon" Project, which will place a highly visible national icon in the hands of Wales and anyone from the international community who want to get involved.
Waking the Dragon Project - a proposed bronze sculpture which is to be built in Wrexham, North Wales.
The sculpture, which will stand 210 feet tall, symbolising the heritage and culture of the Welsh people, has been touted as the Welsh equivalent to the Statue of Liberty. The project will be funded through a combination of charitable donations, the purchase of steps within the tower- which can be bought and inscribed for £2,000 each- and investor finance.
It will be made up of a 75 foot bronze dragon with a wingspan of approximately 150 feet, standing upon a 135 foot glass and steel tower, which would allow for panoramic views of Wrexham, its surrounding countryside and across the border into England. The project will also include a 100-seater café/bar, a 125-seater restaurant, an art centre and a gallery next to the tower. It will stand in a landscape of formal and informal pathways, oak trees and daffodil gardens, with the space immediately around the tower to be used to depict the Four Branches of the Mabinogion, the collection of mythological tales of early Wales.
Website Link: www.thewelshdragon.co.uk/