Posted by: Robin | August 26, 2008

Welsh Dragon

A crazy thing is happening with my blog stats. During the last eight weeks while I’ve been dealing with real life issues, my numbers have doubled and tripled from my usual 20 to 30 hits daily. I haven’t written a thing, and my numbers are the highest ever, and I do love my numbers.

Normally I’d be ecstatic, and I was for about five minutes, but these people aren’t visiting to read my latest exercise in eloquence or humor. For some reason, since mid-July a lot of people have been doing web searches for “welsh dragon,” and they are being sent to my blog because of this image I used in my blog entry “Pendragon: Or, What’s in a Name?” Today I had 60 hits on that blog entry versus three for the one I wrote this week. The searches that led people here all have to do with variations on Wales and dragons.

If they read other entries I wouldn’t mind, but they don’t seem to from the hit distribution. I deleted the image, and they kept coming, so I inserted it back into the original blog entry. Since I can’t beat them I’ll join them. If Wales is their interest, I’ll write about my thirty-plus year fascination with the small, ancient nation that occupies part of Western Britain. My interest in Wales began when a first-generation Welsh-American guy I dated insisted my maiden name Peters was Welsh. So far I haven’t been able to confirm it through genealogy searches, but from that point on my ears perked up any time I heard anything about Wales. I knew I was Irish, Scottish and German, but none of their cultures and histories drew me like iron shavings to a magnet the way my curiosity about Wales did.

Ellis Peters’ medieval monk Cadfael mystery series revealed how different Welsh law and tradition were from that of the Norman/English. Under her real name Edith Pargeter, her historical fiction about the most famous of the great medieval Welsh princes of Gwynedd deepened my fascination. That led me to Sharon Kay Penman’s Welsh trilogy about two of those princes: Llywelyn Fawr and Llywelyn the Last. I was hooked.

Since then I have been an avid student of Welsh history, culture and language, but it is researching and writing my Arthurian-related fantasy series that has taken me deep into the life of the Britons, the Iron Age Celtic settlers of what is now Wales, England and Scotland, who ruled the island before and after the Romans until the Angles, Saxons and Jutes pushed them west into Wales, Cornwall and areas of Western Scotland in the sixth century. From their literary tradition comes the story of Arthur, son of Uther Pendragon, and it is in the backstory of this nation-defining legend that the great red dragon appears. Traditionally a head dragon, a pendragon, was a great miltary leader, and dates at least as far back as Roman rule of Britain, but the red dragon, the symbol of Modern Wales that graces their flag (not this particular image) became famous at the hands of Geoffrey of Monmouth in the twelfth century in his history of the kings of Britain.

A young Ambrosius (in later accounts Merlin) explains to the tyrant king Vortigern that his “castle” keeps falling down because in a cave under the ground a white dragon (the Saxons & Vortgern’s allies) and a red dragon (the Britons) are fighting. The fatherless boy has the gift of prophecy and predicts the red dragon will triumph. And it does for half a century thanks to a great warrior named Arhur, the Dux Bellorum, Duke of Battles, who is traditionally credited in Welsh Annals with sending the Germanic tribes scurrying back to their boats after the great battle of Mount Badon.

The image of the nation’s and its princes’ prowess is the red dragon, the draig goch, and it recurs frequently throughout its rich literary history. No symbol speaks more resoundingly of Wales’ greatness as a people then and now. It isn’t any wonder that many people are curious and searching the Web on this topic. The curious thing is why they are ending up here, and why it started in July and has been continuous when the blog entry was written several weeks earlier.  But if the Red Dragon of Wales is shedding its bounty on this wannabe Welsh daughter living on a distant shore with unmerited blog hits, who am I to quibble? So here’s to the Red Dragon! Keep them coming!



  1. what a really good read,I am welsh & my grandchildren are americans, i am compliling a” welsh box” for them for when they are older ,so that they will learn about their welsh roots, so i will print your blog if that is ok with you,I will put it in the “box”

  2. Iam doing a GCSE DiDA course and i was just wondering if i could have permission to use your image of the welsh dragon for my project. Please could you reply back.

  3. Great read … very interesting.

  4. Read your site and understand.Ive been obsessed with England since 12 yrs. old . Only to find out my ancestors are Welsh.I am a Jones (Jonesey)Now I am obsessed with both England and Wales.I have it so bad I can cry thinking about it.And what’s badder then an awesome kick ass red dragon.”The Red Dragon will rise again” Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn and Cymru am Byth-Wales forever. Good Luck to you.Diane

  5. Funny, I landed here after searching for Welsh Dragon too.;-) I’m Welsh and think we have the coolest flag going! Great post. I came for the dragon and I’m glad I got sent here, because I got a really interesting read.



  6. I come to wales every week as i do signs
    needed a dragon 4 a job i have to do, got sent here. I just love the welsh dragon.

    all the best

  7. I am doing a GCSE DiDA course (in Wales 🙂 ) and I was wondering if the image is copyright. If so, may I have permission to use the image?

  8. I also found your site while looking for a welsh dragon, and enjoyed your style of writing. I’ve just a sculpture of a welsh dragon made for my by Roger Andrews Studio and laser engraved into a block of crystal. I’d love to send you a sample and get your response, please email me a mail drop or work address. Keep posting !

  9. If you’re really interested in the history of Wales, check out Garth Celyn. Garth Celyn was the home of the NATIVE Princes of Wales. There is a Faacebook page with a wealth of information called Protect and Preserve Garth Celyn. Also a website, or Google for many interesting facts. Diolch yn fawr Robin.

  10. Yes ,it was the dragon icon that led to your site , but good for you in being the historian, I,m Welsh _irish with early norman ancestry doing the same as you , in trying to join up the historical timeline. I even bought a home in France , feeling particularly comfy there, only later to discover the ancestors came from only up the road , Explain that if you please? Well good luck and thanks for the dragon, I,m sewing a seven foot collage fot the french barn wall, with st george doing the deed, don,t get upset it,s just a good picture!

  11. Sorry Robin

    I am Welsh and only came to plunder the great image for my FB page. Merry Christmas. Nadolig llawen.

  12. I am welsh and am part of the wra I loved the read but Welsh bloodline of urs but us welsh hate the English so much But the only true English mun is a welsh one I hope that the racium of us welsh would stop but big up to all the scots,Irish and the USA.

  13. I have Welsh roots as well and have been studying them for over 20 years. I was directed to your site when searching for a Welsh dragon image to use as a model – I’m creating my “Coat of Arms” as a personal art project. So glad, your blog made for an interesting read.

  14. It is true, I’m here because of the dragon. I was thinking about creating a unique Ouroborus and how I’d design it. I’m too old for a tattoo, but if I was younger, that is the symbol I’d like just above my right scapula. I did read your brief histories written beside and below the Welsh dragon and found them quite interesting. My knowledge of ancient Welsh history is limited, to say the least. I shall endeavor to peruse your other writings.


  15. Yet another person who arrived on your site by initially typing in Welsh Dragon, but then clicking on your link on another site. I read a few things after finding the dragon image. Most interesting. Thanks.

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