Val­u­a­tions: What is a Welsh golden dragon do­ing in Nor­wich?

James looks at the his­tory be­hind the na­tional icon of Wales – and a 100-year-old cast­ing

Norfolk - - INSIDE - James Hawkins Juels’ Ltd, Nor­wich juel­slim­ juel­ 01603 666373

Dur­ing a re­cent trip to the man­u­fac­tur­ing hub in Birm­ing­ham’s Jew­ellery Quar­ter we came across the orig­i­nal Ed­war­dian bronze resin die cast of a Welsh dragon. Hav­ing a fond­ness for unique and one-off items we pur­chased the cast­ing.

There are no records as to when the dragon was orig­i­nally made or by whom; how­ever the orig­i­nal cast had to be made and ap­proved prior to the sil­ver cast­ing, there­fore it is es­ti­mated it dates to circa 1903-1905.

The proud and an­cient sym­bol syn­ony­mous with Wales as de­picted on the Welsh na­tional flag and stan­dard is The Red Dragon (Y Ddraig Goch) and con­sists of a red dragon, pas­sant (stand­ing with one foot raised).

The cur­rent ver­sion of the na­tional flag is based on the an­cient royal em­blems and badges in­tro­duced dur­ing the reign of the Tu­dors. The red dragon has been as­so­ci­ated with Wales for cen­turies and the flag is claimed to be the old­est na­tional one still in ex­is­tence.

One leg­end re­calls Ro­manoBri­tish sol­diers car­ry­ing the red dragon (draco) to Rome on their ban­ners in the fourth cen­tury. It is thought that the Welsh kings of Aberf­fraw first adopted the dragon in the early fifth cen­tury in or­der to sym­bol­ise their power and author­ity after the Ro­mans with­drew from Bri­tain.

Later, dur­ing the sev­enth cen­tury, it be­came known as the Red Dragon of Cad­wal­adr, king of Gwynedd from 655 to 682.

The old­est recorded use of the dragon to sym­bol­ise Wales, how­ever, is from the His­to­ria Brit­tonum, writ­ten by the his­to­rian Nen­nius around 820.

Ge­of­frey of Mon­mouth, in his His­to­ria Regum Bri­tan­niae, writ­ten be­tween 1120 and 1129, links the dragon with the Arthurian le­gends, in­clud­ing Uther Pen­dragon, the fa­ther of Arthur ,whose name trans­lates as Dragon Head.

Ge­of­frey’s ac­count also tells of the prophecy of Myrd­din (or Mer­lin) of a long fight be­tween a red dragon and a white dragon, sym­bol­is­ing the his­tor­i­cal strug­gle be­tween the Welsh (red) and the English (white).

The red dragon was used as the Bri­tish stan­dard at the Bat­tle of Crecy in 1346, when the Welsh archers, dressed in their beloved green and white, played a cru­cial role in de­feat­ing the French.

The man­u­fac­tur­ing records show that the first recorded use for our dragon was for a cen­tre ta­ble dec­o­ra­tion com­mis­sion for the city of Cardiff and pre­sented by John Pa­trick Crich­ton-Smith the 4th Mar­quess of Bute and 9th Earl of Dum­fries in 1906. Dur­ing the First World War the sec­ond son of the 3rd Mar­quess, Lord Ninian Crich­ton-Smith, MP for Cardiff, was killed in ac­tion and an­other cen­tre piece was com­mis­sioned by Cardiff City foot­ball club whose ground was named after the fallen colonel.

The cast has since been used on var­i­ous projects, from the com­mem­o­ra­tive pre­sen­ta­tion for the corona­tion of the Prince of Wales, var­i­ous city com­mis­sioned com­mem­o­ra­tive items, as well as pre­sen­ta­tions for the Eisteddfod, sport­ing in­sti­tu­tions, uni­ver­si­ties and academies and per­sonal pre­sen­ta­tions to dis­tin­guished Welsh mem­bers along with nu­mer­ous mil­i­tary pre­sen­ta­tions.

ABOVE: The cast­ing ac­quired by James

BELOW: The Welsh flag

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