Photograph of battlefield with mounted soldiers

The dragon in Welsh literature

Last updated: 31 January 2011

The Welsh word for dragon - draig or ddraich - was used by the Aneirin and Taliesin , bards of the sixth and seventh centuries.

Draig meant leader, warrior or chieftain, and denoted bravery. The Welsh word pen in this context means head or leader.

The term was used as the Arthurian legends developed in Welsh literature. Pendragon, or Pen Draig, meant head dragon, or chief dragon, often in reference to a standard held aloft in battle.

Pendragon was the name of several kings of the Britons. These include Aurelius Ambrosius, who was called Pendragon in the Vulgate Cycle or Lancelot-Grail, a medieval French text and a major source of Arthurian legend .

Another was Uther, the brother of Aurelius. He was known as Uther Pendragon after being inspired by a dragon-shaped comet. In the Vulgate Cycle he takes the name from his brother.

The legendary warrior King Arthur the son of Uther, was first mentioned in Welsh poetry. Fittingly for his formidable reputation, he was also known as Arthur Pendragon.


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