The origins of the flag

The red dragon has enjoyed an association with Wales for hundreds of years.

The later Roman cavalry was the primary defending force against the Saxons towards the end of the occupation.

They are believed to have used a dragon emblem on their pennants and standards during their occupation of Britain.

Draco standards were used between 250 and 400 AD, and were typically carried by cavalry units. They consisted of a hollow beast's head, made from metal, with a windsock-style cloth tail descending from the rear of the head.

Frequently a whistle device was attached to the mouth or staff of the standard, to sound as it was moved around, either by a standard bearer on foot or a mounted soldier.

The standards were used in a number of forms after the Romans left Britain. The Welsh kings of Aberffraw used the emblem to symbolise their authority in the early fifth century. The name Pendragon, or Pen Draig, has its origins in these battle standards.

History blog

Explore the celebrated and lesser-known incidents in Welsh history, watch rare clips from BBC Wales' own archive, find out about history events in Wales.

Phil Carradice

July 1942: enemy action over Pwllheli

Britain might have been totally unprepared for war in 1939 but within ...

By: Phil Carradice

Family history


Getting started

Tracing your Welsh roots? Pick up some tips in our guides.


Argentine flag

The Welsh in Patagonia

In 1865, the Mimosa, a tea-clipper set sail for South America.

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