Anglo-Welsh: "head dragon"

A term usually associated with Uther Pendragon, first found in Historia Regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth. It is sometimes applied to King Arthur, Uther's son.

The term means "head [i.e. chief] dragon", and is tied to the dragon cult in Welsh legend. It may have originally been a Brittonic term, as Gildas refers to Maelgwn Gwynedd as "insularis draco"--dragon of the island. There is debate, however, as to whether the isle is Britain or Anglesey, and whether or not "dragon" had any significance regarding leadership amongs the Britons at this time. Gildas also refers to the other five kings as various animals--a cur, a whelp, a lepord, a bear, and Maelgwn the dragon. What Gildas means, whether these terms are puns, have special meaning to the Britons, or are simply ment as insults is difficult to say.

It's possible, though, that the dragon, imported by the Roman legions, was a symbol of leadership and of the old Roman establishment (much like the better-known eagle). Nennius tells the story of the white and red dragons, whose battle in Vortigern's time symbolized the battle of Britons and Saxons. The Red Dragon has been a symbol of the Britons since at least that time.

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Mary Jones 2006