When I was growing up in the early 1950s, the First World War was
still very much a living memory to many. Today it is history, with no
survivors left to tell the living tale. This transition point in time,
from live memory to history, is upon us. This is the point where we
must now translate, somehow, what took place, in such a way that it is
clear to all that this war must be remembered and learned from.
We have chosen a sleeping dragon for the memorial instead of the
heraldic Welsh dragon that we all know and love. The reasoning for
this is that the traditional Welsh dragon has a very “up front”
attitude with an aggressive stance and unflattering sharp lines, most
suitable in war.
The Welsh dragon flying on its standard would have raised the morale
of any Welshman fighting for what he believed in. Sadly, many a good
Welshman died doing just that, sometimes in lands far off, sometimes
for reasons too complex to reason with. Where ever and for whatever,
Welshman have always been distinguished in battle. However, there is
another side to all of this and that is the Welshman who sang and who
is now silent, the Welshman who loved his valleys and hills but will
never again walk there, the Welshman who told his children bedtime
myths and tales of dragons in Wales. His legacy being the continuation
of the culture of Wales. All so proud to be Welsh and all died so.
This is the soft underside of our loss. This is the real loss. It is
this loss that the sleeping dragon reflects, the soft inner being of
all those sleeping Welshman who rest so far from the country they
loved, in the fields of World War One.
The Cromlech links us back many thousands of years in Welsh history to
the Stone Age. Cromlechs usually have solar alignments attached to
them and this Cromlech is set to align with the rising sun on the
Equinox. The Cromlech itself is low enough for an adult and for a
child raised up by an adult, to see and touch the dragon, giving the
connectivity to reinforce the point of the memorial. A child raised up
to touch the dragon thus, may not yet understand, but will remember
and perhaps in time, understand. As time passes the dragon will
hopefully develop a hand worn nose from the many hands that will
gently stroke it. That human hand polished area, will shine in the sun
as a testament to all those who have visited and touched the dragon
and remembered. This physical connection by touching is to be much
The dragon sleeping peacefully on its ancient stone is only a
temporary installation for the four years duration of World War One.
During those four years it is hoped by all involved with the dragon’s
creation that many people will come and see, touch and connect with
the sleeping Welsh dragon and return home, somehow inexplicably
enhanced by the experience. Perhaps there is some truth in the stories
of dragons, our sleeping Welshman left his children!
Pete Smith, August 1st 2014