A very brief history of the Somerset dragon and it's place in our past. 

29 Jun 2023

Screenshot-2023-06-29-at-12-03-00.pngThe dragon symbol is believed to be of Celtic origin and its thought to have been the emblem carried into battle by early Britons in battles with the Romans. Later records suggest that it was adopted by Romano-British people following the fall of the Roman Empire. It is recorded that in 655AD the dragon symbol was used as the emblem by the King of Gwynedd and was known as the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr.  

The Anglo-Saxons arrived in the 5th century, there is some debate as to whether they invaded or were initially invited over by the Romano-British to help fight of Celtic tribes who were previously kept in check by the Roman military. Regardless of whether they were invited or not, following a series of battles the Saxons eventually settled and established a number of kingdoms. 

Known as the Dark Ages, there is little written historical evidence from this period which over the years has led to the establishment of many myths such as that of King Arthur. It is well known that by the late 8th century the Vikings were raiding and plundering Saxon settlements along the Somerset coastline. By the 9th century not only had the Vikings settled in England they had also established their rule over the majority of the Saxon kingdoms (known as Danelaw). At this point only one Saxon kingdom remained, the Kingdom of Wessex. Wessex was ruled by Alfred the Great and contemporary historical evidence shows that Alfred adopted the dragon emblem to represent Wessex. After a number of battles with the Vikings and establishment of the burh (where we get the modern word for borough) and England's first primitive navy (earning Alfred the title of “Father of the English Navy”) not only did he save Wessex but he claimed back much land that was previously lost to the Vikings. 

I have merely touched upon the surface of this period in Somersets history but just wanted to give a little background to the dragon's association with Somerset for those who aren't aware. I find it fascinating and every time I see the dragon emblem whether it's on a flag or on a statue such as the new one in Taunton I can't help but think of King Alfred and his struggles against the Vikings and how perhaps we have him to thank for the continued use of the dragon to this day.

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A very brief history of the Somerset dragon and it's place in our past. 
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