from Morien-Institute Website
The mystery of the origins of the red dragon symbol, now on the flag of Wales, has perplexed many historians, writers and romanticists, and the archeological community generally has refrained from commenting on this most unusual emblem, claiming it does not concern them.
In the ancient Welsh language it is known as 'Draig Goch' - 'red dragon', and in "Y Geiriadur Cymraeg Prifysgol Cymru", the "University of Wales Welsh Dictionary", (Cardiff, University of Wales Press, 1967, p. 1082) there are translations for the various uses of the Welsh word 'draig'.
Amongst them are common uses of the word, which is today taken just to mean a 'dragon', but in times past it has also been used to refer to 'Mellt Distaw' - (sheet lightning), and also 'Mellt Didaranau' - (lightning unaccompanied by thunder).
But the most interesting common usage of the word in earlier times, according to this authoritative dictionary, is 'Maen Mellt' the word used to refer to a 'meteorite'.
And this makes sense, as the Welsh word 'maen' translates as 'stone', while the Welsh word 'mellt' translates as 'lightning' - so literally a 'lightning-stone'.
That the ancient language of the Welsh druids has words still in use today which have in the past been used to describe both a dragon and also a meteorite, is something that greatly helps us to follow the destructive 'trail of the dragon' as it was described in early Welsh 'riddle-poems'.
This is especially true of the "Hanes Taliesin", a riddle-poem that is so full of astronomical terms it is obvious that they were deliberately used by the composer - but to what end? Could they have been used to encode a druidic astro-mythology that was accessible only to 'initiates'?
In the mid 6th. century A.D. the ancient Cymric empire of the native Britons, that at one time had stretched from Cornwall in the south to Strathclyde in the north, was rapidly diminishing.
And it was at this time that the bard who called himself Taliesin (radiant brow) first read his riddle-poem, "Hanes Taliesin" ("The History of Taliesin"), to King Maelgwn Gwynedd, who, like the bard, had been a student of St Illtud at the ancient druid college, later called Llanilltud Fawr, in Morganwg.
Was King Maelgwn Gwynedd the only one in his 6th century Conwy Eisteddfod who was meant to understand the riddle-poem?. Or was it also a gathering of initiates from all over the island?
Of comparatively recent origin on the Welsh national flag, the association of the dragon with the country of Wales dates much further back - to the start of the European ‘Dark Age’; the times of King Arthur and the enigmatic Merlyn, neither of whom have ever been proven to be definitively mythical nor historical characters.
The exact nature and sequence of events in the mid-6th. century A.D. that gave rise to the period we refer to as the European ‘Dark Age’ is still a matter for speculation amongst historians and archeologists.
Over the past 20 years or so, certain paleo-climatologists have begun comparing notes with archeologists and astronomers, and interestingly, in the absence of written records, many have begun to look a little more closely at mythology in their efforts to corroborate the findings of their researches. While much of this recent bout of inter-disciplinary brainstorming has focussed on the 6th.C. AD start of the European Dark Age, earlier dates are also of great interest to those embroiled in this veritable ‘paradigm shift’.
Archeologist and Dendrochronologist, Mike Baillie, of Queens University, Belfast, has compiled a '7,500-year tree-ring chronology' of Irish bog oaks, which offers an accurate picture of the weather on a year-by-year basis throughout those millennia.
His 1999 book, "Exodus to Arthur: Catastrophic Encounters with Comets", traces the history of cometary dust-trail activity from those epochs by the indicators evident in 'narrowest tree-ring events'.
And this has been looked at in much greater detail over the past six years, culminating in his September 2005 book, "The Celtic Gods: Comets in Irish Mythology", co-authored with QUB colleague, Patrick McCafferty.
Each year a tree puts on another ring, and the better the weather preferred by the tree the wider the ring for that year.
One of the most striking features of this most accurate of dating methods is its ability to detect past climatic downturns evident in the narrow tree-rings that bunch together over several consecutive years - indicating poor annual growth and an environmental downturn.
This has happened a number of times as a result of volcanic eruptions, but it can also result from ‘dust-loading’ of the stratosphere caused when the Earth’s orbital path encounters the trails of cometary debris that literally boils off the ice-and-rubble comets as they approach the Sun on their journeys through our solar system.
Indeed, recently, on September 3rd, 2004, a small asteroid which disintegrated in the stratosphere above Antarctica deposited sufficient micron-sized dust particles to cause ‘local cooling, and much speculation as to the possible effects on the ozone layer.
Much of the make-up of comets is sub-micron dust along with frozen water, methane and other gasses, as well as various organic molecules, pebbles, stones, and boulders of metal and rocks measuring from a few feet wide to bolides many miles in diameter.
The dust in small quantities burns up harmlessly as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere giving rise to what we term ‘shooting stars’, with larger grains often providing the most spectacular multiple ‘fireball’ displays. Much denser cometary debris trails can over-load the upper atmosphere with ‘dust veils’, both locally and globally, causing ‘cosmic winters’ similar to those caused by volcanic activity, and nuclear war scenarios.
The larger rocks and boulders can bombard the Earth causing impact craters that throw their ejected debris up into the atmosphere with much the same effect.
While air-bursting meteorites can cause huge fireballs and intense blast waves that can devastate thousands of square miles around the area of detonation, as happened in the Tunguska region of Siberia on the 30th of June 1908.
In recent years certain astronomers have increasingly come to appreciate that encoded in the folklore and mythologies of many cultures are the accurate observations of ancient sky-watchers. Almost all tell of times when death and mass destruction came from the skies, events that are often portrayed as ‘celestial battles’ between what they variously depicted as ‘the Gods’.
And curiously the imagery in these ‘myths’ have many common features, even between the mythologies of cultures widely spaced in time and location.
For example, in Appendix 1 of Basil Clarke’s 1973 translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Vita Merlini” ("Life of Merlyn"), he comments on the Lailoken tales, and the particular story of the encounter with St Kentigern.
It is believed that Lailoken and Merlyn were really the same character - Lailoken in the Scottish tradition, and Merlyn in the Welsh.
Having rushed out of the woods a naked and hairy madman, Lailoken/Merlyn is asked by St Kentigern what has driven him to,
He replies to St. Kentigern that he felt great guilt, because he believed he had been the cause of the many deaths resulting from the battle of Arfderydd, saying:
In Welsh Merlyn is called Myrddyn, and the Welsh town of Carmarthen is called in Welsh, CaerFyrddyn, meaning 'the fortress of Merlyn'.
Some fifteen miles or so northeast of Carmarthen is an oddly-named place called Llwyn Wormwood - odd because in Welsh there is a word for wormwood, 'wermod', and because this is in one of the least anglicised areas of rural Wales.
Another place called Llwyn Wormwood is situated just over 10 miles to the southeast, not far from the Welsh market town of Llandovery.
Could these places shed any new light on the Merlyn ‘vision’ referred to in the Basil Clarke 1973 translation of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “Vita Merlini” ("Life of Merlyn")?
And more importantly, was the character known as Merlyn a witness to the mid-6th century event evident in the tree-ring record?
Over the past decade or more, astronomers have taken ever more seriously the very real threat from Earth-crossing asteroids and from cometary debris trails.
In January 2000 the British government commissioned a report into the threat from Near Earth Objects (NEOs), the report was published in August 2000. The setting up of the commission of enquiry was the result of continuous lobbying by a growing inter-disciplinary body of concerned astronomers, climatologists, archeologists, anthropologists and geologists.
Certain of them have moved towards looking for the recollections of ancient bombardment events in the mythologies and oral traditions of the world’s many past cultures.
These endeavors have brought to the surface many similar tales to that of the 'Vision of Merlyn' described above, and in many geographically widespread cultures of the archaic world.
In particular, the collection of ancient Chinese astronomical observations (above image) contained in the wooden chronicle known as the "Bamboo Annals" have been shown to contain many details of comets, fireballs, and especially planetary conjunctions, the accuracy of which can now be verified by the ability to re-create the ancient skies presented by recent advances in computer technology.
Some modern astronomers find this ancient archive invaluable, and have been using it to correlate the ‘observations’ made by the sky-watchers of contemporary cultures in other parts of the world.
Likewise, the Sumerian cuneiform tablets have been shown to have accurately recorded these most terrifying of ‘temporary celestial events’, while classical writings such as the "Epic of Gilgamesh", and numerous passages from the "Old Testament", continue to be decoded in similar astronomical fashion.
In the "Book of Revelations" (Ch8 vs. 10-11), there is mention of star named ‘Wormwood’, which makes the waters bitter, creating a wasteland similar to the ‘wastelands’ of Arthurian legend. Many now believe that this was a reference to a future encounter with a comet, whose past catastrophic encounters, and 'periodic return', may have been well known to John of Patmos, the author of the "Book of Revelations".
The ancient Chinese depicted comets as ‘fiery dragons’ flying across the sky. Increasingly, anthropologists, archeologists and now also astronomers, are speculating that the ‘plumed serpent’ of the Aztecs and the Mayans, and the many tales of ‘winged serpents’ in the traditions of numerous other ancient peoples, may also be referring to comets or large asteroids that in the past had disintegrated in the upper atmosphere producing enormous ‘fireballs’, reminiscent of the spectacularly terrifying and destructive multiple bombardments of past epochs.
As the 'smoke trails' left by these fireballs begin to break up, distorted by air currents in the atmosphere, they take on the eerie appearance of a snake - a veritable 'serpent in the sky'.
Victor Clube and Bill Napier, for the frontispiece plate of their ground-breaking book, "The Cosmic Serpent", about the past and present threat to our planet from bombardments of cometary debris, used a nineteenth-century French caricature of a comet tearing the Earth apart.
Along with it were the words:
Despite their being two of the world's leading astro-physicists, in Chapter 8 of the book they laid out the reasons for their comprehensive study of world mythologies, where they found numerous examples of 'cometary imagery' in the ancient myths of many peoples:
The description of the end of Atlantis given by Plato in the "Timaeus" and "Critias" dialogues bears striking resemblance to what many scientists are now agreed would be the inevitable result of an oceanic impact by a disintegrating comet or large asteroid.
The resultant 'tsunami', or tidal waves, would easily reach 2000 ft. high as they approached land, wiping out any and all coastal settlements. The deluge traditions, of which there are literally hundreds worldwide, appear in this light to be variations on Plato’s account, and could even be actual observation-based tales, eye-witness accounts of the same, or similar, events.
Another good example of this is the 'myth' about the winged horse, Pegasus, who is said to have been conceived when his mother, the once beautiful Medusa, was overwhelmed in a tidal wave caused by the passion of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea and storms.
Exactly which 'celestial event’ this may eventually be shown to refer to is a matter for conjecture, but possibly the most famous legend about Pegasus might give a lead.
Bellerophon was ancient Corinth’s most famous hero, and he was set the task of slaying the Chimera - a monster variously described as having,
In order to help Bellerophon to overcome the Chimera, the goddess Athena gave him a golden bridle with which to tame Pegasus, which he then rode across the skies to southern Turkey where the Chimera had her cave, not far from the modern border with northern Syria.
The constellation of Pegasus can be found in the northern sky above Pisces, in the direction of Andromeda, and there is evidence that the bright blue-white star, Markab, which marks the horse’s shoulder, was important to ancient sky-watchers, as was the, Scheat, which marks the horse’s leg.
Whether the legend of Pegasus, Bellerophon and the Chimera is simply an invented folk tale as some would believe, or a descriptive observation of cometary activity in that part of the ancient heavens, we will probably not know until astronomers produce a plausible model, retro-calculated for those times.
Another possible example of a temporary celestial event encoded in mythology, and one often quoted in this context, is the story of the constellation Eridanus - known to the Babylonians as the ‘river of the night’. This is one of the longest constellations in the sky, starting at the feet of Orion, which can be seen in both hemispheres, and winding down almost to the celestial South Pole.
Only the stars Acamar and Zaurak can easily be seen from northern latitudes, while Achernar, the ninth brightest star in the heavens, can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere. It is a blue giant star known as ‘the end of the river’, and is invisible even in the Mediterranean area.
It was commonplace in many ancient cultures to regard all celestial phenomena as having their earthly counterparts, and vice versa.
So the Babylonians had their terrestrial River Eridanus, and in their mythology, as with others in the Mediterranean area, Phaethon, the foolish son of the Sun god, Helios, pleaded with his father to allow him to drive his blazing chariot across the sky for one day:
There are many similar legends, oral traditions, and later written mythologies describing temporary celestial events in this manner.
And, it is simply because these were ‘temporary' celestial events that they were regarded as important enough to be worth recording, and passing on to future generations, orally at first, then later in writing which was inevitably 'encoded' from our modern perspective.
There is ample archeological evidence that ancient peoples worldwide were preoccupied with events in the skies, and almost all the various megalithic structures that have survived the past several millennia, on all continents, show remarkable degrees of astronomical observation to have been considered in their sitting and construction.
Combined with the ancient traditions of ‘death and destruction coming from the skies', many of which appear contemporaneous with the periods of the building of many of these structures, one possible motivation of the megalith builders could well have been to predict the imminent return of these periodic meteor storms and accompanying fireball events.
The most likely of all motives being simply that of 'fear'.
The sheer terror at past bombardments, and the very real fear of future bombardments, would certainly have preoccupied those societies that had experienced the destructiveness of such catastrophic encounters.
Given that astronomers and climatologists now concur such meteoritic bombardments and ‘dust veils’ can cause abrupt climate changes, cataclysmic earthquakes and tsunami, bringing famine, pestilence and plague that can destroy whole civilizations, it is little wonder that there are ample indications in the dendrochronology records of numerous past events.
Yet there is sparse archeological evidence available at present. Or more likely the evidence exists but is not recognized as such by archeologists. This is due in no small part to the resistance within the archeological community to attempts at the revision of current models of prehistory that is called for in the light of this new inter-disciplinary approach to understanding the past in the context of a 'catastrophically dynamic solar system history'.
Regrettably, there are still many in the archeological community who continue to resist the very idea that ancient peoples were competent sky-watchers. Critics often point to obscure computer models purporting to show that, at some date or another, one celestial body or another will be seen to rise or set at 'any' orientation in an easterly or westerly direction.
Sadly this misses the point altogether. Oral traditions, rituals and mythologies of many ancient cultures often focus on 'specific marker stars' and constellations, whose rising heralded the imminent solsticial and equinoctial sunrises.
The same is true of other stars and constellations that were of great significance to those particular cultures. But, much more importantly, when the major bombardments had ceased to be a regular occurrence, certain 'marker stars' and star groups, for example The Pleiades, may well have signaled the rising of the ‘radiants’ of the greatly-feared daytime Taurid meteor storms, especially if they were the last feint stars to be seen just before sunrise.
But it is not only in mythology that we find hints of major traumatic periods in the history of human civilization.
The chroniclers of old recorded troubled times at the very same epochs that the tree-rings tell their story of environmental downturns which had dramatic effects on human populations.
The dendrochronology records show narrowest-ring events at,
In fact, many researchers in a variety of the historical sciences now believe that the widespread and simultaneous collapse of Bronze Age societies around the world came about as a result of our planet's encounters with cometary debris streams, and the decoding of astronomical observations in the mythologies of classical times is playing a major role.
Gildas, who was writing at approximately 540 AD, says that the island of Britain was on fire from sea to sea,
St. Teilo is recorded as having left South Wales for Brittany to escape the Yellow Pestilence, and that it lasted for some 11 years.
It was at this time that the Saxons returned, reportedly unopposed, into the eastern areas of the 'Arthurian wastelands’, begging the question, could the ‘vision’ of Myrddin (Merlyn) have been of a fiery comet - later depicted as a red dragon?
Owen Morien Morgan’s “History of Wales” gives the dates for the birth of St. Kentigern as AD 514, with his death at AD 601.
So it is quite plausible that 'Merlyn’s vision’ could well refer to a ‘temporary celestial event’ that was the cause of the climatic downturn evident in the ‘narrowest tree-ring' chronologies for AD 536 to 545.
The French archeologist, Marie-Agnes Courty, presented a paper at the Society for Inter-Disciplinary Studies’ July 1997 conference at Cambridge University, in which she first detailed the findings of excavations at a site in northern Syria, at Tell Leilan.
This was the first time ever that an archeological excavation had been initiated where the main purpose was to examine the stratigraphical record of the area with a view to searching for evidence of ‘scorched earth’ due to a suspected episode of extra-terrestrial ‘fireball bombardment'.
She and her team found much evidence of microscopic glass spherules typical of melted sand and rock which is caused by the intense heat resulting from an asteroid impact or air-burst.
She recommended further excavations there and at other sites. It would make sense that attention should be focused on sites once occupied at dates where the tree-ring chronologies show evidence of abrupt climate changes - as at Tell Leilan in northern Syria, where the ‘burn event’ has now been dated by Courty as immediately prior to 2345 BC, a ‘narrowest tree-ring’ date.
Another increasingly important criteria that should be considered when defining ideal sites for conducting such excavations are that these could well benefit from being undertaken in areas where ancient traditions tell of ‘celestial battles between the gods', and/or are in the areas where events such as the 'Merlyn vision' may have occurred.
The problem, though, is one of adequately localizing these myths, and identifying appropriate sites of ancient settlement at specific dates indicated in the dendrochronology records to excavate.
One such site is St. Peter’s Church on Mynydd Y Gaer (Fortress Mountain), in Morganwg, South Wales.
An excavation at the church in 1990 directed by Dr Eric Talbot, who for 22 years was head of Glasgow University’s Archeology Dept., uncovered evidence that human bones had been found,
St. Peter’s Church is just 11½ miles from Llandaf Cathedral, but is situated atop one of the many mountains in South Wales, and they would have taken the brunt of any cometary fireball bombardment, with the valleys below possibly being devastated by heavy drifting clouds of sulphurous gases (fire and brimstone?).
The resultant crop failures would have brought famine, mass migrations of the survivors, and outbreaks of diseases which could easily have reached plague proportions given that combination of circumstances. Certainly these events are remembered in the traditions and folklore of the area.
Though little recognized now, this area of South Wales had been an important administrative centre for quite some time before the Romans came, and continued to be so up until the ‘event’ that gave rise to the 'Yellow Pestilence' in the mid-6th century AD.
It marked the seat of the Kings of Morganwg (called by the Romans, Siluria) - an area that at one time stretched from the river Severn in the east, to Caerfyrddyn in the southwest.
But Morganwg was just one kingdom in a vast Cymric (Welsh) empire in early Britain that at one time had reached as far as Strathclyde, where the Lailoken version of the 'Merlyn Vision’ had its location. This ‘empire’ had been jointly administered from Wroxeter, now on the Welsh/English border, as well as from sites in Morganwg to the south.
So important had Wroxeter been prior to the Roman invasion, that after capturing it they built Watling Street directly to it.
Following the circa AD 540 ‘event’, Wroxeter fell into disuse, as did the sites in Morganwg. None of them ever recovered, and it would seem that if it was a bombardment of fireballs with cometary dust-loading the upper atmosphere that caused the death and destruction at the start of the European ‘Dark Age’, then it covered a vast area of the island of Britain.
And, as this ‘climatic downturn’ is recorded in the Irish and in the German bog-oak dendrochronologies, it is becoming apparent that the area affected covered a wide swathe of northwestern Europe as well - and probably even much further afield.
Astrophysicist, Victor Clube, whose books "Cosmic Serpent" and "Cosmic Winter" (co-authored with Bill Napier, now at Armagh Observatory) initiated the recent refocussing of astronomers on comets, asteroids, and especially dust-veils of cometary debris - has recently put forward a new model for a dynamic history of the solar system over the past 20,000 to 30,000 years.
At some stage early on in this period they believe a Giant Comet entered the solar system, and after destabilizing due to a sun-grazing orbit, was involved in a close encounter with the planet Mercury around 5,000 years ago.
This ended its sun-grazing status, and it broke up producing the batch of meteoroid streams, or trails, known as the Taurid Complex. The orbital path of the Earth encounters this complex twice annually in June (daytime Taurids) and again in early November.
The postulated bombardments and dust-veils at around 3195 BC, another narrowest tree-ring date, would have wreaked havoc on both the local and global climate, and any and all cultures affected would have taken many decades, maybe even centuries, to recover.
The sheer terror that 'multiple-Tunguska-class fireballs' would have instilled into the peoples of those times would have understandably motivated them towards building some form of observatories to help predict future meteor showers/storms as a matter of perceived urgency.
Stage I of the building of Stonehenge - the bank and ditch ‘henge’ itself - began within about 150 years of this.
The gap in the henge to the north-east, as viewed from the centre, would have marked the direction from where the comet Encke would have appeared to rise around the Midsummer Solstice at that time.
This theme was explored by the noted astronomer, Duncan Steel, at the July 1997 IIS Cambridge Conference.
In the abstract of his paper entitled, "Before The Stones - Stonehenge I as A Cometary Catastrophe Predictor?", Dr Steel wrote:
Meteor showers and storms are named after the constellations they appear to emanate from, hence the Taurid meteors appear to emanate from a ‘radiant’ within the constellation of Taurus.
According to the Clube/Napier model, the Earth’s last major Taurid Complex encounter was between the two centuries A.D. 400 to 600.
If a comet, later depicted by various cultures around the globe as a 'fiery dragon', did indeed enter the solar system at some stage during the past 30,000 years, it may well have broken up into several smaller comets, each leaving trails of debris comprising both sub-micron dust and bolides many miles in diameter.
Given that some 71% of the surface of our planet is covered with shallow seas and deeper oceans, the likelihood of oceanic impacts is much greater than that on dry land, and episodes of bombardment arising from this scenario are the likely origin of the many ‘deluge’ traditions that survive around the world. And, if this were the case, it would seem logical that from impact craters and ‘burnt earth’ deposits in stratigraphic layers, the “trail of the dragon” can be successfully followed through many millennia.
Encouragingly, these trails can be followed not just by the study of these physical evidences alone, but also by a thorough re-investigation of astronomically-encoded, myths, legends and oral traditions of many past cultures.
Further analysis of the enigmatic astronomically-orientated megalithic structures left by the survivors of those cultures that past celestial bombardments have left devastated, could also provide useful data about the areas of the sky to which those survivors paid particular attention.
Predicting the periodic returns of the comets and cometary debris trails responsible for the bombardments would have become the top priority - after immediate food and shelter needs, for any and all survivors...