Last modified: 2010-05-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: wales | eagle (white) |
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This rune-like white-on-black flag apparently
is described as the "white eagle of Wales". It is also referred to as Eryr
Gwyn. I have never seen this symbol in use, not even alongside the Nationalist
slogans that grace walls in Wales. Maybe it had something to do with the Free
Wales Army? It appears on the image at
this site as well as on the uniform of the 'soldier'.
Dafydd Young, 29 July 2002
The white runic symbol on the black background, is indeed a representation of
the Snowdonian Eagle, and was I believe worn on the uniforms of volunteers in
the Free Wales Army.
Philip R. Williams, 19 September 2002
The White Eagle of Snowdonia flag was used by units of the Free Wales Army in
the 1960's in Wales, as well as other republican groups into the 1990's.
Throughout the '60's and '70's it was widespread across Wales in the form of slogans painted on walls etc, and can still be seen in places.
Leighton Smart, 6 February 2003
The white eagle flag was indeed used by the Free Wales Army (in Welsh
Byddin Rhyddid Cymru) however its background was red not black (when the
background was used). The symbol is a heraldic symbol for an eagle and
represents the eagles of Snowdonia which legend says will defend Wales.
Muiris Mag Ualghairg, 18 April 2003
The white eagle flag is still paraded around by groups like MRC and others
hanging on the coattails of the defunct Free Wales Army who also scrawl the
badge on walls occasionally, sometimes in its older and more elaborate form
which has "feet" and a "tail" and looks like the x commonly used in maths struck
through by an archaic s - the one like a long f . One site that I browsed
earlier has pictures of one of these neo-fascist rallies displaying all the
flags that they can think of, the colour party are dressed in red shirts with
black berries with the white eagle symbol on a circular red badge. to search for
such material, try entering "Cilmeri" into a search
engine, they have annual rallies there.
David Barry Lawrence, 7 March 2004
The 'White Eagle Cross' originated in the 1960's. It is thought to have
been based on heraldic shorthand; many think this was the work of Republican &
Romantic Poet Patriot the late Harri Web. The White Eagle Cross was given much
publicity by the F.W.A. but in fact it was a "Welsh Symbol of Resistance" used
by many Patriots then and since.
G. Gruffydd, 2 March 2005
The late Anthony Lewis, renowned Celtic jeweller and the most celebrated
heraldic artist and vexillologist of his generation, drew this definitive design
for the White Eagle of Snowdon ('Eryr Wen Eryri' or 'Eagle Cross') in 1999
having made a great number of cap badges, armbands, flags and banners showing
the device over the years since his role as a militant republican in the late
1960s. In 1969 Mr Lewis was arrested and imprisoned for his involvement with the
FWA (Free Wales Army) and the NPF (National Patriotic Front) in the run up to
the Investiture of Prince Charles in 1969. I met Mr Lewis here in the 1990s
where he had a studio and shop through our mutual interest in flying model
aircraft, and he kindly sent me the immaculately crafted design for the White
Eagle, which I attach for your interest. The Eagle Cross has become synonymous
with uncompromising Welsh republicanism and is still seen all over Wales – a
symbol of resistance and freedom. Mr Lewis was the artist who first drew the now
universally accepted – and much copied, often incorrectly! – banner of the great
Welsh Prince Owain Glyndŵr's (quarterly gules
or four lions rampant counterchanged). He died last year, but his legacy will be
Niall Caveen, 19 June 2006
I found in a book of heraldry reference to the symbol's origins on the free Wales army flag. The white tailed / sea eagle was predominant in Snowdonia / Eruri and believed to endow those who ate its flesh with the gift of prophecy. There is a famous poem about the 'son of prophecy' who will throw the English out of Wales, and presumably he would be bearing the eagle on his shield. Various would-be national saviours like Glyndwr were hailed as the long awaited 'son of prophecy'. Glyndwr was reputed to be interested in using magic and may have deliberately eaten the eagle's flesh to fulfill the myth. The symbol was apparently devised in direct reference to these mythical ideas in the 1960's.
The poem was addressed to Llewelyn ab Iorweth ( died 1240 ) by the bard
Prydydd y Moch. Part of it is :
Darogan Mertin dyuod breyenhin
O Gymry werin o gamhwri.
Dywawd derwyton dadeni haelon
O hil eryron o Eryri.
Myrddin's prophecy is that a king shall come
With heroism from among the welsh people.
Prophets have said that generous men shall be reborn
Of the lineage of the eagles of Snowdonia.
David B. Lawrence, 19 July 2005, 25 July 2005
images by Eugene Ipavec, 26 July 2005
There are several variations on the theme for the design of the white eagle
flag. I finally found some pictures on the internet to refer to:
David B. Lawrence, 25 July 2005
This picture is from the book
'To Dream of Freedom' by Roy Clews. It shows the "eagle" flag in its early
version, with "feet" and a "head". The picture must date from 1960-65. It is a
black and white photo, but I suspect that lurking in the background greys is a
green, red, white tricolour as presently used by Cymru Rhydd
(Free Wales ) with a black star added. This is a North Wales outfit that I have never met.
David B. Lawrence, 27 July 2005
I read recently that the eagle glyph was devised by Harri Webb, poet and
editor of "The Welsh Republican" bi-monthy published circa 1950-1955,
and as such presumably predates the Free Wales Army flag.
David B. Lawrence, 15 November 2006