Glamorgan’s flag was registered on September 24th 2013. The design is a banner of the arms
attributed to Iestyn Ap Gwrgant (1045-1093), the last native ruler of the kingdom of Morgannwg, on which Glamorgan is based. Iestyn was deposed by the advancing Normans in 1090, a time when heraldry was not used in Wales but the mediaeval heralds, a few centuries later, ascribed arms to him and his forbears, of three silver (white) chevronels (small chevrons, like three inverted letter Vs) on a red background.
One plausible theory is that the design arose indigenously as an early form of proto heraldic mark – their comparative simplicity makes this a viable suggestion. A more convincing theory however, is that they could have been created in honour of the arms of the de Clare family
the Norman Lords of Glamorgan . These arms appear in a stained glass window in Tewkesbury Abbey
The first recorded use of the Iestyn arms is by Iestyn’s descendant Lleision d’Avene, his great-great-great grandson, in the 12th century, when they appeared in a seal used by him.
Whatever the basis for their creation however, this pattern of red on white chevronels is native to Glamorgan and in time became specifically associated with the county through its use by this prestigious family with ancient lineage.
The arms were reported to have featured on the stonework of Margam Abbey
in the county, in a 1684 document named “Duke of Beaufort’s Progress”, which attributed the design to the father of Iestyn Ap Gwrgant. With the abbey now in ruins however, it is not clear exactly where they were located. They are then found in Sir Bernard Burke’s 1884 publication, ” The General Armoury…”
A marked demonstration of the association of the Iestyn arms with the county of Glamorgan was their incorporation into its badge, by the nineteenth century rail company “The Rhymney Railway” which was virtually a single stretch of main line of some fifty miles, connecting the Rhymney Valley to the docks at Cardiff, like a spine through Glamorgan.
The link between Iestyn’s arms and the locality in which they were frequently used, had been well forged by the twentieth century when they appeared in the civic arms of a number of local authorities in the county. They were included in a grant of arms awarded to the city of Cardiff in 1906
depicted here on a card that was part of a collection provided by the company “Kaffee Hag”
The arms show the Red Dragon (the emblem of Wales) brandishing a banner of the Iestyn arms to represent Morganwg or Glamorgan over which he ruled and of which Cardiff is the capital. Thus the precedent of representing the county by such a flag
and again as a crest in the arms of Neath council,
this time borne by a sheep.
The design has also been used by other Glamorgan based organisations such as Glamorgan Rugby Football Club, where the colours have been reversed
and perhaps most unequivocally, has been used by Glamorgan County Bowling Association as its badge
and also appears on the ceiling of the Shankland Reading Room, Bangor University amidst a series of Welsh county emblems.
Iestyn’s arms have been further adapted and incorporated into the civic arms of a number of local authorities; from left to right below are the arms of Port Talbot council, Vale of Glamorgan Council, West Glamorgan council and Neath Rural District Council.
Iestyn’s arms also made an appearance at the 1969 Investiture of Prince Charles at Caernarfon Castle
Another plausible origin for the Iestyn Arms is that they arose with the inversion
of the original De Clare arms
An inset map of Cardiff
for example, from John speed’s 1611 Glamorgan county map, includes a shield at base with chevrons, which, given the context, must be the arms of Iestyn ap Gwrgant. The chevrons, are emphatically gold in colour! The same design of gold chevrons on a red field, has been adapted as the arms of Cardiff University,
and notably, Cardiff Rugby Union club uses the Cardiff civic arms
but again with distinctly gold or yellow, rather than white, chevrons on the armorial banner borne by the Welsh dragon that features as part of the design. The suggestion being that with the passage of time and possible misinterpretation or reinterpretation of the original design, the yellow may have mutated into white in some circumstances but the original pattern being retained in others.
The arms of Iestyn Ap Gwrgant are also incorporated in the company
colours, of the eighth company of the Welsh Guards.
In 2012 noted vexillologist Philip Tibbetts conducted research into the history of the Iestyn arms with a view to assessing the suitability of the design as a potential flag for the county. Convinced by the heritage and provenance of the arms, Philip enlisted the support of the prestigious Glamorgan History Society who had been persuaded by the depth of his research and strength of his arguments. The Glamorgan History Society (GHS), in cooperation with the Historic Counties Trust (HCT), solicited the support of a number of other county organisations to see the flag registered. Registration of the proposed flag was supported by the following county organisations
- Glamorgan History Society
- The Gower Society
- The Llantrisant and District Local History Society
- Glynneath & District Historical Society
- The Kenfig Society
- Neath Antiquarian Society
Having secured this additional local support, the GHS and HCT submitted a request to the Flag Institute for the registration of the armorial banner of Iestyn Ap Gwrgant as the county flag of Glamorgan and the design was duly registered.
The flag was seen flying in the county soon after this
and was raised at a local school
where it was received with enthusiasm by the pupils;
flew over the office of a local council
and at St Peter’s Church, Peterston super Ely.
Glamorgan’s flag was much in evidence in October 2016 amongst a procession through Bridgend proclaiming the forthcoming national Eisteddfod in the town in 2017.
The flag is seen here,
at the Cardiff Stadium and here
at a farm in Slade, on the Gower peninsula.
Fans of Barry Town have also incorporated the county flag in their banner