Evan James memorial

Evan James memorial, Caerphilly

This dragon carving is a memorial to Evan James, the poet who wrote the words to Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem.

Evan James was born in 1809 in a Caerphilly cottage called Bryn Golau, which stood near the present location of Caerphilly Workmen’s Hall (north-east of the castle, where Bedwas Road diverges from Castle Street). Evan earned his living as a wool merchant, weaver and innkeeper. His musical son James was born at the Ancient Druid Inn at Argoed, north of Blackwood, while Evan was landlord there. Later the family moved to Pontypridd. You can listen to a choir singing the anthem on our page about the memorial to both men in Pontypridd. Evan died in 1878 and is buried in Pontypridd.

James wrote the tune for Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and Evan wrote the words - see the Footnotes below. The oldest existing version, which includes all three verses, dates from 1856. There is some dispute whether the words or tune came first!

In 2010 sculptor Rhys Harris was commissioned to carve this dragon in Dafydd Williams Park as a memorial to Evan. He used the stump of a dead sycamore tree, exploiting what was once the fork in its trunk to create the neck and wings. Inscribed below the dragon are the words of the anthem’s chorus. The shield shape around the words is a reference to the medieval castle, towards which the dragon looks.

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: The anthem’s words

Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri.
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad. Gwlad. Pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur
I'r bur hoff bau.
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.

Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i'm golwg sydd hardd.
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.
Gwlad. Gwlad etc.

Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad dan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Gymry mor fyw ag erioed.
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.
Gwlad. Gwlad etc.