THERE are fervent hopes that Presteigne’s ‘Sleeping Dragon’, a now familiar sentinel marking the centenary years of the First World War, could become a permanent part of the landscape.

Built as a temporary art installation to mark the four-year commemoration period of the war, the slumbering dragon has become not just a local landmark but a reflection on the tragic loss of so many servicemen either side of the Welsh border who were never to return home.

Created by Stapleton blacksmith Peter Smith, the dragon, lying on a ‘cromlech’ at Corton roundabout, was never intended to last. However, the majority of local people have taken the eye-catching symbol to their hearts and many have called for a bronze dragon in the same pose to be erected on the site.

This week, Mr Smith will be meeting highways officials from Powys County Council to find out if a permanent dragon will get the go-ahead.

In a moving ceremony led by the Royal British Legion’s Presteigne branch, the present dragon will be taken from its site at dusk on Armistice Day, leaving behind what is expected to be a “sea of wooden, memorial crosses”.

The dragon, made from 700 feet of steel, 3,500 cable ties, 150 metres of rabbit wire and 50 metres of painted cheesecloth, has caught the public imagination since it appeared four years ago, the centenary of the start of the war. Two BBC Hereford & Worcester films have received more than 12,000 hits, and there have been many offers of cash donations towards a permanent structure. Local schoolchildren have also taken a keen interest, while scores of Remembrance Sunday crosses have been placed around the dragon.

Erected on the border of Herefordshire and Radnorshire, the site represents a kind of ‘no man’s land.

“There are two ‘trench’ lines, one in England and one in Wales and the dragon stands in no man’s land,” said Mr Smith, who once built a temporary replica of Stonehenge on the roundabout. “This is not my private gallery,” he said, “but the dragon is there because it fits.” The Tourist Information Centre use it as a waymark, he said.

He continued: “It has grown into the local psyche and there is a movement in Presteigne to have a proper bronze dragon made on proper stones.” The temporary dragon and cromlech are built on a solar alignment so that the sun sets over it on Remembrance Day, November 11.

“A lot of the fighting was done in green fields before the mud associated with the First World War, and the site of the dragon is like a peaceful meadow.” He defended what some critics have described as a “cartoon-like” dragon. “It has to appeal to five-year-olds,” he said, explaining that it had provided a picnic site for nursery school children. “The traditional heraldic Welsh dragon has an aggressive stance, but this unusual pose represents a lost culture for those Welshmen who never came home.”

*For more information about the Sleeping Dragon, go go