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The Civic Insignia of Penarth Town Council has become one of the symbols of Penarth. It is depicted by way of a Town Crest rather than as a Coat of Arms awarded by the College of Heralds. Whilst it is known how and when the Town Crest came to be, it is not absolutely certain what influenced the eventual design. The Town Crest, (right) was commissioned by the "Penarth Local Board" which had been set up in 1875. The Board had instructed its Surveyor to design a Seal which was to include a bear's head and the result is self-evident.

Why a bear's head was chosen is not known, and a popular explanation given over the years is that Penarth can be translated in Welsh as Bear's Head, "pen" meaning head and "arth" meaning bear. Another view expressed is that the headland of Penarth took on the appearance of a bear's head but there is no evidence to suggest this was the case.

It is known that the town's name has been spelt in different ways in the past and there is a view that "arth" might be a contraction of the Welsh word "garth" meaning a promontory of ridge. Certainly, a dominant feature of the townscape is Penarth Head which was a local landmark for sailors.

The remainder of the crest is self-explanatory in that the dragon is depicted as indicating a town in Wales, whilst the sailing ship represents the coastal position of the town. The Welsh inscription: "Cynghori er Llesiant" has been translated as "to counsel for good".

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