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Giant Worms of England?


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Aurora10
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Hi. Can you give me your opinion about the giant worms of England that seemed to exist in several places - what were they, what happened to them, do you think they still exist somewhere in the world? I believe they must have been real (at least some of them).

I've been researching the folklore of Northumbria and have found four giant worm legends, plus others in the rest of England that are fairly recent up to C.27th. They are not dragons, but something almost akin to the beasts in 'Tremors'. They would have appeared to be almost common at one time living in caves, wells, and hills, then coming out to eat people and livestock. Some were poisonous.

I'd love to read your ideas about these please, and whether they may still exist in the world. Thanks.

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Ian Topham
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

Hi Aurora.  I am not sure whether these worms physically existed or not, given that there is a lack of archaeological evidence to support it.   Most of the worm legends I am familiar with are based in the North East and the Borders, so they could well have cultural or regional roots.  It would be an idea to map out the loactions of the worms and the times when they are set.  Maybe the stories started with a particular culture, such as the Vikings for instance and spread out from their major settled regions over time.

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Urisk
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

From what I gather Worm does stem from old Norse or Germanic, and was usedto describe large serpents. Chances are it was a way to explain Neolothic earthworks on hills, such as the paths dug around hill fort sites and the like. Pretty cool myth (aside from them being mercilessly hunted down by "gallant" knights), and from what I gather quite peculiar to Britain. :D

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Neil Boothman
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

The North East worm legends such as The Lambton Worm for example, are possibly allusions to folk-heroes fighting the Viking raiders, personified in the form of a serpent. A Viking longboat does look rather like an elongated dragon - like a worm or snake.

Mauro
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

The English Dragon or Wyrm or Worm or Knucker has always been considered as serpentine and much more similar to a "true worm" than to the usual popular image of the dragon, as seen in the Welsh national flag (Y Ddraig Goch).
The last sighting of a conventional Wyrm I am aware of aware dates from 1614, when a Wyrm was seen near Horsham, Sussex. The beast was believed to have killed, but not eaten, two persons and several cattle. Interestingly it left behind a slimy trail. It disappeared without a trace.
There's a later (1669) sighting from Essex but this involves a larged winged reptile of some kind which disappeared into Birch Wood when fired upon and was never seen again.
there are a number of explanations for these legends apart from the Viking explantion.
Dragons are usually seen as completely mythical animals used in moralistic tales but in at least a couple of cases in Europe the alleged slain dragon has been preserved and was (much) later examined by experts. And they have all been found to be crocodyles. Before jumping to any conclusion (for example some believed crocodyles were introduced to Sicily and Granada by the Muslim conquerors, something very hard to prove) let me make this clear: these stuffed animals or skeletons have been preserved in churches or town halls for centuries before being properly exhamined. We have no idea where they came from originally. A common idea is the stuffed animal or skeleton was bought in Egypt or the Holy Land by merchants or pilgrims as curios and later found their way into various collections. Fanciful tales were later concocted to explain the presence of a 10 ft stuffed crocodyle in a parish church thousands of miles from Equatorial Africa.

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moth
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

I know I've heard of such worms in Scotland and Wales, maybe Ireland and a few British Islands.

I know in one Scottish folk tale (of which name I forget) it is represented as a water monster. Much like the Loch Ness monster which is rumoured to travel on to land when it sees fit, this worm did so as well, devastating farmers by eating their live stock.

Personally I've always been reminded of the slow-worm which is quite rare to see but common in the UK. Seeing as they can get up to 50cm long and sometimes longer, I wouldn't be suprised if it inspired other things.

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Simon Topham
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

 Hey Bro,

You're right about there not being any evidence of worms in the archaeological or fossil records, but they don't have any bones, so you'll never find any. Did you know that there are giant worms living today...........in New Zealand?


North Auckland worm
Spenceriella gigantea
The most spectacular, and New Zealand's largest worm is the gigantic North Auckland wormSpenceriella gigantea, which reaches up to 1.4 metres (55 inches) long and 11 millimetres (0.4 in) in width.  The burrows are up to 20 millimeters in diameter, reaching a depth of 3.5 metres.  The Maori worm (or milk worm) can exceed 300 millimetres in length.
The most extraordinary thing about Spenceriella gigantea is that it luminesces at night, so brightly it is possible to read by the light from one worm.
http://www.terranature.org/weta.htm#earthworms



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Ian Topham
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

Hi Sime,

It's a good point that worms don't have bones.  But would the creatures in folktales about giant leggless dragons have more in common with a type of earth worm or a snake or lizard?

louisendcm
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

hello,
the biggest worm i have heard of is the giant gippsland earthworm which can grow to 3meters long and live in austalia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Gippsland_earthworm
louise

phil laws
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Re: Giant Worms of England?

I used to live close to worm hill, the hill where the lambton worm was supposed to coil around, the worm was caught in the river wear and was thrown into a well where it grew to a large size, from this I,ve allways thought of the worm as aquatic,I now live in the lake district and I'm finding tales of giant eels or worms living in the lakes, maybe these are the remaining survivors from times when these creatures were more prolific?

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Ian Topham
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Re: Giant Worms of England?
phil laws wrote:

I used to live close to worm hill, the hill where the lambton worm was supposed to coil around, the worm was caught in the river wear and was thrown into a well where it grew to a large size, from this I,ve allways thought of the worm as aquatic,I now live in the lake district and I'm finding tales of giant eels or worms living in the lakes, maybe these are the remaining survivors from times when these creatures were more prolific?

Thats a good point Phil, I never gave eels much thought as a potential source of the legends.



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