British Dragon Gazetteer

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6 Responses

  1. Mauro says:

    Truly fascinating reading,
    Truly fascinating reading, great work.
    I have often wondered where the deadly dragon or huge, deadly serpent theme come from. Pretty much every major culture west of the Indus has this symbolism: Osiris killing Apophis, Apollo slaying the Python, Siegefrid defeating Fafnir etc.

  2. SJMcKenzie says:

    Solway worm

    I am extremely interested in the origin of the story of the dragon in the Solway Firth.

    If someone on the site could point me in the direction of that, I’d really appreciate it.


    PS is Richard Freeman on this site? I know he is here. You guys have contact? 

  3. Ian Topham says:

    Richard Freeman is one of
    Richard Freeman is one of the earliest contributors to Mysterious Britain and can be found through our Facebook Group or at

    I live and work very close to the Solway now, so if I hear anything about the worm I’ll let you know.

  4. SJMcKenzie says:

    A lot of these remind me of the story of the Smith of Raasay and his battle against the water-horse.

    The basic pattern goes: 

    1 – Monster terrorises local area

    2 – Knight / Smith makes trap out of some combination of: 

    A – dead sheep or pig
    B – spikes, spike-covered armour
    C – wooden bridge, fence or pallisade

    3 – Monster dies

    I suspect the use of iron and other metal, or feats of construction in general, are designed to show the male hero as a figure of technological advancement against ‘nature’ as represented by the monster.

    Even in stories where the smith charcter jabs the water-hag in the ankle with an iron needle. It’s the same trope.

  5. ariana says:

    Fascinating article

    Really enjoyed this piece.  Think the fact that Britain is so rich in dragon legend must have inspired the Royal Mail….just seen on their website that they’re doing a set of stamps on mythical creatures, including of course the dragon! You can see the designs on – some are quite beautiful.


  6. Ian Topham says:

    Re: British Dragon Gazetteer
    In Lancashire Legends (1873), John Harland refers to what he saw as a singular circumstance which connected many dragon stories. ‘It is that of the frequent use of sacred and mystic numbers in the narratives, and this in some degree supports the conjecture that they are allegorical in their nature. In the case of the Dragon of Wantley (Wharncliffe) there are seven heads mentioned, and twice seven eyes; the monster itself ate up three children, the fight lasted two days and one night, and he turned twice three times round when he received his fatal wound. The Lambton Worm had nine holes on each side of his mouth, he encircled Worm hill three times, he drank the milk of nine cows; the reckless heir of Lambton returned a true knight at the end of seven years, and for nine generations the sybil’s curse remained on his house in consequence of the non-performance of his vow. His mail was also studded all over with spear heads, just the same expedient which was adopted by More of More Hall.’

    I suppose we need to get the earliest accounts of each dragon story to see if this is true. I think that as each story gets retold over time such details as to numbers of kills etc may get changed or lost.

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