Here be Dragons! (A Few British Dragon Legends)

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Here be Dragons! (A Few British Dragon Legends)
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  Here be Dragons... "Besides, if there were no dragons of esh and blood and re, whence would come the idea for these stone carvings?"   Robin Hobb, Assassin’s QuestThe Brish Isles are literally crawling with tales of Dragons and Dragon like beasts !"ery county, e"ery area see#s to ha"e its own Dragon tales of one for# or another, be it of the classic winged beast, an o"ergrown ser$ent or a basilisk Dragons a$$ear to re$resent ele#ental forces, with their ability to breathe %re, their dee$ ca"ernous lairs and their ability to &y, while other dragons are waterbeasts who churn the wa"es of their watery ho#es 'ertain areas such as !ast Anglia, (orkshire and )o#erset *whose coat of ar#s shows a red dragon+ are $arcularly rich in Dragon lore ith their &a#ing breath, hy$noc stares, bat-like wings and "icious talons Dragons are fearso#e and yet ins$iring e #ay think of knights slaying dragons, but in #any of the tales it .ust ha$$ens to be so#e $assing young lad of no real rank, as likely a far# lad as a knight on horseback /ne thing that strikes #e fro# these ancient legends is the idea of the dragon’s do#ain with his treasure %lled lair at its heart as in the stories dragons o0en $lague certain co##unies or areas, laying waste to s$eci%c lands or de#anding $ay#ent fro# s$eci%c "illages or locales, o0en in the for# of #ilk as #uch as local "irgins Dragons a$$ear to be intrinsically linked to the landsca$e or area in which they li"e, they feed fro# it, hold $ower o"er it and generally try and rule it in their own way1or so#e these legends are far-fetched, harking back to a si#$ler and #ore su$ersous #e, while for others these legends e#body so#ething #ore than si#$ly a beast, but rather the raw, unta#ed energy of the earth 2erha$s these #anifestaons of dragons with their aweso#e $ower, &a#ing breath or fabulous treasures are sy#bolic of the !arth and her sacred $ower /r $erha$s as in the fa#ous $ro$hecy of 3erlin, dragons can re$resent two o$$osing forces, be they natural forces or those of #an In the Arthurian legends a young 3erlin was taken to 4ing 5orgern who was trying to build a tower, but the tower ke$t falling down 3erlin $ro$hesied that beneath the tower two dragons were %ghng, one was red re$resenng the Ancient Britons or 'elts and the other was white re$resenng the )a6ons In the end, 3erlin foresaw that the red dragon would triu#$h Another tale, fro# 7i8le 'ornard also features a ba8le between two dragons, which again a$$ear to re$resent two o$$osing forces A red dragon, this #e fro# the !sse6 side of the Ri"er )tour did ba8le with a black dragon fro# the )u9olk side of the ri"er The ba8le raged all day, unl at last the red dragon won In this tale though both dragons sur"i"ed the ba8le and returned to their res$ec"elairs to $erha$s ba8le again another day It #ay see# strange that for a naon su$$osedly $lagued by dragons in #es $ast that we hold the# in such a9econ and high regard 1or the elsh the Red Dragon is dee$ly sy#bolic of their culture and heritage and the &ag de$icng this Dragon is $roudly &own )t :eorge the dragon slayer #ay be the $atron )aint of !ngland and Britain #ay be li8ered with 'hurches dedicated to those two dragon slaying )aints 3ichael and 3argaret, yet it is o0en the dragon who draws the #osta8enon In ;orwich there used to be a $rocession e"ery year on )t :eorge’s Day, carried in the $rocession was an e<gy of a Dragon known as the 'i"ic )na$ Dragon /"er #e the )na$ Dragon, which ca#e co#$lete with #o"ing #outh and s#oke, beca#e far #ore $o$ular than )t :eorge who was actually dro$$ed fro# his own $rocession= 5arious "ersions of the )na$ Dragon can sll be seenin ;orwich 'astle 3useu# where they are sll a $o$ular e6hibit In so#e stories the dragon is re$resenta"e of the world itself and the idea that the world is a li"ing enty Thor, that ancient ;orse :od of the ha##er and red hair will one day slay the orld )er$ent  - >?r#ungandr with who# he has already had one skir#ish >?r#ungandr li"es in the ocean and is so huge that he encircles the whole earth and swallows his own tail At Ragnarok, when the world will end according to the ;orse #yths, >?r#ungandr will let go of his tail and rise u$, $oisoning the oceans and the air with his e"il "eno# In killing the orld )er$ent Thor will also die, indicang the sacri%ces that we #ust so#e#es #ake 3any dragon killers die as a result of wounds in&icted by the beast they ha"e slain Also fro# the ;orse #yths is the tale of the )toor or#, another #assi"e orld )er$ent ty$e creature whose "ast cor$se for#ed the lands of /rkney, the )hetlands and Iceland 'ertain $laces, such as Dragon sha$ed rocks or ancient burial #ounds are fore"er linked in the i#aginaon and old stories with Dragons 3any legends around old barrows associate the# with Dragons, these are saidto be their hoards, and woe bede anyone who dared to enter or steal fro# such $laces Dragons are big business@ orna#ents, t-shirts, artwork and %l#s de$icng Dragons are $erennially $o$ular with adults and children alike e are fascinated by Dragons hy could this be Does it hark back to our childhoods, to the old stories we heard Do they re$resent so#ething of oursel"es or the earth on which we li"e Are they sy#bolic of our own darker natures, of our greed and unwillingness to let go /r do they re$resent our drea#s &ying high and destroying all that gets in our way Are they a re#inder of nature at her best and her worst as they ride the skies in the thunderstor#s or shake the earth beneath our feet as they sr fro# their slu#ber ato$ their $ile of gold5arious $lace na#es allude to Dragon lore, those which feature words such as /r# *for e6a#$le the /r#’s Head in ;orth ales+, or#, Drake and the infa#ous Dragon hill close to the <ngton hite Horse where legends say that )t :eorge killed the Dragon )o#e say that the <ngton hite Horseis a de$icon of )t :eorge’s steed, while others go as far as to say that the chalk %gure is actually a de$icon of the dragon who once terrorised the area At Dragonby in 7incolnshire a rocky outcro$ is said to be the re#ains of a Dragon and "arious ancient #onu#ents are associated with Dragon like beasts such as the Dragon )tones in 7incolnshire or Dragon )tone near )teeton in (orkshire Burial #ounds which are said to be guarded by dragons include or#low Tru#$ and /ld 1ield Barrows in Herefordshire, 'issbury Ring in )usse6 and he a$tly na#ed 3oney Hill in ;orthu#berland Are thereany Dragon $lace na#es or stories near where you li"e Sources and useful resources for nding dragon legends from your area Explore Dragons  by Richard 1ree#anh8$Cwww$aranor#aldatabaseco#re$ortsdragons$h$$age;u#E$aradataFGtotalRowsE$aradataFJh8$Cwww#ysteriousbritaincouk#a$Dragons Copyright 2011 Ceri Norman (!!"
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