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Famous English Dragons

history | > famous dragons

> English | French | Greek/Roman | Nordic | Swiss

- [Celtic] The magician Merlin in the Arthurian legends is said to have been the child of a human mother and an incubus. He had no father in the traditional sense. Vortigern was told by his seers to sacrifice a boy with no father when he had trouble building a tower on Dinas Emrys. However, Merlin predicted that the tower was built on an underground pool and that there were two dragons lying there: one red and one white. When Vortigern had ordered the pool to be drained, the two dragons awoke, and began to fight, and Merlin's words were:

Merlin Dragons

15th century illustration of the pool's battling dragons

"Alas for the Red Dragon, for its end is near. Its cavernous dens shall be occupied by the White Dragon, which stands for the Saxons which you have invited over. The Red Dragon represents the people of Britain, who will be overrun by the White One..." [Geoffrey of Monmouth 171]

- [English] The Lambton Worm was hauled out of the river by John Lambton, heir to Lambton castle, who was fishing. He rid himself of the vile creature by throwing it down a nearby well. However, it grew larger and more powerful. One day, villagers spied a glistening trail from the well to a hill. There, the dragon was coiled around the hill nine times. Its reign of terror laid waste the once lush countryside and devoured livestock and small children.

John Lambton returned years later and sought the advice of an old witch to kill the worm. He was given a special suit of armour and told to kill the next living thing he met after slaying the creature. After destroying the worm, the first living thing to greet him happened to be his father. Failing to kill his own father, John Lambton killed his most faithful dog. This sacrifice was not enough and all the heirs were cursed for the next nine generations.

- [English] Maud was a girl from the county of Herefordshire, and she chanced upon a baby wyvern looking lost and dejected as she was walking in the woods. Its sadness dissipated once it saw her, and it was overjoyed that it was no longer alone. She was enchanted by her unexpected playmate, but her parents did not share her delight in her little companion.

So she spent many hours with her new-found pet in a secret nook in the forest. However, the day came when the wyvern could no longer be sustained on saucers of milk. It started feeding on the community's livestock, then moved on to having a taste for humans. Maud was the only person that was completely safe from the now adult wyvern. Inevitably, a knight, Garston, decided to chivalrously rid the town of the dragon. He engaged the dragon in battle and plunged his lance into its throat. Just as he was about to deliver the final blow, Maud came screaming out of the nearby bushes. Unnerved, Garston rode away to the joy of the joyful villagers, leaving behind a dying monster with its only friend - a girl called Maud whose innocent childhood had been abruptly and savagely ended.

St. George and the Dragon

Paolo Uccello's version of the St. George story

[English] St George and the Dragon: The story we know today dates from the bards of the 14th century. According to legend, a pagan town was being terrorised by a dragon. The locals kept sacrificing sheep to please it, and when it still remained unsatisfied, they started sacrificing some of their people. Finally the local princess was to be thrown to the beast, but Saint George came along, slaughtered the dragon and rescued the fair princess. This is perhaps a symbol of Christianity's dominance over paganism. St. George became the Patron Saint of England by the 14th century, replacing St Edward. It was at Agincourt that Henry V is said to have called:

"God for Harry, England and Saint George".

References:

Books -

1. Pitkin Guide, King Arthur

2. Dragons: A Natural History by Dr. Karl Shuker

Websites -

> Arthurian Legend > The Lambton Worm

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