As it’s been Glastonbury festival last weekend I thought I would look at some mysterious tales about the Somerset area.
There are lots of stories of dragons in the Somerset area over the ages so stories of a dragon on the Tor would not be out of place. Glastonbury Tor ,a hill topped by a tower, stands out in the landscape and on misty mornings you can imagine being the gateway to another world. Around the sides of the Tor is terracing .It is much weathered but still visible. There are seven terraces cut deep into the hillside. Some say it was used for farming, others that it was part of a maze. Legend whispers it was where a huge wyrm or dragon wrapped itself around the hill.
Shervage Wood between Crowcombe and Holford was said to be the haunt of at least one dragon. In one story it was a long dragon hacked to death by a forester from Holford.Another story states two men from Crowcombe engaged a double-headed winged lizard that terrorised the area, winning the battle by forcing the creature to eat burning pitch. Carvings on the benches in the Church of the Holy Ghost show some of the battle.
At Clevedon, between Dolebury Hill and Cadbury Camp a dragon was reported to guard a secret stash of treasure concealed in this area. The same story is associated with Castle Neroche south of Taunton where treasure is reputed to hidden around the iron Age Hill Fort. On Castleman’s Hill another dragon is supposed to have been vanquished. Stapley Farm near Churchstanton, a dragon was killed by a knight and the swinging of its tail carved out a hollow in a field known as Wormstall.
Kingston St.Mary, near Taunton,a fire-breathing dragon terrorized the region. A local hero rolled a boulder up a hill opposite the dragon’s lair and rolled the boulder down into the dragon’s gaping maw, choking it.
In Low Ham church is a spear supposed to have been used by a local to kill a dragon that lived in the Athelney Marshes and fed on local livestock.
The village of Aller is reputed to be named after a local hero, John Aller, who slew a dragon. In one version of the story he was poisoned by the creature’s dying breaths, while in another he found a brood of hatchlings in a cave and blocked it up.
After a battle at the hill fort at Norton Fitzwarren, a dragon appeared and began to devour children and destroying crops. Fulk Fitzwartine fought the creature and after a long struggle ,put a spear in its heart and cut off its head. In All Saints Church, a 16th-century rood screen depicts the story.
In Wells the cathedral is built on the area where the villagers were afraid to access seven holy springs because of a wyvern, which was driven away by Bishop Jocelyn. At Wiviliscome in the late 1820s, when the church was being constructed , the devil riding a green dragon is supposed to have thrown rocks at the reconstruction work until driven away by St. Andrew.
Then there are mysterious animals.
The book ‘Unexplained Phenomena: A Rough Guide Special’ (2000) by John Michell, Bob Rickard and Robert J M Rickard, refer to a Black Dog that is thought to have haunted the road between St Audries and Perry Farm. They quoted their source as the Somerset Volume of County Folklore. The Dog is thought to have been witnessed by two people in 1960 shortly before their deaths.
There is also a black dog thought to be attached to Gold Hill in Batcombe, described as having a chain around its neck. Locals suggest that the dog’s owner is buried in woodland nearby and the dog haunts the spot looking for him or her.
Alien Big cats are also common in Somerset.
On 22 August, 2001 the BBC News website published an article entitled ‘Lioness’ spotted by motorists’ Motorists at a Somerset petrol station raised the alarm when they spotted a “big cat” in an adjoining field. Witnesses said the animal crouching in the grass near the A38 in Churchill looked like a lioness. About 15 people reported seeing the animal and they were all convinced it was a big cat. Avon and Somerset police said they had received several calls about the beast and their Yatton officer was keeping a watch in the area.The RSPCA were also investigating the reports. The local Big Cat group said sightings of alien big cats were thought to be the offspring of big cats let into the wild illegally in Devon nearly 15 years ago.
An article entitled ‘Hunt is on for the Beast of Badcox’ appeared in the Frome & Somerset Standard on 7th September 2006 and concerns a big cat that was sighted in Victoria Park, Frome.
In September 2007 an unidentified creature nicknamed the Beast of Banwell was seen by Helen Stokes whilst she walked her dog.
There are also UFO sightings and ghosts in many public houses reported. Somerset is a mysterious area indeed.
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