Thursday 3 October 2019

The Dundee Dragon

The Wyrm of Dundee.
There is a legend of a dragon or wyrm in Dundee.It is celebrated by a dragon statue in the town centre.The story goes as follows:
A farmer and his nine daughters lived on a farm known as Pitempton, near Dundee.The farmer sent his eldest daughter to gather water from a nearby well. ( Some versions say he sent the youngest daughter first)When she failed to return, he sent his second oldest daughter, and so on and so on.When all of them had failed to return, he went to investigate, only to find the dead bodies of his nine daughters strewn across the ground by the well. Coiled around their bodies was a huge serpent-like dragon.The farmer ran to his neighbours for help.
The dragon attempted to make it’s escape when a crowd of villagers arrived with weapons.A young man, named Martin the blacksmith,who was betrothed to one of the farmers daughters, caught up with it. Using only a wooden club, he beat the dragon, eventually slaying it as the crowd yelled “Strike, Martin,Strike”.
.   The Dragons  dying words were:

                                                I was tempted at Pitempton,
                                                draiglet at Baldragon,
                                                stricken at Strike-Martin,
The place where the dragon was defeated was named “Strike-Martin” and was subsequently named Strathmartine – a name which lives on in the name of a school and a street in Dundee. Martin's Stone stands alone in a field one mile north of the village of Bridgefoot (previously known as Kirkton of Strathmartine), on the northern fringes of Dundee.
Over a dozen Pictish symbol stones were erected in this vicinity, marking it as a place of some importance in the Early Medieval period.  But none of the other stones can boast of a legend like the one attached to Martin's Stone.  The faded carvings on Martin's Stone include a cross, two horsemen, an unknown animal, and a symbol known as a z-rod, which some people see as a broken spear representing dead ancestors.  Entwined within this particular symbol is a serpent.

 Could the story be a cover up for a ritual sacrifice perhaps? In order to ensure plentiful harvests sometimes sacrifices were made.

However there have been many stories of wyrms or dragons
The Linton Worm is a mythical beast referred to in a Scottish borders legend dating back to the 12th century. "The monster lived in a hollow on the northeast side of Linton Hill, a spot still known as the "Worm’s Den", at Linton in Roxburghshire on the Scottish borders. Emerging from its lair at dusk and dawn to ravage the countryside, eating crops, livestock and people,
De Somerville, the Laird of Lariston  approached the worm's hideout with his servant at dawn. He knew that sitting on his horse he would prove too large for the creature to swallow.  He attacked it, plunging his burning lance into the monster's gaping mouth and down its throat, killing  it.
The writhing death throes of the Linton Worm supposedly created the curious topography of the hills of the region, an area that came to be known as "wormington". The animal retreated to its lair to die, its thrashing tail bringing down the mountain around it and burying it forever. The legend states that De Somerville  was memorialised by a carved stone. The crest of the Somervilles has  a dragon perched on a wheel.
There are lots  folktales from north-east England and Scotland that include the motif of a ‘wyrm’—a huge dragon-like, wingless serpent that terrorises the area , sometimes for many years, before being eventually slain.

Could it be that these were real creatures? With so many similar tales there must be an explanation. Wyrms were usually described as flightless dragons .Could a large breed of lizard ,snake or eel be responsible for the stories? Maybe fossil remains of dinosaurs caused the rumours ? Unless some remains are found we will never know if the wyrms of the old stories were real.

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