Dragons: Evidence They Existed

chiaa

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I remember reading in the book "Strange Stories and Amazing Facts" (the last authority on fortean phenomena) about a worm that wrapped itself around a hill in England, now appropriately called Worm Hill. I think a well and a prince were involved. Can anyone back me up on this?
 
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Anonymous

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Sounds familiar. Is it the Lambton worm, or am I getting worm stories muddled here? Help, someone.


By the way, there's a Wormshill here in Kent, but no such stories attached to it, as far as I'm aware.

PS Worm/dragon/devil place names frequently have long histories of Fortean phenomena - places John Keel would call 'window areas'.
 
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Anonymous

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Yeah, definately sounds like the Lampton Worm...

Here's the whole legend...

http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/legends/lampton_worm.html
Link is dead. The original webpage to which this link led disappeared circa 2008. It can still be accessed via the Wayback Machine:


The Lambton Worm <------- Note the spelling. It's apparently 'Lambton' rather than 'Lampton'.
https://web.archive.org/web/2008100...eriousbritain.co.uk/legends/lampton_worm.html

This original essay was later blended into a more extensive article on the subject, which is still accessible at the Mysterious Britain & Ireland site:

The Lambton Worm and Penshaw Hill
https://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/ancient-sites/the-lambton-worm-and-penshaw-hill/


I loved this story as a child...

Bye
Martin
 
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Anonymous

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We have a story in Denmark of a snake doing it to a castle. It was called Lindorm. It is from a time where a snake was called a worm. Maybe it's the same in your case. And there you also had a prince killing it off to get to the princess in the castle.
 
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Anonymous

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In Sweden, folklore about lindormar and hjulormar (wheel snakes) is common in the southern provinces. Hujlormar was usually described as being about 7-10 feet long, black and with something resembling a horsemane on its back. In the 18th and 19th century it was spotted quiet often in the province of Smaland (where I'm from) and there was actually set up rewards for those who killed a hjulorm/lindorm and turned it over to the authorities. Needless to say, no hideous snake monster ever was captured, dead or alive. I have no idea though if there has been any recent reports of sightings.
 
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Anonymous

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Whoops.. Got the size wrong. The common length of these snakes was ca 20 ft. Somewhat more impressive (there is only two kinds of snakes native to Sweden, grass snakes and adders, the largest of them approx 7 ft in length). It has been suggested that the lindorm sightings were due to common black grass snakes and the rampant alcohol consumption in Sweden during the 19th century.:rolleyes:
 

FelixAntonius

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If you are talking about Worms &/or dragons, in Hertfordshire, there is one Piers O' Shonks, who's grave is in the church at Brent Pellam, who was a local dragon slayer.

It seems he killed a local dragon then, found it was the particular favourite of the devil who demanded Piers soul, "Be he be buried in the church, or without". Piers was buried in the wall of the church & so escaped his forfeit.

His grave, which still exists, in this church, is inscribed:-

O PIERS SHONKS

WHO DIED ANNO 1086

Nothing of Cadmus nor St George, those names
Of great renown, survives them but their fames:
Time was so sharp set as to make no Bones
Of theirs, nor of their menimental Stones.
but Shonks, one serpent kills, t'other defies,
and in this wall, as in a fortress lies.
 

MrRING

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Is there any evidence that dragons did exist as some kind of natural reptile (or maybe some other kind of) lifeform up til at least the Middle Ages?

Considering how many were called worms, I wonder if the easiest expination would be that python-style snakes used to be far more common all over the natural habitats of snakes in the world. Something that big and deadly would have provoked great fear in all who saw them. In the rural American South, most of the older people I know kill snakes on site, even tiny ones.

Or, maybe there were further hold-outs from the time of dinosaurs besides the few reptiles that survive today. Maybe they were offshoots between reptiles and birds, maybe helping to explain Quazecotal.

In any case, here is a little link about the subject, but does anybody have any opinions?

http://www.survive2012.com/dragons6.html
 

McAvennie

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Must surely have been large snakes or crocodiles, maybe even stray dino's that led to dragon legends.
Interesting article in FT about Griffins being dino's.
 
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Anonymous

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A Roman legion had to shoot a monsterous snake to death with ballistae in Spain...does that count?

The protoceratops/griffin thing seems reasonable enough.
 
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Anonymous

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Pembroke Castle has a cave beneath it where a dragon was said to live. I think drawings of the creature or somthing showed that it was actually a crocodile.
 

MrRING

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Most of the art from the Middle Ages looks like snake bodies with crocodile faces and catfish style wiskers... some even had feathers!
 

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At the Uncon presentation on the 'Real Sword in the Stone' there was photo of a skull of a 'Dragon' supposedly topped by a medieval saint (William of Mavemalex (?) can't read my notes) that turned out to be the skull of a Nile crocodile.
 
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Anonymous

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Like the Griffin = Proceratops, I suppose that legends of dragons originated with the discovery of dinosaur bones. Let's face, if you were a medeival farmer and unearthed a T-rex skull, what else would you think it was? Since dino bones are found all over the world, so dragon legends are found all over the world....

Although, that said, I've always thought there was a real, live dragon hibernating under Ben Wyvis in Scotland...:eek:
 

MrRING

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I just think that it could have been some kind of reptile snake offshoot that so scared people that they hunted it to extinction, like the wooly mammoth or that ostrich-like bird whose name escapes me.

I don't think (unfortunately) there were any Smaugs sitting on treasure troves waiting for a litle invisible hobbit to rob them, but it just seems so likely there would have been large, constrictor style snakes all over the world at some point...
 

conchell

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Mr. R.I.N.G. said:
I just think that it could have been some kind of reptile snake offshoot that so scared people that they hunted it to extinction, like the wooly mammoth or that ostrich-like bird whose name escapes me.

I don't think (unfortunately) there were any Smaugs sitting on treasure troves waiting for a litle invisible hobbit to rob them, but it just seems so likely there would have been large, constrictor style snakes all over the world at some point...

Facinating thread! I've often wondered about the Breathed Fire bit. Since dino bones don't often tell what all soft tissue on them did...would it be so hard to imagine a reptile that could spew gobs of highly corosive flem at its prey? That could produce the same burn results as flame. Kind of like the spitting cobra of today only larger... Possible?
 
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Anonymous

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Mr. R.I.N.G. said:
I wonder if the easiest expination would be that python-style snakes used to be far more common all over the natural habitats of snakes in the world.

There's a reason why there aren't big reptiles all over the world. Because they're cold-blooded, they need to absorb heat from their surroundings. Small reptiles have a larger surface area to volume ratio, and so get warmer quicker. Thus all the current big land reptiles live in the tropics.

There's an account of a dragon supposedly seen in southern England which sounds exactly like a spitting cobra. Another account describes a dragon eating an elephant, and sounds very much like the method large constricting snakes use to feed. I can probably dig these out if people are interested.

On the subject of breathing fire- it's been suggested that this is related to the tongue movements of snakes and lizards.

My suspicion is that they're traveller's tales- there's been trade between Africa, Asia and Europe for a very long time, and sightings of largish snakes, lizards, crocodiles etc. could be easily exaggerated in the telling and the passing on.
 

James_H

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Re: Re: Dragons: Evidence they existed

Beany said:
There's an account of a dragon supposedly seen in southern England which sounds exactly like a spitting cobra. Another account describes a dragon eating an elephant, and sounds very much like the method large constricting snakes use to feed. I can probably dig these out if people are interested.
oh please do
 
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Anonymous

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Re: Re: Re: Dragons: Evidence they existed

Faggus said:
oh please do

OK, here are the two I mentioned:

From Edward Topsell's 'Historie of Serpentes', pub. 1608, quoted in an encyclopaedia of reptiles:

... hide themselves in trees covering their head and letting the other part hang down like a rope. In those trees they watch until the Elephant comes to eat and croppe off the branches, then suddainly, before he be aware, they leape into his face and digge out his eyes, and with their tayles or hinder partes, beate and vexe the elephant, untill they have made him breathlesse, for they strangle him with theyr foreparts, as they beat him with the hinder.


...and from Janet & Colin Bord's 'Ancient Mysteries of Britain', pub. Grafton, 1986 (this has a whole chapter on 'Dragonlore' and how it relates to sites in the UK:
A discourse was published in 1614, titled 'A True and Wonderful Discourse relating a strange and monstrous Serpent (or Dragon) lately discovered, and yet living, to the great Annoyance and divers Slaughters of both Men and Cattel, by his strong and violent Poison: in Sussex, two Miles from Horsham, in a woode called St Leonard's Forrest, and thirtie miles from London, this present Month of August, 1614. With the true Generation of Serpents'. In this pamphlet the creature is described as: 'nine feete, or rather more, in length, and shaped almost in the forme of an axle-tree of a cart; a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both endes. The former part, which he shootes forth as a necke, is supposed to be about an elle long; with a white ring, as it were, of scales about it. The scales along his backe seem to be blackish, and so much as is discovered under his bellie, appeareth to be red; ...It is likewise discovered to have large feete, but the eye maybe there deceived; for some suppose that serpents have no feete ... [He] rids away (as we call it) as fast as a man can run. He is of countenance very proud, and at the sight or hearing of men or cattel, will raise his neck upright, and seem to listen and looke about, with great arrogancy. There are likewise upon either side of him discovered, two great bunches so big as a large foote-ball, and (as some thinke) will in time grow to wings, but God, I hope, will (to defend the poor people in the neighbourhood) that he shall be destroyed before he grow so fledge.'
The dragon was thought to live on rabbits; although he (or rather the 'venome' he shot forth) killed dogs and people, he did not eat them. It is also interesting that always 'in his track or path [he] left a glutinous and slimie matter ... which is very corrupt and offensive to the scent ...' No one has yet been able to suggest a known animal which fits the description of the St Leonard’s Forest 'dragon.'


Well, I've suggested a known animal, and I think it fits reasonably well. Apart from this bit about the slime.

Also... I found out last night that I seem to have a copy of 'Mythical Monsters' by Charles Gould, originally published 1884, republished recently, and still available- this has chapters on dragons, Chinese dragons, and Japanese dragons. The dragon chapter has loads of references from classical literature, I've not had a chance to read it properly yet. It's also available here:
http://www.herper.com/ebooks/titles/Mythical.html
as a 3.48 meg .pdf file.
 

kevinjwoods

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What I want to know was the scientific story I heard when I was young ever actually proved or disproved i.e. that dragons were really race memories of dinosaurs from when we were just small mammalls, this always seemed to have so many flaws (they would be bigger if we were smaller, does memory work like that really, etc) that I stopped believing in science for a bit.
 
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Anonymous

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Ok, there may be a kernel of truth in the 'race memory' thing...
there is such a thing as innate memory among many animals, and they often have an instinctive fear of snakes.
In fact it seems many pyschologists extend this phenomenon to baby chimps and even baby humans.

No doubt our fear of snakes is inherited from the tree shrews which are our distant ancestors, to whom snakes and other lizards would have been much larger- dragons in fact.
Our dreams and archetypes must be influenced by the deep rooted programming we inherit (by whatever means) from our ancestors.
 

conchell

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Dragons: Evidence they existed

Originally posted by Beany


Well, I've suggested a known animal, and I think it fits reasonably well. Apart from this bit about the slime.


When I was but a lass and in the 'Tom-boy' phase, I remember catching gater (garden) snakes and sometimes finding that they gave off a particularly noxious odor-(poss. self defense- ) but the stink was unforgetable. I wonder if a larger version in the reptile family could also leave a "stinky trail" to warn off would be captors?
 

athyra

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Just a note: while, yes, the larger the reptile the smaller the surface area to volume ratio is, there is another factor.

Cellular metabolism creates heat, in even cold blooded animals.

The bigger the body, the more heat that is generated and retained due to cellular metabolic features.

So, in some circumstances, in cold blooded animals giganticism may not be a factor against larger versions of contemporary animals, but rather an argument for them.

Unfortunately, from what I've seen all supposed dragon accounts seem to stem from OOP reptilians, fossils, or from pure mythology.

Remember, a common practice in both rome and the middle ages was to bring back the strangest animals you could for a menagerie. Undoubtably, some of them escaped. Large snakes and crocodiles were coveted finds, as they were to the thinking at the time, dragons.

One profound exception is a case I heard of a long while ago. A church in Ireland supposedly possessed a dragon skull killed by one of the early fathers there. While it was kept in it's reliquiary, and casual viewing was not permitted, apparently one of the rare casual examinations that was allowed indicated the skull was not a croc skull, as is common in such cases, but appeared to be a non-fossilized skull much like that of a giant salamander (along the lines of a 6-7 feet long one).

Not sure of the veracity of this, but interested me.
 

MrRING

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BINGO!

One profound exception is a case I heard of a long while ago. A church in Ireland supposedly possessed a dragon skull killed by one of the early fathers there. While it was kept in it's reliquiary, and casual viewing was not permitted, apparently one of the rare casual examinations that was allowed indicated the skull was not a croc skull, as is common in such cases, but appeared to be a non-fossilized skull much like that of a giant salamander (along the lines of a 6-7 feet long one).

If true, this would be an amazing story. Does anybody have any other info on this amazing crypto event?
 

elvissa

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Did anyone hear the programme on Radio 4 about unicorns? Apparently, the idea we have that the horn is spiralled comes from naughty Scandinavians selling whale horns and saying they were from unicorns. Of course, they'd have to be bloody big unicorns!!! Some king in Denmark had a throne made out of whale horn to impress foreign visitors.

I'm wondering if unicorns were in fact rhinos, and also there's some idea that unicorn comes from a mistranslation from the Greek versions of the Bible:

(King James)
Numbers 23 v22 "he hath as it were the strength of an Unicorne"
Job 39 v9. "Wilt the Unicorne be willing to serve thee?"
v10. "Canst thou binde the Unicorne to with his band to the furrow?"
Pslams 29 v6. "Sirion like a yong Unicorne".

But, to stop being off topic (slap hands!), there are even more references to 'dragons'. Some people thought that because these creatures are mentioned in the Bible, they therefore exist, or at least did in Biblical times. I think the Radio 4 show said something along the lines of these being mistranslations. But still, it's interesting that these mythical beasts gained extra credibility and believability in this way.
 

elvissa

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Mr Ring:

I've done a Google, but can't find anything relevant - just lots of mystical mumbo-jumbo.

Actually, I was thinking - Chinese dragons look like dogs. And isn't Grendel a dragon in 'Beowulf', which goes back to Anglo-Saxon times (yeah, and Beowulf has a magic helmet which helps him to swim underwater...).
 

kevinjwoods

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If Unicorn and Dragon are simply mistranslations then what are they mistranslations of?
Race memory of being afraid of things and feelings I will admit is possible but race memory of actual images I find to be ridiculous in the extreme.
And the fossil explanation doesn,t explain the fact that many civilations believed they were still around, from the babylonians drawing them on their gates to the city to dragons being used to symbolise a year in china along with dogs and rats which do exist.

In short the major problem which all theorys of dragons have to explain is not why did people believe in them but why did people consider them to have the same level of existence as other animals that we know do exist?
 
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Sorry to drag this thred from the bowls of Forum hell but...

I've got a book at home called the Flight Of Dragons by Peter Dickinson. It basicly explains how dragons could have evloved from dinosuars and explains things such as Fire Breathing (something to do with letting of the gases that it used to fly with), flight and even things like gold hoarding.

While I don't believe what he says is in anyway true (nor does he as he states at the start of book), but it's an intresting read about how dragons could have evloved from known animals.

Link To Amazon
 

stu neville

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Dansette said:
Mr Ring:

I've done a Google, but can't find anything relevant - just lots of mystical mumbo-jumbo.

Actually, I was thinking - Chinese dragons look like dogs. And isn't Grendel a dragon in 'Beowulf', which goes back to Anglo-Saxon times (yeah, and Beowulf has a magic helmet which helps him to swim underwater...).
No, Grendel was more bear or ape like than anything, a big, furry, immensely strong biped (cue other cryptid comparisons :)), who lived with his equally monstrous mother in a cave with a submerged entrance, hence the need for the magic helmet - later on in the saga Beowulf fought a dragon.

IIRC Peter Dickinson postulated a way in which dragons could have existed: extremely strong hydrochloric acid in their stomachs, whcih if they ingested metals would produce hydrogen, both highly inflammable and lighter than air (fire and flight), would upon death dissolve the remains (hence no evidence), etc.

[edit]D'oh! Cobra skd got there first!! Should finish posting before going and making some lunch...[/edit]
 

Abraxas12

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Irish Dragons

Hi
Try a book by FW Holiday "The Dragon and the disc" for info on Irish dragons.
Dont think it mentions the dragon skull you refer to though.
 
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