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Here Be Dragons (and rain)

Site of the Ludham Dragon Legend

Have you ever wanted to wander off of the map into that bit at the edge that says ‘Here Be Dragons’?  Well I did that by mistake on my holiday. Setting off into Norfolk with the idea of forgetting about Candle Man, monsters and stories for a while, I immediately stumbled across a rain-spattered information board in the hitherto unheard of (by me) village of Ludham.

What surprised me was that Ludham had a real bona fide DRAGON LEGEND. You might think this unsurprising, but there aren’t that many actual dragon legends around that tie a sighting to a real place. I mean WHERE did St George actually kill HIS dragon? I don’t remember ever being told.

The Ludham legend says that a dragon used to come out of his hole – between the church yard and the high street –  and annoy the locals with his monstrous antics. They attempted to prevent this by blocking up his hole with any old rubbish while he was asleep. It never worked! After a while they gave up – possibly the dragon put up a sign saying: ‘Entrance in constant use – do  not obstruct.’

But then one day, while the dragon was out flying around, one brave, powerful man found a big stone and rolled it over the dragon’s hole. Old fiery-breath came back, and was unable to remove the stone. He left in a flap, smashing his mighty tail into the local abbey on the way – leaving it in ruin!

The evidence for this myth is very convincing.

1. There IS a ruined abbey nearby.

2. The dragon has definitely left Ludham.

The thing I like about this legend is its (dare I say it) typical East Anglian humility, no great hero here who slew a dragon with a sword and married a princess. Rather the more modest, almost comical aim of blocking up the dragon’s doorway while he’s out, in the hope that this will annoy the fire-breathing, supernatural menace enough to make him go away.

And it worked!

Even at the start of the story, the idea of killing the dragon is never suggested, as if such a thing was unthinkable to the villagers. I like that. Man knowing his place in the great scheme. No courtly glitter has been added to this piece of folklore, which makes it all the more enjoyable.

I think I was about a thousand years late to spot the dragon, so instead I took this picture of the ruins he created (with some bloke standing right in front of them).

In Search of the Ludham Dragon


About Glenn Dakin

Glenn Dakin is a writer, cartoonist and editor. He is author of the Candle Man series of fantasy novels for Egmont. His best-known comics are Abe - an autobiographical strip (Top Shelf);Temptation (Penguin Books and Active Images); Spider-Man heroes and Villains (Eaglemoss);the Rockpool Files (With Phil Elliott, Slave Labor/Marvel UK); Robot Crusoe (Funday TImes); Plasmer (Marvel UK); Clan Destine (Marvel USA).

One response to “Here Be Dragons (and rain)

  1. John T. ⋅

    Reminds me of a local legend from my part of the world (the North East) about a similar dragon-like beast, the Lambton Worm, which terrorised villagers in and around County Durham. Or, as the local folk song goes:

    ‘This fearful worm would often feed
    On calves an’ lambs an’ sheep
    An’ swally little bairns alive
    When they laid doon to sleep.’

    When thirsty the Lambton Worm liked nothing better than to ‘milk a dozen coos’, terrorising local livestock into a severe case of bashful udder syndrome. The local knight seems to have defeated it via a kind of protracted whittling process, hacking bits off it and throwing them into a river until nothing remained. Sounds pretty labour intensive to me – I much prefer the idea of blocking up its front door. Why aye man!

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