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Monday, April 19, 2010

MUIRHEAD`S MYSTERIES: A dragon in Unsworth, Lancashire

I have found a story of a legend of a mighty dragon in Unsworth near Bury, Lancashire, from a book called `Lancashire Legends`.


'Traditions respecting the ravages formerly made by the so-called dragons occur in many counties. Yorkshire has claimed the legend of the Dragon of Wantley, and the Lambton Worm has rendered the county of Durham famous. One of the most noted dragon stories of Lancashire has its locality assigned to Unsworth, a small village or hamlet about three miles from Bury. The principal mansion in this village is occupied by a lineal descendant of the ancient family of Unsworth, who probably derived their name from the homestead they have so long occupied. The house contains little worthy of notice; but it has long been famous for containing an ancient carved oak table and panel connected with a legend attaching to the family. It is said that Thomas Unsworth was the owner of this property when the district was devastated by an enormous dragon, which was not content with its ordinary fare but proceeded to swallow up women and children. The scales of this dragon were so hard and firmly set,that bullets shot by the guns of those days took no effect upon the monster;and the owner of Unsworth,finding this the case,loaded his gun with his dagger and mortally wounded the dragon under the throat,as it was raising its head to rush at its assailant…What may have given rise to the legend it is quite impossible to determine; but an estate was once granted to a member of this family for some important military service, and this may have had something to do with its origin…There is a singular circumstance connected with most of these dragon stories which is worthy of special notice. It is that of the frequent use of sacred and mystic numbers in the narratives, and this in some degree supports the conjecture that they are allegorical in their nature. In the case of the Dragon of Wantley…there are seven heads mentioned, and twice seven eyes;the monster itself ate up three children,the fight lasted two days and one night, and he turned twice three times round when he received his fatal wound….(1)

There is an essay in East Lancashire Magazine for August 1890 pp 165-171 by TH Hayhurst called `The Unsworth Dragon and its Lessons` which I have not read.

Chapter Ten of Bill Cooper`s After The Flood has good information on Anglo-Saxon dragons (dinosaur survival.)

1. Author unknown Lancashire Legends pp 63-65

Devo Freedom of Choice

A victim of collision on the open sea
Nobody ever said life was free
Sank,swam,go down with the ship
But use your freedom of choice

I`ll say it again
In the land of the free
Use your freedom of choice
Your freedom of choice………

1 comment:

Richard Freeman said...

There is no mention in the poew or the story of the dragon of Wantley having seven heads. It has one head and in contempory drawings it is show as the classic winged quardapedal dragon.