Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Sussex is known for its tales of dragons living in the forests but Kent remains extremely obscure with relation to such legends.
On Friday 26th September, 1449, two enormous reptilian creatures were watched by a number of witnesses as they fought on the banks of the winding River Stour. One of the leviathans was described as reddish with spots and the other monster, the victor, was all black. Strangely enough, the area ever since has been known as Sharpfight Meadow.
In Sussex in 1794 a huge 'snake' was shot dead finally after terrorising locals and livestock for such a while at Hayward's Heath. However, descriptions from the time clearly state that this particular beast measured only five-feet in length, in fact many tales speaking of such 'dragons' often only speak of creatures reaching up to nine-feet in length, suggesting nothing more than snakes or large lizards. It must also be noted that with regards to the above beast, many witnesses to the monster often described it as disappearing under the earth once it had attacked, not exactly the behaviour of a terrible dragon.
During 1867, at Fittleworth in Sussex, another snake-like animal was spoken of. The creature was known to hiss and spit at travellers who accidentally stumbled upon its lair. However, one record does exist from Fittleworth of an, "...oudaciously large" creature which was said to have inhabited a lair near an overgrown pathway. The beast would never let anyone pass, but attacks on humans seem to have never taken place.
St. Leonard's Forest in Sussex is another alleged dragon's abode. A John Trundle published a broadsheet speaking of the horrible creature said to have haunted the area in 1614, claiming, "...there is always in his track or path left a glutinous and slimie matter which is very courupt and offensive to the scent...the Serpent or Dragon as some call it, is reputed to be nine feete or rather more in length, and shaped almost in the form of the axle-tree of a cart, a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both ends. The former part which he shoots forth as a necke is supposed to be an ell long, with a white ring as it were of scales about it. The scales along his back seem to be blackish and so much as is descovered under his bellie apereth to be red...it is likewise descovered to have large feete, but the eye may be there deceived, for some supoose that serpents have no feet but glide along upon certain ribbes and scales, which both defend them...there are likewise on either side of him discovered two great bunches, so big as a large foote ball, and as some think will grow into wings, but God I hope will so defend the poor people of the neighbourhood, that he shall be destroyed before he grow so fledge. He will cast venom 4 roddes from him, so by woefull experience, it was proved on the bodies of a man and woman coming that way..."
In his book Dragons: More Than A Myth ?, author and friend Richard Freeman wrote, "....The description of the serpent sounds very like a cobra...", and by what we've read, differing dialect aside, it sounds as though no dragons were actually inhabiting the woods of Sussex. But something was.