A Monstrous and Venomous Serpent: Legendary Crusading Heroes and Wyrm-Slaying Symbolism – What Does it Mean? | Ancient Origins Members Site


A Monstrous and Venomous Serpent: Legendary Crusading Heroes and Wyrm-Slaying Symbolism – What Does it Mean?

A Monstrous and Venomous Serpent: Legendary Crusading Heroes and Wyrm-Slaying Symbolism – What Does it Mean?

Whisht! lads, haad ya gobs,
Aa'll tell ye aall an aaful story,

Whisht! lads, haad ya gobs,
An aa'll tell ye ‘boot the wyrm.

--(C.M. Leumane, 1867)

Beasts that Scorch the Land

There are more than twenty folktales from north-east England and Scotland that include the motif of a ‘wyrm’—a huge dragon-like, wingless serpent that terrorizes neighborhoods, sometimes for many years, before being eventually slain (motifs classified in the Aarne-Thompson index as B11.1.3.1, B11.2.1, and B11.11). These wyrm folktales are not exclusive to this geographical area. One appears in Somerset as the Gurt Wyrm of Shervage Wood, and there are several Scandinavian and Irish examples, but there does seem to be a cluster of the story type in Northumberland, Yorkshire, County Durham and the Scottish Borders. Two of the best-known examples are the Linton Wyrm and the Sockburn Wyrm, beasts that hide by day but then emerge at night to scorch the land, eat livestock and occasionally people.


Become a member to read more OR login here