Serpents and Dragons in British Folklore

Laidley-Worm
The Laidley Worm of Spinlestone Haugh by Walter Crane (1845-1915)

The following article has been “reblogged” from The Atlantic Religion: A ‘Prisca Theologia’ of European Paganism.

The Atlantic Religion

It is perhaps unsurprising that Britain can lay claim to a number of ‘worm’ or ‘dragon’ legends, given its lands have been settled at various times by peoples to whom the imagery of such creatures has had deep symbolic meaning, not only to the Britons, Gauls and Irish of the Bronze and Iron Ages, but also of the ‘Romanised’ continentals and Germanic peoples who mixed with them, reinforcing and modifying the indigenous ideas of that locality. Through further contact with the East via Byzantium and the Crusades, new style and detail became added to indigenous stories which changed how people imagined these creatures looked and behaved.

The folktales and legends of old Britain were, before the 17thC era when state Protestantism began to encourage widespread literacy, transmitted orally largely in the form of either stories or ballads. Many of those in song form survive because they were published from the late 1600s onward in the form…

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