day out with grandchildren
st leonards forest
sussex dragon legend
the high weald
My Day Out... A Change of Plan, and a Dragon!
August 4, 2007 9:17pm CST
My younger Son and his family weren't able to join us today, and the Sun was so hot and strong on the Downs, that we made plans to go to St. Leonards Forest. As you may recall, I've mentioned the power in this place before. I don't want to make this too long, but we went to a place between Dragon's Green and Horsham Rugby Club. Rather than the bridle path, we took the path through the forest, at the beginning of which was a board, telling of the Dragon legend... Dragon legends seem to be restricted to the West of the County of Sussex, although the reason why is not too clear. Serpents were viewed as very unlucky in the County, probably due to association with the Devil, and this extended to Dragons. Accounts of Serpents go back a long, long way, to the 8th century Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which mentions "Wondrous Adders that were to be seen in the land of the South Saxons". At about the same time, Ethelward's Chronicle mentions that "Monstrous serpents were seen in the country of the Southern Angles that is called Sussex". Maybe they are the last remnants of some form of dinosaur as Iguanodon bones were found in Tilgate Forest, closeby, and St. Leonard's forest is where one of the Sussex Dragon tales is set. A small part of the ancient Wealden forest is named after one of the Dragon legends that is set there. It is said that St. Leonard, a 6th century French hermit, once lived in St. Leonards Forest. During a long battle with a Dragon, which he eventually won, St. Leonard was injured. It is said that God made White Lilies spring forth from the ground where the Saint's blood fell. Also, asking what reward the Saint wanted for freeing the local people from the Dragon, he asked that snakes be banished from the forest and nightingales, which had disturbed the Saints prayers, would be silent. In the 16th century, it was written by Dr. Andrew Borde, that the Nightingales didn't sing because they disturbed the devotions of a forest hermit. There isn't any proof that St. Leonard, ever visited Sussex, though the legend may have been attributed to him through a hermitage within the forest. We spotted some unusual things in the forest, but no dragons. lol. Strangely enough, no snakes either, but that's another story! I came across a kind of shelter, built from sticks, cleverly arranged around a fallen tree trunk, and a log, shaped like a Scottie dog. Then, something quite odd, which I though related to Saxons or Vikings. A mound of earth, and into this was driven a thick branch or trunk of wood, which was neatened at the top, and had a smallish Viking Axe, or Thor's Hammer carved into it. The carving wasn't ever so prominent but it was there. The bark was cut away to reveal the smooth wood and it gave a shaded effect to the carving. I came home with a large staff which I'm going to neaten up and decorate for myself for future use, and my granddaughter came home with four sticks from which she wanted to make a tent. lol. I'll tell you about that later. So that was my day, so far... part two to come!
5 Aug 07
The dragon legend started in the 8th century, but there were further sightings and writings in the 1400s. We didn't have a picnic there because it was muddy in the forest where there were clearings, and dry and dusty outside. There is a part II to this discussion my friend, which tells the rest. Brightest Blessings. xx
• United States
5 Aug 07
I had a stick that fell from one of our trees that looked like an elephant, I wonder what became of it. It is neat to find interesting things and shapes in the woods.I am trying to feature your Scottie dog. I though sure that on your mound was going to be something relating to the "white horse" although I know that was a different part of the nation. I am switching back and forth between Cornwell's book and myLot, and you are seeming to provide a portal.LOL Do you think the mound and the wood date back far enough to be contemporary with Vikings, or do you think the carving was a bit more modern? You know I saw a scientist on a video one time who believed that dragons were indeed dinosaurs of a fire breathing variety, and that there are lizards today that appear to have that effect.
5 Aug 07
Oh, what a shame you lost your elephant stick. I'll put a pic of the Scottie Dog in here... it's black and in the distance as I had trouble with the camera batches. Because of that, I failed to get many pictures. The white horse, I believe is in Wiltshire, on the Downs, without checking. Then there is the Long Man of Wilmington, in Sussex, oh lots and lots of things. I still have a vast area of the Downs to investigate yet. lol. The mound looks as though an upper part of it is coming away from whatever is underneath, and the tree trunk or branch seems to be rooted and still living, so I would imagine, were it a burial place for some being or article, then it's for real. Saxons inhabited the forest originally, so it could well be, or it may be that it's a more modern pagan effort... somebody of my beliefs. Thor's Hammer is widely used in the Norse beliefs, but there again, an axe would be significant. Yes, I think there is definitely something between dragons and dinosaurs. St. George supposedly slayed one, Uther saw one in the sky from Stonehenge, so they can't all be wrong. Brightest Blessings my friend and thank you for your input.
• United States
5 Aug 07
Sweets, Another wonderful tour of the world you travel. You missed your calling Doll..You should be a tour guide! Have you ever thought of it? I bet you would soon be the favorite. Guided virtual tours of the English Country Side by Darkwing...Sounds good to me Hon xoxoxoxoxoxoxo
5 Aug 07
Maybe in writing my friend but most places you apply to be a tour guide, you're stuck in the one place all the time. Cripes, I have been to so many places in this country, I would never be able to travel round them day by day, and I couldn't stand being cooped up in a coach. Maybe if I get my Romany Caravan and Shire Horse someday, I could take a special friend with me, and show them all I know and have yet to learn about. How would that be? :) Brightest Blessings, my dear friend. xoxox
5 Aug 07
I've just remembered something... the first time I went to visit Gabs, I got off the coach at Colchester Bus Station and had to catch a bus back to her place. There was this woman on the bus who started talking to me. I told her I was visiting for the first time, and she must have sensed something about my personality, because she proceeded to tell me all the legend and history of Colchester... ha ha ha. I bet I know more about Colchester than Gabs does, just from that one bus ride. lol.
• Etowah, Tennessee
5 Aug 07
Most of the time I get bored reading long posts. Not here though. I bet you enjoyed yourselves and it shows! i believe that most myths have some truth or reason behind them. Perhaps dragons were real and just dinosaurs. The world may never know. I can never seem to find a good piece of wood for a walking stick or staff. When I have been lucky to find one a time or two, some one threw it in the fire! I can not wait to read about the rest of this day out!!
5 Aug 07
I think dragons may well have been dinosaurs, or maybe some sort of water dinosaur, if you get my drift, but there are so many written things about this dragon, that there has to have been something. As for them throwing your decent staff on the fire, that's a bit off. You should send them out hunting for a new one! lol. The one I found is pretty thick, so when I smooth it down, I'll probably tailor it a bit, and then decorate and carve it. I'm really looking forward to getting into that project. Brightest Blessings.