There are many references to be found in old English history, of dangerous dragons and heroic knights, saving maidens and villagers from death and destruction. These ancient folklores and legends can be found across the length and breadth of the country. The fascinating descriptions of each of these ferocious animals are truly startling from their curious and terrifying appearances, to their inherent, and sometimes magical abilities. They are among the first of the ancient mythical creatures and are often referred to as beasts, monsters, demons and serpents.
The Bisterne Dragon was a huge green Wyvern, and legend says that it’s secluded den was at the top of Burley Beacon in the New Forest in the 15th century.
Early every morning, it would emerge, beating its great clawed bat wings and would fly to Bisterne where it would terrorise the poor villagers and eat the livestock.
After weeks of terror, the villagers realised they could placate the ferocious dragon by supplying it with large quantities of milk, which they would leave for it at the edge of the forest, in a large trough, just outside the village.
But as time went by, the immense amount of milk required by the creature to keep it tamed was leaving the village poverty stricken.
Eventually, the frightened villagers came to the conclusion that the fearsome dragon must be slayed, and they turned to the Lord Mayor of the village.
The valiant knight, Sir Maurice de Berkeley, Lord Mayor of Bisterne, created a plan.
He built a hide, concealed in the undergrowth of the local forest, and proceeded to patiently lay in wait with his two faithful hounds, Grim and Holdfast.
He’d covered his shining armour with powdered glass to stop the vicious dragon biting him.
When the awful monster came for its daily supply of milk, the excited hounds immediately attacked it, and the brave Knight was able to leap out of the hide and attack the savage dragon by surprise, wounding the beast.
But the evil creature soon rallied. The courageous hounds fought hard, but eventually they succumbed to deadly injuries inflicted upon them and they were killed.
The enduring battle was said to have raged through the leafy forest and into a green field, now called Dragon Field, until Sir Berkeley eventually triumphed, inflicting a fatal arrow strike through the dragons heart.
The heinous beast died outside the pretty village of Lyndhurst, where it’s huge lifeless body turned into a small hill, known locally as Boltons Bench.
The valiant Knight, Sir Berkeley was mentally broken by the bloody battle, it having raged for so long, and he was left exhausted and injured. After thirty days and nights of decaying health, he went back to the hill that had been the dragons body, Boltons Bench, and after dragging his moribund body to the top, he died there, alone.
They say, his trusted bow, made of yew wood, fell on the grassy ground beside him, and grew into a fine yew tree, which is still there to be seen today.
The two faithful hounds, Grim and Holdfast, can be seen immortalised in the stonework of Bisterne Manor.
Excerpt from ‘Dragons of Olde England’
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