Appreciate a Dragon Day
Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Fear the Linton Worm! Beware the woeful Wyvern!"
Well, it's a kind of appreciation ... . Whether you fancy yourself a dragon-slayer, dragon-tamer, or dragonologist, it's best to know your dragons. In British heraldry, a Lindworm is a technical term for a wingless serpentine monster with two clawed arms in the upper body, while a Wyvern is the legendary bipedal dragon with a tail often ending in a diamond- or arrow-shaped tip. In most of folklore, neither the Lindworm nor the Wyvern are fire-breathing, a trait assigned to the four-legged varieties of dragon. The phrase "Here be dragons" (or "There be dragons") is a warning of dangerous or unexplored territories, used in imitation of a medieval practice of putting illustrations of dragons, sea-monsters and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps. Earlier cartographers similarly warned of elephants, hippos, and scorpions! Beware! And appreciate! 🐉
There Be Dragons
The Hunt-Lenox globe, dated 1510, is the only actual item which contains the famous warning "Beware of Dragons," specifically "Hic sunt dracones. " There are no known maps with the text of this warning. Interestingly, this popular belief may spring from a modern reference from one of Dorothy L. Sayers' short stories, "The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head" in the 1928 story "Lord Peter Views the Body" in which a character refers to having seen "hic dracones" on an old map.
Dragons and serpent-like creatures are featured in the myths of cultures spanning the globe and are often divided into specific regional types.
The four-legged dragon, the two-legged wyvern, and the legless lindworm occur throughout much of British and European folklore and helraldry.
From Cirein Croin, a sea serpent believed to be the largest creature ever, to the long, thick tailed wingless Beithar who haunted the quarries and mountains around Glen Coe, to the infamous Loch Ness Monster, dragons and their ilk have long been a part of Scottish folklore.
The Linton Worm and the Dundee dragon are two other fearsome dragon-type beasties with a history of menacing the countryside.
For more on whether or not and where this warning occurs on ancient maps click the vintage ocean map.
And for a video of "There be Dragons" performed at the Animal Themed Party, in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, 2016, see below.