Posts Tagged ‘Bisterne Dragon’

Long ago, the English county of Hampshire was covered by thick woodlands called the New Forest. Near these woods was a tall hill known as Burley Beacon, and the den of a dragon was high upon it. The beast caused the usual trouble — devouring cattle and also any humans foolish enough to interfere with its predations.

The nearest manor was at Bisterne, where Sir Maurice Berkeley was visited by a delegation pleading for his help. The villagers had managed to reach a detente that involved them giving all their cows’ milk to the dragon each day. Sir Maurice decided to use this. He had his armor coated with glass, and then set up a hunter’s blind where the dragon came to get the milk. There he hid himself along with his two best hunting hounds.

The next day, the dragon came. Sir Maurice waited until the beast was occupied with its treat. He let his hounds out, and they instantly rushed at the dragon. A furious battle raged across the countryside. It was visible to villagers in Lyndhurst and Bisterne. At length, Sir Maurice managed to strike the dragon from behind. Dragon and dogs died together in a bath of poisoned blood. It’s said that the dragon’s body turned into a hill known as Bolton’s Bench.

The knight’s glass-coated armor shed the blood without harming him… or so it seemed. But Sir Maurice was never the same after the battle. The dragon’s breath was merely a slower poison. He lost his strength and his mind wandered in nightmares. After a month of torment, the doomed knight returned to Bolton’s Bench. He died, and his body changed into a yew tree, which was said to still exist in the 17th Century.

A green dragon became part of the Berkeley family arms. Nearby villages of Bisterne, Alderbury and Brook have all had Green Dragon Inns at various times. The New Forest is a nature reserve, one of Britain’s largest intact native forests. It’s mystique is such that it is frequently referred to in stories by British writers.

And the yew trees grow thick on Bolton’s Bench, even to this day.


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