Posts Tagged ‘dragon statues’

Gulden Draak, the beer I featured in my last post, is actually named after a statue in the city of Ghent, where the brewer, Van Steenberge, is located. Here is the epic tale of that statue.

The Gulden Draak (“golden dragon”) was created for King Sigurd Magnusson of Norway. It was allegedly a figurehead on his Viking longboat. King Sigurd I (1090 – 1130 C. E.) was also known as Sigurd the Crusader because he personally led the Norwegian Crusade of 1107 – 1110 C. E.  On the way back from this crusade, he made several state visits, including one in Constantinople. There he gifted his personal longboat to Emperor Alexios I. The Gulden Draak was removed from the ship and placed atop the dome of the Aya Sophia cathedral.

There it remained for several decades, until Count Baldwin IX of Flanders (1172 – 1205 C. E.) assisted in the conquest of Constantinople as part of the Fourth Crusade (1202 – 1204 C. E.). The Byzantine Empire was repurposed as The Latin Empire, with Baldwin crowned as Emperor in 1205 C. E. Naturally, due to Baldwin’s success, much wealth flowed back to Flanders. One of the pieces returned to Europe was the Gulden Draak.

Initially, the statue was housed in the city-state of Bruges (modern-day Netherlands). However, Bruges later went to war with the rival city-state of Ghent. After a final battle in 1382 C. E, the victorious Ghentese took the Gulden Draak home with them. There it was installed on top of their Belfry, or city hall, where many important documents were stored. The Gulden Draak would protect these documents while acting as an emblem of Ghentese power and independence.

After all its travels, the Gulden Draak had finally found a forever home.

Wyrmflight: A Hoard of Dragon Lore — $4.99 e-book or $17.99 trade paperback. Available at Amazon or Draft2Digital.

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Remember those two giant dragon sculptures installed at Caerphilly Castle in March? It seems they have been doing what comes naturally… Now a giant nest has appeared, with eggs! Just in time for Easter, visitors can take part in an egg hunt and also see why Dwynwen is being so affectionate with Dewi.

Okay, it’s a little cheesy. The nest looks more like something a bird would build, and it’s hard to see how two disembodied heads would incubate the eggs. But, since April the Giraffe has finally dropped her calf, this gives all us dragon fans a baby watch of our own.

Stay tuned!


Just a few of my books:

Aunt Ursula’s Atlas, Lucy D. Ford’s short story collection

Masters of Air & Fire, Lucy D. Ford’s middle-grade novel

The Grimhold Wolf, my gothic werewolf fantasy, and my epic fantasy, The Seven Exalted Orders.

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I’ve been investigating Welsh folklore the past week or so, due to a short story I’m writing. As part of that, I discovered a pair of large dragon sculptures being unveiled for St. David’s Day.

St. David’s Day is the national holiday of Wales, celebrated on March 1st each year. St. David was born in Wales and died there on March 1, 589. The anniversary is celebrated by wearing daffodils and leeks, meals featuring traditional foods such as rarebit, and wearing the national costume. For women, this includes a wool skirt and bodice called a bedgown, with a scarf over the shoulders and neck, and a distinctive hat somewhat like a stovepipe hat but narrower toward the top. Men wear a more generic outfit of breeches and waistcoat.

In recent decades, celebrations include parades and other festivities. Which brings us to the dragons. In 2016, the heritage organization Cadw unveiled a giant-sized dragon sculpture complete with steam jets. “Dewi” attracted crowds all over Wales. This year, Dewi has a new friend, a female dragon named “Dwynwen.” Dwynwen is more lavender compared to Dewi’s red. Both are sculpted out of fiberglass.

The pair are shown “cwtching,” or cuddling, at Caernarfon Castle. They will be there all March and then begin their tour of Wales. You can see images and watch a pair of short videos here.

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Years ago, I heard part of a legend about fossil skull being mistaken for that of a dragon. After doing some research, I’m happy to share the tale with you.

Klagenfurt, Austria, is a small city with a big story. It’s told that in Medieval times, this part of Austria was wilderness. People started to move in and settle near a lake with marshes all along the edges. Unfortunately, they soon learned that a lindworm lurked in those waters! Livestock and people fell prey to its terrible appetite, until a brave warrior managed to bring it down. Once the area was safe, the marshes were drained, and the historic city was built.

Generations passed down the legend of the lindworm. Then, sometime in the 1300s, the skull of a huge, mysterious creature was discovered near Klagenfurt. Nobody knew what it could be, so they decided it must be a last remnant of the fabled lindworm. This relic was displayed with honor in the town hall.

More centuries passed, and the latest batch of town fathers decided to install a large fountain commemorating the victory over the lindworm. The sculptor, Ulrich Vogelsang, borrowed the lindworm skull to use as a model. The impressive cast iron fountain, which looks about 30 feet long, was installed in 1590. Later, in 1636, a different sculptor added the figure of a heroic warrior confronting the lindworm.

Through various wars and disasters, the fountain and the supposed dragon skull both survived. As science advanced, scholars realized that the fossil skull was actually that of an Ice Age rhinoceros. Although the legend of the lindworm was not real, Ulrich Vogelsang is recognized as one of the first artists to try and represent any animal based on its fossil.


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Giant dragon statues seem to be a thing in Britain these days. Another large advertising sculpture was unveiled at Caerphilly Castle in Wales on March 1st. In this installation, the head, claws and wingtips of a big red dragon appear to emerge from the moat of the picturesque Medieval castle. With golden glass eyes and steam wafting from the nostrils, it’s a truly amazing sight.

The pieces were made by Wild Creations, a prop maker based in Cardiff. It took about six weeks to model, mold the fiberglass, and paint the set. The same company also created an installation at Cardiff Castle last year, which appears to show a giant rugby ball embedded in the castle wall.

It’s all part of Cadw’s Historic Adventures, a tourism campaign aimed at promoting visits to Wales’ historic castles. If it wasn’t on the far side of an ocean, it would sure work on me!

Check out the full article, with progress photos, here.

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I’m so glad I went on my ramble last week about dragons, zombies and dystopian fiction. I got much more response than usual. Thanks to all who commented, even if you disagreed with my theories about apocalyptic fiction.

To update my self-publishing plans, I have been reading and studying the process, figuring out which stories to present, who the audience will be, and so on. My budget and schedule are slowly coming together. My plan at the moment is to publish ten of Lucy D. Ford’s fantasy short stories. Half of them were in my podcast, The Dragon King, back in 2012. The others are newer and have a slightly more contemporary tone. It should be a great collection for kids in 4th to 6th grades, or adults who enjoy the fairy-tale style.

After setting up this blog post, I’ll start inquiring about cover and interior art. I’ve gotten to know a number of illustrators during my years involved with SF clubs and conventions, so it will be fun to get in touch with a few old friends. As I always say, stay tuned for more information.

After all this, I can’t stand to leave you dragonless, so here’s a fun news story from Britain. It appeared that a gigantic dragon skull had washed up on a Dorset beach in 2013. Charmouth Beach is on the famous “Jurassic coast,” where many dinosaur fossils have been unearthed.

Alas, the dragon skull turned out to be… an advertising sculpture! It seems one of Britain’s media streaming companies, BlinkBox, was about to release the third season of Game of Thrones. I’ve been searching around to see if the sculpture still exists, and where it might be now. If anyone has the information, I’d love to hear from you.

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The Dinosaur Court was a wonder of Victorian England, but by the 1950s the site had fallen into obscurity. People knew the sculptures were still there, though it was hard to see them with all the brush that had grown up. However, people everywhere adore their dinosaurs, and the people of London didn’t forget them forever.

The first major restoration began in 1952, under the direction of Victor H. C. Martin. This involved removing vegetation and cleaning the concrete sculptures. Unfortunately, in some ways, Martin did more harm than good. Many of the sculptures, mainly of the mammals, were moved to a location where they would be more visible. This location was also more exposed, so that the figures began to deteriorate more quickly. Some of them were painted, which had not originally been done. Finally, in the 1960s, a limestone cliff that formed the backdrop was destroyed by explosives.

A second, even more extensive renovation began in 2002. This included building a new cliff and changing the paint to better reflect current science. Alas, some of the sculptures had been badly damaged, especially in the tails and toes. Most of them were patched or repaired with new cast pieces. A few could not even be located. Fiberglass replicas were created for these.

Today, the Dinosaur Court is once again a London landmark. Families and tourists flock to see these amazing heritage sculptures.

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Okay, enough with the silly riddles! This month we’re lucky enough to have a public art event that includes a dragon or two. It’s the Chinese Lantern Festival, which brings music, dance, and authentic Chinese cuisine to the heart of Spokane, Riverfront Park.

The installation includes hundreds of lighted silk sculptures that were assembled right in the park, beginning in August. Each of these is hand painted with faces and patterns, and they look just beautiful — as far as we can tell. The trees in the park have kept things mysterious. However, there’s no hiding one of the centerpieces, a dragon sculpture that looks about 40 feet long and should be awe-inspiring.

Now the festival is open, with a significant entry fee. (Okay, anything over $10 is significant for my family, since we all want to go.) I’d love to have one of the meals, but they’re even higher, so I don’t think that’s in the cards.

Click the link above if you want to see a video of the affair.

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Here’s a link to another atypical dragon statue. “Dragon Family” is located in Varna, Bulgaria. I’ve been unable to find out much about the statue, except for various photos posted by tourists. (The one linked above is from Pinterest.)

So I can’t regale you with how tall it is, or the exact location in Varna. It appears from the photos that it’s near a public pool; the taps on the statue’s base are said to run with hot mineral water, so perhaps it’s at a hot spring. I do know the name is the sculptor is Eugene Ivanov and the work was installed in October, 2010.

The statue depicts two bipedal dragons, presumably a male and female, gazing at each other with loving eyes as they hold a golden egg between them. Some notes say that the male is leaving on a journey and entrusting his mate with their unborn offspring. To me, it appears that the female has presented this egg to her mate and he is overcome with solemn joy.

Apparently there was some public debate when people saw this sentimental depiction of what are usually fierce dragons. A church group protested that the artwork undermined their Christian values. Okay, yes, dragons appear in the Bible as one of Satan’s disguises. Still, it’s hard to understand their objections to such a lovely and — dare I say it — wholesome work of art.

Another for my “someday I would like to go there” list.

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