Bigfoot isn’t the only cyptid who can suddenly appear along a highway and stop traffic. A dragon showed up on the A5 in North Wales and motorists were both aghast and ungassed as they slowed down to gaze in wonder. It turns out the story behind this creature is as magical as the dragon itself.
“Please concentrate on the road ahead at all times, if you want to view it, then please find somewhere safe to park (not on the A5) and walk down on the pavement. Please drive carefully.”
“It” is a 25-foot (7.6 meter) dragon with a 12-foot (3.6 meter) wingspan baring its teeth as it partially hides in the trees along the A5 highway from Bangor between the first two exits for Tregarth. Its name -- Y Draig Dderw, Welsh for The Oak Dragon – tells both where it’s concealed and the origin of the beast.
“A large oak branch had fallen from a tree in Tregarth, near Bethesda. When I say branch it doesn’t sound that big, but this was a branch around 30 inches in diameter! The location was perfect, in view of the A5, so plenty of people would see it, and a challenging landscape to create it in! The branch was resting on a pile of rocks, and the branches of the stem rested on the ground and curled up in the air which made it a great shape and position to form the dragon with its front feet resting on the rock, and hind legs on the ground!”
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, the majestic Oak Dragon is also named for the majestic fallen oak branch that chainsaw artist Simon O’Rourke was commissioned to transform into a dragon. (You can see the stunning before, in-progress and after photographs here.) Because of the size of the branch, O’Rourke says he considered carving it into a bat-like Game of Thrones dragon but instead went with the Welsh-style dragon with four legs and separate wings. It took him a week using several different sizes of chain saws to complete the carving, for which the owner, Dr. Ben Alofs, who owns an arboretum near Bangor, paid £25000 ($32,600 US).
You can tell by this exquisite creation that O’Rourke is no stranger to tree carving. He has a degree in illustration but as a young starving artist he took a job as a tree surgeon, which is where he found his knack for making delicate cuts with a roaring, saw-dust-spitting chainsaw. After starting with furniture, he moved to carving statues of human and animal figures. O’Rourke says he prefers to recycle waste timber or standing stumps, and that was the case with the Oak Dragon.
"Our latest dragon captured the attention and hearts of people who saw it in person and online, and since then we have been overwhelmed by the positive messages we’ve received. Although Y Ddraig Derw is visible from the road, it’s in a bit of a tricky spot to stop for photos. We’d love for you to see him in person, but encourage you all to do it safely please."
O’Rourke (and probably the wary-of-lawsuits doctor too) join the local police in asking drivers to be careful when stopping to admire the dragon.
We all love Game of Thrones, but this phoenix rising from a fallen oak is a great dragon origin story.