Of the many and varied centuries-old enigmas that can be found in the U.K., one of the most intriguing is that which concerns mysterious, large “worms,” as they were known. The fact that there are more than a few ancient reports on file of these creatures, makes me conclude that the phenomenon was an all too real one. I say “was” as we don’t see them anymore. That suggests, whatever they were, they are now extinct. Unless, that is, they may have been something similar to the lake-monsters of several of Scotland’s lochs. Soon, I’ll write an article here on that very possibility – that the Nessies of today and the worms of yesteryear were/are the same. For today, though, I’m going to share with you some of the more interesting cases of these strange beasts. We’ll begin with the Lambton Worm, which has its origins in the northeast of England.
As the people at the Unmuseum note: “A rebellious, young man name John Lambton, heir of the Lambton estate in County Durham, decided to go fishing one Sunday morning, though he was warned by a mysterious old man that no good could come of skipping church. Lambton is unsuccessful in catching anything out of the local river Wear until he pulls in a strange fish. The eel-like creature has the head of a salamander and nine holes on either side of its skull. Lambton doesn’t like the look of it at all and declares he has caught ‘the devil.’ On the advice of the old man, he decides not to return it to the river, but instead decides to throw it down a convenient well.” After returning from the Crusades, John Lambton engages the monstrous worm in a violent battle. Of course, the worm is defeated.
There is a tale that dates back to the 1100s. It tells of a horrific, man-eating, giant, worm-like beast that terrified the good folk of Linton, Roxburghshire, which is located on the Southern Uplands of Scotland. According to the old tales, the Linton Worm was somewhere between ten and twelve feet in length, which, if true, effectively rules out any known British animal – wild or domestic – as being the culprit. Rather oddly, so the old legend went, the huge worm had two homes. In part, it lived in the heart of Linton Loch – a small, boggy area and the ideal place for a monster to hide. Its other, dark abode was Linton Hill, which even today is referred to as Worm’s Den, such is the enduring nature of the legend.
Possibly connected to the matter of mysterious worms seen centuries ago in the U.K., is the following. It’s a fascinating story of nothing less than a real-life dragon can be found in the pages of Charles Igglesden’s 1906 book, A Saunter Through Kent With Pen & Pencil. Kent being a county in southern England. Of a dragon reportedly seen in Cranbrook, Kent, centuries earlier, Igglesden wrote: “The magnificently wooded park of a hundred and fifty acres is richly watered by a huge lake made in 1812 and a smaller one within the grounds, while further west is an old mill pond that rejoices in a curious legend. It is an old one and the subject of it is very ancient indeed and as rare as it is horrible.”
He continued that nothing less than a flying dragon was said to haunt the pond but that “on certain – or uncertain – nights of the year it wings its flight over the park and pays a visit to the big lake yonder. But he always returns to the Mill Pond and it is said to pay special attention of a vicious kind to young men and women who have jilted their lovers. A legend with a moral is this. But a winged dragon! A dragon of the ordinary kind is bad enough. But a flying dragon! Augh!”