Dragon Well, Wharncliffe, South Yorkshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 305 961

Also Known as:

  • Dragon’s Well

Folklore

The famous Wharncliffe Dragon used to drink from here, moreso than the other Dragon’s Well at Bolsterstone more than a mile to the west. The dragon – with its “seven heads and twice seven eyes” – lived a short distant away on the rocks above at the Dragon’s Den. The description of this great beast and its antics at the well were summed-up in Rob Wilson’s book on the Holy Wells of South Yorkshire (1991). He told that:

“The Wharncliffe area has been taken as the setting for the theme of a centuries-old ballad of 19 stanzas , its full title being, ‘An Excellent Ballad of a Dreadful Combat fought between Moore of Moore-Hall and the Dragon of Wantley.’ The 6th and 13th stanzas contain references to Dragon’s Well and are printed below in full:

“Some say this dragon was a witch;
Some say he was a devil;
For from his nose a smoke arose,
And with it burning snivel;
Which he cast off when he did cough,
Into a well that stands by;
Which made it look just like a brook
Running with burning brandy.

It is not strength that always wins,
For wit doth strength excel;
Which made our cuning champion
Creep down into a well:
Where he did think this dragon would drink,
And so he did in truth;
And as he stopp’d low, he rose and cry’d Boh!
And he hit him on the mouth!””

References:

Jewitt, Llewellyn, ‘The Dragon of Wantley and the Family of Moore,’ in The Reliquary, April 1878.
Wilson, Rob, Holy Wells and Spas of South Yorkshire, Northern Arts: Sheffield 1991.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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About megalithix

Occultist, prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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