Posted by: Catholic of Thule | June 25, 2010

Seventeenth century traffic alert.

A rather unusual warning to travellers is described in Fr. Philip Caraman’s book on Blessed Henry Morse:

‘Moreover, at this time [1614] stories of a man-eating dragon rampaging in the woods between London and the south. A warning to travellers published in a curious pamphlet written in the August following Morse’s departure. The monster was said to rove principalle in St. Leonard’s Forest. Nine feet or rather more in length, it was shaped like the axletree of a cart, thick in the middle and smaller at both ends. The author-witness, observing the beast from a “reasonable ocular distance”, reported that its belly was red and that black scales adorning its rump. “At the sight or hearing of men or cattle he raised his neck arrogantly. Two great swellings on either side, as “big as a large football”, were thought to be sprouting wings, and it was hoped that God would see that he was killed before he became fully-fledged. Already by throwing its venom four roods ahead of him, the beast had slain two mastiff dogs and several men and women.’

One wonders what constitutes a ‘reasonable ocular distance’ for the accurate observation of dragons. At any rate, it certainly beats the regular modern day warnings of rush hour delays.


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