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Weird Suffolk: The Little Cornard dragons

PUBLISHED: 16:00 16 March 2018 | UPDATED: 14:09 19 March 2018

Have you heard of the Suffolk dragon tale? Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Have you heard of the Suffolk dragon tale? Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Archant

Here be dragons – or rather here were dragons, back in 1449.

Weird Suffolk. Kedington Hill. Picture: STAFF PICTUREWeird Suffolk. Kedington Hill. Picture: STAFF PICTURE

A little more than 40 years earlier, another dragon with a huge body, sharp teeth, a long thrashing tail and a crested head had appeared in Bures in Suffolk and had been impervious to arrows fired at it by archers.

It did, however, escape after feasting on livestock and terrorising villagers and was last seen swimming downstream towards Wormingford.

Fast forward four decades and just three and a half miles away the remote and picturesque village of Little Cornard on the Suffolk and Essex border was visited by dragons of its own.

The village has been haunted by misfortune for centuries: it was the site of a bloody battle between the Saxons and the Danes and to this day, grim relics of an attack that left behind ancient graveyards full of fallen warriors and a list of parish names that vividly recall when the hills ran red with blood: Killingdown Hill, Sharpfight Meadow.

And around 100 years before dragons clashed in Little Cornard, the village was visited by a dark tragedy which decimated the population: it was the first place in Suffolk to report the Black Death and the disease claimed the lives of at least 60 people including 21 families who owned land and who lost all their adults.

The village was in the process of recovering from this devastating loss when two cumbersome visitors chose it as their battleground: from the direction of Kedington Hill came a huge black dragon from Suffolk and from the direction of Ballingdon Hill came a creature from Essex, another black dragon, this time mottled with crimson over its ghastly scales.

Sharpfight Meadow was chosen as the battlefield and the fire-breathing beasts fought for an hour at sunset, the ground shaking as they went to war in front of a small army of incredulous villagers who had gathered to watch the fight from a safe distance.

In a small leather-bound book in the Library of the Dean and Chapter at Canterbury, the story is recounted as follows: “Memorandum that on Friday the 26th of September in the year of our Lord 1449, about the hour of Vespers, two terrible dragons were seen fighting for about the space of one hour, on two hills, of which one, in Suffolk, is called Kydyndon Hyl and the other in Essex Blacdon Hyl. One was black in colour and the other reddish and spotted. After a long conflict the reddish one obtained the victory over the black, which done, both returned into the hills above whence they had come, that is to say, each to his own place to the admiration of many beholding them”.

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