Tag Archives: bestiary

What happens when you cut a wyrm in half?

Image of worm and wyrm
Earthworm photographed by Jacopo Werther, licensed under CC-SA-BY 2.0. Hydra concept art from Dragon’s Dogma, a 2012 computer game. Display and discussion of this cover image comprises fair-use under the 1988 Licenses, Designs and Patents Act.

Species Mentioned: Folklore originally attached to various medieval fictional serpents but now attached (falsely) to all British earthworms.

Source: Most medieval Bestiaries.

Date: Bestiary tradition most popular in Britain c.1150-1450.

Highlights: The source attests that snakes can be chopped into pieces and still try to kill you like an ineffective cartoon supervillain. Many people in Britain sometimes still believe this about worms, the modern descendants of poisonous “wyrms” to this day. Are we really any less gullible than our predecessors?

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The salamander (Salamandra sp?) in the ‘Liber Monstrorum’ (The Book of Monsters)


Photograph of fire salamander, taken by Thomas Bresson and licensed for use under CC-BY-2.0.

Species Mentioned: One non-native fire-proof salamander.

Source: ‘Liber Monstrorum’ (The Book of Monsters), a kind of Latin encyclopaedia of scary beasties.

Date of Source: c.650-750 A.D.

Highlights: The idea of a salamander living in flame isn’t original to this text, but this text lets us know the story had reached Britain by 750 A.D.

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