After the Flood, by Bill Cooper


Chapter 10

Dinosaurs from Anglo-Saxon and other Records



I have spoken on the subject of the Table of Nations and the early post-Flood history of Europe, in Germany, Belgium and at many places now in England, and what surprised me at first was how, during question time, the subject turns so quickly to that of dinosaurs. Do they appear in the early chronicles? Do descriptions of them exist? And so on. So here I have set out as many examples of the mention of dinosaurs in the early records as I could immediately find, although there are doubtless many other instances to be noticed. Some of the examples mentioned here come from the very records that we have just been considering concerning the descent of the nations.

The progression is only logical, for if the earth is as young as our forebears thought and as the creation model of origins predicts, then evidence will be found which tells us that, in the recent past, dinosaurs and man have co-existed. There is, in fact, good evidence to suggest that they still co-exist, and this is directly contrary to the evolutionary model which teaches that dinosaurs lived millions of years before man came along, and that no man therefore can ever have seen a living dinosaur. And to test that assertion, we will now examine the issue by considering the written evidence that has survived from the records of various ancient peoples that describe, sometimes in the most graphic detail, human encounters with living giant reptiles that we would call dinosaurs. And as we shall see, some of those records are not so ancient.

There are, of course, the famous descriptions of two such monsters from the Old Testament, Behemoth and Leviathan (Job 40:15-41:34), Behemoth being a giant vegetarian that lived on the fens, and Leviathan a somewhat more terrifying armour plated amphibian whom only children and the most foolhardy would want as a pet. The Egyptians knew Behemoth by the name p'ih mw, (1) which is the same name, of course. Leviathan was similarly known as Lotan to the men of Ugarit. (2) Babylonian and Sumerian literature has preserved details of similar creatures, as has the written and unwritten folklore of peoples around the world. But perhaps the most remarkable descriptions of living dinosaurs are those that the Saxon and Celtic peoples of Europe have passed down to us.

The early Britons, from whom the modern Welsh are descended, provide us with our earliest surviving European accounts of reptilian monsters, one of whom killed and devoured king Morvidus (Morydd) in ca 336 BC. We are told in the account translated for us by Geoffrey of Monmouth, that the monster 'gulped down the body of Morvidus as a big fish swallows a little one.' Geoffrey described the animal as a Belua. (3)

Peredur, not the ancient king of that name (306-296 BC), but a much later son of Earl Efrawg, had better luck than Morvidus, actually managing to slay his monster, an addanc (pr. athanc: var. afanc), at a place called Llyn Llion in Wales. (4) At other Welsh locations the addanc is further spoken of along with another reptilian species known as the carrog. The addanc survived until comparatively recent times at such places as Bedd-yr-Afanc near Brynberian, at Llyn-yr-Afanc above Bettws-y-Coed on the River Conwy (the killing of this monster was described in the year 1693), and Llyn Barfog. A carrog is commemorated at Carrog near Corwen, and at Dol-y-Carrog in the Vale of Conwy. (5)

Moreover, 'dinosaurs', in the form of flying reptiles, were a feature of Welsh life until surprisingly recent times. As late as the beginning of the present century, elderly folk at Penllin in Glamorgan used to tell of a colony of winged serpents that lived in the woods around Penllin Castle. As Marie Trevelyan tells us:

'The woods around Penllin Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents, and these were the terror of old and young alike. An aged inhabitant of Penllyne, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful. They were coiled when in repose, and "looked as if they were covered with jewels of all sorts. Some of them had crests sparkling with all the colours of the rainbow". When disturbed they glided swiftly, "sparkling all over," to their hiding places. When angry, they "flew over people's heads, with outspread wings, bright, and sometimes with eyes too, like the feathers in a peacock's tail". He said it was "no old story invented to frighten children", but a real fact. His father and uncle had killed some of them, for they were as bad as foxes for poultry. The old man attributed the extinction of the winged serpents to the fact that they were "terrors in the farmyards and coverts".) (6)

This account is intriguing in many respects, not the least being the fact that it is not a typical account of dragons. The creatures concerned were not solitary and monstrous beasts, but small creatures that lived in colonies. Not at all like the larger species of winged reptile that used to nest upon an ancient burial-mound, or tumulus, at Trellech-a'r-Betws in the county of Dyfed, for example. But whilst we are in Wales, it is worth noting that at Llanbardan-y-Garrag (is Garrag a corruption of carrog?), the church contains a carving of a local giant reptile whose features include large paddle-like flippers, a long neck and a small head. Glaslyn, in Snowdon, is a lake where an afanc was sighted as recently as the 1930s. On this occasion two climbers on the side of a mountain looked down onto the surface of Glaslyn and they saw the creature, which they described as having a long grey body, rise from the depths of the lake to the surface, raise its head and then submerge again. (7)

One could multiply such reports by the hundred. In England and Scotland, again until comparatively recent times, other reptilian monsters were sighted and spoken of in many places. The table at the end of this chapter lists eighty-one locations in the British Isles alone in which dinosaur activity has been reported (there are, in fact, nearly 200 such places in Britain), but perhaps the most relevant aspect of this as far as our present study is concerned is the fact that some of these sightings and subsequent encounters with living dinosaurs can be dated to the comparatively recent past. The giant reptile at Bures in Suffolk, for example, is known to us from a chronicle of 1405:

'Close to the town of Bures, near Sudbury, there has lately appeared, to the great hurt of the countryside, a dragon, vast in body, with a crested head, teeth like a saw, and a tail extending to an enormous length. Having slaughtered the shepherd of a flock, it devoured many sheep.'

After an unsuccessful attempt by local archers to kill the beast, due to its impenetrable hide,

' order to destroy him, all the country people around were summoned. But when the dragon saw that he was again to be assailed with arrows, he fled into a marsh or mere and there hid himself among the long reeds, and was no more seen.' (8)

Later in the 15th century, according to a contemporary chronicle that still survives in Canterbury Cathedral's library, the following incident was reported. On the afternoon of Friday, 26th September, 1449, two giant reptiles were seen fighting on the banks of the River Stour (near the village of Little Cornard) which marked the English county borders of Suffolk and Essex. One was black, and the other 'reddish and spotted'. After an hour-long struggle that took place 'to the admiration of many [of the locals] beholding them', the black monster yielded and returned to its lair, the scene of the conflict being known ever since as Sharpfight Meadow. (9)

As late as August, 1614, the following sober account was given of a strange reptile that was encountered in St Leonard's Forest in Sussex. The sighting was near a village that was known as Dragon's Green long before this report was published:

'This serpent (or dragon as some call it) is reputed to be nine feete, or rather more, in length, and shaped almost in the form of an axletree of a cart: a quantitie of thickness in the middest, and somewhat smaller at both endes. The former part, which he shootes forth as a necke, is supposed to be an elle [3 ft 9 ins or 1 l4 cms] long; with a white ring, as it were, of scales about it. The scales along his back seem to be blackish, and so much as is discovered under his belie, appeareth to be red... it is likewise discovered to have large feete, but the eye may there be deceived, for some suppose that serpents have no feete ... [The dragon] rids away (as we call it) as fast as a man can run. His food [rabbits] is thought to be; for the most part, in a conie-warren, which he much frequents ...There are likewise upon either side of him discovered two great bunches so big as a large foote-ball, and (as some thinke) will in time grow to wings, but God, I hope, will (to defend the poor people in the neighbourhood) that he shall be destroyed before he grows to fledge.' (10)

This dragon was seen in various places within a circuit of three or four miles, and the pamphlet named some of the still-living witnesses who had seen him. These included John Steele, Christopher Holder and a certain 'widow woman dwelling neare Faygate'. Another witness was 'the carrier of Horsham, who lieth at the White Horse [inn] in Southwark'. One of the locals set his two mastiffs onto the monster, and apart from losing his dogs he was fortunate to escape alive from the encounter, for the dragon was already credited with the deaths of a man and woman at whom it had spat and who consequently had been killed by its venom. When approached unwittingly, our pamphleteer tells us, the monster was...

'...of countenance very proud and at the sight or hearing of men or cattel will raise his neck upright and seem to listen and looke about, with great arrogancy.'

an eyewitness account of typically reptilian behaviour.

Again, as late as 27th and 28th May 1669, a large reptilian animal was sighted many times, as was reported in the pamphlet: A True Relation of a Monstrous Serpent seen at Henham (Essex) on the Mount in Saffron Waldon. (11)

In 1867 was seen, for the last time, the monster that lived in the woods around Fittleworth in Sussex. It would run up to people hissing and spitting if they happened to stumble across it unawares, although it never harmed anyone. Several such cases could be cited, but suffice it to say that too many incidents like these are reported down through the centuries and from all sorts of locations for us to say that they are all fairy-tales. For example, Scotland's famous Loch Ness Monster is too often thought to be a recent product of the local Tourist Board's efforts to bring in some trade, yet Loch Ness is by no means the only Scottish loch where monsters have been reported. Loch Lomond, Loch Awe, Loch Rannoch and the privately owned Loch Morar (over 1000 ft deep) also have records of monster activity in recent years. Indeed, there have been over forty sightings at Loch Morar alone since the end of the last war, and over a thousand from Loch Ness in the same period. However, as far as Loch Ness itself is concerned, few realise that monstrous reptiles, no doubt the same species, have been sighted in and around the loch since the so-called Dark Ages, the most notable instance being that which is described in Adamnan's famous 6th century Life of St Columba.

On hearing this, and with never a thought for his own safety, the brave saint immediately ordered one of his followers to jump into the freezing water to see if the monster was still in the vicinity. Adamnan relates how the thrashing about of the alarmed and unhappy swimmer, Lugne Mocumin by name, attracted the monster's attention. Suddenly, on breaking the surface, the monster was seen to speed towards the luckless chap with its mouth wide open and screaming like a banshee. Columba, however, refused to panic, and from the safety of the dry land rebuked the beast. Whether the swimmer added any rebukes of his own is not recorded, but the monster was seen to turn away, having approached the swimmer so closely that not the length of a punt-pole lay between them.

Columba, naturally, claimed the credit for the swimmer's survival, although the reluctance of the monster to actually harm the man is the most notable thing in this incident. The first swimmer had been savaged and killed, though not eaten, and the second swimmer was likewise treated to a display of the creature's wrath, though not fatally. Most likely, the two men had unwittingly entered the water close to where the creature kept her young, and she was reacting in a way that is typical of most species. Gorillas, bull elephants, ostriches, indeed all sorts of creature will charge at a man, hissing, screaming and trumpeting alarmingly, yet will rarely kill him or harm him so long as the man takes the hint and goes away. We can rely on it that Columba's follower, utterly lacking his saintly master's fortitude, had begun the process of taking the hint in plenty of time for the monster to realise that killing him would not be necessary.

Yet not even Lugne Mocumin's expenence is that uncommon. As recently as the 18th century, in a lake called Llyn-y-Gader in Snowdon, Wales, a certain man went swimming. He reached the middle of the lake and was returning to the shore when his friends who were watching him noticed that he was being followed by:

'...a long, trailing object winding slowly behind him. They were afraid to raise an alarm, but went forward to meet him as soon as he reached the shore where they stood. Just as he was approaching, the trailing object raised its head, and before anyone could render aid the man was enveloped in the coils of the monster...' (12)

It seems that the man's body was never recovered.

At about the turn of this present century, the following incident took place. It was related by a Lady Gregory of Ireland in 1920:

'...old people told me that they were swimming there, [in an Irish lake called Lough Graney] and a man had gone out into the middle, and they saw something like a great big eel making for him...' (13)

Happily, on this occasion the man made it back to the shore, but the important thing for us to notice is that these are only a few of a great many reports concerning the sightings in recent times of lake-dwelling monsters which, if only their fossils had been found, would have been called dinosaurs.

But the British Isles are not the only place where one can find such reports. They occur, quite literally, all over the world. (14) William Caxton, for example, England's first printer, recorded for us in 1484 the following account of a reptilian monster in medieval Italy. I have modernised the spelling and punctuation:

'There was found within a great river [i.e. the Po in Italy] a monster marine, or of the sea, of the form or likeness which followeth. He had the form or making of a fish, the which part was in two halves, that is to wit double. He had a great beard and he had two wonderfully great horns above his ears. Also he had great paps and a wonderfully great and horrible mouth. And at the both [of] his elbows he had wings right broad and great of fish's armour wherewith he swimmed and only he had but the head out of the water. It happed then that many women laundered and washed at the port or haven of the said river [where] that this horrible and fearful beast was, [who] for lack or default of meat came swimming toward the said women. Of the which he took one by the hand and supposed to have drawn her into the water. But she was strong and well advised and resisted against the said monster. And as she defended herself, she began to cry with an high voice, "Help, help!" To the which came running five women which by hurling and drawing of stones, killed and slew the said monster, for he was come too far within the sound, wherefore he might not return to the deep water. And after, when he rendered his spirit, he made a right little cry. He was of great corpulence more than any man's body. And yet, saith Poge [Pogius Bracciolini of Florence] in this manner, that he, being at Ferrara, he saw the said monster and saith yet that the young children were accustomed for to go bathe and wash them within the said river, but they came not all again. Wherefore the women [neither] washed nor laundered their clothes at the said port, for the folk presumed and supposed that the monster killed the young children which were drowned.' (15)

Caxton also provided the following account of a 'serpent' which left a cow badly bruised and frightened, although we should bear in mind that a serpent in Caxton's day was not the snake that we would imagine today, for the word serpent has changed its meaning slightly since the Middle Ages. There are one or two intriguing woodcut illustrations of these serpents in Caxton's book, and they are all bipedal, scaled reptiles with large mouths:

'...about the marches of Italy, within a meadow, was sometime a serpent of wonderful and right marvellous greatness, right hideous and fearful. For first he had the head greater than the head of a calf. Secondly, he had a neck of the length of an ass, and his body made after the likeness of a dog. And his tail was wonderfully great, thick and long, without comparison to any other. A cow ... [seeing] right horrible a beast, she was all fearful and lift herself up and supposed to have fled away. But the serpent, with his wonderfully long tail, enlaced her two hind legs. And the serpent then began to suck the cow. And indeed so much and so long he sucked that he found some milk. And when the cow might escape from him, she fled unto the other cows. And her paps and her hind legs, and all that the serpent touched, was all black a great space of time.' (16)

These accounts are clearly factual and witnessed reports rather than fairy-tales, and are as close to journalistic reporting as we shall ever see in works from the Middle Ages. But for a more modern example of such journalistic reporting, let us consider the following article that appeared recently in that most sober of British journals, The Times:

'Japanese fishermen caught a dead monster, weighing two tons and 30 feet in length, off the coast of New Zealand in April, it was reported today. Believed to be a survivor of a prehistoric species, the monster was caught at a depth of 1000 feet off the South Island coast, near Christchurch. Paleontologists from the Natural Science Museum near Tokyo have concluded that the beast belonged to the pleisiosaurus family - huge, small-headed reptiles with a long neck and four fins ... After a member of the crew had photographed and measured it, the trawler's captain ordered the corpse to be thrown back into the sea for fear of contamination to his fish.' (17)

It is thought provoking to consider that the Japanese have no problem with officially owning up to the present-day existence of dragons, sea-monsters or dinosaurs. Indeed, they even issued a postage-stamp with a picture of a pleisiosaurus to commemorate the above find. Only we in the West seem to have a problem with the present-day existence of these creatures, for only nine days after the appearance of the Times article, it was somberly announced on the 30th July 1977 by the BBC that the monster only looked like a pleisiosaurus. It in fact was a shark that had decomposed in such a way as to convey the impression that it had a long neck, a small head and four large paddles. How they, or their informants at the Natural History Museum in Kensington, could tell this since the creature was no longer available for examination, we can only guess at, especially considering that the marine biologist on board the vessel, the Zuiyo-maru, had sketched the creatures skeletal structure and it is nothing like that of a shark (see Figure 10.1). Marine biologists are highly trained scientists whose ability to detect disease and mutations in fish and marine mammals is crucial to the health of the consumer let alone the profits of the fishing vessel concerned, so their knowledge of marine life is necessarily very great. Yet the BBC would have us believe that Michihiko Yano, the government-trained and highly qualified marine biologist who examined, photographed and measured the monster, wouldn't know a dead shark when he saw one!

But western officialdom has not always been as averse as this at acknowledging and even mentioning in official reports the existence of creatures which are supposed by today's establishment to have died out millions of years ago. The following, for example, was penned only two hundred years ago in 1793 and describes creatures that sound suspiciously like pterodactyls or similar. Remember, it is an official and very sober government report that we are reading:

'In the end of November and beginning of December last, many of the country people observed dragons appearing in the north and flying rapidly towards the east; from which they concluded, and their conjectures were right, that...boisterous weather would follow.'

This report is intriguing for the fact that exactly one thousand years before an almost identical report made its appearance in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 793. The two accounts are nothing more than country people being able to predict the weather by observing the behaviour of the animals, which is a skill that they have always possessed and used, and these accounts, combined with later records of the years 1170, 1177, 1221 and 1222, of 1233 and of 1532, suggest that these creatures could tell the approach of bad weather coming in off the Atlantic and simply migrated to calmer regions while the bad weather lasted. Considering the flimsiness and fragility of the wings of pterodactyls and similar creatures, the reports make eminent sense.

But now we come to the most notable records of all. They are written works that are remarkable for the graphic detail with which they portray the giant reptiles that the early Saxons, Danes and others encountered in Northern Europe and Scandinavia. In various Nordic sagas the slaying of dragons is depicted in some detail, and this helps us to reconstruct the physical appearance of some of these creatures. In the Volsungassaga, for example, the slaying of the monster Fafnir was accomplished by Sigurd digging a pit and waiting, inside the pit, for the monster to crawl overhead on its way to the water. This allowed Sigurd to attack the animal's soft under-belly. Clearly, Fafnir walked on all fours with his belly close to the ground.

Likewise, the Voluspa tells us of a certain monster which the early Vikings called a Nithhoggr, its name (corpse-tearer) revealing the fact that it lived off carrion. Saxo Grammaticus, in his Gesta Danorum, tells us of the Danish king Frotho's fight with a giant reptile, and it is in the advice given by a local to the king, and recorded by Saxo, that the monster is described in great detail. It was, he says, a serpent:

'...wreathed in coils, doubled in many a fold, and with a tail drawn out in winding whorls, shaking his manifold spirals and shedding venom ... his slaver [saliva] burns up what it bespattersyet [he tells the king in words that were doubtless meant to encourage rather than dismay] ...remember to keep the dauntless temper of thy mind; nor let the point of the jagged tooth trouble thee, nor the starkness of the beast, nor the venom there is a place under his lowest belly whither thou mayst plunge the blade' (20)

The description of this reptilian monster closely resembles that of the monster seen at Henham (see Note 11), and the two animals could well have belonged to the same or similar species. Notable, especially, is their defence mechanism of spitting corrosive venom at their victims.

But it is the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf (21) that provides us with truly invaluable descriptions of the huge reptilian animals which, only 1400 years ago, infested Denmark and other parts of Europe, and we shall turn our attention now to a close and very detailed examination of this most remarkable account.


Some Sites of 'Dinosaur' Activity Throughout Britain

Aller, Somerset; Anwick, Lincolnshire; Bamburgh, Northumberland; Beckhole, North Yorkshire; Bedd-yr-Afanc, Wales; Ben Vair, Scotland; Bignor Hill, West Sussex; Bishop Auckland, Durham; Bisterne, Hampshire; Brent Pelham, Hertfordshire; Brinsop, Hereford and Worcester; Bures, Suffolk; Cadhury Castle, Devon; Carhampton, Somerset; Castle Carlton, Lincoinshire; Castle Neroche, Somerset; Challacombe, Devon; Churchstanton, Somerset; Cnoc-naCnoimh, Scotland; Crowcombe, Somerset; Dalry, Scotland; Deerhurst, Gloucestershire; Dol-y-Carrog, Wales; Dragon-hoard (nr Garsington), Oxfordshire; Drake Howe, North Yorkshire; Drakelow, Derbyshire; Drakelowe, Worcestershire; Filey Brigg, North Yorkshire; Handale Priory, North York shire; Henham, Essex; Hornden, Essex; Kellington, North Yorkshire; Kilve, Somerset; Kingston St Mary, Somerset; Lambton Castle,, Durham; Linton, Scotland; Little Cornard, Suffolk; Llandeilo Graban, Wales; Llanraeadr-ym-Mochnant, Wales; Llyn Barfog, Wales; Llyn Cynwch (nr Dolgellau), Wales; Llyn Llion, Wales; Llyn-y-Gader, Wales; Llyn-yr. Afanc, Wales; Loch Awe, Scotland; Loch Maree, Scotland; Loch Morar, Scotland; Loch Ness, Scotland; Loch Rannoch, Scotland; Longwitton, Northumberland; Ludham, Norfolk Lyminster, West Sussex; Manaton, Devon; Money Hill, Northumberland; Moston, Cheshire; Newcastle Emlyn, Wales; Norton Fitzwarren, Hereford and Worcester; Nunnington, North Yorkshire; Old Field Barrows (nr Bromfield),. Shropshire; Penllin Castle, Wales; Penmark, Wales; Penmynydd, Wales; St Albans, Hertfordshire; St Leonard's Forest, West Sussex; St Osyth, Essex; Saffron Waldon, Essex; Sexhow, North Yorkshire; Shervage Wood, Hereford and Worcester; Slingsby, North Yorkshire; Sockburn, Durham; Stinchcombe, Gloucestershire; Strathmartin, Scotland; Walmsgate, Lincolnshire; Wantley, South Yorkshire; Well, North Yorkshire; Wherwell, Hampshire; Whitehorse Hill, Oxford- shire; Winkleigh, Devon; Wiston, Wales; Wormelow Tump, Hereford and Worcester; Wormingford, Essex.


1. See e.g. 'Behemoth,' The New Bible Dictionary, InterVarsity Press. London. 1972. p. 138.

2. ibid., pp. 729-30. See also Pfeiffer, C.F. 'Lotan and Leviathan,' Evangelical Quarterly, XXXII. 1960. pp. 208 if.

3. Thorpe, Lewis tr. The History of the Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth. Guild Publishing, London, 1982. Pp. 101-2.

4. Jones, G. and Jones, T. [tr.]. The Mabinogion. Revis, ed. Everyman's Library. J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd. 1974. pp. 209-212 & 217.

5. See Westwood, J. Albion, Granada, London. 1985. pp. 270, 275, 289.

6. Trevelyan, M. 1909, Folk-Lore and Folk Stories of Wales, (cit. Simpson, J., British Dragons, B.T. Batsford Ltd., London. 1980).

7. Whitlock, R., 1983. Here Be Dragons, Allen & Unwin, Boston. pp. 133-4.

8. This chronicle was begun by John de Trokelow and finished by Henry de Blaneford. It was translated and reproduced in the Rolls Series. 1866. IV. ed. H.G. Riley. (cit. Simpson, J., British Dragons., B.T. Batsford Ltd. 1980. p. 60).

9. ibid., p. 118. See also 'The Fighting Dragons of Little Cornard,' Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain, Reader's Digest. 1973. p. 241.

10. True and Wonderful: A Discourse Relating a Strange and Monstrous Serpent (or Dragon--lately discovered, and yet living, to the great Annoyance and divers Slaughters of both Men and Cattell, by his strong and violent Poison: in Sussex, two Miles from Horsham, in a Woode called St Leonard's Forrest, and thirtie Miles from London, this present month of August 1614. With the true Generation of Serpents. cited in Harlejan Miscellany. 1745. III. pp. 106-9. (also cit. Simpson. p. 118).

11. ibid., p. 35.

12. ibid., p. 21.

13. Gregory, Lady, Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland, 1920. (repr. 1976). (cit. Simpson, pp. 42-3).

14. See Steiger, B., Worlds Before Our Own, W. & J. Mackay Ltd. Chatham, (England). 1980. pp. 41-66. (Steiger is by no means a creationist).

15. Caxton, Win, 1484. Aesop. folio 138. The only surviving copy of this book lies in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. This extract appears here by gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen.

16. ibid. This extract appears here by gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen.

17. The Times, 2lst July 1977.

18. 'Flying Dragons at Aberdeen,' A Statistical Account of Scotland. 1793. Vol. VI. p. 467.

19. See Morris, W., Volsungassaga.

20. Elton's translation cited by Klaeber, p. 259.

21. The Anglo-Saxon text relied on in this study is that of Klaeber. See bibliography.

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