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How Old are our Stories Really? The Tale of the Mesolithic Dragon.

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posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 02:43 PM
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Stories have been important to us for as long as anyone can remember. They are culturally vital to transmit crucial information, to commemorate extraordinary events and to teach younger generations important norms and values.

And so the ones that stay with us, that get told and retold often, must have and have had real import. One such very old story is the tale of the Stoorworm, first recorded in Orkney. This was a story of an enormous dragon who came from the sea and terrorised Scotland. He was killed by the boy Assipattle and his death forever transformed the landscape.



The Stoorworm has been likened by folklorists to the Norwegian Jormungandr the Midland sea serpent who will cause terror and destruction at Ragnarok. The north of Scotland and Norway, of course, share a long history and it is possible that the Norsemen took their tales with them. But what if both countries are remembering the same event?


Now it fell out that doleful tidings came to that part of the country. It was said that the Stoorworm was drawing near the land. And this news made the boldest heart beat faster. And, truly, the Stoorworm came, and set up his head to the land. He turned his awful mouth landward; and yawned horridly; so that when his jaws came together they made a noise that shook the earth and the sea.

And this he did to show that, if not fed, he would consume the land. Now, you must know that this was the largest, the first, and the father of all the Stoorworms. Therefore was he well named the Mester Stoorworm. With his venomous breath he could kill every living creature on which it fell, and could wither up everything that grew. Fear fell on every heart, and there was lamentation in the land.


Nobody could kill the Stoorworm until the boy Assipattle took his boat deep into the beast and plunged a blazing peat into its liver. As the peat burned, the Stoorworm spat Assipattle and a vast flood of water from his stomach and Assipattle raced as far upland as he could .


Black smoked billowed from the monster's nostrils and in his agony his forked tongue shot out and caught hold of one of the horns of the moon. Fortunately it slipped from moon and fell with such a crash that it made a deep rift on the earth.
The tide rushed into the rift and became the Baltic Sea. The Stoor Worm twisted and writhed in torment, flinging his head up into the sky.

Every time it fell back to earth the whole world shook and groaned.
With each fall, teeth dropped from the vile, foaming mouth. The first lot of falling teeth became the Orkney Islands with the next forming the Shetland Islands.

Last of all, when the Stoor Worm was almost dead, the Faroe Islands fell with an almighty splash.
In the end the creature coiled itself together tightly into a huge mass that was said to become the far country of Iceland. Once the sky had cleared and the sun shone again, the King took Assipattle into his arms and called him his son.


You can read this as a way of explaining the landscape; why Iceland has smoking volcanoes and why the skerries of Orkney and Shetland jut out from the water. Or you could read it as a classic dragon slayer tale 'confined to countries beginning to move away from primitive beliefs and possibly evolved “out of the suppression of human sacrifices to divinities in bestial form."'(Hartland, 1896)

But there is an event, from long, long ago that may explain the origins of this tale. Norway and Scotland were both victims of the Storegga Slide, a catastrophic submarine landslide that created tsunamis of around 14m in height around the east coast of Scotland and Northern England. Norway would have fared worse, with waves estimated at 40m high around the coast.





Retreating glaciers had already caused sea levels to rise and it is thought that by 6100BC the Storegga Slide devastated the already partially submerged Doggerland.


The water struck the north-east of Britain with such force it travelled 25 miles (40km) inland, turning low-lying plains into what is now the North Sea, and marshlands to the south into the Channel. Britain became an island nation.

At the time it was home to a fragile and scattered population of about 5,000 hunter-gatherers, descended from the early humans who had followed migrating herds of mammoth and reindeer onto the jagged peninsula.

"The waves would have been maybe as much as 10m (33ft) high," says geologist David Smith, of Oxford University. "Anyone standing out on the mud flats at that time would have been dismembered. The speed [of the water] was just so great."




The effects of the resulting tsunami would have been catastrophic. Britain was now cut off from the continent and vast hunting grounds had been lost. The human cost has never been tallied, but if any event was going to be immortalised in a fairy tale, this would be a prime contender. I believe that the legend of the Dragon Stoorworm has its roots in a truly ancient memory, telling of the dangers that lurk within the sea, the fragility of life and landscape, and of triumph over adversity.

I believe that many of our stories are older than we allow ourselves to believe and that if we listen carefully we can still find the message our ancestors were so keen to impart.

Thank you for reading.

B x

More on the Storegga Slide:

www.researchgate.net...

en.wikipedia.org...

www.bbc.co.uk...

ngm.nationalgeographic.com...

More on the Stoorworm:

www.electricscotland.com...

orkneyjar.com...

en.wikipedia.org...




posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 03:08 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

Great thread. I don't know what else to say, but well done; both entertaining and thought provoking.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 03:09 PM
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Excellent effort as well as a fascinating concept... cool! Wanted to say that before going to the links... and as common sense dictates, the stories of a preliterate (or perhaps post literate because one never knows) society were important as the only vehicles for crucial info for the successive generations.

And yes, some of the myths are parables about human interaction and right ways of acting, but the myths about land-forms and fighting gods likely described something geophysical.

Anyway, you could well be exactly correct.. .and wow, that's OLD... though we've been poking around this rock in our present form for a relatively long time.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 03:13 PM
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a reply to: redhorse

No need to say anything at all, but thank you very much for letting me know you enjoyed it.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 03:18 PM
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a reply to: Baddogma


Hello you. It seems too be old to be true and yet, to me, it reads as a landscape story - geophysical as you say. It would start with a simile "It's like a great beast came out of the sea" and three generations later, a great beast itself came out of the sea!

It's been bugging me for a while and I've been wondering if it could be so, and so where better to ask the question and see what everyone else thinks?
Thank you for coming to say hello,

B xx



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 03:23 PM
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Wow!!

Great post Beansidhe, I've never heard of this wyrm and appreciate the work it took to present it here.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 03:35 PM
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a reply to: Butterfinger

Thank you, Butterfinger! There's a particularly nice version to read here: www.educationscotland.gov.uk...




posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 04:18 PM
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Good thread. I had read some of those stories over the years, but not every one. I think some of the stories are very old. Passed on orally from tales of long lost heros. They were not gods till the Christians called them gods and forced the people to not tell them, most were ancient tales of leaders and heros.

Odin had the frost giant help him launch the ship when Baldr died. Another words he used the glacier to unbeach the cremation ship. How old is that tale, Which Odin ruler where they talking about. Odin was a Word for a wise king. 1500 years BC is the first recorded Odin from what I read.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 04:29 PM
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a reply to: rickymouse

Cool! Can you cite the Odin usage mentioned?



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 04:52 PM
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originally posted by: Butterfinger
a reply to: rickymouse

Cool! Can you cite the Odin usage mentioned?


I read a big chunk of the interpretation of the Runes. I'm not sure what part it is in.

Two thousand years ago the people there had gunpowder, Thors Hammer. There is evidence they were trading with the Chinese back then. I don't know if they called them Vikings two thousand years ago though. I can't find out when the word vikings first originated.

They probably used the glacier ice to raise the water level or just used the falling ice to push it out to see. Whatever they did, it seemed to work a little too good from the tale. They were always trying to fight the frost giant, they did not realize that they could not stop the glacier from progressing. That would have been in the little ice age I think.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 04:53 PM
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a reply to: rickymouse

Thank you and thanks for the snippet of mythology too. I don't know much about the Norse tales but understanding the meaning behind the metaphors really helps to make sense of old stories.
I agree, I think that some of our tales are really ancient.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 05:03 PM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: rickymouse

Thank you and thanks for the snippet of mythology too. I don't know much about the Norse tales but understanding the meaning behind the metaphors really helps to make sense of old stories.
I agree, I think that some of our tales are really ancient.


I'm not sure when Thor and Baldr were around, it sounds like they were decendents of Odin or Wodan. It also kind of looks that the redheads, Odin's kingdom, was recognized by the jews back long ago. They called it one of the lost tribes of Israel, the line of Dan. It appears they were trading with them too. They were not related to the Jews though. Just trading partners from what I can see.

When you start to read the bible and try to figure out what they trying to say, you can find others have already researched it and find out lots more about things.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 05:46 PM
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a reply to: rickymouse




When you start to read the bible and try to figure out what they trying to say, you can find others have already researched it and find out lots more about things.


Maybe I should start to read the bible.

I like to stick with my own mythology because I have a better feel for it, I think. I find it difficult to relate to the old testament, I don't understand the metaphors or the meaning of the words as they would have been used then. But that's no excuse not to try to learn.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 07:33 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

Fascinating reading, and great details on the slide as well! That's not a story I'd heard before, nor had I heard about that event. They could ell be connected. I suspect that many old tales have a lot of truth behind them, if we can but see through the ages and distortions to pin it down. In this case, the only thing I'd wonder about is the "breath" of the beast, said to be able to kill people and crops. Seems like an odd description for water, but then, who knows? Maybe they believed it breathed out water.

I really love the very old stories, and appreciate one from Scotland, having some solid roots there! Ah, to be able to really know......

Excellent thread, S&F!



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 10:58 PM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: Baddogma


Hello you. It seems too be old to be true and yet, to me, it reads as a landscape story - geophysical as you say. It would start with a simile "It's like a great beast came out of the sea" and three generations later, a great beast itself came out of the sea


I think it's a delightful idea but like you, I think the tale is much newer than that and does not reflect an older disaster. The names of the protagonists, show a mixed heritage. "Assipattle" appears to be a riff on "Ashenputtle" and Iceland was unknown until the age of the Vikings.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 11:05 PM
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originally posted by: rickymouse
I'm not sure when Thor and Baldr were around, it sounds like they were decendents of Odin or Wodan.

Wikipedia has some answers... (they were his sons)


It also kind of looks that the redheads, Odin's kingdom, was recognized by the jews back long ago.


I think your source material has not done a lot of research on this.


They called it one of the lost tribes of Israel, the line of Dan. It appears they were trading with them too. They were not related to the Jews though. Just trading partners from what I can see.


Your source REALLY hasn't done its homework. (start with Wikipedia and pursure the rabbits...)


When you start to read the bible and try to figure out what they trying to say, you can find others have already researched it and find out lots more about things.


....aye. including that the "lost tribes" aren't part of the Bible.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 11:13 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

Hey there bean,

Good thought provoking post.
You know what my take on the serpent/dragon imagery is going to be.

Black smoked billowed from the monster's nostrils and in his agony his forked tongue shot out and caught hold of one of the horns of the moon. Fortunately it slipped from moon and fell with such a crash that it made a deep rift on the earth.


This passage couldn't illustrate it any better, that is sure a good description of an impact event.

And I've seen a similar moon reference in another story, but not sure from where.



Although it's too young, I have read about a site, somewhere in northern Scotland, that has evidence of both a tsunami and burning.
.



posted on Apr, 29 2016 @ 11:47 PM
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a reply to: Byrd

This is different from the two or three I read before but the info seems about similar. I researched this when I found that the Queen of England says she is in the line of Odin. The whole genetic tree was in the article I read back a few years ago.

www.cft-win.com...


I think the other article was way more accurate but I can't seem to find it. Maybe if I typed in the queen of england line of Odin I could find it again.

Odin was never a god before, I do not know how he got god status. That is from reading some articles way more researched than that wikipedia article.

I actually looked pretty much like that picture of Odin in the wikipedia link, I just need a hat. My beard is shorter now though, my brother even commented it looked just like me.


Here is another one. www.geni.com...

Another one www.wilmer-t.net...
edit on 30-4-2016 by rickymouse because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 30 2016 @ 03:44 AM
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a reply to: Byrd

Hello Byrd,
Assipattle has been suggested as a Cinderella character and so a later addition, but without any earlier sources it's all just guess work. It is the mixed heritage aspect that I'm interested in really, which is why I was wondering about a shared event.
You make a good point about Iceland; the edition that I have has the Stoorworm's eyes falling out and becoming the Corryvreckan whirlpool, by Jura. So in other words we see the West Coast trying to weave themselves into the tale too.


Thanks for your input.



posted on Apr, 30 2016 @ 03:49 AM
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a reply to: punkinworks10

Hey P!

a reply to: LadyGreenEyes

And hello to you too! You both raise the same point of the possibility of an impact strike and yes, a number of aspects are very suggestive of it. In all the versions I have seen, he is said to come from the sea and so I was looking in this direction, really.




Although it's too young, I have read about a site, somewhere in northern Scotland, that has evidence of both a tsunami and burning.


I'm going to look into that -thanks, P.

B x



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