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Old January 17th, 2012, 04:19 AM   #1

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The Lambton Worm


This is an interesting story that i was told a long time ago and is a folklore in N.E England from way way back.

Basically the story goes that John Lambton,an heir to the Lambton Estate went fishing one day instead of going to church.While he was fishing an old man came to him and warned him that he should never miss church.
Eventually John caught what looked like an eel but had legs and 9 holes on each side of its head.

John,thinking he had caught a demon or devil,threw the worm down a local well and all was forgotten for many years,and John went to join the Crusades as a penance for missing church over time.

Eventually the well water turns poisonous and a great white worm has emerged from the well and wrapped itself around a local hill (apparantly the scars on the hill can still be seen.
It then proceeded to steal and consume livestock,children or passers by.In an attempt to stop this beast John's father,when the creature moves towards Lambton castle offers the worm milk of nine good cows, twenty gallons, or a filled wooden/stone trough.

People try to kill the worm ,including local knights,but none succeed.

To cut a long story short,John,upon his return sees a wise-woman who gives him strength to fight the worm and tells him to inbed spears in his armour and to fight the worm in the river,where it is wrapped around a great rock at the moment.
He must also,to avoid a curse,kill the 1st living thing he sees after killing the worm.
John kills the worm and,having already arranged a plan with his father,waits for the families faithful hound to arrive so he can kill it and stop the curse.
However,his father,in all the excitement appears first before the dog,and even though John kills the hound,he cannot kill his father,and the curse remained.

Some real generations of Lambtons have actually have actually died prematurely :

1st generation: Robert Lambton, drowned at Newrig.
2nd: Sir William Lambton, a Colonel of Foot, killed at Marston Moor.
3rd: William Lambton, died in battle at Wakefield
9th: Henry Lambton, died in his carriage crossing Lambton Bridge on June 26, 1761.
General Lambton, Henry Lambton's brother, is said to have kept a horse whip by his bedside to ward off violent assaults. He died in his bed at an old age.)

There has also been a song of the tale,and a film made by Ken Russell,starring Hugh Grant,'The Lair of the White Wyrm',as well as a book (by Bram Stoker no less) and opera.

For the full story and some illustrations and photos :
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lambton_Worm"]Lambton Worm - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]
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Old January 17th, 2012, 08:06 AM   #2
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The word "worm" has had an interesting evolution. In Old English it meant dragon, and is cognate with the Norse "Jorm", as in Jormungand. A number of places, such as Great Orme, preserve an older form.

Going back still further, it is speculated that dragons, or worms, were in some way symbolic of the old religion, stamped out by Christianity and turned into evil creatures. It has been speculated that churches dedicated to dragon-slaying saints like St Michael and St George were built on pagan places of worship, hence the need to slay the dragon.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 09:28 AM   #3
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Sounds like another giant eel, like in other stories. However the holes in the side, reminds of a lamprey. Heard stories of white "snakes", probably albino eels. Eels places in wells can also be a tradition.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 09:33 AM   #4
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Escaped python.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 09:36 AM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyneve View Post
The word "worm" has had an interesting evolution. In Old English it meant dragon, and is cognate with the Norse "Jorm", as in Jormungand. A number of places, such as Great Orme, preserve an older form.

Going back still further, it is speculated that dragons, or worms, were in some way symbolic of the old religion, stamped out by Christianity and turned into evil creatures. It has been speculated that churches dedicated to dragon-slaying saints like St Michael and St George were built on pagan places of worship, hence the need to slay the dragon.
Great observation Nyneve. I have heard of a similar motivation behind Beowulf. A mythical triumph of the new over the old. We see similar trends in the Bible and Greek mythology.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by starkodder View Post
Sounds like another giant eel, like in other stories. However the holes in the side, reminds of a lamprey. Heard stories of white "snakes", probably albino eels. Eels places in wells can also be a tradition.
Well nothing has "9 legs" that I can think of. It's probably symbolic.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 09:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Rasta View Post
Well nothing has "9 legs" that I can think of. It's probably symbolic.
9 holes. Legs could be fins.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 09:52 AM   #8

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Originally Posted by starkodder View Post
9 holes. Legs could be fins.
Thanks for the correction.
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Old January 17th, 2012, 10:08 AM   #9
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Probably the same creature as these in Sweden:

http://www.historum.com/european-his...tml#post861381
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Old January 17th, 2012, 10:33 AM   #10

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If this is based on local legend, as so many myths are, it most likely has become distorted by oral transmission. Obviously, something did occur; but sifting through the possible imaginary extensions could be impossible. The farther back the original legend goes, if this may be accurately determined, the closer to the original "truth" you should be able ascertain. Especially, if it can be traced through written records. What remains consistent as you get closer to the moment of the actual event is more likely to be the closest to what may have occurred. Except in the case of a hallucination. The causality of which may have many instigations. Hallucinations can been seen as real to the person experiencing one. Psychotropic elements were available to the people of the northern regions. A red mushroom with white spots for one.
In the case of the Lambton worm and the story's similarity to other legends in this geographical area (Northern Europe) suggests a creature may have once existed in these areas. One that may be either extinct or very reclusive. Something, at best, serpentine (or worm-like). Moreover, as others have pointed out, this may be a metaphor for change and moral evolution. Change can have many unpredictable consequences.
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