If the earth is as young as our forefathers thought and as the creation model of origins predicts, then evidence will be found which tells us that, in the recent past, dinosaurs and humans have coexisted. 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 humans came along and that no human therefore can ever have seen a living dinosaur. Written evidence has survived from records of various ancient peoples that describe, sometimes in the most graphic detail, human encounters with living giant reptiles that we would call dinosaurs. Some of those records are not so ancient.
The early Britons, from whom the modern Welsh are descended, provide our earliest surviving European accounts of reptilian monsters, one of whom killed and devoured king Morvidus (Morydd) in ca 336 B.C. We are told in the account, translated by Geoffrey of Monmouth, that the monster "gulped down the body of Morvidus as a big fish swallows a little one. 1 Peredur, not the ancient king of that name (306-296 B.C.), 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 Liion in Wales.2 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. Acarrog is commemorated at Carrog near Corwen and at Dol-y-Carrog in the Vale of Conwy 3
"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 an Penllin in Glamorgan used to tell of a colony of winged serpents that lived in the woods around Penllin Castle. Marie Trevelyan tells us:
"The woods around Penllin Castle, Glamorgan, had the reputation of being frequented by winged serpents.... An aged inhabitant of Penllyne, who died a few years ago, said that in his boyhood the winged serpents were described as very beautiful. ... 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"4
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. 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 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.5
In England and Scotland, again until comparatively recent times, reptilian monsters were sighted and spoken of in many places. Perhaps the most relevant aspect of this is 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 "…in 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."6
Later in the 15th century, according to a 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).… 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.7
As late as August 1614, the following account was given of a strange reptile that was encountered in St. Leonard’s Forest in Sussex near a village 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 114cm] 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 bellie, appeareth to be red.., it is likewise discovered to have large feet, but the eye may there be deceived for some suppose that serpents have no feet There are like-wise 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."8
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. … 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.
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.9
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. 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 Lomond, Loch Awe, Loch Rannoch and the pri-vately owned Loch Morar (over I 000 feet deep) also have records of monster activity in recent years. Indeed, there have been over 40 sightings at Loch Morar alone since the end of the last war, and over a thousand from Loch Ness in the same period. Monstrous reptiles have been sighted in and around Loch Ness 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.
In the year A.D. 565, Columba needed to cross the River Ness. As he was about to do so, he saw a burial party burying a man who had just been killed by a savage bite from a monster who had snatched him while swimming. On hearing this, 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. The thrashing about of the alarmed and unhappy swimmer 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, 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.
Yet not even [this] experience 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." 10
It seems that the man’s body was never recovered.
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.
The British Isles are not the only place where one can find such reports. They occur, quite literally, all over the world.11 William Caxton, for example, England’s first printer, recorded for us in 1484 [an] account of a reptilian monster in medieval Italy.12
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. . . . [First]. . . he had the head greater than the head of a calf. Secondly, he had a neck 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] ... so 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."13
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." 14
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 Zuiyo-maru had sketched the creature’s skeletal struc-ture and it is nothing like that of a shark. 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. Yet the BBC would have us believe that Michiko 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!
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 in 1793 and describes creatures that sound suspiciously like pterodactyls. 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." 15
This report is intriguing for the fact that exactly 1000 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 they have always possessed and used, and these accounts, combined with later records 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 the most notable records of all 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 16 for example, the slaying of the monster Faftiir 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 underbelly. 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-eater") 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 in the advice given by a local to the king and recorded by Saxo, 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 bespatters … yet [he tells the king in words that were doubtless meant to encourage rather than dismay] I 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..." 17
The description of this reptilian monster closely resembles that of the monster seen at Henham (see Note 9), and the two animals could well have belonged to the same or similar species. Notable, especially, is their defense mechanism of spitting corrosive venom at their victims. But it is the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf 18 that provides us with truly invaluable descriptions of the huge reptilian animals which, only 1400 years ago, infested Denmark and other parts of Europe.
1 Thorpe, Lewis tr. The History of the
Kings of Britain, Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Guild Publishing. London, 1982. pp. 101-
2 Jones, G. and Jones, T. ltr.l. The
Mabinogion. Revis. ed. Everyman’s
Library, J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd. 1974. pp.
209-2 12, 217.
3 See Westwood, I. Albion. Granada. London. 1985. PP. 270, 275, 289.
4 Trevelyan, M. 1909. Folk-Lore and Folk
Stories of Wales. (cit. Simpson, J. British
Dragons. B.T. Batsford Ltd. London.
5 Whitlock, R. 1983. Here Be Dragons. Allen & Unwin. Boston. Pp. 133-134.
6 This chronicle was begun by John de
Trokelow and finished by Henry de
Blaneford. It was translated and repro-duced in the Rolls Series. 1866. IV. ed.
HG. Riley (cit. Sinipson, J. British
Dragons. B.T. Batsford Ltd. 1980. P. 60).
7 lbid. p. 118. See also "The Fighting
Dragons of Little Cornard.’~ Folklore,
Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader’s
Digest, 1973. P.241.
8 True and Wonderful: A Discourse Relating a Strange and Mon.ctrous 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 jrom Horshatn, in a Woode called St Leonard ~s Forest, and thirtie Miles from London, thi.c present month of August 1614. With the true
Generation of Serpents. cited in Harleian Miscellaney. 1745. III. PP. 106-109. (also cit. Simpson. P. 118).
9lbid. p. 35.
10Ibid p. 21.
11 See Steiger, B. Worlds Before Our Own. W. & i. Mackay Ltd. Chatham (England). 1980. pp. 41-66. (Steiger is by no means a creationist).
12Caxton, 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 per-mission of Her Majesty the Queen.
13Ibid. This extract appears here by gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen.
14The Times. 21 July 1977.
15"Flying Dragons at Aberdeen." A
StatisticalAccount of Scotland. 1793. Vol.
VI. P. 467.
16See Morris, W. Volsungassaga.
17Elton’s translation cited by Klaeber, Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburg, 3rd. ed. D.C. Heath & Co. Boston. 1950. p.
18The Anglo-Saxon text relied on in this study is that of Klaeber.
Reprinted from After the Flood: The
Early post-Flood History of Europe, ©
1995 by Bill Cooper. Used by permission.
(Ed Note: The chapter following this excerpt in Cooper’s book contains a close and very detailed examination of the Beowulf account. After the Flood: The Early post-Flood History of Europe is available from BSA for $12.95. To order, cal] 1-800-422-4253. See also the review of After the Flood in "Book Marks," page 23.)
Bill Cooper is a council member and trustee of the Creation Science Movement in England. He received an Honors degree from Kingston University for combined studies in the History of Ideas (Religion, Philosophy and Political Theory) and English Literature. He has lectured on The Table of Nations in Germany, Belgium and at many venues in England including Leeds University, and has written numerous articles for CSM and for Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal.