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Dragon Hill
Archaeological or Natural?

Dragon Hill is a prominent natural outcrop which stands on the lower slopes of White Horse Hill in Uffington, just below the White Horse hill-figure itself. Its almost perfect conical shape and level summit have led the the assumption, over the years, that the mound was man-made, like Silbury Hill at Avebury (Wiltshire). In fact, only the top appears to have been artificially flattened.

An old legend says that the hill was so named because it was the site of the great battle between St. George and the Dragon. When St. George finally struck the fatal blow, the dragon's blood gushed out onto the hilltop and, as everyone can see today, the grass has refused to grow there ever since. The White Horse is supposed to really  represent the Dragon.  The Rev. Francis Wise mentioned the story in his writings of 1738. Earlier, in about 1670, the antiquarian, John Aubrey, had thought it to be a burial mound and suggested, in his 'Monumenta Britannica' (c.1670), that King Arthur's father,  Uther Pendragon, might have fought the Saxons in the region and been buried there.  Such battle stories probably inspired an alternative legend stating that the blood was that of Danish invaders. The hill certainly resembles a later Norman motte castle. It is the burial mound theory, however, which probably produced the hill's present name, since dragon's were thought to be treasure guardians and appear as such in other place-names like Drakenhorde field in Garsington (Oxfordshire).

In a 10th century charter, the hill is given its original name of Eccles Beorh, that is 'Church Barrow'. This may suggest that a Christian religious building once stood on the summit. Perhaps it was used to convert a pagan site used in the worship of the Celtic god associated with the nearby White Horse. 

 

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