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1001 Stories Collection

The Two Dragons

1001 Two Dragons
Added on 07th July 2020

Oral tradition Welsh legend

Whispering Wood City of Stories UK and Ireland Magic Myths and legends

A story from the Mabinogion which tells of three plagues, one scream and two dragons fighting in the skies above Oxford.


King LLudd is visited by three plagues. The second of them is a scream, a terrible scream that fills the whole land. No-one can escape it. His people are terrified. Crops fail. Lludd asks his brother for advice. His brother tells him to measure and find the very centre of the land. There he is to dig a pit, full it with mead, cover it with a cloth and wait……

Why we chose it

A story which happened right here in Oxford! The story reaches its dramatic conclusion in the ‘centre of the land’, which is of course Oxford.

Where it came from

The story of King Lludd and the plagues appears in, a Welsh collection of prose stories, one of the earliest written collections of stories in Britain. The stories are of Welsh princes and are collected into two books, the White Book of Rhydderch (1300-1325) and the Red Book of Hergest (1375-1425). However the stories date back to a much older, oral storytelling tradition.

Where it went next

Lady Charlotte Guest, a fascinating Victorian figure, published a translation in the mid 19th century titled The Mabinogion. Mabinogion is thought to be a mistranslation of the word Mabinogi which means ‘a tale of boyhood or youth’ and has come to mean simply ‘tale’.

Associated stories

Dragons appear in myths and folk stories across the world. In European tales (like Beowulf and St George and the Dragon), dragons are often fierce, fire-breathing monsters, terrorising villages, eating maidens and hoarding treasure. You find this kind of dragon in stories like The Hobbit or Harry Potter. In the Far East (China, Korea, Japan) dragons are kindly water creatures, often associated with good luck.

The Mabinogion includes stories of King Arthur and his knights; Culhwch and Olwen, The Lady of the Foundain, Peredur and Geraint and Enid.

Alan Garner’s The Owl Service is a modern young adult retelling of a story from the Mabinogion, the story of Lleu Llaw Gyffes, Gronw Pebyr and Blodeuwedd, the woman magically made out of flowers.

In the museum

Find the dragons in one of the trees in the Whispering Wood and in City of Stories.

Added on 07th July 2020

Oral tradition Welsh legend

Whispering Wood City of Stories UK and Ireland Magic Myths and legends