In Legends and Lore we feature interesting historical and mythological tidbits associated with Ravenwood Castle. This week’s Legends and Lore is written by our Assistant Innkeeper, Abby Kutscher.
One of my fondest memories since working at the castle was when a little boy, about 3 or 4 years old, came and stayed in one of the suites with his Grandpa. After breakfast the little boy walked over to me, foam sword in hand, and said he was going to hunt dragons. I applauded him for his bravery and thanked him for keeping Ravenwood Castle safe from those horrid monsters. But it got me thinking, why is it that children and adults alike associate dragons with castles? And where did the legend of these creatures originate?
Dragons are usually depicted as a serpentine, fire-breathing creature – a concept that emerged in early Eastern mythology; most notably in the ancient Mesopotamian poem “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” It wasn’t too long before the mythology spread to the West, as can be seen in the Old English poem “Beowulf.”
Most legends involving dragons present the creatures as guardians of treasure and as an obstacle that the hero of the story must overcome. This explains why dragons are often associated with castles such as Ravenwood: castles are often the location of both treasure and of the brave knights who will eventually slay the beasts.
Different cultures depict dragons in a variety of ways. European dragons are often depicted as having wings; whereas the Chinese dragons are depicted as gigantic snakes. Some dragons have scales and some have feathers. Occasionally, they are depicted with thorn-like spines. Dragons can have a variable number of legs (none, two, or four plus) and heads (Russian dragons often have three).
In many Asian cultures, dragons were humane and generous. On the flip side, most Western cultures represent dragons as cruel. Today, depictions of dragons can be seen in everything from fantasy novels (A Song of Ice and Fire) to role-playing games (Dungeons and Dragons) to songs (Puff the Magic Dragon).
So the question remains: does Ravenwood Castle have dragons? Why not come check it out for yourself! Even if you don’t find any live ones, we have plenty depicted in both board games and books in our library!