The Dragon and the nine Maidens

Long ago, a peasant named Donald lived at Pittempton with his nine beautiful daughters. Feeling thirsty, he sent his eldest to fetch some water from the nearby well while he worked the farm. After some time, she still hadn’t returned. So Donald sent his second eldest daughter to find out where she’d got to. He waited a while longer, and with no sign of the girls, sent his third eldest daughter to chase them up. And so it went on until all the girls had been sent away. It had been a long day’s work and Donald, still thirsty, headed off towards the well to fetch the water himself. 

As he approached the well, it became quite clear why his daughters hadn’t returned. Lying at the foot of the well was an enormous dragon, nestled amongst a field of bones. Donald was enraged at what had become of his daughters and ran to his village to rouse his neighbours, who gathered to take revenge. One of the neighbours, Martin, a sweetheart of one of the girls, lead the charge. He chased the dragon through a marsh at Baldragon, and further north where Martin hit the dragon with a club. The crowd of onlookers chanted “Strike, Martin”, until finally the dragon crawled a little further away and spoke mournfully: “I was temptit at Pittempton, Draiglit [wetted] at Baldragon, Stricken at Strike-Martin… And killed at Martin’s Stane”. And there, the dragon died. 

It’s thought the story is an explanation of local place names. Today, at Strathmartin, there’s a spring called the Nine Maiden’s Well, and similar names appear throughout Dundee. The dragon himself can be found casting a hungry eye on passersby in Dundee High Street.

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