British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Martin's Stone

Martin's Stone

Robert Chambers wrote about this stone that marked the death of a dragon in his 1826 publication Popular Rhymes of Scotland. According to this, there lived at Pittempton near Dundee a peasant who had nine daughters, all of them beautiful. One day the eldest went to fetch water from the well a little way from the house, and did not come back. The second daughter was sent to look for her, but neither did she come back. The third daughter followed the second and so it went on, until all nine girls had gone to the well and not one had come back. Only then did the peasant go himself to see what had happened to his children, and on reaching the well he found a dragon with bloodstained jaws.

The horrified father gathered all his neighbors to fight the dragon, which ran away. First in pursuit was the sweetheart of one of the girls, a young man called Martin: he chased the fearsome reptile through a marsh called Baldragon, then further north where Martin hit him with a club. The onlookers crying out "Strike, Martin!" as he did so. The dragon crawled a little further and was then killed.

To mark the spot where the monster met its end a stone was set known as "Martin's Stane," whereon the following rhyme was claimed to represent the dragon's epitaph:

I was temptit at Pittempton,
Draiglit (wetted) at Baldragon,
Stricken at Strike-Martin,
And killed at Martin's Stane.

The inspiration for all of this is the Pictish cross slab in a field at Balkello, carved with pictures of outlandish beasts. The rhyme 'explains' various local place names - it does not appear on the stone.