The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73825   Message #1283719
Posted By: Barbara
29-Sep-04 - 12:01 AM
Thread Name: Folklore: Somerset Girt Dog of Langport
Subject: Somerset Girt Dog of Langport
I was researching this line from the Somerset Wassail tonight:
"The Girt Dog of Langport has burnt his long tail
And this is the night we go singing wassail"
I found some information on the web, quoted below, but I thought perhaps some of you locals could tell me more about the critter. Why is his tail long, and burning?
"In central Somerset, for example, within the Region of the Summer Stars, Canis Major is called "The Girt Dog of Langport" and occupies a geographic region about 5 miles long and 1 mile broad, and includes 16 recognizable star centers in its geomythic body. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, touches down locally at Oath Hill which was once used by King Arthur to obtain oaths and fealty-commitments from his Knights."


The Glastonbury Zodiac is an astrological configuration in a great landscape circle 10 miles across. The 12+1 zodiac signs appear to be formed by hills and outlined by roads and rivers.   Katherine Maltwood who discovered this great circle in the 1930's, claimed it was the original Round Table in Avalon with Arthur, Guinevere, Merlin and the Chief Knights still seated about it as the signs of the Zodiac and the seasons of the year. A great hound five miles long, the Girt Dog of Langport, guards this star temple. Several local legends and about 100 place-names, like Wagg on the Dog's tail, Earlake Moor on his ear, hint that these effigies were once well known. You will find Aries at Street, the Phoenix of Aquarius rises from Glastonbury Tor, and the circle continues around the Isle of Avalon.

from the River Parrett trail page

The biggest dog in Britian and possible the entire world lives in Somerset. Like Cornwall's Beast of Bodmin Moor, this Somerset beast haunts the Somerset Levels along the banks of the River Parrett, between the settlements of Burrow Bridge and Langport. The Girt Dog is a massive drawing of a dog sculpted into the very landscape of Somerset, drawn by the lines of roads, tracks rhines and the River Parrett itself. You can only see it from a great height or by looking at an accurate Ordinance Survey map. The mega mongrel is simply to huge and too massive to photograph. You would need to take an air balloon up hundreds of feet above the ground, Because the Girt Dog is about t miles long from the tip of his nose to the end of its tail. At first this seems like nonsense, but when you think about it, It begins to seem quite possible , and why not?

The Somerset Levels are a unique man made landscape that naturally would be bog marshes and tidal estuary. Giant drawings on the ground are not unknown....
Across the main road from the Girt Dogs ear is the Earlake Moor. Just off the narrow road that leads from the dog's muzzle is a farm called Walkeys Farm, and best of all at the other end of the dog, his tail finishes in the small settlement of Wagg. The long and winding Wagg drove draws this dog's tail... It would nearly have been forgotten but for the vision of Mrs. Katherine Emma Maltwood in the mid 1920s.... She discovered all twelve signs of the zodiac drawn in the Somerset countryside...
She later wrote two books called Glastonbury's temple of the stars and "The enchantments of Britain.