The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #73825   Message #1283834
Posted By: Geoff the Duck
29-Sep-04 - 05:09 AM
Thread Name: Folklore: Somerset Girt Dog of Langport
Subject: RE: Somerset Girt Dog of Langport
It just goes to show how much of the content of the Internet is just bollox, doesn't it!
Other than having sung the Somerset Wassail in the past, I do NOT claim to have any actual verifiable information concerning its origins of meanings, but seriously doubt that Eric Von Daniken's aliens have anything to do with a Wassail. They may have built runways for spaceships on the plains of Nazcar in South America. but I doubt that as an encore they went on to sculpt the river Parrett.

As for a Zodiac "discovered" in 1930 - didn't the ancient Egyptians, the Romans, The Greeks and the Norse already have a zodiac. And anyway the song pre-dates 1930, so that reference can be binned.
I am also wary of anything quoted about King Arthur because most of it is made up to suit the teller. Especially stuff on the internet, which is a haven for fantasists and so-called New Age mumbo-jumbo.

As for spelling, I would reckon that the word "Gurt" is used as a corruption/dialect for "Great" as in "Big" whereas "Girt" is derived from "Girdle" and in different usages can be the past tense of "Gird" i.e. to put a belt round, or to encirle , or to measure the girth of... (actually "Gurt" is a mining term for a gutter or water channel - so we can discount that usage).
Searching for the "Gurt dog of Langport" brings up a more believable explanation Black Dog - Canine Apparitions Revisited and Beyond - the song is referred to at the very bottom of the page. and reckons :-
Secondly the Vikings were likened to wolves themselves. There is an old Somerset wassailing song whose chorus goes;

The Black Dog of Langport have a-burned off his tail;
And this is the night of our jolly wassail;
Vor tis our wassail,
And tis your wassial,
And joy be to you, vor tis our wassail.

It is said that The Black Dog is a reference to the defeat of the Danes by King Alfred in 878.

As I say - I have NO verifiable references, and no particular axe to grind. I am just sceptical of some of the outrageous claims and statements on the Wibbly Wobbly Web.
Best of luck with the search.
Geoff the Duck.