The Bisterne Dragon is a legend that has been around for centuries, likely dating back to the 17th century but possibly even earlier.

The story goes that the dragon resided in the New Forest, near Burley Beacon, and terrorized the nearby hamlet of Bisterne.

According to the legend, a brave knight, often referred to as Sir Maurice de Berkeley, decided to put an end to the dragon's reign of fear.

(Image: Echo)

He built a hidden enclosure and waited with his loyal hounds.

When the dragon arrived for its usual milk delivery, the knight sprung his trap.

The dogs attacked the beast, giving the knight the opportunity to strike the final blow.

The fight was fierce and the dogs perished in the battle.

According to the legend, the epic clash between the knight and the dragon raged throughout the forest, finally ending near Lyndhurst.

(Image: Echo)

The dragon was slain, and its enormous body transformed into a hill - Boltons Bench, which stands there to this day as a testament to the legend.

The victory wasn't without a heavy cost. The trauma of the battle and the loss of his loyal companions left the knight a broken man. Some tales say he died shortly after, returning to the dragon's mound to mourn.

Some versions depict the knight cleverly training his dogs to attack a specific weakness of the dragon, making them crucial to the fight.

There are different versions of the tale, but a common thread is the dragon's peculiar habit of flying to Bisterne every morning to be appeased with a large offering of milk.

(Image: Echo)

The legend doesn't explain why the dragon craved milk. Perhaps it was a hatchling with a taste for the local dairy, or maybe it had an injury requiring a soothing beverage.

This detail might hint at a time when villagers attempted to appease a powerful force of nature, perhaps a large predator, with offerings. Over time, the story morphed into a dragon tale.

Dragon is more than just a scary story. It reflects the challenges faced by early communities and their heroes. It also highlights the human tendency to explain the natural world through fantastical creatures. The legend continues to be a source of fascination, inspiring local walks, artwork, and keeping the traditions of the New Forest alive.