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Dragon History Day
"Beware, there be dragons!"
St. George may have slayed a dragon, but the Laird of Lariston slew the Wicked Worm of Linton! Serpents, dragons, wyverns and other such undulating monsters appear in all cultures, generally menacing the populace or exacting bloody tributes. But a rare few of us an make an ancestral claim of a dragonslayer in our lineage! If you have Somerville ancestry, you may be linked to John Somerville (1150-1194) of Carnwath, Lanarkshire, Scotland, whom legend and lore names as the knight who vanquished the fearsome Linton Worm, also known as the Linton Dragon, and the Wyrm of Wormistone! This fantastic beast was said to have lived in a hollow on the northeast side of Linton Hill (a spot still known as the "Worm’s Den") at Linton in Roxburghshire on the Scottish Borders. The worm would emerge from its lair at dusk and dawn, ravaging the countryside, eating crops, livestock and people, and proving invulnerable to the weapons ranged against it. John de Somerville, the Laird of Lariston and a man of reckless courage, was said to be traveling in the area, and hearing the lurid tales when visiting the nearby village of Jedburgh, determined to do something. He went to a local blacksmith and had forged an iron covered spear with a wheel at its tip which could impale a hunk of peat tipped in tar and brimstone. Allegedly, Somerville approached the worm's hideout with his servant at dawn and attacked, plunging his burning lance into the monster's gaping mouth and down its throat, mortally wounding it. Its writhing death throes supposedly created the curious topography of the hills of the region, an area that came to be known as "wormington". For his heroism, Somerville' was made Royal Falconer and knighted as the "First Barrone" of Linton. The crest of the Somervilles reflects this story showing a wyvern (heraldic dragon) perched on a wheel! Beware, all would-be dragonslayers, there be dragons still! 🐉 🔥 ⚔️
This tartan, for the Clan and Family of Somerville has no known designer.
The specimen in the Scottish Tartans Society's collection was obtained about 1930 from the firm J Johnston of Edinburgh. It was described at the time as a modern family tartan. The cloth archive also contains a sample from the Lochcarron weavers. Nomindex says 24/11/1980 Based on the MacDougall.
This name Somerville is believed to have been derived from a town in Normandy, near Caen. During the Norman invasion of England in 1066, Sir Gaulter de Somerville accompanied the Duke of Normandy, William the Conqueror.
William de Somerville, the second son of Sir Gaulter, came to Scotland with David I and was created Lord of Carnwath, receiving the lands near Carnwath in Clydesdale. He died around 1142 and was buried at Melrose Abbey. Another William de Somerville was said to have killed the last serpent in Scotland, and went on to obtain the lands of Linton from Malcolm IV, in or around 1174. He later became chief falconer to the king and sheriff of Roxburgh. At the Battle of Largs in 1263, a Sir William de Somerville, fifth of that name, fought for Alexander II, driving back the Norse invasion.
The William de Somerville who fought at Largs, his son, Sir Thomas, was amongst the many Scottish nobles who were pressured into signing the Ragman Roll, pledging allegiance to England’s Edward I in 1296. However, in 1297 he joined Sir William Wallace in Scotland’s fight for independence. The peerage of Lord Somerville was created for Sir Thomas, and probably in 1435, though this is uncertain.
For more on the Linton Worm, said to have been killed by the Somerville, click the fearsome battle in an illustration by P. Niblet.