Did Saint George slay the dragon on Dragon Hill?
One of our most famous stories in England is around Saint George slaying his dragon with a sword. There are lots of locations that are rumoured in myths and legends as the site where the almighty slaying took place, and our Dragon Hill, sat in the shadow of White Horse Hill and above the Manger is one of them.
This extraordinary hillock which is circular in shape and is 10 metres high, is a natural outcrop from the main downland scarp, but was scoured into this shape by melting water during the Ice Age. It was later quarried and the top levelled by the Dobunni (a Celtic tribe that lived in the British Isles prior to the Roman invasion) to take the shape we see today.
Its striking appearance led to it being forever linked in legend as the site where Saint George fought and slew the ferocious fire-breathing dragon. The white mark you can see on the top of Dragon Hill is said to be where the dragon fell down dead, its blood so poisonous that the grass has never grown there to this day.
Saint George wasn’t English and according to history never visited Uffington and the local area so making our myth less likely. One argument is that dragon hill was thought to be the burial site of Uter Pendragon, a British Chieftan who fought against the Saxons and may have been slain on the hilltop.
Another, less fabulous explanation is the very high level of potash found on the summit. This can be explained as it is believed the site was used for many pagan ceremonies that involved ritual fire and sacrifice.
Was George really as brave as we have grown up believing and did he leave his mark on our landscape for generations to come? One thing we will never know for sure, but we can keep passing on the stories about his mighty defeat on Dragon Hill.