• The Dragon of Handale Priory

    Last week I pur on my walking boots and climbed up a steep cliff to have a look at the place where Hildegard goes next, a priory called Handale in the wilds of North Yorkshire.  It must have been a hellish place in the middle ages.  Set on a lonely cliff in the middle of thick woodland, it was famous for the  firebreathing dragon that stalks the surrounding Handale Woods.  It’s steep and wild country here with tumbling ironstone cliffs to the sea and a sinister castle close by.  It’s  just north of Whitby so it’s not surprising that Bram Stoke set his novel about Dracula in the area.  We climbed up through the mazy woods to a high ridge and although we got lost we didn’t come across any of the dragon’s descendants.  Not that time anyway.  The famous one gained its reputation by luring the local girls to his lair and then eating them.  He was killed by a tough knight called Scar who wielded a five foot sword.  His bones and the rusting sword were discovered in a stone coffin in 1830 but where are they now?  I’d love to know.  And where are the dragon’s bones?  After Scar killed it he found a fifteen year old girl  tied up in a nearby cave, waiting  for supper.  Later Scar marrried an earl’s daughter and  lived at the awe inspiring castle at Kilton.  This is a ruin now, very atmospheric, standing out against the stormy sky on a high ridge overlooking the moors.  There’s more about it in my next book, the fifth of Hildegard’s sleuthing adventures.  But I’m not sure the dragon will make an appearance.  Maybe he will…hang on, what’s that rustling in the woods..?