WITH its wealth of history and folkloric traditions, Herefordshire is a county with more than its fair share of myths and legends. From witches to dragons, here are five local stories.

The witches of Garway Hill

A local saying goes: “There will always be nine witches from the bottom of Orcop to the top of Garway, as long as water flows." 

An ancient tale tells of a man whose wife was brought back from the dead by the witches, with locals going on to call the couple's children "the sons of the dead woman".

It is thought the couple are ancestors to some of those who live in Garway today.

The dragon of Mordiford

The dragon of Mordiford was said to have loved a small girl named Maud who lived in Mordiford and had nurtured it from infancy.

As it grew into adolescence and adulthood, she remained the only person safe from its reign of terror, the only one who could soothe it.

A portrait of the dragon appeared on the wall of the main church of the village until 1811 when a vicar ordered it destroyed it was believed to be a sign of the devil. A reproduction of this painting is now displayed inside the church.

The mermaid of Marden

When the bell from Marden church ended up in the River Lugg, a mermaid was said to have appropriated it.

Despite the villagers’ strenuous efforts, the bell could not be prised from the mermaid’s grasp and remained in the river.

In 1848, when villagers were cleaning out the pond, they discovered an ancient bell - might it be the bell the mermaid hid? See the bell for yourself at Hereford Museum!


The black dog of Hergest

The fortified manor house Hergest Court, dates from 1267 and was built by Hwyel ap Meurig and subsequently occupied by the Clanvowe and Vaughan families.

The house, which can be seen from the bottom of the lawn below Hergest Croft, is said to be haunted by a great black hound, the black dog of Hergest.

The black dog is believed to be the inspiration for Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles.

The tale of King Herla

The tale of King Herla is one of the most fantastical medieval legends connected to Herefordshire.

After King Herla, one of Britain's earliest kings, went to a faerie wedding in a foreign kingdom, he found that 200 years had passed in the 'real world'.

Accordingly to legend, King Herla and his men they were last seen in the marches of Wales and Hereford in the first year of the reign of King Henry II. At that time, King Herla’s company were said to have been accosted by a large group of armed Welshmen, forcing the company to plunge into the river Wye, turn into air and vanish forever.