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The Filey Dragon

Kath 2017

There are several stories about the Filey Brigg and the Dragon in local folklore. One claims that Filey Brigg was formed by the Devil who dropped his hammer into the sea while making it. When he put his hand into the water to retrieve it he grabbed a fish instead and supposedly shouted ‘Ha Dick’ so that is how the haddock got its name and also explains the distinctive markings on the fish where the Devil held it.

Another that the Brigg is the skeletal remains of a dragon killed by a tailor called Billy Biter. There is also a tale that the dragon would lie in a gulley on the Brigg. The gulley fills with water at high tide and the villagers of Filey lured him into the gulley with sticky cake. When the dragon ate the cake it stuck his jaws together and the villagers then killed him.

However, the most comprehensive story is that of Ralph Parkin and his wife Mary Brumfitt who were married in St Oswald’s church on August 10th 1794. It seems that she wanted to get the dragon away from the Brigg so went down and gave him some Yorkshire sticky cake. The dragon liked it so much he ate too much of it, it stuck his jaws together and he fell into the waves and drowned. This explains why the Brigg is the shape it is and why the sticky Yorkshire cake is called parkin. It could be that Billy Biter and Ralph Parkin were the same person as there is a long tradition of giving the local fishermen nicknames to distinguish them from relatives with the same name.

A more recent story was reported in the Daily Telegraph on 1st March 1934. Local Coastguard Wilkinson Herbert was walking on the beach when he reported

“Suddenly I heard a growling like a dozen dogs ahead, walking nearer I switched on my torch and was confronted by a huge neck, six yards in front of me, rearing up 8ft. high! The head was a startling sight- huge eyes like saucers, glaring at me, the creature’s mouth was a foot wide and neck would be a yard around. The monster appeared as startled as I was. Shining my torch along the ground I saw a body about 30ft. long. I thought this was no place for me and from a distance I threw stones at the creature. It moved away growling fiercely and I saw the huge black body had two humps on it and four short legs with huge flappers on them. I could not see any tail. It moved quickly, rolling from side to side, and went into the sea. From the cliff top I looked down and saw two eyes like torch lights shining out to sea 300 yards away. It was a most gruesome and thrilling experience. I have seen big animals abroad, but nothing like this."

Quite a frightening experience reported by an experienced observer!