Uncanny UK is delighted to welcome MARK DAVIES as a new contributor, with this interesting article about the Knucker of Lyminster, a notable beastie from his newly adopted home of Sussex in southern England.
Having moved to Sussex in late 2011, I quickly became aware of the association of the county with dragons, something that I hadn’t knowingly encountered before.
One particular legend, perhaps the most famous, concerns that of the Knucker, a type of water dragon who lived in bottomless pools, not unexpectedly known as knuckerholes.
The word ‘knucker’ itself is believed to be derived from the old English / Saxon ‘nicor’, which means ‘water monster’ and, some believe, is also the source of ‘old nick’, another well known name for the Devil.
This particular knucker lived in a pool near Lyminster Church and proved particularly troublesome for the local inhabitants, killing livestock and even the odd villager here and there when the fancy took it.
It is at this point that the legend diverges and there are a couple of variants of the tale in existence.
In one, a wandering knight, answering the King’s call for the knucker to be killed in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage, slew the beast after a battle. After despatching the knucker, the knight and the princess remained in Lyminster and his gravestone, the slayer’s slab, can still be seen in Lyminster Church, where it has been removed from the churchyard for protection from the elements.
Another version and perhaps the more romantic, has the knucker killed by a local farmer’s boy named Jim Pulk or Puttock (depending on the source), who baked a large pie laced with poison, which was eaten by the dragon, who succumbs to the toxin filled savoury dish and subsequently despatched by young Jim, who cuts off the knucker’s head with a scythe (or axe) whilst the dragon lies dying (or is even already dead). Jim then accidently poisons himself, or dies in old age but, either way, he ends up in the graveyard under the slayer’s slab.
Sadly, whilst there is no trace of the knucker’s remains today, what of the knucker hole itself? Well, believe it or not, it still exists just to the area to the rear of the church and, although allegedly bottomless, in modern times divers have established that it’s about 30 feet deep. Sadly, direct access is not currently available as it is fenced off and the clear waters used as a trout breeding farm.