Although Dundee has it’s fair share myths and legends, the tale of the Dundee dragon and the Nine Maidens of Pitempten is one of the most enduring.
A carved Pict symbol stone 400 A.D. to 850 A.D, near Bridgefoot, Angus, Scotland marks the spot where the dragon was allegedly slain. The legend states that the farmer at Pitempton had nine daughters, and one day he sent one to the well for water. When she did not return, he sent another, and so on until all nine were missing.
When he investigated he found their mangled remains along with a great serpent or dragon. On rousing the countryside, a young man named Martin. lover of one of his daughters, attacked the dragon and eventually slew it.
A rhyme recalling Martin’s killing of the Dundee dragon
“Tempted at Pitempton,
Draigled at Baldragon,
Stricken at Strathmartin,
And kill’d at Martin’s Stane.”
Long, long ago, the farmer of Pitempan had nine pretty daughters.
One day their father thirsted for a drink from his favourite well, which was in a marsh at a short distance from the house.
The fairest of the nine eagerly obeyed her father’s wish by running to the spring.
Not returning within a reasonable time, a second went in quest of her sister.
She too tarried so longthat another volunteered, when the same result happened to her and to five other sisters in succession.
At last the ninth sister went to the spring, and there,to her horror, beheld, among the bulrushes, the dead bodies of her sisters guarded by a dragon! Before she was able to escape, she too fell into the
grasp of the monster, but not until her cries had brought people to the spot.
Amongst these was her lover, named Martin, who, after a long struggle with the dragon, which was carried on from Pitempan to Balkello, succeeded in conquering the monster.
It is told that Martin’s sweetheart died from injuries or fright; and the legend adds that, in consequence of this tragedy, the spring at Pitempan was named the Nine Maiden Well, and the sculptured stone at Strathmartin, also St Martin’s Stane at Balkello, were erected by the inhabitants to commemorate the event.”
Bishop David de Bernham dedicated a church to St Martin on 18th May 1249.
Written by William Shand
Photograph Robert France Photography