Girt Dog of Langport 20


Girt Dog appears at Burrow Mump (Andruss)

This is a companion piece to The Glastonbury Zodiac on Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord: Variety is the Spice of Life


The Girt Dog (

The thirteenth figure of the Glastonbury Zodiac is the guardian Girt Dog. ‘Girt’ comes from the same root as ‘girdle’ meaning to contain or encompass. The giant beast, based round the town of Langport, is now only remembered from the old carol…

‘The Girt Dog of Langport he burnt his long tail, and this is the night we go singing Wassail.’

Wassail is a ceremony dating from Anglo-Saxon times where locals visited orchards to celebrate the apple trees by singing carols (originally dancing songs) and treated the roots to a drink of cider… while liberally treating themselves.

Somerset’s association with apples prompted its identification with the Apple Isle, Avalon. As the Romans introduced the edible apple to Britain, critics claim this dates from when the Romans left, the time we remember as the Age of Arthur. But long before farming, ancient man used the wild or crab apple.

Ancient Britains brewed crab apple cider and also used it as a sour flavouring, similar to lemons, on food. Crab apple wood has a pleasing fragrance used to drive off bad luck. As members of the rose family, the crab has much in common with its cousin, the quince of the Mediterranean World. They both bestowed immortality and divine knowledge, and were given to newlyweds as aphrodisiacs.

Quince and crab are inedible unless cooked or left to go rotten, when they become incredibly sweet. Rotten fruit often contains naturally fermented alcohol or even hallucinogenic moulds. Wild animals love to gorge on rotten fruit to get drunk. This might be why both fruits were originally considered sacred. Intoxication was seen as the gateway to the otherworld.

Quince was sacred to Aphrodite. It was probably the original fruit of the Garden of Eden. The Norse goddess Idunn fed the other gods golden apples of youth, also associated with fertility. The Apple Isle found in Greek and Celtic myth lay in the west where the sun slept and where the dead went to be reincarnated.

The association of apples with the otherworld might be why the Girt Dog guards the Glastonbury Zodiac. Dogs traditionally guard the entrance to the otherworld. Even today we believe dogs sense ghostly presences.

According to medieval legend, Glastonbury Tor was the Celtic Otherworld. It’s ruler Gwyn Ap Nudd (pronounced: Nuth) had a hunting dog is called Dormarch, or ‘Death’s Door’. In some manuscripts the scribe scratched out the second ‘r’ making the name Dormach. Mach means bond or surety, making the name ‘Death’s Guardian’.

As ‘Death’s Guardian’ Dormach is the Greek Cerebus, the three-headed dog guarding the mouth of Hades, who ensured the dead did not escape the underworld.

The philosopher Porphyry stated Hercules’ twelve labours represented the sun’s annual passage through the houses of the Zodiac – the Nemean lion being Leo; the Cretan Bull: Taurus; Hippolyta, the Amazon queen: Virgo. For one of his twelve labours, Heracles stole Cerebus. In another he stole the Apples of Immortality from the Garden of Hesperides.

Herodotus, the ancient Greek writer from 500 BC linked Heracles with the Phoenician hero Melqart – who was always accompanied by a dog representing the underworld. In the very first story ever written down, the Sumerian Gilgamesh travelled to the gods in search of immortality. Gilgamesh is the archetype hero Heracles and all others are based on.

In the night sky, Orion the Hunter’s companion is the Dog Star Sirius. Orion is Egyptian god Osiris, whose wife Isis turned herself into a dog to sniff out his mouldering corpse after Osiris was murdered by his brother Set. She brought him back to life with the help of Anubis – the dog headed god of the afterlife. Osiris is always depicted with a green skin – making him the first representation of the Green Man: the Spirit of Spring reborn.

Orion’s Dog Star was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians. It is claimed the 3 pyramids at Giza are laid out in the same pattern as the 3 stars in Orion’s belt. The greatest of them, the Pyramid of Cheops, contains a narrow shaft, from the central chamber in the heart of the pyramid, pointing directly to the Dog Star as it appears above the horizon – a shortcut to heaven for Pharaoh’s soul.

In the first card of the Tarot’s major arcana, a dog snaps at the heels of the Fool – about to step off a cliff into the unknown – representing the novice’s first step in the occult or ‘concealed’ world of higher knowledge.

Catherine Maltwood, who discovered the Glastonbury Zodiac, was certainly versed in such twisted stands of myth when tracing out the Girt Dog’s giant shape across the landscape. She would have known it was more than just coincidence the Girt Dog’s head was at Head Drove with an ear at Earlake Moor and his tail at Wagg. There is even a Walkies Farm within his outline.

As she was working on The High History of the Holy Grail she believed the Girt Dog was Arthur’s giant hunting hound, Cavall (Welsh for horse). In the High History Cavall litters 12 puppies that tear her flesh, but cannot consume her. In legend twelve is a magical number: 12 gods of Olympus; 12 Knights of the Round Table; 12 tribes of Israel; 12 Apostles. There are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months in the year, 12 signs of the zodiac and of course the 12 hides of land given to Joseph of Arimathea around Glastonbury.


I was thrilled to finally be at Burrow Mump, a place I had only written about but never visited (Andruss)

Burrow Mump forms the Girt Dog’s nose. Burrow Mump is a sort of mini Glastonbury Tor with a ruined church dedicated to St Michael on its summit. Ley line enthusiasts investigating Burrow Mump say it sits on a powerful ley line runing from St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall (a place where Arthur once defeated a giant) through Wearyall Hill (where Joseph of Arimathea planted his staff that took root to become the Glastonbury thorn) to St Michael’s Church on Glastonbury Tor and beyond.


In The Thirteenth Treasure, the third book of the Thomas the Rhymer trilogy, Catherine is with the Moon, an ancient powerful fairy queen ruling the House of Cancer. Cancer not the crab, but the Glastonbury Zodiac ship, sailing the night sky crewed by Valkyries.

To find Catherine, Jack and Ken have to get onto the Glastonbury Zodiac at Burrow Mump. To do this they need the Girt Dog Dormach to open the way to the apples orchards of the stars.

Girt Dog appears at Burrow Mump (Andruss)






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20 thoughts on “Girt Dog of Langport

  1. Reply Teagan R Geneviene Oct 30,2017 11:13 pm

    This is quite fascinating, Paul. And perfect for the season. Happy Halloween.

  2. Pingback: Writing Links 10/30/17 – Where Genres Collide

  3. Reply D. Wallace Peach Oct 29,2017 6:30 pm

    Fascinating post, Paul, on several counts. I love the unlocking of ancient mysteries and the connections across cultures. All the lore and history about the apple made me want to drink cider and eat pie! I’m not surprised that the dog is so often associated with the journey to the underworld. Dogs have been our companions and protectors for millennia and it seems fitting that they would be part of our final and sacred journey. Thanks for the great research and for sharing your knowledge. 🙂

  4. Reply Shehanne Moore Oct 28,2017 10:10 am

    Talking ‘wassailing’ remind me to tell you the story of how four of us were nearly trampled to death during that ‘Here we Come a’ Wassailing’ song.

  5. Reply Shehanne Moore Oct 27,2017 1:24 pm

    Paul, as ever your knowledge of the past is jaw dropping. And also thoroughly entertaining. I loved this post. Learned so much x

    • Reply Paul Oct 29,2017 8:08 pm

      Thanks Shey…. the past is no problem it’s just the present I have problems with! Will drop you a long overdue line tonight and love to hear you wassail.. or Wazzz Ale? Story! much luv your m8 PX

  6. Reply dgkaye Oct 27,2017 1:53 am

    Oh my, a wealth of history here in mythology. Truly fascinating Paul. You are a brilliant writer and researcher my friend. 🙂

  7. Reply Robbie Cheadle Oct 26,2017 5:21 am

    Another fascinating post, Paul. Your knowledge of mythology is incredible. My son, Gregory, is also very interested in mythology and reads up on it a lot. We are almost finished Thomas the Rhymer and we have really enjoyed it. I loved meeting Mr Grin in the book.

    • Reply Paul Oct 27,2017 12:34 am

      Thank you Robbie but the truth is we all have our gifts and we all bring something unique to the table. I am not going to make a list simply because I’m such a klutz I will miss someone out and feel mean and guilty, but I will say each and every person who has ever commented here (yes ok and a hell of a lot of People who haven’t commented here too. God I hate being so nice!) all bring unique knowledge and talents into our world of writing. Mine is myth and yours and Michael’s are poetry, cooking, the edible artistic creations – and that’s still not doing them justice.

      And all I can say to everyone else is this. If you want to know what I think you bring to the table, then drop me a line in the comments and I will be happy to reply because we individually have so much talent and as a community we have the power to change the world. The pen is mightier than the sword yet the internet is mightier than the pen!

      I am glad you liked meeting Mr Grin. Like you and Michael I am fond of all my children but he is probably the most like who I want to be. Pxxx

  8. Reply BRIGID GALLAGHER Oct 24,2017 9:17 pm

    Such an interesting post Paul and right up my alley.
    I trained in Radionics which uses the pendulum for dowsing and analysis. One of my teachers was John MacaManaway who together with his brother Patrick worked on healing Earth energies.
    I visited Egypt and the Temple dedicated to Isis at Philae. Wonderful.
    Orions Belt is one of my favourite constellations.
    I love all your animations and look forward to those new books. ?

    • Reply Paul Oct 26,2017 12:25 am

      Thank you Brigid, and let me say that I have always found dowsing amazing. There is so much Scientific support for it and of course by its very nature it throws a whole new light on the as yet unknown and unmeasured energies pervading the universe and Of course with our undoubted sensitivity to those forces it will rewrite our understanding of science. Which to be fair good science will admit what we have are theories giving the best description of how we understand something, it should not deny the anomalies or think the explanation is written in stone otherwise we will never get a better understanding. The fringe of science is an amazing place and I look forward to the time science and magic are indistinguishable. It must have been wonderful to visit the ancient sites of Egypt, I truly envy you and thank you for all your kind words.

  9. Reply sally cronin Oct 24,2017 8:35 am

    Fantastic Paul and that ruined church looks so atmospheric.. Dogs have certainly played an incredible role in our history and fascinating to discover more of their mythical presence. I love the fact that the Girt Dog is so aptly placed… Wagg…. We had a crab apple tree in our garden when I was growing up and our neighbour would add the fruit to hers and make the most amazing jelly which is delicious. thanks again for the time and effort that would have gone into the post.. as always. Great to see the Thirteenth Treasure promotion..

    • Reply Paul Oct 26,2017 12:31 am

      Sally the church on Burrow Mump was really amazing, however it is not as big as you think, I was shocked that it was quite diddy really. You can see Glastonbury Tor clearly from the church but you cannot see Burrow Mump church from Glastonbury Tor.- which is quite magical. I have Never had Crab Jelly but the other year I did make quince jelly which turned a deep rose colour and smelled of Roses too. It is a fantastic accompaniment to cold meats and not too hard to make (otherwise I would n’t have managed!). And thank you for the lovely words of appreciation over the post, to be honest It gives me a massive big kick when People enjoy it. Pxx

  10. Reply Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, MCC, SCAC Oct 24,2017 4:58 am

    Another interesting foray into the past, Paul. I will always read with wonder at the research you do that underlies your books.

    I fear I lack the patience I’m sure it must require to dig into so many myths and cross-reference them, so I much appreciate your delivering the results of your efforts in your articles as well as your books.

    Thank you.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    • Reply Paul Oct 26,2017 12:17 am

      Thank you Madelyn, you are always so supportive and wonderful. But the truth is this is one of my interests and I can write these posts often off the top of my head (and then spend hours checking the facts of course). And like you with your passion when you love something… I don’t know it’s it is easy to do but you certainly don’t mind putting in the time doing it. As for what you say about my posts I always think exactly the same about yours. Not only are you incredibly knowledgeable but you can also judge the standard of other people’s work in your guest posts and only accept those of incredibly high standard. One difference though because of the nature of your passion and the difference it makes to other people’s lives (who may be in need) I see your work as more important than what I do. Lets face it no one is going to suffer it I get a fact wrong!

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