The legend of the “undying hero” is common to every country in Europe. The hero is not dead, he has gone elsewhere but will return again when his country is in danger, and will save the people once again.
Britain has her share of heroes – Owen Glendower, King Arthur and Sir Francis Drake.
Owen Glendower (pictured above left) was the leader of a rebellion against the English in 1400. Within four years he had advanced the cause of Welsh independence and had headed a Welsh Parliament. When the tides of war turned against him, he was forced to hide in the mountains and fight a guerrilla war. Though he fought on for many years he eventually disappeared in 1415 and no one is sure where he died. The legend is that he “sleeps” in Castle Cave in the Vale of Gwent, and when England becomes degenerate and vice-ridden, he will return with his warriors and establish Welsh independence for ever.
King Arthur, according to tradition, “sleeps” in Cadbury Castle near Yeovil, Somerset. Cadbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort, supposedly hollow, where King Arthur and his knights lie ready until such time as England will call upon their services again. A village near the foot of Cadbury Castle, Queen Camel, is one of the places suggested to be the spot where Arthur was mortally wounded by his nephew Mordred.
Edward the Black Prince died in 1376 and left nothing behind him but legends. Edwards effigy can be seen in Canterbury Cathedral and he is said to haunt Hall Place in Bexley, Kent. His ghost was seen three times during the First World War, always before an English reverse! A sighting of the Black Prince is therefore not a reason for jubilation as it means England is in mortal danger!
Another warning to England is carried by Sir Francis Drake’s drum, which can be seen today in Buckland Abbey, Devon. The drum accompanied Drake on his voyages around the world until when Drake lay dying in 1596 in Panama, he sent the drum back home to Buckland Abbey near Plymouth.
Drake vowed on his deathbed that if anyone should beat upon it when England was in danger, he would return to defend his country again. However the legend has changed over the years – now the drums beats on its own!!
It has been heard three times this century. The first time in 1914 when the First World War started. Four years later it was heard on the flagship Royal Oak as the German fleet steamed into Scapa Flow to surrender. The Royal Oak was extensively searched but no trace of any drum could be found! The third time was during the retreat from Dunkirk.
It is a comfort to a nation to know, or believe, that should it face disaster, their heroes of the past are ready to leap to their nations defence once again and will triumph!