folklore, Monstrous May

#MonstrousMay Day 13: Monstrous Fish

Graphic and Prompt Credit: Johannes T. Evans

The Monster Fish of Bomere Pool, Shropshire

There’s an amazing folktale from Shropshire, about a gigantic fish that acquired the sword (and sword belt) of Wild Eadric, an Anglo-Saxon lord who fought against the Normans during the conquest of the 11thC.

There are variations of the tale that seem to place it later, with the Anglo-Saxon terms replaced by more modern ones that reflect the age in which the tale was handed down, so in the versions I’ve read he’s “the squire of Condover” or something, which obviously isn’t an Anglo-Saxon designation.

Anyway, the story goes that Wild Eadric is having a day of fishing at Bomere Pool and hooks a gigantic fish. This thing is an absolute monster and he and his friends manage to get it to the shore after a lot of effort.

They then have a heated debate about the size of the thing, and Wild Eadric unfastens his sowrd belt and reckons it will fit around the fish. So he … fastens the belt (with his sword sheathed in the scabbard hanging from it) around the middle of the fish and it fits!

The fish, however, is like, oh I do not think so boys, and uses the sword to free itself from the nets, so now we have this absolutely enormous fish wielding an actual sword with its fins (I guess) and that’s obviously not normal.

Anyway, this fish sheaths the sword, dives back into the pool, and is gone. And that’s the absolutely true story of how Wild Eadric lost his sword to a fish that one time.

There’s more to this, naturally, because we can’t just leave it there with this gigantic fish wearing a sword belt swimming around the pool. The lore is that the fish will give up the sword eventually, but only to the true heir of Condover hall. Presumably, not a jumped-up Norman. Wild Eadric was defrauded out of his inheritance (hard to see how that could have happened, since he’s the kind of guy who just hands his whole sword belt to a monster fish, colour me shocked) and thus the fish will only return the sword to its rightful owner.

You can read the tale here.

You can stay at Condover Hall and try your luck with the fish – it’s now a JCA activity centre, suitable for kids and families.

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