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  • Writer's picturemysteriesofmercia

Kinnersley Castle and the Strangled Boy?

I spotted this bizarre sculpture above a fireplace inside Kinnersley Castle, Herefordshire. It appears to be a boy being choked by a snake around his neck...why?

This was one of the heraldic devices of the Vaughan family who were major figures along the English/Welsh borderlands during the Medieval and Tudor eras. The infamous Thomas "Black" Vaughan of Hergest was one of them, but what does this strange image mean?

A distant Welsh ancestor of the Vaughans was born with his umbilical cord around his neck, and legend says that he tore it off himself, growing up to be a powerful warrior. Another story claims that the same boy was outside playing one summer day when an adder crawled around his throat. His horrified mother could only watch in terror as the infant just laughed while the venomous snake lay coiled around him, eventually being removed by the child's little hands.

I saw quite a few other strange things at Kinnersley Castle, when I've made sense of them I'll post more!

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