Here be dragons…


My post from yesterday had me thinking about maps, and a quick Google of “dragon maps” gave me some neat results worth further digging into, but also reminded me that the phrase “Here be dragons” is thought to have been used on early maps to describe unknown or uncharted territory.

I’ve always thought the phrase was “Here there be dragons,” which I think sounds better, hence the picture I chose, but no… it turns out it was just “Here be dragons,” and in Latin, not English of course, so it was actually…


And in fact, according to a great write-up by Erin C. Blake of the MapHist Forum on the history of cartography discussion group, it actually only appears on ONE early map, the copper Lenox Globe (or Hunt-Lenox Globe) (ca. 1503-07).  There are many early maps that contain pictures of dragons or other mythical beasts, Erin notes, but the phrase itself is unique.

Erin’s write-up was published in 1999, and an article about a new find in 2013 called the Ostirch Egg Globe (ca. 1504) notes that the phrase also appears on this “new” map.  The collector quoted in the piece (who published a comprehensive analysis of the Ostrich Egg Globe) concludes that “the Hunt-Lenox Globe is a cast of the engraved ostrich egg. Many minute details, such as the lines and contours of the egg’s territories, oceans and script, match those on the well-studied Hunt-Lenox Globe.”

Ostrich Egg Globe

On both copies, the phrase is written on the eastern coast of Asia, and pictures of “HC SVNT DRACONES” on the Hunt-Lenox Globe are really hard to find, it turns out!  (This Spanish blogger also wrote about this topic and had the best image.)


Well then.  This “short” Daily Dragon certainly got away from me, didn’t it?  Ah, no matter, it was great fun looking into it.  Stay creative, everyone!

(Ha! I know I’m supposed to be writing my book right now, but after work tonight, I also checked off another thing from my Blogging 101 To Do list — I’ve revamped my About Me page!  Go check it out, if you have a second!)

Image credits:
Here there be dragons…
The Ostrich Egg Globe, photo by The Washington Map Society

3 thoughts on “Here be dragons…

  1. How interesting, Jamie Lyn. One of my favorite quqotes is about dragons — sort of… (Though I think this is a Neil Gaiman paraphrase…)

    “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”

    ― G.K. Chesterton

    Liked by 1 person

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