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Sleeping dragons

Gower was one of the few places in Wales where the Vikings invaded. The legacy of these Nordic invaders is reflected in some of the local place names – Worm’s Head being one.

The name comes from the Norse word ‘Wurme’, meaning dragon or serpent. The headland of Worm’s Head marks the most westerly point on Gower and comprises a rock causeway, which links the small island to the mainland. Legend has it that the Vikings believed the island to be a sleeping dragon, because of its shape. In stormy weather, a blow-hole on the outer tip of the island is known to make loud booming and hissing noises, which can only have further convinced the Vikings of their terrifying discovery!

A Gower saying notes: “The old Worm’s blowing, time for a boat to be going”.

The Vikings are also believed to have named the stone tombs on Rhossili Downs, known as Sweyne Howes, after the Viking king Sweyne Forkbeard. In fact, King Sweyne is believed to have given his name to Swansea, which was once a Viking trading port.