Richard Freeman, Explore Dragons, Heart of Albion Press, 2006.
Good heavens, another Magonia, another Richard Freeman book on dragons! Freeman is associated with the Centre for Fortean Zoology, and has a strong 'paws and pelts' approach to mystery animals, believing that although many reports of Bigfoot, anomalous big cats and other out-of-place or legendary creature are the result of imagination or misinterpretation, there remains a core phenomenon of actual existing animals which are unrecognised by conventional science.
While this may well be a possibility for man-sized creatures in the jungles of Borneo, or even for a small population of feral big-cats in Britain, how does something so obviously mythical as a dragon fit into this? Although Freeman does not claim that winged, fire-breathing creatures are flying around in Britain today, he does give accounts of dragon-like creatures being seen in historical times. including sightings from Wales in the nineteenth century, and suggests that some accounts might be folk-memories of Viking invasions. He also gives firsthand accounts of dragon encounters from across the globe.
The easiest way of accommodating these data is to take the classic 'literary criticism' approach, and simply regard them as stories, to be analysed as you would a work of fiction, comparing it to other examples in the same genre. I had always regarded dragon legends in this way, but this book convinces me that such stories might well have an origin in actual experience, like UFO accounts, and we now see, children's imaginary companions. But as to there being a 'core phenomenon', I rather doubt it. – John Rimmer Magonia 92, June 2006.