In one of the earliest issues of Rural History, Jacqueline Simpson urged students of Popular rural culture to examine local legends that centre upon some specific place, Person or object and which are a focus for local pride. Many of these are well-known tales which have been adapted, often in a humorous way, to local circumstances. Thus the seventy-odd stories of dragon-slaying which she has collected for Britain usually depict a local figure, not St George or a knight errant, as the hero. It is normally difficult, if not impossible, to explain how these tales began. The Dragon of Wantley, however, offers some unusual opportunities for delving into the historical context of a ballad that achieved national fame.