The following story is based on The Legend of the Blacksmith - The Blacksmith who Slew the Griffin. This legend was brought to my attention by Michelle Garcia-Cobbett (@M_Cobbett71) on Twitter. Many thanks, Michelle.
John Houghton, the blacksmith of Farnworth, was hard at work in his forge when he heard yells and screams coming from outside. He removed his heavy gloves and rushed out into the grass outside to see what was going on.
The farmer who owned the lands just outside John's forge had taken off his hat and thrown it to the ground. John approached just as he made to drive the heel of his boot into the top of his hat.
"What's the matter?" John asked, his thick apron still swinging around his neck.
"It's that damn griffin again," the farmer replied through clenched teeth. He's taken another of my cattle. He swoops in and carries them off like they're light as a feather. And this time in broad daylight! I'll have no livestock left if the damn beast keeps this up."
John thought for a moment. "The griffin just flies overhead and carries the cattle away?" he asked. "He doesn't kill them first?"
"That's right," the farmer agreed. "Just holds them in those big talons he's got and flies off with them."
"Maybe I can help, farmer," John offered.
"You think?" the farmer asked, stooping over to retrieve his hat. "The missus sure would be grateful to you. She's getting awfully worried about our livelihood."
"I'll certainly try." John promised.
The following day John went out in the field where the cattle were grazing. "Now farmer, I need you to take your cattle away from here," he instructed.
Once the farmer and his dog had herded all the cattle back towards the barn, John dressed himself in the skin of a cow. With the hide wrapped around his body, he sat and waited.
Finally John heard the sound of flapping wings overhead. When he glanced up into the sky, he was shocked to see that the griffin was still very far away. What powerful wings the creature must have for John to hear their rustling at such a distance. John trembled with fear.
John didn't dare to look up at the griffin again as he was afraid he would lose his nerve. He sat quietly, looking at his hands. Suddenly there was a deep cry just above his head and John felt the creature's sharp talons wrap around the animal skin. With ease the griffin lifted John and cowhide into the air and began to fly away from the field.
John looked down as the griffin flew. He saw the farmer and his wife watching from outside their farm house, the farmer's hands placed protectively on his wife's shoulders. As John watched them they got smaller and smaller and the ground got farther away.
The griffin flew, never hesitating or showing any sign of becoming fatigued. Despite both his thick feathers and luscious fur, the griffin never seemed to get too hot under the midday sun. He flew along almost leisurely, letting a great cry escape his beak every once in a while.
Finally the griffin reached his destination and released John from his talons. John felt himself falling and barely had time to look down as the rocks came up quick beneath him. He crashed into them, his shoulder, still wrapped in cowhide, taking most of the impact. He felt the sharp pain run through his arm.
John could still hear the great wings flapping above him. The griffin cried out as he made a wide turn and circled back around to kill John.
With his good arm, John drew his sword from beneath the cowhide. As the griffin dove at him, John raised the sword. The griffin cried out once more as John's sword plunged into the feathers on his chest. He had been flying toward John with too much momentum to stop short and he drove the sword deep into his breast.
The griffin barely had the chance to fly away from John before crashing into the rocks. John retrieved his sword and shook off the animal hide before making his way back to Farnworth.
Upon John's return, the people of Farnworth had a wonderful celebration to thank John for ridding the town of the creature that had been terrorizing them. John was awarded as much land as he could ride around in a night. These lands were then called the lands of Bold and John became known as John de Bold, the slayer of the griffin.
Melissa Marie Keeping