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Wyvern

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A wyvern or wivern ( /ˈwvərn/) is a legendary winged creature with a dragon's head, reptilian body, two legs (sometimes none), and a barbed tail. Depending on the cultural specifications, wyverns can breathe fire, or [1][2]The wyvern is used for both supporters in the arms of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Frequently when used as a supporter it rests on its tail alone, termed sejant, with both forelegs supporting the escutcheonpossess a venomous bite, or possess neither or both of these. The wyvern is found in heraldry.[1] There exists a purely sea-dwelling variant, termed the Sea-Wyvern which has a fish tail in place of a barbed dragon's tail. Two of these mythical sea beasts form the supporters of the arms of West Dorset District Council.

EtymologyEdit

The usual spelling wyvern (older wivern too) is not attested before the 17th century as 'winged two-footed dragon'.[2] It is an alteration of Middle English wyvere, wyver (13th century), loanword of Old French wivre (French guivre and vouivre), itself from Latin vipera 'viper', 'adder', 'asp',[3][4] altered in Proto-French to *wipera by Germanic influence (see Old High German wipera).

Use as symbol or mascotEdit

The wyvern (and its 'cousin' the four-legged dragon) is a frequent heraldic device on British coats of arms and flags, and a fairly popular commercial logo or mascot as well, especially in Wales and what was once the West Country Kingdom of Wessex, but also farther afield in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, as the rivers Wye and Severn run through Hereford and Worcester respectively. For example, a local school travel company is called Wyvern Schooltours Ltd and one of the local radio stations is called Wyvern FM.[5][6]Vauxhall Motors had a model in its range in the 1950s called the Wyvern. The Westland Wyvern was a British single-seat carrier-based multi-role strike aircraft built by Westland Aircraft that served in the 1950s, seeing active service in the 1956 Suez Crisis. [3][4]The Bayeux Tapestry of 1066 showing to the left side two wyvern banners of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, Harold Godwinson. The first (white) is fallen and the second (red, with white limbs) still held aloft a staffThe wyvern is a frequent mascot of athletic teams, colleges and universities, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States, and is the mascot of the Korean Baseball Organization team SK Wyverns, established in 2000. The Wyvern is the symbol of, or is used in the crest of, Wesley College, Dublin, Magdalene College, Cambridge, the Dragon School, Oxford, Woodbridge College in Woodbridge, Ontario, Kingswood School, Bath, Kingswood-Oxford School, Connecticut, and Kingswood College, South Africa. Wyverns appear as both supporters in the arms of Leyton Orient F.C., one of London's oldest professional football clubs. Similarly, a wyvern is the crest of Newington College in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and is the symbol of the Trinity Residents' Club in Perth, Western Australia. It is employed, too, by The LLVM Compiler Infrastructure and is also the background logo for BackTrack Linux.[7][8][9] A wyvern is also found on the crest of the Anglo-Chinese School which is located in Singapore and Jakarta.

A white (argent) wyvern formed the crest of the Borough of Leicester as recorded at the heraldic visitation of Leicestershire in 1619: A wyvern sans legs argent strewed with wounds gules, wings expanded ermine. The term sans legs may not imply that the wyvern was "without legs", rather that its legs are not depicted, being hidden or folded under.[10][11][12] This was adopted by the Midland Railway in 1845, when it became the crest of its unofficial coat of arms.[13] The company asserted that the "wyvern was the standard of the Kingdom of Mercia", and that it was "a quartering in the town arms of Leicester".[14][15][16][17] However, in 1897 the Railway Magazine noted that there appeared "to be no foundation that the wyvern was associated with the Kingdom of Mercia".[15]

The Kings of Aragon of the House of Barcelona since Peter IV used a wyvern as a crest on their helmets. Nowadays this symbol has been officially adopted as the coat of arms of the Generalitat Valenciana (Valencian Parliament and Government). Wyverns are also an important part of the mythological animals in many traditional local festivals of Catalonia.

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