Tall stories Heroes and villains from first to last;Discover myths;Discovery series

20th August 1999 at 01:00
2750 BC Earliest epic tales of Gilgamesh are told (though not in written form for another 300 years). Gilgamesh, a Sumerian king, was one of the first swash-buckling heroes, who laid waste opponents with gusto and ruled the city of Uruk for 126 years. He died eventually of old age.

753 Rome is founded by Romulus and Remus. They were supposedly the twin sons of the god Mars and raised by a she-wolf. Romulus murdered his brother and became the first ruler of Rome.

537AD The death of Arthur, or was it? King Arthur is supposed to have fallen in the battle of Camlann, after being betrayed by his own son, Mordred. Some say he never "died" but was taken instead to Avalon until Britain has need of his services once more.

550 First sighting of the Loch Ness monster, reputedly by St Columba.

c700 First tellings of Beowulf's epic struggles with the swamp- monster Grendal.

1933 The first of many photographs is taken of the Loch Ness monster. This picture is from 1977.

c1200 An Icelandic historian called Snorri Sturluson compiles the first collection of Norse myths. These place a great tree Yggdrasill at the centre of the world, the gods in Asgard and men in Midgard.

1350 First recorded mention of Robin Hood, who is supposed to have robbed the rich to feed the poor. A new theory suggests that he and Little John may have been more than just good friends and that the Merry Men were actually a group of shunned homosexuals.

1904 One of the first systematic attempts to log the myths of Australian Aborigines is made by A W Howitt. Many of these concern the travels of ancestors whose tracks are superimposed across the map of Australia.

1917 The photographs of the Cottingley fairies (famous at the time but later revealed as a fraud) are published.

1967 The first film of Bigfoot, the North American ape-like man, also known as Sasquatch.

1993 The first glimpse of the Beast of Bodmin, a puma-like creature which is supposed to savage livestock in the south west of England.

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