Seen usually as an animal of good fortune, it was believed that by placing a child who suffered with whooping cough on the back of a bear a cure was effected for this distressing illness in North America. Another belief was held that any cattle about to calve would lose the young if there was any disturbance in the area, disturbance occurred by bears breeding. The local people believed that bears breed once every seven years and as a result any strange events were attributed to the animal.
The bear was once a native creature of the British Isles, and the name ‘Arthur’, King of Britain is derived from ‘arth’ meaning bear. ‘Arthur’s Wain’ is another name often used for the star constellation of the Great Bear or the Plough.
The Gaelic ‘art an neart’ is a term that describes a hero’s qualities as ‘a bear in vigour’.