THERE WERE GIANTS IN THE EARTH IN THOSE DAYS
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
- Genesis 6:4
Skeletons Of Giants Are Still Being Discovered Today
By Michael T. Snyder, on November 24th, 2010. Michael is a former attorney who now publishes Mysteries Of The World.
Did you know that archaeologists sometimes find things that absolutely defy explanation? But because they don't fit into the "accepted version" of history they are not given coverage in the mainstream media. Before a story about "science" will show up in our news, scientists must at least have a "theory" about how it fits into the generally accepted worldview which is being pushed in our schools and on our televisions. There are, however, very "weird" discoveries that are being made all the time. For example, the "giant skeletons" that keep popping up all over the place are one of the greatest mysteries of the world. The photo on the left above is of bones from a "giant man" that was discovered near the city of Borjomi, Georgia (not the Georgia in the U.S.) in 1998 (the photo on the right is off a normal human skull). A Russian news report about this discovery estimated that the "giant man" was about 9 to 10 feet tall and that the skull was about 3 times the size of a normal human skull.
Steve Quayle recently posted these pictures to make a point.
The "accepted version of history" that we all have been taught just does not add up. There was a whole lot more going on in the ancient world than we were ever allowed to learn. There are great mysteries about our past that are just now starting to be revealed.
In his recent report, Quayle also mentions a number of other "giant skeleton" discoveries that have been made in Georgia over the last century....
The finding of giants in the Caucasus mountains is nothing new. A Four-meter human skeleton was found by two amateur archaeologist in Georgia near the village of Udabno in the summer of the year 2000, and skeletons of giants were also found at a cave near Gora Kazbek, Georgia in the 1920's, not to mention the discoveries by Soviet scientists in the 1950's.
As we have written about previously, there is abundant evidence of ancient giants all over the globe. But most people won't even allow themselves to consider the evidence because it is just "too bizarre".
For much more on all this, we would encourage you to check out the amazing research below that Steve Quayle has done on ancient giants.
Once you learn the truth, it quickly becomes clear that giants did once walk the earth.
Accounts of Giants in the United Kingdom
By his fifteenth year, a boy from Hurtfield in Sussex had already soared to a height of seven feet four inches. The "young Colossus" not only showed none of the clumsiness common to that age but had such command of his huge frame that he could perform well on the tight rope. In 1745, he came to London and soon won a large public following with his balancing acts. He became such a hit, in fact, that on June 3, 1745, his sponsors ran this ad in the Daily Advertiser. "Whatever is in itself good will always make its way, although not ushered into the world with pompous paragraphs or pageant-like puffs. As an example of this truth the undertakers of the New Wells, near the London Spaw, beg leave to assure the town, since thronging audiences have been pleased to encourage their endeavours, they intend to double their pains, and hope for a continuance of favour. The god of wine and deity of wit have long gone hand-in-hand, and to keep them both alive the best way is to blend them; therefore, for the reception of the curious, they have provided the best of both their productions; and, as varieties in nature are as pleasing as those of art, the greatest that can now be shown is every evening to be seen at the Wells, viz. a young Colossus, who, though not 16, is seven feet four inches high, has drawn more company this season than was ever known before, and must convince the world that the ancient race of Britons is not extinct, but that we may yet hope to see a race of giant-like heroes.
"The Wonderful Young Giant will perform on the rope this present Saturday at the New Wells, near the London Spaw, Clerken-well.
An African woman who exhibited at London's Bartholomew Fair in 1832 stood seven feet in height.
A girl who billed herself as "Miss Marion, the Queen of the Amazons," became a popular attraction in London in 1882. Though barely eighteen, she rose before her audiences at the Alhambra in Leicester Square to a height of eight feet six inches.
Some human bones dug up on an old Roman camp site near St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, just outside of London, were examined by W. Cheselden, a well-known anatomist. After measuring the skull, the femur, and the tibia, he concluded that the man stood about eight feet tall. Writing in the Philosophical Transactions for 1712, Cheselden noted that near the bones was found an urn inscribed with the name "Marcus Antoninus."
In 1903, Barnum and Bailey Circus added George Auger, an eight-foot-four-inch native of Wales, to its stable of curiosities. Billed as "The Cardiff Giant, positively the tallest man on earth," he immediately became one of America's most recognizable public figures, especially when he paraded down the nation's main streets in his frontiersman's clothes, high-heeled boots, and a plumed hat that made him appear nine feet tall.
After retiring from circus life, he wrote short stories and skits. One of his satirical pieces, "Jack the Giant Killer," played in vaudeville, with Auger in the starring role.
While serving as a blacksmith's apprentice to his father, Thomas Bell grew to seven feet and two inches. Like his father and his father's father before him, he only wanted to be a good blacksmith. But as word of his great height spread, many curious people came by to see him.
When this became disruptive to his father's business, young Bell decided to leave blacksmithing and cash in on his tallness. He thereafter toured England, exhibiting himself in the principal towns and at fairs. Billed as the "Cambridge Giant," he appeared in May, 1813, at the age of thirty-six, at the Hog in the Pound on Oxford Street. That same year his portrait was included in Kirby's Wonderful Museum, showing him dressed in a collegiate gown and knee-breeches.
While building a new road near Mold in Flintshire in 1833, workers came across a tumulus in which they found some bones and a skull of great size, along with a Lorica or golden vest. Most believed the bones to be the remains of the renowned giant Welsh warrior Benlli who lived at Mold (c. A.D. 500), and who was surnamed the "Giant of the Golden Vest."
The golden vest, of leather and inlaid with thin, fine gold of beautiful workmanship, is preserved in the British Museum.
Henry Blacker, styled "The British Giant," hailed from Cuckfield in Sussex. In 1751, at the age of twenty-seven, he came to London to launch his career as a touring giant. Because the pro-portions of his seven-foot-four-inch body were so exceptional, he gained a large following of admirers, including William, the tall Duke of Cumberland. That same year H. Carpenter made an engraving of Blacker, and some years later his full-length portrait was included in Caulfield's Remarkable Persons.
This promotion for one of Blacker's earlier appearances ran in the December 9, 1752, issue of the Daily Advertiser: "This is to acquaint the curious, that Mr. Blacker, the Modern Living Colossus, or Wonderful Giant, who has given universal satisfaction, is to be seen in a commodious room, in Half-Moon-court, joining to Ludgate. This phenomenon in nature hath already had the honour of being inspected by great numbers of the nobility and gentry, by many of the Royal Society, and several gentlemen and ladies, who are lovers of natural curiosities; who allow him to be of a stupendous height, and affirm him to be the best proportioned of his size they ever saw. He is to be seen by any number of persons, from nine in the morning till nine at night, without loss of time. Note. --Lost, last Tuesday night, between Norton Falgate and Ludgate, a boot. Whoever has found it, shall receive three shillings reward."
Boudicca, the Giant Queen
When some Roman centurions plundered the estate of Prasutagus, king of the Iceni, and raped his two daughters, his giant red-haired widow, Queen Boudicca, grabbed a spear and led an uprising against their Roman overlords that became the bloodiest inflicted upon the Latins during their long occupation of Britain. The rebel-lion also cost the Celts eighty thousand of their own people.
According to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, the Amazon-like queen was no beauty. "She was enormous of frame, terrifying of men, and with a rough, shrill voice," he writes. "A great mass of bright red hair fell down to her knees; she wore a huge twisted torque of gold, and a tunic of many colors, over which was a thick mantle held by a brooch. When she grasped a spear, it was to strike fear into all who observed her."
At nineteen, the English lass Susannah Boyd, of Scribe, near Seaford, measured seven feet and one inch and weighed about two hundred and sixty pounds, all of it remarkably well-proportioned.
In 1826, a showman named H. Lee took a young giantess under his wing for a tour of England. A handbill announcing this new attraction to the public proclaimed: "The British Phenomenon, Miss Hold, the Somersetshire Giantess, of Crewkherne, only 16 years of age, whose immense stature measures nearly seven feet, commanding a prepossessing figure beyond description, and must be seen to be believed. She is a striking instance of nature unassisted by art, and has proved a magnet of irresistible attraction to the wondering world. This is the first time she was ever exhibited in this town, and it is great to say, that she is the only giantess now travelling the United Kingdom. She is remarkably stout and well-proportioned, possessing a pleasing and interesting countenance, and is allowed by every visitor to be the Tallest Woman in the World!"
Jane Bunford (d. 1922), from Barley Green, England, extended upward a full seven feet seven inches. She grew her hair to a length of eight feet--very possibly the longest head of hair in all history.
Byrne, Charles (alias O'Brien)
In April of 1782, Charles Byrne came to London to see what fame and fortune his towering eight-foot-two-inch physique might bring him. He quickly attracted a lot of attention, as this glowing May 6, 1782, newspaper report bears out: "However striking a curiosity may be, there is generally some difficulty in engaging the attention of the public; but even this was not the case with the modern living Colossus, or wonderful Irish Giant; for no sooner was he arrived at an elegant apartment at the cane-shop, in Spring Garden-gate, next door to Cox's Museum, than the curious of all degrees resorted to see him, being sensible that a prodigy like this never made its appearance among us before: and the most penetrating have frankly declared, that neither the tongue of the most florid orator, or pen of the most ingenious writer, can sufficiently describe the elegance, symmetry, and proportion of this wonderful phenomenon in nature, and that all description must fall infinitely short of giving that satisfaction which may be obtained on a judicious inspection."
But fame and fortune enticed Byrne, or O'Brien, as he liked to be called, to drink to excess. The following newspaper item of April 23,1783, indicates he was on such a binge when a pickpocket stole all his savings: "The Irish Giant a few evenings since, taking a lunar ramble, was tempted to visit the Black Horse, a little public-house facing the King's-mew; and before he turned to his own apartments, found himself a less man than he had been the beginning of the evening, by the loss of upwards of 700l in bank notes, which had been taken out of his pocket."
Following this substantial loss, the huge Irishman lapsed into a fit of dark despair, which no amount of drink could dispel. In June, 1783, in his elegant apartment on Cockspurstreet, Byrne, one of England's most famous giants, died at the young age of twenty-two.
Fearing on his deathbed that the surgeons would try to get his body and dissect it, Byrne asked that he be buried at sea. His great fear of the surgeons was not unfounded, as this June 5, 1783, newspaper account confirms: "The whole tribe of surgeons put in a claim for the poor departed Irish Giant, and surrounded his house just as Greenland harpooners would an enormous whale. One of them has gone so far as to have a niche made for himself in the giant's coffin, in order to his being ready at hand, on the 'witching time of night, when church-yards yawn.'" In another newspaper that same day appeared this grim story: "Since the death of the Irish Giant, there have been more physical consultations held than ever were convened to keep Harry the Eight in existence. The object of these Esculapian deliberations is to get the poor departed giant into their possession; for which purpose they wander after his remains from place to place, and mutter more fee, faw, fums than ever were breathed by the whole gigantic race, when they attempted to scale heaven and dethrone Jupiter!"
"So anxious are the surgeons to have possession of the Irish giant," wrote another newsman on June 16, "that they have offered a ransom of 800 guineas to the undertakers. This sum being rejected they are determined to approach the churchyard by regular works, and terrier-like, unearth him!"
"body was shipped on board a vessel in the river last night in order to be conveyed to the Downs, where it is to be sunk in twenty fathom water: the body-hunters, however, are determined to pursue their valuable prey even in the profoundest depth of the aquatic regions; and having therefore provided a pair of diving bells, with which they flatter themselves they shall be able to weigh hulk gigantic from its watery grave!" The Annual Register for 1783 said it had reason "to believe that this [burial] report is merely a tub thr own out to a whale."
Tradition has it that the noted anatomist William Hunter acquired the body with a bribe of 500/. (or 800/., as another version tells it). A later published account claims the undertaker that Hunter bribed "arranged that while the escort was drinking at a certain stage on the march seaward, the coffin should be locked up in a barn. There, some men he had concealed speedily substituted an equivalent weight of paving-stones for the body, which was at night forwarded to Hunter and by him taken in his carriage to Earl's Court. To avoid risk of discovery, immediately after suitable division had been made he boiled it in his great kettle to obtain the bones."
Caesar's Triumph over the Giants
Marius' triumphs at Aquae Sextiae and on the plain of Vercellae proved a turning point in Rome's centuries-old struggle against the Celtic giants. Before this they had seemed virtually unbeatable. And the widely held conception of them as superhuman, plus the fear that their skulls might end up on some Celtic warrior's trophy shelf, caused many a Roman soldier to break out in goose bumps. But after Marius vanquished their biggest and their best, the mantle of invincibility fell from the Celts to the Romans. Some Gauls, aware that the times had changed, not only sought accommodation with the Latins, they even requested Rome's protection against some of their own wandering, expansion-minded tribes. These pleas for Rome's military help only hastened their downfall, however, for they opened the door to Caesar's subjugation of Gaul and his massacres of great numbers of their people.
"so strengthened Ariovistus that he treated the native population as subject peoples and dreamed of conquering all Gaul." About this same time also, some three hundred and sixty-eight thousand shivering Helvetii concluded that Switzerland, their recent home, was too cold for them. They therefore set out to seek a better place for themselves and their children on Gaul's much warmer Atlantic coast. Troubled by both these threats to their own lands, several Celtic clans, in 58 B.C., sent deputations to Caesar, begging the Roman proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul and Illyricum to turn back the Helvetii and expel Ariovistus.
"moved in succession against the Suessiones, Ambiani, Nervii, and Aduatici, conquered them, despoiled them, and sold the captives to the slave merchants of Italy." During the Gallic wars (58-51 B.C.), Caesar fought some thirty battles. During those bloody years, he destroyed, by Plutarch's estimates, eight hundred Celtic towns and villages, and killed, by his own count, nearly one million two hundred thousand men, women, and children.
"what sort of people lived there, and to get some idea of the terrain and the harbors and landing places" for his later invasion. After putting ashore, Caesar and his party came upon men who, according to Strabo, were "taller than the Celti, and not so yellow-haired, although their bodies are of looser build." These towering Belgae, who originally hailed from that part of Gaul located just south of modern Belgium, now controlled much of that great island. No one seems to know when they first crossed the English Channel, but, as Caesar later learned, they came ashore as raiders. While roaming the island, however, the giants saw it was a pleasant place to live, and, after plundering the natives, they decided to settle there. Able on account of their size and strength to do much as they pleased, they chose for themselves the coastal areas and became farmers. The aborigines, upon being dispossessed of the choicest land, retreated to the interior. By the time the Romans landed on England's shores, notes Caesar, the population of these robbers-turned-farmers had grown "extremely large." But on his quick exploratory trip, the proconsul caught them unprepared, easily put down what resistance they put up, then returned to Gaul to deal with yet another Celtic uprising there.
When Caesar crossed the channel the following year, intending this time to conquer the island, he ran into a fierce resistance. Having mustered a large force of Celts under his banner, Cassivellaunus, king of the dominant Catuvellauni tribe, fought the Roman invaders on the beaches. After three battles, all won by the much shorter legionnaires, the alliance Cassivellaunus had formed began to fall apart. Then, after some of the petty kings sent envoys to Caesar to sue for peace, Cassivellaunus himself also capitulated. The terms of surrender Caesar imposed upon the British Celts were fairly light. They only had to pledge their allegiance to Rome and pay an annual tax to the Roman government.
As lenient as Caesar's terms were, answering to a foreign government and paying it tribute never set well with the giants.
Even in defeat they remained proud, arrogant, defiant, unwilling to adapt themselves to the lowly role of a conquered people. So the time of unrest that followed became a permanent way of life. Over the next several years Rome managed to keep the high-strung Brits in check, but their ability to hold the troubled island always remained in doubt. Then Cassivellaunus died, and Cunobelin became king of the Catuvellauni. Cunobelin's strength and influence over the divided Celtic tribes kept the island just peaceful enough not to invite Roman intervention in its domestic affairs. But when Cunobelin also died, a struggle for supremacy broke out between two tribal leaders named Togodubnus and Caratacus. This struggle gave the Roman Emperor Claudius just the excuse he was looking for to invade the island and bring it completely under Roman control. Accordingly, in A.D. 43, he dispatched over twenty thousand legionnaires and a like number of those in lesser ranks across the English Channel. Learning of Claudius' intentions, Togodubnus and Caratacus met, quickly patched up their differences, then joined forces to oppose the legionnaires. After the Romans soundly defeated them, Britain became a Roman province and was thereafter ruled by Roman governors.
With many British giants refusing to knuckle under, however, the troubled island remained in or always near revolt. In 59, during the turmoil, Veranius, the emperor's legate, was slain. Nero then appointed Suetonius Paulinus as Britain's fourth governor. Despite determined Celtic resistance, he soon extended Roman control into north Wales, although Anglesey remained "a hotbed of Celtic fervor" and a chief stronghold of the Druids. Suetonius, whom Tacitus lauded as "a conscientious and modest legate," restored the peace, and the provinces under his rule gradually grew somewhat content. He had the misfortune, however, of having Catus Decianus as his procurator. Serving as the civil counterpart of the governor, Catus fit the role of a cruel administrator driven by greed. His villainous conduct toward the already agitated Celts naturally boded trouble for the governor and his tenuous peace.
On the heels of this action, writes Tacitus, Prasutagus' estate "was plundered by centurions, [and] his house by slaves, as if they were spoils of war." When his wife Boudicca protested, Roman legionnaires flogged her. They also raped her two princesses. Be-sides these grave offenses, "all the chief men of the Iceni.. . were stript of their ancestral possessions, and the king's relatives were made slaves." Seeing what things had happened to Prasutagus' kingdom and realizing the same fate could one day overtake them, the other Celtic nobles stirred themselves up to a revolt. Boudicca became the symbol for the Celtic nation to rally around, and "when this red-haired giantess took up her spear," declares Gerhard Herm, "the men hastened to arms."
"she was enormous of frame, terrifying of mien, and with a rough, shrill voice. A great mass of bright red hair fell down to her knees; she wore a huge twisted torque of gold, and a tunic of many colors, over which was a thick mantle held by a brooch. When she grasped a spear, it was to strike fear into all who observed her."
"The victorious enemy," relates Tacitus, then "met Petiolous Cerialis, commander of the ninth legion, as he was coming to the rescue, routed his troops, and destroyed all his infantry. . . . Alarmed by this disaster and by the fury of the province which he had goaded into war by his rapacity, the procurator Catus crossed over into Gaul." Encouraged by their success at Colchester, Boudicca's tall blond warriors next fell upon St. Albans in Hertfordshire and occupied it; then they marched on London and destroyed it. Driven by their pent-up rage, the British giants slaughtered seventy thousand Romans before Suetonius could put down the revolt. The Celts themselves suffered eighty thousand casualties, including the giantess Boudicca. Upon seeing her cause lost, she swallowed poison. Thus came to an end the bloodiest war inflicted upon the Romans during their occupation of Britain.
"Gradually the inhabitants of the island succumbed to pleasure and discovered a taste for colonnades, public baths, splendid banquets. In their want of experience, they mistook all of this for 'civilization, while in reality it only contributed to their greater subjection."
In his History of Somersetshire, Collinson relates that in 1670, while sinking a well in the parish of Wedmore, some workers found buried at a depth of thirteen feet the remains of one of the Cangick giants who, according to English tradition, formerly occupied these parts.
Bateman, in his Ten Years' Digging in Celtic and Saxon Grave-hills, mentions many instances where human thigh bones of an extraordinary size were found.
Being as prolific in Europe as they had been in Asia, Gomer's oversized children soon overspread a vast territory-from the lands east of the Rhine to the Atlantic and from the Baltic Sea to the coasts of Spain. They also inhabited Switzerland and some northern parts of Italy, especially around the Adriatic.
Gerhard Herm, his modern counterpart, agrees. He describes them as "blond giants" who struck terror in the hearts of every foe, even in the mightiest of mighty Rome, which they fought several ferocious wars with and which they once captured, sacked, and burnt to the ground. Of course, not all Celts were giants.The average-size ones probably towered no more than a foot above ordinary men. But their ranks also contained substantial numbers who rose to a gigantic stature. At the utmost divergence from the mean, some Celts even stood to a colossal height, perhaps as tall as or taller than the nine-foot-nine Goliath, or even Og, who required a bed over thirteen feet long.
Such behemoths, when they first put their ships ashore on Europe's seacoasts, no doubt startled the aborigines. Doing as they did in Asia and Asia Minor, the invading Celts first robbed these lesser mortals, then chased them off the best lands. As they multiplied and required even more territory, they crowded still others out. This fast-expanding nation, according to Strabo, eventually grew to some sixty different tribes-each with its own name. In Upper Asia, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor, these plunderers were known as the Gomarian Sacae. But once they settled in Europe, they decided to shed their derisive name, which means "robbers," and began calling themselves the Celtae (pronounced Kelti), which denotes "potent and valiant men." The Greeks, however, understood them to say Galatai, while their Roman neighbors heard their name as Galli. The aborigines of France, meanwhile, called them Gauls. These slightly different pronunciations of course caused different spellings, as the Celtic scholar Henri Hubert explains: "The word which was written down as Keltos in Spain and the neighbourhood of Marseilles sounded differently in the ears of the Greeks of the Balkan Peninsula, who wrote it down Galates. But it was the same name."
"potent and valiant men" continued to rob. But in their new land their new name, Celtae, better fit their appearance-which alone was enough to demoralize their enemies. Indeed, even the Romans, ordinarily a very brave people, came to dread the sight of them. Concerning their frightening look, historian Ammianus Marcellinus writes: "Nearly all the Gauls are of a lofty stature, fair and of ruddy complexion: terrible from the sternness of their eyes, very quarrelsome, and of great pride and insolence. A whole troop of foreigners would not be able to withstand a single Gaul if he called his wife to his assistance who is usually very strong and with blue eyes; least of all when she swells her neck and gnashes her teeth, and poising her huge white arms, proceeds to rain punches mingled with kicks, like shots discharged by the twisted cords of a catapult. The voices of most of them are formidable and threatening, alike when they are good-natured or angry. But all of them with equal care keep clean and neat, and in those districts, particularly in Aquitania, no man or woman can be seen, be they never so poor, in soiled and ragged clothing, as elsewhere."
"people of great stature and haughty disposition," but they offered the Greeks their friendship in ex-change for peace. After mutual pledges were given and received, he continues, "Alexander asked the Celtic envoys what they were most afraid of in this world, hoping that the power of his own name had got as far as their country, or even further, and that they would answer, 'You, my lord.' However, he was disappointed; for the Celts, who lived a long way off in country not easy to penetrate, and could see that Alexander's expedition was directed elsewhere, replied that their worst fear was that the sky might fall on their heads. None the less, he concluded an alliance of friendship with them and sent them home, merely remarking under his breath that the Celts thought too much of themselves."
"The Gauls are terrifying In aspect and their voices are deep and altogether harsh; when they meet together they converse with few words and in riddles, hinting darkly at things for the most part and using one word when they mean another; and they like to talk in superlatives, to the end that they may extol themselves and depreciate all other men." They are also "tall in stature, with rippling muscles, and white of skin, and their hair is blond, and not naturally so, but they also make it their practice by artificial means to increase the distinguishing color which nature has given it. For they are always washing their hair in lime-water, and they pull it back from the forehead to the top of the head and back to the nape of the neck, with the result that their appearance is like that of Satyrs and Pans, since the treatment of their hair makes it so heavy and coarse that it differs in no respect from the mane of horses."
Diodorus' account of the way "me" Celt? wore their hair agrees
"the king contending with two men of large stature, light complexion, scanty beard, and having a remarkable load of hair pendant from the side of the head." Besides the similarity in strange hair styles, the Celts and the Anakim both wore torque necklaces. Proof that the Anakim wore them as distinguishing emblems appears in their name. For from anaq, the Hebrew word for necklace or neckpiece, came the name Anakim, which means "People of the Necklace." That the tow-headed Celts also adorned their necks with a twisted strip of metal, usually gold or silver, is not only shown by the ancient historians but verified by many archaeological finds. The enemy of course always took note of the Celts' attention-getting neckpieces. And so did the Roman poet Virgil, in these memorable verses: "Golden is their hair, and golden their garb. They are resplendent in their striped cloaks, and their milk-white necks are circled with gold."
"Consequently, when they are eating, their moustache becomes entangled in the food, and when they are drinking, the beverage passes, as it were, through a kind of a strainer. . . . And it is their custom, even during the course of the meal, to seize upon any trivial matter as an occasion for keen disputation and then to challenge one another to single combat, without any regard for their lives. . . ,"
"The Gauls believe the power of the immortal gods can be appeased only if one human life is exchanged for another, and they have sacrifices of this kind regularly established by the community. Some of them have enormous images made of wickerwork, the limbs of which they fill with living men; these are set on fire and the men perish, enveloped in the flames. They believe that the gods prefer it if the people executed have been caught in the act of theft or armed robbery or some other crime, but when the supply of such victims runs out, they even go to the extent of sacrificing innocent men."
"they devote to death a human being and plunge a dagger into him in the region above the diaphragm, and when the stricken victim has fallen they read the future from the manner of his fall and from the twitching of his limbs, as well as from the gushing of the blood, having learned to place confidence in an ancient and long continued practice of observing such matters."
For armor they used long shields, as high as an ordinary man. But, as the Romans were much later to learn, not long enough to protect all of their exceptionally large bodies from well-aimed javelins and arrows, nor even the sword's thrust of much smaller men. On their heads these Titans wore bronze helmets embossed with large figures, sometimes with horns attached. Such headgear contributed much to their frightening look. Perhaps it was to these embossed helmets that Hubert referred when he said the Celts "alarmed the Italians by their resemblance to large, though magnificent, beasts."
"Although their wives are comely," remarks Diodorus, "they have very little to do with them, but rage with lust, in outlandish fashion, for the embraces of males. And the most astonishing thing of all is that they feel no concern for their proper dignity, but prostitute to others without a qualm the flower of their bodies; nor do they consider this a disgraceful thing to do, but rather when any-one of them is thus approached and refuses the favor offered him, this they consider an act of dishonor."
Such then were the blond Goliaths who lived beyond the Apennine Mountains, about whom the Romans knew almost nothing, but whom they would become well acquainted with during the next four centuries of devastating wars.
"Collection of Nature's Wonderful Works." He measured seven feet two inches.
Colbrand the Giant vs Sir Guy of Warwick
For his many feats of valor, the celebrated warrior Sir Guy of Warwick, a son of Siward, baron of Wallingford, became a legend in his own time. As it so often happens with legendary fellows, the many stories about his tenth-century wars in Lombardy, Germany, and Constantinople grew more and more fanciful with the passing years. The bulk of the legend, as it eventually came to be told, is obviously fiction. But, as some scholars point out, many of the stories contain kernels of truth. One of the accounts that they single out as factual is Sir Guy's famous battle with the feared Danish giant Colbrand.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica reports that after gaining much fame for his prowess in war, Sir Guy won the hand of Felicia, the daughter and heiress of Roalt, earl of Warwick. But soon after his marriage, he became stricken with remorse for the violent deeds in his past. To do penance for these, he left his wife to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
During Henry VIII's reign, William Hoggenson, yeoman of the buttery, became custodian of Sir Guy's sword and was given two-pence a day to look after it.
Shakespeare mentions Colbrand and/or Sir Guy in Henry VIII, act v, scene 3, and King John, act 1, scene 1.
"He was in mind an emperor, from whom he descended; in wit and stile so rare, to comprise in a few words, and that so clearly, such store of matter, as I scarce ever saw any to equal him, none to excel him. He was mighty of body, but very comely, and exceeded in strength all men of his age; for his own delight he had a dainty touch on the lute, and of such sweet harmony in his nature, as, if ever he offended any, were he never so poor, he was not friend with himself till he was friend with him again; he led a single life, and before his strength decayed, entered the gate of death."
Oliver Cromwell's porter Daniel measured seven feet six inches. In addition to his great stature, he became widely known as a clairvoyant. But he experienced spells of insanity, too, and spent many years in Bedlam, the famous British asylum. There, on Cromwell's orders, he was provided a room with a library and a secretary to take down his prophetic dictations.
Though some of his predictions did not pan out, some did-with astounding accuracy. For example, he declared that after Charles II would come to power and begin his reign a great comet would so brighten the nighttime sky that people would be able to read a newspaper by its light. In 1658, Cromwell died, and in 1660, Charles became the new ruler. In 1665, the great comet appeared. The noted Samuel Pepys, in a letter describing its brilliance to a friend, affirmed that it was so great "that night was as day."
Daniel also said that during Charles II’s reign a great plague would befall England, only to be followed by a rampaging fire that would leave London in ruins. In 1666, a devastating plague struck London and many surrounding towns and hamlets. In September that same year "The Great Fire" began in a wooden house in Pudding Lane and burned for three days, consuming over thirteen thousand homes, ninety churches, many hospitals and libraries and government buildings.
In his Derbyshire, Glover states that while digging the foundation for some buildings in the King's Head inn neighborhood in Derby, English workers uncovered a stone coffin containing a human skeleton of "prodigious size."
The Annual Register for 1790 informed its readers that in July of that year some workers in a peat bog at Donnadea, near the seat of Sir Fitzgerald Aylmer, uncovered at a depth of seventeen feet the sepulchre of an Irish chieftain. Inside the coffin they found an eight-foot-two-inch skeleton with a seven-foot spear at his side. The sepulchre, according to local tradition, was built after the introduction of Christianity into Ireland.
Following the custom of her times, Queen Elizabeth I also employed a giant as her porter. His height extended to seven feet six inches, but not much is known about him except that he came from the Low Countries. However, Zucchero painted his portrait in a Spanish costume. It hung for some years in the Hampton Court Palace.
Ewelm's Giant Bones
While digging in the chancel of the church of Ewelm, near the Duchess of Suffolk's tomb, in January, 1763, workers unearthed several human bones that once belonged to a giant, reports the Annual Register for that year.
In its August 1, 1732, issue, the Daily Post thought it worth a paragraph to let its readers know that "about the middle of July, an Irishman named Fitzgerald who was seven feet high and a lieutenant in the King of Prussia's Guards, came to London."
Both the Gentleman's Magazine, in November, 1757, and the Annual Register for the same year reported that while English workers were removing a ridge of limestone and rubbish in the lime quarries near Fullwell-hills, close to Durham, they unearthed a human skeleton nine feet six inches long with some teeth still in the skull.
In 1190, on orders of King Henry II, who had heard that the legendary King Arthur was buried there, workers began digging between two ancient, pyramid-shaped pillars located at Glastonbury, in Somerset. At a depth of seven feet they found a leaden cross which was engraved with this inscription: HIC JACET SEPULTUS INCLYTUS REX ARTURUS IN INSULA AVALLONIA ("Here lies buried the renowned King Arthur in the Isle of Avallon").
Excited over this find, the excavators doubled their efforts. At sixteen feet their shovels struck a large oaken tree trunk which had been hollowed out to serve as a coffin. Breaking the trunk coffin open, they found the skeleton of a man who once measured close to nine feet tall. Beside him lay the remains of a woman of average height, whom the excavators took to be Arthur's queen, Guinevere. About a century later the bones of the two were reinterred in the great church before the altar in the presence of King Edward I. "From that time," says the Encyclopaedia Britannica, "the Isle of Avalon has been identified with Glastonbury and romances connecting Arthur and Glastonbury are still being written."
But many later disputed the find, claiming that the burial place of Arthur, if in fact he ever existed, was not known, and that Glastonbury could not possibly be Avalon to which he supposedly retired "to cure his wounds" following his final battle. As one of their most telling arguments, the critics called attention to the fact that the leaden cross with the inscription was found nine feet above the coffin. This, they said, proved that it had been buried at a much later date than the coffin. So they labeled that part of the find an obvious fraud, and many even came to view the find itself with much suspicion.
But that a deep grave with a giant in it was uncovered at Glastonbury can hardly be disputed. On this we have the word of Giraldus Cambrensis. This respected historian personally examined the bones and the grave about four years after the discovery and pronounced it a genuine find. Then, in 1962-63, after doing some additional excavations at the grave site, Dr. Ralegh Radford, an archaeologist, "confirmed that a prominent personage had indeed been buried there at the period in question."
A doubter of the Arthurian legends, Cambrensis of course de-bunked the claim that the grave belonged to Arthur. Whose then was it? And who planted the lead cross with Arthur's name on it? Many think the exhumed couple were Celts, since they sometimes used hollowed-out oaks for coffins. As for the lead cross, some theorize that the monks at the nearby Benedictine Abbey, upon learning that King Henry planned to excavate the site, inscribed the emblem and buried it there-so that if an ancient grave was found it would be identified as Arthur's and would confirm their country of peat bogs and winding watercourses as the Isle of Avalon. The fame the Abbey would reap from this momentous discovery of the hero's tomb obviously would bring greater fortune their way-in the form of donations from the nobility to keep such a hallowed place up. The Encyclopaedia Britannica lends some support to this centuries-old theory. "The identification of Avalon with Glastonbury," it declares, "... is equally likely to have been an attempt by Glastonbury monks to exploit the prestige of the Arthurian legends for the benefit of their own community, just as later the popularity of the Grail legend led them to claim that Joseph of Arimathea had established himself at Glastonbury."
Harald, Giant Viking King
In the year 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson came to the throne of England, but his brother Tostig contested him. For this struggle Tostig enlisted the help of the giant Viking ruler Harald Sigurdsson, nicknamed Hardraada. Seeing an opportunity to make himself sovereign over a portion, if not all, of England, the seven-foot-plus Norwegian warrior-king sailed for the island nation with a battle fleet of two hundred ships. About this time, another Viking, William of Normandy, decided the kingdom should be his alone and launched a fleet of four hundred battle ships and one thousand support vessels.
But Harald and his Vikings reached England first. Sailing down the coast to Northumbria, they swarmed ashore at Riccall, joined forces with Tostig, and then set out to capture York. Harald easily defeated York's outmanned defenders just outside the city. Hoping to avoid useless bloodshed, Tostig persuaded those who remained in the garrison to surrender. During these negotiations, both parties agreed the victorious Vikings would take possession of the castle the next day. Returning to their ships, the Vikings celebrated. On the morrow Harald and his men started out for York to finalize the terms of its surrender. That September day began hot and sunny. So, according to one chronicle, "they left their mailshirts behind and went ashore with shields and helmets and spears and wore their swords and many had bows and arrows. They were very happy, with no thought of any attack, and when they were getting near the town they saw a great cloud of dust and under it bright shields and shining mail."
Tostig advised Harald to retreat to the ships. Harald, who had never been defeated in battle, refused. He deployed his forces at Stamford Bridge and waited for the forces of Harold Godwinson, King of England, to draw up. As the English arranged their battle lines, twenty of their armored knights rode forward. A like number from the Viking side advanced to meet them.
One of the English knights asked: "Where is Tostig in the host?"
"It is not to be concealed that you may find him here," Tostig replied.
The horseman then said: "Harald your brother sends you greeting, and the message that you shall have peace, and get Northumbria, and he will give you one-third of all his realm."
Tostig answered: "Then something else is offered than the enmity and disgrace of last winter; if this had been offered then, many who now are dead would be alive, and the realm of the King of England would stand more firm. Now if I accept these terms, what will my brother Harold offer to the King of Norway for his trouble?"
The smaller horseman carefully appraised the oversized, majestic-looking, auburn-haired, full-bearded, well-muscled Norwegian king, who looked down on him with one eyebrow raised slightly higher than the other. Then he replied: "He has said what he will grant King Harald Sigurdsson: it is a space of seven feet, or as much more as he may be taller than other men."
Tostig responded: "Go and tell my brother, King Harold, to prepare for battle. It shall not be said among Northmen that Tostig jarl left Harald, King of Norway, and went into the host of his foes when he made warfare in England; rather will we all resolve to die with honor, or win England with a victory."
As the English knights returned to their lines, Harald asked Tostig: "Who was that eloquent man?"
"It was my brother, Harold."
The Viking giant then advised Tostig that if he had known this Harold of England would now be a dead man.
"It is true, lord, that he acted incautiously, and I saw that it might have been as you said; but when he came to offer me peace and great power, I should have been his slayer if I had betrayed who he was. I acted thus because I will rather suffer death from my brother, than be his slayer, if I may choose."
After this the two sides joined in battle. With characteristic recklessness, the English charged the wall of Viking shields. Spears and swords on both sides soon reddened with gore. Finally the English were repulsed. The exultant Vikings broke their wall to pursue. Having on no coats of mail, however, the Northmen now became easy targets for the deadly accurate English archers. Seeing so many of his Vikings falling around him, King Harald went berserk. As the English commenced another head-on attack, he charged like an enraged Ajax in advance of his men. Fighting two-handed, he cut with wide sweeps of his sword a path through the English ranks. Inspired by such boldness, his men rallied. Now the English began to fall back. But just then an English arrow whizzed through the air and sank its shaft deep in the giant's unprotected throat.
"The remaining Norwegians," declares the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ' "were put to flight, while the English fiercely assailed their rear until some of them reached their ships; some were drowned, others burnt to death... ."
Harold of England had no time to celebrate his great triumph. On September 28,1066, William of Normandy landed near Pevensey in Sussex with his sixty-five thousand Viking warriors. With his depleted, battle-weary army, Harold rushed to meet him. A few days later, at the famous Battle of Hastings, an arrow struck Harold through his eye. As the blinded king wandered about the battlefield, the Normans hacked him to death.
Isle of Man Giants
Among the many megaliths on the Isle of Man is one called the Cloven Stones, located in the little village of Baldrine a few miles north of Douglas. In the Swarbreck Manuscript, written in 1815 and on exhibit at the museum in Douglas, there appears this statement concerning the Cloven Stones: "Mr Millburne informed us that about seven years since, he with two or three other miners opened the mount to a depth of five feet and discovered a human skull and some thigh bones, which from their uncommon size, must have belonged to a person of Gigantic stature." Also, according to Roy Norvill, the isle was home to the giant Arthur Caley, who grew to a height of eight feet two inches. Born in 1819, Caley and his six-foot-two wife lived for years at the Sulby Glen Hotel in the northern part of the island.
John of Gaunt
A suit of armor worn by seven-footer John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in the fourteenth century, was displayed many years in the Tower of London's armory, along with his sword and lance, which were also of enormous size.
Joyce, the Mighty Giant
The giant William Joyce was renown for his Herculean strength. On November 15, 1699, King William invited him to Kensington Palace to demonstrate to the court his extraordinary ability at lifting weight. When the king asked him how much he could lift, Joyce replied: "Above a tun weight." So King William ordered some servants to prepare a huge chunk of solid lead about that weight. This chunk, when placed on the scales, weighed fourteen pounds above a ton. As the king and his court gasped in wonder, Joyce lifted it off the ground. The superman then boasted to the king that his strongest horse could not move him. Taking up the challenge, William commanded that a thick rope be brought and tied around the giant's waist and then fastened to the horse. Even under the strokes of a whip the horse failed to budge Joyce. The mighty man then took the thick rope in his hands and broke it in two, "seemingly as easy as another man does a piece of pack-thread."
A few days before his audience with the king, Joyce astonished a large crowd at Hamstead by pulling a tree out of the ground by its roots. The roots measured near a yard and a half in circumference, while the tree itself was "modestly computed to weigh nearly 2,000 weight."
The twin Knipe brothers, each rising seven feet two inches in height, arrived in London in April, 1785, and issued the following handbill: "Irish Giants. The most surprising gigantic twin brothers are just arrived in this metropolis, and to be seen at the Silk-dyer's, No. 2 Spring-gardens, Charing Cross. These wonderful Irish giants are but twenty-four years of age, and measure very near eight feet high. These extraordinary young men have had the honour to be seen by the gentlemen of the faculty, Royal Society, and other admirers of natural curiosity, who allowed them to surpass any thing of the same kind ever offered to the public. Their address is singular and pleasing, their persons truly shaped and proportionate to their height, and affords an agreeable surprise: they excel the famous Maximilian Miller, born in 1674, shewn in London in 1733; and the late Swedish giant will scarce admit of a comparison. To enumerate every particular, would be too tedious; let it suffice to say, that they are beyond what is set forth in ancient or modern history. The ingenious and judicious who have honoured them with their company have bestowed on them the most lavish encomiums, and on their departure have express'd their approbation and satisfaction. In short the sight of them is more than the mind can conceive, the tongue express, or pencil delineate, and stands without a parallel in this or any other country."
Hector Boetius, in his History of Scotland, reports that the bones of a Scottish giant nicknamed "Little John," who stood fourteen feet high, were still to be seen in his day.
Edward Longmore, a seven-foot-six-inch giant who was known as the "Herefordshire Colossus" during his exhibition days, died in early February, 1777. To keep his body from falling into the hands of the surgeons, friends of Longmore dug his grave at Hendon fifteen feet deep and kept watch on it for several weeks. But the Morning Post in its March 30, 1777, issue reports that about six weeks after Longmore's interment and shortly after the watch was removed someone opened the grave-in the dead of the night, no doubt-and stole the giant's corpse.
Finn MacCool (Fionn mac Cumhail) is a semimythical character said to have been the greatest leader of the Fianna, the military elite of ancient Ireland responsible for guarding the High King. The Fianna were founded in 300 B.C. by the High King Fiachadh (fee-a-kuh). Until Finn MacCool implemented a code of honor among them, the Fianna were an unruly band. Finn challenged the Fianna to become champions of the people and to make of themselves models of chivalry and justice. Some argue that the tales of the Fianna are the basis of the legends of the Knights of the Round Table.
Who was Finn MacCool?
Finn's father, Cumhail, engages Urgriu (er-gru) in battle for the position of Chieftain of the Fianna. Cumhail is wounded and his attacker carries off his pouch of magical objects. Lacking his pouch, Cumhail is slain by a member of the Morna clan, who beheads him.
Slain, Cumhail leaves behind a pregnant wife, Muirne, who gives birth to a beautiful fair-haired boy. Fearing for her son's life at the hands of Clan Morna, she sends him to the forest to be raised by Bodhmal the Druidess and her sister, the warrior Liath Luachra. Reared by these strong, wise women and tutored by the Druid Finegas as well, Demne grew to become a fierce warrior skilled at weaponry and fighting as well as at the healing and magical arts. Unable to reveal his name lest clan Morna discover him, he becomes known as "Fionn", meaning "fair or fair-haired".
The druid Finegas catches the Salmon of Knowledge and gives it to him to cook. Finn burns himself while doing so and sucks his thumb, thus acquiring the gift of prophecy, which he uses to ensure his survival, bring peace to his homeland, and inspire the Fianna to greatness.
Fionn gains command of the Fianna by saving the life of the High King Cormac mac Airt, who much later promises his daughter Gráinne (grahn-ya) to him in gratitude for a lifetime of service. Gráinne, however, loves another man, with whom she flees. A large part of ballads and legends of Finn MacCool concern his sixteen-year pursuit of Gráinne and her lover. Eventually he makes peace with them; they set up house near Finn and have four sons and a daughter.
He has a series of adventures involving hunting, fighting, sorcery, love, and passion. Finn has many romances but it is with the goddess Sadb that he begets his famous son, Oisín (Ossian).
In one legend, he is the creator of the Giant's Causeway, a peculiar series of volcanic rock formations on the coast of Ireland. One day, Finn grows angry when he hears that a Scottish giant is mocking his fighting ability. He throws a rock across the Irish Sea to Scotland; the rock includes a challenge to the giant.
The Scottish giant quickly throws a message in a rock back to Finn, stating he can't take up the challenge because he can't swim to reach Ireland.
Finn doesn't let the Scottish giant off so easily. He tears down great pieces of volcanic rock that lay near the coast and stands the pieces upright, making them into pillars that form a causeway that sretches from Ireland to Scotland. The giant now has to accept the challenge. He comes to Finn's house. Finn, masquerading as a 18-foot baby, bites the Scottish giant's hand and then chases him back to Scotland, flinging huge lumps of earth after him. One of the large holes he creates fills with water and becomes Lough Neagh, the largest lake in Ireland. One large lump of earth misses the giant and falls into the Irish Sea; this lump is now known as the Isle of Man.
The Annual Register for 1760 reports that James MacDonald, who attained to a height of seven feet six inches, died at his home near Cork-at the great age of one hundred and seventeen years. Because it confined him too much, MacDonald in his early years abandoned his career as a touring giant for the more active life of a soldier. From 1685 to "the rebellion," he served as a Grenadier. After his return to Ireland in 1716, he worked as a day-laborer until just three years before his death.
Like Patrick Cotter O'Brien and Charles Byrne, alias O'Brien, Cornelius MacGrath's giant skeleton ended up as a public attraction.
In July, 1752, when he came to Cork to receive saltwater treatments to alleviate his growing pains, large crowds of curious people pressed around the young man, for he already stood about seven feet tall. While at Cork, some persuaded the lad from the County of Tipperary to show himself for pay. So he came to London to launch his career.
In the January 31, 1753, issue of the Daily Advertiser, his sponsors ran the following notice: "Just arrived in this city, from Ireland, the youth, mentioned lately in the newspapers, as the most extraordinary production in nature. He is allowed by the nobility and gentry, who daily resort to see him, to have the most stupendous and gigantic form (altho' a boy), and is the only representation in the world of the ancient and magnificent giants of that kingdom. He is seven feet three inches in height, without shoes. His wrist measures a quarter of a yard and an inch. He greatly surpasses Cajanus the Swede, in the just proportions of his limbs; and is the truest and best proportioned figure ever seen. He was sixteen years of age the 10th of last March and is to be seen at the Peacock, at Charing Cross, from eight in the morning, till ten at night."
MacGrath afterward traveled to Paris and then spent several years touring Europe's great cities. But in Flanders a deadly fever attacked him and forced him to return, in failing health, to his native Ireland where he soon after died. Though he had befriended the students at nearby Trinity College, where he would playfully pick up a small-sized student named Hare and hold him at arm's length, they on the day of the giant's wake stole his body. After dissecting him, they preserved his skeleton, now seven feet eight inches long, as a college showpiece.'
In the Philosophical Transactions for 1698, Dr. William Musgrave issued the following report on the Irish giant Edmund Malone:
"The measure of some of the parts of this Irish-man, nineteen years of age, shown at Oxford, were communicated to me by Dr. Plot. He was seven feet six inches high, his finger six inches and three quarters long, the length of his span fourteen inches, of his cubit (the distance from the elbow to the finger-tips) two feet two inches, of his arm three feet two inches and a quarter, from the shoulder to the crown of his head eleven inches and three-quarters."
Earlier, in 1684, the giant appeared before the Court of Charles II. The amazed king walked under his outstretched arm, an event that Malone mentioned thereafter in his handbills, as in the following: "The Gyant; or the Miracle of Nature. Being that so much admired young man, aged nineteen years last June, 1684. Born in Ireland, of such a prodigious height and bigness, and every way proportionable, the like hath not been seen since the memory of man: he hath been several times shown at court, and his majesty was pleased to walk under his arm, and he is grown very much since, he now reaches ten foot and a half, fathoms near eight foot, spans fifteen inches; and is believed to be as big as one of the giants in Guildhall. He is to be seen at the sign of the Catherine Wheell in Southwark fair. Vivat Rex."
McAskill, Angus "Big Boy"
More than a century after his death, Nova Scotians still tell stories about the mighty Scottish giant Angus McAskill. After so many tellings, some of the stories no doubt have become somewhat stretched. But others, even some that seem at first outlandish, have been verified by credible witnesses.
Also, The Canadian Encyclopedia reports that the giant "is known to have possessed prodigious strength and reputedly could lift 635 litre barrels and beams as long as 18 meters." And in her Two Remarkable Giants, biographer Phyllis R. Blakeley recounts that he once "jogged down the street with a 300 pound barrel of pork under each arm to the admiring whistles of bystanders."
"set a forty foot mast into a schooner as easily as a farmer sets a fence post in a hole."
"Big Boy," (or "Gille Mor"), and that nickname stuck with him all his life. "As the boy kept growing and growing," writes Blakeley, "his father raised the roof and lifted the ceilings of the kitchen and living room, but as he did not raise the door Angus had to stoop to enter."
ANGUS McASKILL, Cape Breton's famous giant, became a legend in his own time for his great feats of strength.
Angus McAskill eventually reached a height of seven feet nine inches, with shoulders that measured forty-four inches broad and hands a foot long with palms eight inches wide. He weighed over four hundred pounds. By all accounts, the deep-blue-eyed giant with black, curly hair was likable, and had a "pleasant manner," but he could get riled up. For example, as a teenager, he once accompanied the crew of a fishing schooner to a dance in North Sydney barefoot. As he sat watching, a show-off danced by with his girlfriend and stepped-deliberately, it seems-on Big Boy's unprotected toes. This occurred a second time, to the laughter of bystanders. But when it happened yet a third time, young Angus sprang out of his chair with a swift uppercut that propelled his tormentor through the air and landed him some distance out on the dance floor. The fellow remained there so still for so long that many feared he would die. The most concerned, it appears, was Angus himself. For, upon returning to the schooner, the captain of the crew reported he found the lad on his knees, fervently praying that the one rendered unconscious by the blow of his big fist might recover.
became a familiar sight. He was on such a fishing trip in 1849, when the captain of a Yankee schooner spotted the towering young man at Neil's Harbour and sought to become his agent. After several meetings, the captain persuaded Angus and his family that fame and fortune awaited him in the outside world. For the next four years, he toured Lower Canada, the United States, the West Indies, Cuba, Newfoundland, and apparently England.
James D. Gillis says in his book, The Cape Breton Giant, that Britain's Queen Victoria summoned McAskill to Windsor Castle to see for herself if stories of his astonishing height and amazing strength were true. Almon later disputed this audience before the queen because he could find no record of it. But Duncan McAskill, another of Angus' brothers, told Gillis that he indeed appeared before the queen and afterward received from her the gift of a highland costume.
When his tour ended in 1853, McAskill returned to Cape Breton and bought a large grist mill at Munro's Point and opened a shop at Englishtown. He did well, but ten years later he suddenly took ill and soon after died from what his doctor called "brain fever." On his gravestone appears this inscription:
Erected to the memory of Angus McAskill
The Nova Scotia Giant
Who died August 8, 1863
Aged 38 years
A dutiful son, a kind brother,
just in all his dealings,
Universally respected by all his
acquaintance, "Mark the perfect man,
and behold the upright".
But after years of neglect this stone fell and in time grass and earth covered it. Many years later the provincial government authorities decided to replace the lost stone of their famous son with what could be remembered of his original epitaph. Later, however, some graveyard workers uncovered the original stone. It can be seen today at the Giant McAskill and Highland Pioneers' Museum located on the grounds of the Gaelic College of Celtic Arts and Crafts overlooking St. Ann's Harbor. Among other exhibits at the museum are Angus' eight-foot bed, his great chair, and some of his clothing. And there also, from a large mural on the wall, Cape Breton's mighty giant, dressed in his highland costume, solemnly gazes down upon the museum's visitors.
M'Donald, Big Sam
Samuel M'Donald, of Lairg, in Sutherlandshire, who some claimed grew nearly eight feet high, served as a private in the Sutherland Fencibles in the latter years of the American Revolution. Later, after he became a fugleman with the Royals, he so impressed the Prince of Wales (afterward King George IV) that he was made lodge-porter at Carlton House. Big Sam, as he was commonly called, apparently did not take to this kind of life. So, after two years, he resigned and reenlisted with the Sutherland Fencibles with the rank of sergeant.
In his Edinburgh Portraits, Kay writes that while Big Sam was in London some tried to persuade him to show himself for money. He declined to do so under his own name, but he agreed to dress up as a female and advertise himself as a "remarkably tall woman." He drew remarkably large crowds and soon became flush with money. Suspicious of his new spending power, Sam's colonel called him in for questioning and learned of the giant's profitable moonlighting.
Born in 1578 in the chapelry of Hale just southwest of Manchester, John Middleton grew almost tall enough to look Goliath straight in the eye. He was also endowed with extraordinary strength -a trademark of the true giant.
In 1620, Sir Gilbert Ireland, the sheriff of Lancashire, got the giant all dressed up and took him to London to meet King James I. On his return home, the fancy-dressed Middleton had his portrait painted. It is preserved in the library of Brasenose College at Oxord.
"John Middleton, commonly called 'The Childe of Hale', whose hand from the carpus to the end of the middle finger was seventeen inches long, his palm eight inches and a half broad, and his whole height nine foot three inches, wanting but six inches of the height of Goliath, if that in Brasenose College Library (drawn at length, as 'tis said, in his just proportions) be a true piece of him."74
Middleton, who died at the age of 45, was buried in the Hale churchyard. On the twelve-foot-long stone covering his grave appears this epitaph:
THE BODIE OF JOHN MIDDLETON THE CHILDE.
On December 6, 1856, the Mayo Constitution carried this obituary: "One of the last of the mythical line of Irish giants, in the person of Shawn Nabontree, died at Connemara, Ireland, on Friday last. He owed his sobriquet to his unusual stature, being a man of extraordinary athletic symmetry-namely, seven feet in height, and weighing over twenty stone [280 pounds]. His family, the Joyces, has been for many years one of the wonders of Connemara. He died at the age of seventy, and has left four stalwart sons."
In December, 1848, Robert Hales, son of a respected Somerton farmer, sailed into New York for a two-year American tour. Billed as the "Norfolk Giant," he rose to a height of seven feet six inches, weighed four hundred an sixty pounds, had shoulders thirty-six inches broad, measured sixty-two inches around his chest, and sixty-four around his waist. On his return to England, he was commanded to appear before Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and six of the royal children at Buckingham Palace. He later bought and operated the Craven Head Tavern in Drury Lane.
O'Brien, Patrick Cotter
A fascination with giants extends to all ages and all peoples. In some earlier centuries, Europe's interest in these huge creatures really perked up, particularly among the upper classes and the nobility. In fact, so many of the curious became so willing to pay money to see them that a kind of tour was established for the giants. Some of them made a lot of money. One who cashed in really big on his great size was Patrick Cotter O'Brien, a native of Kinsale, in the kingdom of Ireland.
Because he stood exceedingly tall, was proportionally large, and had a flair for showmanship, the popular Irishman was able to establish one of the longest runs on the tour. As a result, he became one of the most famous of the modern giants and one of the richest. He also became a frequent subject of newspaper and magazine stories. Even one of his bets made the news when a reporter, in the year 1800, informed his readers: "O'Brien, the Irish giant, yesterday returned to town, performed some days ago an uncommon feat of gallantry. For a wager of 10£ he kissed, en passant, a young lady at a garret window." And on October 19, 1786, a newspaper informed its readers of the giant's nuptials, as follows: "O'Brien, who last winter exhibited his person in St. James's-street, was lately married at Pancras Church, to a young woman, of the name of Cave, who lived in Bolton-row, Piccadilly."
PATRICK COTTER O'BRIEN, as seen by artist A. Van Assen in this engraving made in 1804 at the height of the Irish giant's popularity.
When these touring giants came to town, they advertised their availability to the public in a format similar to the following: "Just arrived in town, and to be seen in a commodious room, at No. 11 Haymarket, nearly opposite the Opera House, the celebrated Irish giant, Mr. O'Brien, of the kingdom of Ireland, indisputably the tallest man ever shewn. He is a lineal descendant of the old puissant King Brien Boreau, and has in person and appearance all the similitude of that great and grand potentate. It is remarkable of this family, that however various the revolutions in point and fortune and alliance, the lineal descendants thereof have been favoured by Providence with the original size and stature which have been so peculiar to their family. The gentleman alluded to measures near nine feet high. Admittance, one shilling."
The gentleman, in the name of showmanship, of course, stretched his actual height a few inches. According to a memorial tablet placed in the vestibule of the Roman Catholic chapel on Trenchard-street in Bristol, the famous Irish giant measured only eight feet three inches.
O'Brien's great size sometimes placed him in humorous situations. In an article published in the Mirror for 1826, his hairdresser, who lived at Northampton, noted that the giant was a man of mild disposition, but he recalled when "an impertinent visitant excited his choler one day, during his residence here [at Northampton], by illiberal allusions to the land of his birth. The Philistine was sensible of the insult, seized the prig by the collar, held him out at arm's length, and gave him three or four mild agitations."
Another time, O'Brien was riding in his coach, which was about to be robbed. Because of his huge frame, his carriage maker had adapted the coach to his better use. By sinking the foundation some feet, the maker found a way to accommodate his long legs without changing the carriage's appearance very much. So when the highwayman rode out into the road and stopped the coach he expected nothing out of the ordinary. But as O'Brien put "his head forward to observe the cause that impeded his progress, the highwayman was struck with such a panic, that he clapped spurs to his horse and made a precipitate retreat."
After retiring from the tour, a very rich O'Brien continued to ride about in the handsome carriage that had been fitted for his special use.
O'Brien's Scottish Rival
In his lifetime, Patrick Cotter O'Brien probably met only one man he had to look up to. The story of that encounter appeared in the Mirror for 1830, as follows: "Most English persons who visit Scotland as strangers are struck with the stature and proportions of the generality of its inhabitants, male and female; and those of our readers conversant with Edinburgh pleasantry will probably acknowledge both the justice and keenness of the satire which terms a certain pera, near a certain fashionable square, the 'Giant's Causeway.' However, we did not know till lately that Scotland had produced a rival to the celebrated O'Brien, of Irish birth. When that extraordinary man was, some years since, exhibiting, amongst other places, at Yarmouth, a Scotch gentleman of good family and large fortune, who was passing through the town at the time, sent a note to him, stating his height, and requesting an interview, quite privately, with O'Brien, as he did not and could not make of himself a public exhibition. They met the same evening at the hotel where O'Brien lodged; and upon measuring, the Scotch gentleman's height was found to exceed that of his brother giant of Erin by half an inch."
In 1817, the Leixlip churchyard yielded to diggers the skeleton of a man not less than ten feet high. According to local tradition, the giant Phelim O'Tool was buried in that same churchyard some thirteen hundred years earlier.
After Walter Parsons became an apprentice to a smith, he soon grew to such a stature-he eventually stood about seven and a half feet tall-that his employer was "forced to digg a hole in the ground for him to stand in up to his knees, when he struck at the anvil... or sawed wood with another, that he might be at a level with his fellow-workman."
That unusual scene the Earl of Buckingham came upon one day when his horse pulled up lame as he rode through Staffordshire. While watching the young giant work, it struck the earl that he would make an excellent bodyguard for King James I. So he offered him the job as the king's porter on the spot.
After becoming porter to James, Parsons "behaved himself so generously," says Dr. Robert Plot, "that though he had valor equal to his strength, yet he scorned to take advantage to injure any person by it; upon which account we have but few experiments left us of his great strength, but such as were sportive: as that being affronted by a man of ordinary stature, as he walked London streets, he only took him up by the waistband of his breeches, and hung him upon one of the hooks in the shambles, to be ridicul'd by the people, and so went his way."
By the time the Cornish giant Antony Payne reached his twenty-first birthday he already stood seven feet two inches. After his father, a tenant farmer at Stratton, "attached" him to the house of Sir Beville Granville of Stowe, his landlord, Tony grew two more inches. For all his size and bulk, the witty Payne showed no signs of clumsiness, but awed everyone with his dexterity and very quick reflexes. They also say he had the brains to match the brawn that had thrust him into the role of a mighty man.
A story frequently told about Tony illustrates his great strength. One chilly Christmas Eve, they say, someone at the house sent a boy into the woods with an ass to gather some logs for the fire. The youngster however tarried. When he failed to return by a reasonable time, Payne entered the woods to search for him. Finding the lad, the giant-to save time returning home-loaded the log-laden ass on his back and then he and the boy went merrily on their way.
When war erupted between Parliament and King Charles I in 1642, Sir Beville joined his forces on the side of the king, and Payne, also a Royalist, became his bodyguard. One day news reached his master that a Parliamentary battalion led by Lord Stamford was approaching the town. A picked company, with Payne at their head, marched out to fight them. This battle ended with the Royalists as clear victors and Stamford's forces in retreat. As the enemy's dead lay strewn over the battlefield, Payne set his men to digging trenches large enough to hold ten bodies each. When this work was finished, they began burying the dead. Nine corpses of the enemy soldiers soon lay side by side in the first trench. Some men with shovels waited as Payne approached with the tenth. As he neared the trench, the man that was supposed dead spoke. Or rather he pleaded: "Surely you wouldn't bury me, Mr. Payne, before I am dead?"
Effortlessly toting the limp body in the crook of his huge arm, Payne replied: "I tell thee, man, our trench was dug for ten, and there's nine in already; you must take your place."
"But I be not dead, I say," the man begged earnestly. "I haven't done living yet. Be massyful, Mr. Payne; don't ye hurry a poor fellow into the earth before his time."
"I won't hurry thee," Payne answered, "I mean to put thee down quietly and cover thee up, and then thee canst die at thy leisure."
Of course, the good-natured Payne was just having some fun with his frightened foe. After the burials, he carried the wounded man to his own cottage and cared for him.
After the Restoration, King Charles II appointed Sir Seville's son John as governor of Plymouth Garrison, and Payne became Sir John's halberdier. The king took a great liking for the friendly Cornish giant and commissioned Sir Godfrey Kneller to paint his portrait. This painting, which Kneller titled the "Loyal Giant," can be seen today in the Royal Institute of Cornwall Art Gallery. A reproduction of it also appears as the frontispiece to Gilbert's History of Cornwall, Vol. H.
After he reached retirement age, Payne returned to his native Stratton to live out his days. Upon his death, the locals found that they were unable to get the oversized corpse through the doorway and down the stairs. To solve the problem, they sawed through the joists, and the floor bearing the giant's body was then lowered with ropes and pulleys to ground level. Relays of strong pallbearers then bore the enormous coffin to his grave site near Stratton Church.
In his Short History of Human Prodigies, Dwarfs, etc., James Paris du Plessis mentions that while in London in 1696 he saw a handsome, well-proportioned "giantess who was seven feet high without her shoes, who was born in the Isle of Portrush, not far from the wonderful Causeway in the most northern part of Ireland."
In 1701, he saw her again at Montpellier in Languedoc, France, exhibiting herself at a fair. "I not knowing she was the same I had seen five years before in London, and though I was something disguised by wearing a periwig, she remembered me very well and told me where she had seen me."
Pritchard on Irish Giants
In his History of Mankind, Dr. Pritchard writes: "In Ireland men of uncommon stature are often seen, and even a gigantic form and stature occur there much more frequently than in this island: yet all the British isles derived their stock of inhabitants from the same sources. We can hardly avoid the conclusion that there must be some peculiarity in Ireland which gives rise to these phenomena."
In 1687, while digging into some hillocks at Repton in Derby-shire, Thomas Walker came across an old stone wall enclosure that contained a stone coffin with a skeleton nine feet long. A century later, because of renewed interest in Walker's find, the "ancient sepulchre was again opened... when bones of a very gigantic size, appertaining to numerous skeletons, were discovered, together with some remains of warlike instruments."
St. Bees' Giant
A giant warrior, found buried in his armor in a corn field at St. Bees, in Cumberland, once rose to a height of thirteen and a half feet.
A Mrs. Cooke, of Merriott in Somersetshire, billed as "the tallest, largest, and strongest woman in the world," proved a crowd-pleaser in the early 1800s. A remarkably stout woman, she looked down on her many admirers from a height of almost seven feet. On April 15, 1818, she exhibited at the Earl of Yarmouth's in Seymour-place, May-fair, where the Prince Regent, the Duke and Duchess of York, the Duke and Duchess of Cumberland, and several other members of the royal family, plus about one hundred of the nobility, came to see her.
In his Every-Doy Book, Hone records that on September 5, 1825, he visited Bartholomew Fair where he saw a young woman who styled herself as "The Somerset Girl, taller than any man in England." When her audience entered, writes Hone, the lass "arose from a chair, wherein she was seated, to the height of six feet nine inches and three quarters, with 'Ladies and gentlemen, your most obedient.' She was good-looking and affable, and obliged the 'ladies and gentlemen' by taking off her tight-fitting slipper and handing it round. It was of such dimension, that the largest man present could have put his booted foot into it. She said that her name was Elizabeth Stock, and that she was only sixteen years old."
James Toller, of St. Neot's, Huntingdonshire, England, finally stopped growing at the height of eight feet six inches. He first exhibited in London in 1815, and appeared before the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia. In the following year he was shown at number 34 Piccadilly, and in 1817, he posed for his portrait, which later appeared in Kirby's Wonderful Museum.
Toller, however, died young. A poet of that time eulogized the popular giant in these few rhymes:
To see him hundreds day by day did throng,
As he from place to place did pass along;
His 'bode uncertain, for to think 'tis vain,
One place so tall a wonder to contain. His whole proportion was upright and straight,
'Twas eight foot fully and a half in height,
Not much in debt to age, his body clean,
Up to his stature, and not fat, nor lean.
While working in a new tin mine at Tregoney-on-Fal, in Cornwall, reports the Annual Register for 1761, a miner discovered a stone coffin on which some unrecognizable characters were inscribed. Inside the ancient eleven-foot-three-inch casket he saw the gigantic skeleton of a man, which, when exposed to the air, crumbled to dust-except for one tooth, which measured two and one-half inches in length.
While digging in some ground to enlarge the vault of the Evelyn family in the churchyard of Wotton, near Dorking in Surrey, during the reign of Charles U, workers found a human skeleton which measured nine feet three inches long.
The Gentleman's Magazine for December, 1765, and the Annual Register for the same year informed their readers that in York, England, lived a set of giant twins, a boy and girl, who though not yet seventeen years in age still stood to heights of seven feet three inches and seven feet two inches respectively.