Cornish Folktales: The Witch of Treva

The following is a modified version of a Cornish folktale called The Witch of Treva from Popular Romances of the West of England  by Robert Hunt  revised and edited by zteve t evans

There was once a an old woman who was deeply skilled in the arts of necromancy and lived in a tiny hamlet called Treva in Cornwall.  She could make powerful, spells, incantations and charms and people in the neighborhood were terrified of her.

Nevertheless, although the local people held her in fear and awe her husband remained singularly unimpressed by her witchery and refused to believe in such things.  Instead he was more concerned about the housekeeping and the cooking especially when he came home from work when he would demand his dinner the instant he came in.

One day after a hard day’s work he came home looking forward to a good dinner which he expected to be cooked and ready, on the table for him to tuck into as soon as he walked through the door.  Imagine his shock and annoyance when he discovered there was no dinner.  In fact there was no meat, no vegetables or potatoes or any other kind of food in the house at all.

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Cruel Coppinger the Cornish Smuggler

First Published on the #FolkloreThursday, web site, February 17th, 2016 under the title: Cornish Smugglers:  The Notorious Cruel Coppinger

Cruel Coppinger

One of the most extraordinary and fearsome figures in Cornish folklore and legend was Cruel Coppinger.  He is thought by many to have been a real person who attained semi-legendary status from his brutal, criminal behaviour and leadership of a ruthless band of smugglers and pirates.

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Pixabay – Image by natureworks – CC0 Public Domain

Shipwreck

According to Cornish legend Coppinger was himself a victim of a shipwreck by a massive storm wrecked his ship off the Cornish coast. As was the practice the local people gathered at the shore to see what they could claim when the storm died down. They watched the doomed vessel sinking and the lightning flashes revealed the dark figure of a huge man leaping from the ship and striding through the wild waves to the shore.  On reaching the shore he grabbed the cloak from an old woman, roughly shoving her to the floor and then leapt on the back of a horse a young woman had ridden down to the shore.  With her still sat on the horse and him behind her shouting furiously in some unknown language, the terrified steed fled and naturally made its way to its home with them both on its back.

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Cornish Folklore: The Legendary Tom Bawcock of Mousehole

Cornish Folklore: The Legendary Tom Bawcock of Mousehole

The sea and the rugged Cornish coastline dotted with fishing villages and harbors is a fertile breeding ground of many legends and traditions.  For many of the Cornish folk living around the coast, the sea provided them with a means to make a living by fishing.  As well as selling their catch for small profits it was the basic ingredient of their diet.  To catch the fish they needed suitable weather so their livelihoods were inextricably linked to the sea and the weather.

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Georges Jean-Marie Haquette (1854 – 1906) – Public Domain

Stormy Weather

Tom Bawcock was a legendary fisherman in the 16th century who lived in the Cornish fishing village of Mousehole. Like many other local people, he made his living from fishing the seas around Cornwall.  According to legend during one wintertime the area was afflicted by a series of storms and bad weather which prevented the local fishermen from putting out to sea.  This is said to have happened around Christmas time and the fishing boats remained stationary in the harbor. This bad weather continued over a prolonged period and the local people could not catch the fish that consisted of their main diet and began to starve.

Brave Tom Bawcock

According to local folklore this state of affairs continued for some time and by the 23rd of December with the village people in dire straights, one man decided something had to be done.  Tom Bawcock decided he would chance the weather and take his boat out to try and make a catch. Bravely he took his fishing boat out in the most appalling of weather and horrendous seas but good fortune was with him.  He managed to drop his nets and haul in a huge catch of fish.  When he returned he found he had several different kinds of fish all mixed together.

baked_stargazy_pieBy KristaBaked stargazy pieCC BY 2.0

Stargazy Pie

These were all placed together in one big pie with egg and potatoes providing enough to feed the entire village.  They called the dish stargazy pie.   In this dish, some of the fish heads are deliberately placed to poke through the pastry as if looking at the stars and the tails protrude as well so that it looks like the fish are leaping in and out as they would in water.  Placing them this way is also said to let the fish oils run back into the pie improving the taste and nutritional value.

Tom Bawcock’s Eve

Naturally, the villagers were delighted and Tom became their hero. A festival has been held on 23rd December which became known as Tom Bawcock’s Eve ever since in the village of Mousehole. During the evening of the 23rd, a huge stargazy pie is the centerpiece of a parade through Mousehole accompanied by villagers carrying lanterns and the pie is then eaten.  But even the Cornish weather can affect this and sometimes the lantern parade is postponed if the weather is particularly bad.

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The lantern parade for Tom Bawcock’s Eve – Public Domain

There was once an older festival held in the village during the end of December which also featured a fish pie made with several varieties of seafood and it may be that Tom Bawcock’s Eve has evolved from that. Over the years the festival has grown and since 1963 the famous Christmas festive illuminations of Mousehole are included adding extra color and sparkle.

The origin of Tom Bawcock

There are alternative theories as to how the festival originated.  One proposed by a nautical archaeologist, Robert Morton Nance (1873–1959) an authority in his time on the Cornish language and one of the founders of the Old Cornish Society put forward the idea that the name Bowcock  was derived from the French Beau Coq. He thought the festival was from an era that pre-dated Christianity and thought the cock in pagan times was the bringer of light or the sun in the morning with its crowing.

Another explanation is that the name Bawcock in Middle English is a nickname for someone who is regarded as a good fellow and Tom a generic name used to describe any man.  So Tom Bawcock would mean any good fellow and perhaps, in this case, any good fellow, who was brave enough to risk his life to feed the village.  It could have been a kind of Harvest Festival celebration in honor of any or all of the village’s brave fishermen if read like this.

The Devil in a Pie!

There is a tradition that the Devil never went to Cornwall.  According to Robert Hunt, after the Old Nick crossed the River Tamar he noticed the Cornish people liked to put everything in pies.  Not fancying his chances he decided to hightail it back  before they decided to place him in one!

References, Attributions and Further Information

Copyright zteve t evans

 

Gwendolen: Legendary Queen of the Britons

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Artist – Edward Burne-Jones

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the legendary Gwendolen, became the first queen regnant, reigning over the Britons in her own right.    The Historia Regum Britanniae (History of Britain) by Geoffrey of Monmouth, tells how Gwendolen is betrayed and humiliated by her husband, King Locrinus, the legendary ruler of Loegria.    His public rejection and humiliation of her in favor of his lover, Estrildis, spurred Gwendolen to take swift and dramatic action. Although Geoffrey’s work was accepted as fact up to the 17th century, today it is largely dismissed as a historical record by historians. Nevertheless, it still has its fascinations and many think he was influenced by older myths and legends. This work introduces the main characters of her story and tells how betrayal and rejection motivated her into wreaking a terrible but calculated revenge on those who had wronged her and put the future peace and stability of Britain at risk.

Locrinus, son of Brutus of Troy

King Locrinus was the eldest son of Brutus of Troy, the legendary founder and the first king of Britain.  Brutus was the descendant of Aeneas, the Trojan commander, who survived the fall of Troy and after escaping went on to found the Aeneads, who were said by Virgil to be the progenitors of the Romans.  It is this hereditary link with Troy and Rome that supposedly provides the ancient authority to rule for the descendants of Brutus and supposedly elevates the historical status of Britain and its rulers in medieval and later times.

Gwendolen, daughter of Corineus

Gwendolen was the daughter of the legendary Corineus, the first ruler of Cornwall, a companion and commander to Brutus of Troy.  Corineus was a towering figure at the time, a mighty warrior and highly respected for his military skill and bravery.  He was commander of his own band of followers who had joined up with Brutus and his army to conquer and settle Britain.   Corineus had killed Gogmagog, the last King of the race of Giants that had ruled Britain before the arrival of the Trojans in a fight to the death.

The death of Brutus

When Brutus died his kingdom fragmented  and was divided into three parts with his three sons, Locrinus,  Albanactus, and Kamber inheriting a share each. The kingdom of Locrinus was known as Loegria which was roughly equivalent to England.  Albanactus ruled Albania ,or Albany, which was roughly equivalent to Scotland and Kamber ruled Cambria or Kambria which was roughly equivalent with Wales.  Corineus still ruled Cornwall which Brutus had given him as his own in reward for help in subduing Britain.

Locrinus inherits Loegria

When Brutus died and Locrinus his eldest son, became ruler of Loegria, Corineus was still alive and as ruler of Cornwall was still a much respected and powerful ruler.  Locrinus now ruled over a powerful kingdom so a marriage with Gwendolen would have made a great deal of political sense for both him and Corineus.  There were still many enemies in the world so an alliance with the powerful Corineus would have been highly desirable and Locrinus made a pact with Corineus to marry his daughter.

One of those enemies were the Norsemen led by Humber the Hun who attacked Albany killing Albanactus in battle and forcing his people to retreat.  Locrinus and Kamber joined forces and met Humber in battle near one of the main  rivers of Britain defeating him.  umber was said to have drowned in the battle in the river which was named the River Humber after him.

After the battle Locrinus captured Humber’s ships and as well as a good deal of treasure found  Estrildis, the daughter of a German king who was being held hostage.  Locrinus  fell in love with her and set her free, but he was betrothed to Gwendolen the daughter of the powerful Corineus who he did not want to upset.

Corinius was not happy that Locrinus had fallen in love with the German princess and made his feelings known in no uncertain terms.  Rather than risk upsetting him  Locrinus married Gwendolen despite his love for Estrildis.  Wanting the best of both worlds he took Estrildis as his mistress, but secretly kept her hidden in a cave below Trinovantum, now London, the city Brutus built as his capital.  There she remained for seven years. She was looked after by her servants and gave birth to his daughter, Habren and stayed there until Corineus died.  

Gwendolen’s revenge

With the death of Corineus, Locrinus promptly divorced Gwendolen and married Estrildis. This proved to be a costly mistake and the old adage of hell knowing no fury like a woman scorned, rang true for him.   Gwendolen, being the daughter of the great warrior Corineus took swift and decisive action.

She returned to Cornwall where the people were still loyal to her and her family and raised an army which she led against Locrinus.  Not only had she inherited her father’s courage but also his decisiveness and skill in war.  The two armies met at the River Stour which in those days was the boundary between Loegria and Cornwall.  Gwendolen was victorious defeating Locrinus who was killed by an arrow. This made her the undisputed ruler and queen of both Loegria and Cornwall, becoming the most powerful ruler in Britain at the time.

She wasted no time in disposing of Elstrildis and Habren having them both drowned in a river which by Gwendolen’s decree was named after Habren.  Habren was also known as Hafren who became the eponym of the river. The latinized form was Sabrina which became Severn and was possibly influenced by earlier gods or spirits and sometimes she was known as Sabre and the river became known as the Severn.

The River Severn was named after Habren, not Elstrida, to emphasize and make known that a heir and potential rival to the British kingdom had been killed just as the River Humber was named after the Hun leader to emphasize his death and the ascendancy  of the British rulers to any potential outside challenge.  Elstrida did not get a river or place named after and was deliberately allowed to die in ignominy.  The killing of  Estrildis and Habren was more than just the revenge of a woman scorned.  It was also a political act that strengthened her power and that of her son by Locrinus,  Maddan, and when she abdicated the throne of Loegria went to him.

The attack on the country by Humber the Hun had been a typical invasion by men at arms who fought to control the land and the people.  The danger from Estrildis was more passive but potentially dangerous and subversive to the ruling order of Britain at the time and in the future.  The infatuation of Locrinus with a foreign princess threatened the future line of Brutus to the undisputed kingship of Britain.  Any possibility of a foreign heir to the throne potentially threatened the stability of Britain with the possibility of further invasions from Germanic rulers who may have believed they had a claim to Britain.

If Habren married outside of the British ruling community then an outsider is brought into future equations about who rules Britain.  With them out of the way Gwendolen reduces considerably the potential for foreign interference in the ruling elite of Britain.  Although other invaders did come after her time her action brought peace and stability during her reign and the reign of her successor.  She ruled her realm wisely and peacefully for 15 years and then abdicated. Her son by Maddan, by Locrinus, became king and she retired to Cornwall.

Legacy of Gwendolen

Gwendolen’s decisive action against Locrinus demonstrated the potential power and influence that women could wield.  It especially demonstrated how her gender was not a disadvantage to her use of power which she used to her advantage and to the benefit of those she ruled.  She was prepared to go to the extreme lengths of war and violence when she believed it necessary to protect her own realm acting and leading with decisiveness, wisdom, courage and military skill and foresight.

© 05/07/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright July 5th, 2016 zteve t evans

Cormoran, the Giant of St Michael’s Mount

St. Michael’s Mount is a tidal island that lies just in Mount’s Bay, off the coast of Cornwall and  a short distance from the town of Marazion.  At high tide it becomes an island and when the tide goes out it can be reached from Marazion by a short stroll across a stone causeway.   Looking very much like the scene from a fairy tale the mount rises up out of Mount’s Bay and is crowned with a castle.  Below the castle lies a cluster of houses and a small harbour where the causeway runs from Marazion connecting it to the Cornish mainland.

 
Many centuries ago Mount’s Bay was above water and  once home to a forest that.  It is not known exactly what happened but the forest is now under the sea. Whether the land sank or the sea rose is not known, but this land is said to have been drowned by the sea in an event that was possibly similar to a tsunami. The petrified remains of the trees  can sometimes still be seen after storms.

Cormoran the giant

Many years before the flood the forest was said to be the home of birds, animals and probably humans.  But there was also giants and the biggest of all was Cormoran and there are many tales concerning him and many versions of the same tale but in Cornish folklore it is Cormoran, with the help of his wife who built the Mount with the name “St Michael’s” added later from a different legend.

 
In the middle of the forest was one huge white rock and one day while roaming the forest Cormoran came across it and taking a liking to the place decided to built a high hill of white rocks and to make it his home.  His idea was to look out from the heights of the hill over the countryside keeping an eye on what was going on all around.

Building the Mount

It was a mammoth task he had set himself but he knew just what he wanted and he cut, shaped and sorted the slabs of granite using only the white.  Those that had a tinge of green, grey or pink he rejected.  Cormoran had a wife by the name of Cormelian who was a very conscientious and hard working giantess. Now Cormoran was a lazy fellow and he made poor Cormelian carry all the blocks of granite from the quarry to the site while he put his feet up and went to sleep.

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Pixabay – By Efraimstochter – CC0 Public Domain

Cormelian helps

Now Cormelian worked at the task conscientiously putting each slab of white granite in her apron, carrying it to the site and putting it in place.  She soon found it to be very hard work and began thinking that the slabs of green, grey or pink granite would look much prettier than just white.   They were easier for her to get to and not so far to carry and she was beginning to get tired and bored with carrying slabs while her husband snored and slept.  She grew increasingly frustrated and resentful and the work was taking days and days. One day while Cormoran snored she picked up a huge green slab and placing it in her apron and carried it to the growing mound of stones as quickly as she could lest he should wake.   Just as she was about to put the stone in place Cormoran opened one eye saw what she was doing.

 
He was furious with her but instead of raging and shouting crept up behind her and struck her such a blow on the back of her head that she staggered. Her apron string broke and the huge green slab fell to the ground.  There it remains in that exact same spot today and no human could ever move it.  The sea rose or the land sank and the area became inundated with the sea and is how we find it today on the beach.

Cormoran and the Lord of Pengersick

Cormoran had a very hideous appearance.  As well as being very ugly he only had one eye and that was situated in the middle of his forehead.  He had a large mouth with a few yellow, broken teeth left, but most were now gone.   His hideous appearance and sheer size made the local people terrified of him.  He was also the most habitual thief taking whatever he wanted from anyone.

 
All the local people and farmers were frightened of him and he knew it and used to his advantage. When he was hungry he would stride the short distance from the Mount to the mainland and steal the best sheep, pigs and cattle, throwing them over his shoulder and striding home to enjoy eating them. The local farmers suffered sorely from this thievery but were helpless to prevent it.

 
Now it came to pass that one day Cormoran met his match, well more than his match.  The estate of the Lord of Pengersick lay nearby and it was well known that his lordship was away in foreign lands in the east. Cormoran would take advantage of this raiding the estate for the best sheep, pigs and cattle in all of Cornwall. One day Cormoran thought he would raid his lordships livestock so setting out from the Mount he strode across to Pengersick Cove which was the nearest and quickest way to the estate.

 
In the past Cormoran had stolen a great deal of livestock from Pengersick and had no fear of any confrontation with the local people or the lord.   His sheer size and hideous appearance had always frightened them off and he laughed at the thought of it. He feared no human.  He had no time for any of them only had respect for giants like himself, but especially the giant of Trecrobben Hill who was his friend.

 
Now it just so happened that the Lord of Pengersick had returned from his travels in the eastern lands where he was said to have learned much of the ancient arts of magic and sorcery. It is told that by the use of these arts he knew Cormoran was coming and was ready for him.   His servants had told him about the giant’s thieving and his lordship resolved to teach him a lesson.

 
So Cormoran waded ashore thinking he would quickly snaffle a sheep or a cow for an easy meal and stride home to enjoy his ill gotten fayre. Now as he stepped ashore a funny thing happened to him that had never happened before.  He began to feel really queasy in the stomach and his head went all funny inside and he felt confused and bewildered.  He thought perhaps the strong sun had affected him but others say it was the Lord of Pengersick who through magic arts was watching his every move and had thrown a spell on him, but Cormoran had no inkling of this.  All Cormoran knew was he felt decidedly peculiar and unwell but things were about to get very strange indeed.

 
Forcing himself to keep his mind on his goal of stealing his dinner he decided to catch one of his lordship’s cattle that were peacefully grazing nearby.  Still feeling decidedly wobbly he crept up to one and tried to grasp it round the neck.  To his surprise the cow was as slippery as an eel and he began floundering around trying to grasp it but it kept slipping out of his grip.

 
Cormoran was now feeling really woozy and very confused and bewildered.  He began losing his temper and gave up trying to catch the cow.  Instead out of desperation and spite he grabbed its calf, which although also slippery, was smaller and he managed to master it.  Tying its legs together he threw it around his neck and and tried to hurry home to the Mount for a good dinner.

 
He was still feeling strange and funny in his head but as he staggered home he noticed something else strange that was happening.  For his long legs the distance back to his home was not great and he usually managed it with ease but now something was happening he could not explain.   No matter how fast he tried to walk, or how long he made his strides he did not seem to be getting very far.

 
Looking around him the countryside appeared different and peculiar, but he could not say why, or was even sure of where he was.   He was becoming exhausted and seemed to have got nowhere but at last he saw Pengersick Cove, but in the sea was a great black rock which he could not ever remember seeing before.  Confused and bewildered he thought he must have taken a wrong path and he tried to turn around and go back the way he came.

 

To his shock and growing horror he found he could not turn around and could not even walk backwards.  he found himself being dragged towards the black rock by some invisible force.  He laid down and dug his heels in the ground but the rock still dragged him towards it closer and closer.  Soon the invisible force had dragged him near enough for him to stretch his arms out thinking to hold himself from the rock, but he found his hands were now stuck fast to it.  No matter how hard he tugged and pulled and twisted he could not free his hands from the rock.  He was stuck fast and now he was panicking.

 

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Pixabay – By LoggaWiggler – CC0 Public Domain

To make matters worse the calf he was carrying around his neck was also panicking kicking him and bellowing and soon he was covered in cuts and bruises but his hands were stuck to the rock and could do nothing to free the calf or fend it off.  Soon he could feel himself turning cold.  His hands on the stone started to stiffen followed by his arms and his back and then his legs. Soon all his body felt as rigid and as solid as stone, but all the while his senses grew keener enhancing his fear.  Fear gripped him as he thought he would now become petrified solid.

 
It is said the Lord of Pengersick with his magic arts saw all this and was well pleased with the spell he had put on Cormoran and decided to leave him there till the next morning to teach him not to go thieving his livestock.   So Cormoran was left to stand as still and rigid and cold as stone in the bay with the calf kicking and bellowing until morning. The tide came in and the water rose up to his neck and he feared he would drown but he did not and then the tide went out again.

 
In the morning Cormoran was still well and truly stuck to the stone and could not pull or twist his hands free.  The Lord of Pengersick, thinking he would teach him another lesson arrived on his horse and began berating Cormoran and gave him a severe tongue lashing making the giant quake.  However his lordship was not finished with Cormoran and dismounting from his horse gave the giant a severe thrashing with his stick.

 
So severely and so viciously was Cormoran beaten that he screamed and writhed in agony.  He struggling so hard that he pulled the skin from his hands to get free from the rock that had held him and ran into the sea striding rapidly through the waves to his home on St Michael’s Mount.  There he nursed his hands in misery for many a day until they healed.  Never again did Cormoran steal livestock from his lordship’s land though he still raided the other farms in the area.

 
Cormoran’s hands eventually healed up but during that time he made the life of his poor wife, Cormelian, a proper misery.  As well as having sore hands and bruises and weals across his back, his pride had been hurt from the lesson the Lord of Pengersick had given him. He was mortified about what the other giants would think and poor Cormelian had to endure his bad temper for many a day to her dismay.

The death of Cormelian

Now Cormelian was a very kind and good-natured giantess and was always working hard looking after the home and her grumpy, bad-tempered husband.  It was thanks to her that the worst of his bad behaviour was curbed. Her one weakness was her excessive inquisitiveness.   She was not really nosy and she never did anyone any harm, but her curiosity always seemed to get the better of her and this was to prove tragic.

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Pixabay – By goldfaun – CC0 Public Domain

 
Cormoran  was great friends with the Trecrobben Hill giant on the mainland and they would borrow things and lend things of each other as is the way with good friends.  Now when one of them wanted to borrow something they would shout across to each other and one would simply throw the other what was required, which would sail for miles high in the air for the other to catch.

 
Cormoran wore hobnailed boots on his great big feet and one day he could feel a nail sticking in his foot.   He shouted across to his friend to throw him his cobbling-hammer.  His friend duly obliged  and lobbed the hammer high in the air.

 
Cormelian was busy working in the house and hearing Cormoran shouting ran out in her inquisitiveness to see what was happening.  Running out from the dark house into bright sunshine her eyes were dazzled. Although Cormoran shouted a warning she did not see the hammer coming and it struck her full on top of her head killing her instantly.  She fell down in front of Cormoran who let out a great howl and the giant of Trecrobben Hill raced down to see what had happened.

 
The two giants wept and hugged each other and hugged and shook poor Cormelian trying to bring her back to life but she was as dead as stone.  They wailed and cried so much that they caused a gale that wrecked two ships upon the sea and blew the roofs of many of the houses in Marazion but all to no avail and all that was left to do was bury her.

 
Now although Cormoran was a grumpy old giant and very often mistreated Cormelian he loved her in his own way and was never the same after he lost her.  His friend from Trecrobben Hill was also devastated as he had never intended anyone should get hurt let alone killed.  Together the two giants buried Cormelian, but where the grave may be is not known for sure. Some say it was on the Mount in the courtyard, others say the two of them lifted up Chapel Rock and laid her to rest underneath, but others say they gave her to the sea.

Jack the Giant killer

Cormoran met his own death some years later at the hands of a local lad who came to specialize in killing giants and became known as Jack the Giant-Killer.   After the death of his wife Cormoran had no one to rein him in and although he avoided the Lord of Pengersick’s livestock he raided all the other farms in the locality all the more.  One day the local farmers became so annoyed with him they convened a meeting in Penzance to discuss what they should do.

 
After a great deal of arguing and talking an idea was proposed that they all accepted mainly because none could think of anything better.  Over the years Cormoran had accumulated a great deal of treasure that he had stolen from the neighbourhood. It was proposed that anyone who could get rid of Cormoran for ever would be given this considerable treasure trove as a reward.   Although no one believed anyone would be foolhardy enough to fight the giant, or strong enough to defeat him.  Certainly none of them were brave enough to try.   Nevertheless they put out advertisements searching for such a person but no one seemed interested or had the courage to try.

 
Eventually just as they were giving up on the idea to their surprise and amusement a simple farmer’s boy by the name of Jack volunteered to have a go.  Although no one had faith that he could accomplish the task they were desperate so they agreed and he took up the challenge.

 
That night Jack took a small boat and paddled over to the Mount while Cormoran was asleep.  Working fast but quietly he dug a deep pit on the path the giant used everyday that ran down from his home.  As dawn broke he stood outside the giant’s door and blew three loud notes on his horn.  Waking with a start, Cormoran rushed outside to see what all the commotion was.  As soon as he steps out the door Jack starts shouting at him and taunts him.  Furious Cormoran chases Jack down the path, but the rising sun dazzles him and he does not see the pit Jack had dug.

 
Jack, knowing where the pit is leaps over it as Cormoran is about to grab him and the giant blinded by the sun falls into it to his surprise.  Turning quickly Jack drives his pickaxe into the skull of the giant killing him instantly and that was the end of Cormoran the Giant of St Michael’s Mount. But for every ending there is a beginning.  Jack claims his reward and that is how he began his career as the famous giant-killer.

 

Return of the giants

 

These days there are no more giants in or around Mount’s Bay though tales of them remain.  Perhaps one day the water will recede from the bay and the forest will return and giants will again live in it and on the Mount, but I don’t suppose the local farmers would be very pleased!

© 24/01/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright 24/01/2016 zteve t evans

 

 

Jack the Giant-killer versus Cormoran the Giant!

Cormoran the Giant has many legends associated with him but he is probably best known as the giant who some say, with the aid of his wife, Cormelian, created the tidal island of St Michael’s Mount which lies a few hundred yards off off the coast of Cornwall, near the town of Marazion. He is said to have built the island by carrying blocks of white granite across the sea from the mainland. Cormelian was said to have helped by carrying the granite blocks in her apron.

Public Domain

From here he would wade across the short stretch of sea to the Cornish mainland to steal the sheep and cattle of the local farmers. In one version of the legend Cormorant grew weary carrying the blocks and took a rest falling asleep. His wife carried on working but decided to fetch green stones instead of white granite because they were nearer. Cormoran woke when she was halfway across. Seeing she was bringing different blocks of stone he grew angry and kicked her. This caused her to let go of her hold on her apron which allowed the stoned to fall into the sea forming Chapel Rock.  Read more Continue reading

The Cornish folktale of Jan Tregeagle

Jan Tregeagle is a name that is known all over Cornwall. In Cornish folklore he is considered the wickedest man that ever lived. His cries and wails can be heard when the wind howls through the trees and woods, across the bleak, cold moors and along the rugged coasts as he struggles to complete the task allotted to him. Like the Wandering Jew who is doomed to an eternity of endless, restless wandering, Tregeagle must work to complete hopeless tasks until Judgement Day when he will be brought before the Almighty for for release, or endless condemnation as the Lord shall see fit.

The Faustian Pact

Around the world there are many legends and stories from diverse cultures that tell the story of how a person sells their soul to the devil in return for riches, power or long life. To begin with things go well as the seller reaps the benefits of the Faustian pact. However, the devil does not forget and there comes a time when he has to be paid. The story of how of Jan Tregeagle, a Cornishman, sold his soul to the devil is one such story. As is often the case with legends there are a number of different versions that vary by location and who is telling the story and this version is influenced by others. Even so the Faustian theme of a person selling their soul to the devil and the reluctance of the seller to honor the bargain when the time comes remains, as well as the setting of a series of impossible tasks to keep that person on earth until the Judgement Day. Many people think Jan Tregeagle was a real man who was a magistrate who may have lived and worked in 17th century Cornish town of Bodmin. By evil means, including cheating an orphan from their rightful inheritance, he had acquired great wealth and to help him fulfill his desire for riches he made a pact with the devil.  Read more