Giants in History, Myth, and Legend (Part 4)


●  Brennus
About 387 B.C., the Celtic chieftain Brennus led three hundred thousand Senone giants across the Apennines. Swarming into northern Italy, these hordes ravaged Etruscan towns and the surrounding country as they went. This invasion soon led to a war between the giants and Rome, after a Roman embassy blundered while trying to negotiate a peace between the Etruscans and the Senones. It was Brennus who later reddened the faces of the Romans with a humiliating insult. While weighing out a bushel of gold as a ransom payment to the Senones for their withdrawal, the Romans started an argument over the scales the Senones were using. Thereupon, Brennus threw the weight of his great sword on the scales, with this warning: “Woe to the vanquished!” 

●  Calabria’s Colossus
The Journal Litteraire of the Abbé Nazari reports that the skeleton of a huge giant exhumed in Calabria, Italy, measured “eighteen Roman feet.” The fellow’s teeth, adds the journal, weighed at least an ounce each.


●  The remains of an enormous 6ft. 6in. warrior who fought more than 2,000 years ago have been found in Kazakhstan. Archaeologists believe he was well-built, heavily armed, and revered by people who buried him with his weapons. Historians say this may lead them to re-examine the origins of the region’s people.


●  Laotian mythical giants were known as Yaksa.


●  At Agadir in Morocco, reports Peter Kolosimo, the French Captain Lafanechere “discovered a complete arsenal of hunting weapons including five hundred double-edged axes weighing seventeen and a half pounds, which were twenty times as heavy as would be convenient for modern man. To handle the axe at all one would need to have hands of a size appropriate to a giant with a stature of at least 13 feet.”


●  Dutch Giant
In 1837, a young giant left the service of the King of the Netherlands and exhibited himself for money at Parma. He reportedly stood eight feet ten and three-quarters inches, and weighed four hun-dred and one pounds.28

Norse Giants

            Giants play an integral role in the lore of the Norse gods.

●  Angr-boda, Asvid, Aurboda, Aurvandil, Baugi, Beli, Bergelmir, Bestla, Bolthorn, Bolverk, Börr, Brimer, Buri, Byleist, Eggther, Farbauti, Fjolvar, Gang, Geirrod, Gerdh, Gilling, Gjalp, Grid, Gunnlauth, Gymir, Hela, Helblindi, Hlebard, Hrauthung, Hreidmar, Hrimthurs, Hrod, Hrungnir, Hrym, Hymir, Hyndla, Hyrrokin, Ide, Jarnsaxa, Jötunn, Laufey, Leirbrimir, Logi, Mistblindi, Norfe, Odin, Orvandil, Skadi, Surt, Suttung, Thiassi, Thrym, Thurs, Tjatsi, Trivaldi, Trym, Utgarda-Loki, Vafthruthnir, 

●  The Dovre Giant
“Dovregubben”, is an idiosyncratic and somewhat oversized troll. He is supposed to live in a cave inside Mount Dovre.

Nova Scotia 

●  Angus McAskill, “Big Boy”
Angus McAskill Cape Breton’s famous giant, became a legend in his own time for his great feats of strength. Cape Breton historian Albert Almon writes that John McAskill himself confirmed that some taunting French sailors once bet his older brother he could not lift an anchor weighing well over a ton. Gripping the anchor, Angus McAskill not only raised it to his shoulder but walked a piece down the wharf with it.64 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.” 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.”  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. 


●  Assam Giant
A human skeleton measuring eleven feet was found some years ago at Tura in Assam, near the border of East Pakistan, reports Peter Kolosimo


●  Magellan in the year 1519
“When they had crossed the line, and the South pole appeared above the horizon, they held on their south course, and came upon the Main of Brasil, about that part of it which lies in twenty two degrees. They observed it to be all one continued tract of land, higher from the Cape St. Augustine, which is in this part of the country. Having made two degrees and an half more South latitude, they fell in with a country inhabited by a wild sort of people: They were of a prodigious stature, fierce and barbarous, made a horrible roaring noise, more like bulls than human creatures; and yet with all that mighty bulk were so nimble and light of foot that none of the Spaniards or Portuguese could over take them.”

●  In an account of the voyage of Sir Francis Drake
“In sailing forth from the river of Plate, in latitude 36 S. they came to a good bay, in which were several pretty islands; the admiral being on shore in one of these islands, the people came dancing and leaping about him, and were very free to trade; they were a comely strong-bodied people, very swift of foot, and of a brisk lively constitution; their faces were panted, and their apparel only a covering of the skins of beasts, with the fur on, about their waists, and something wreathed about their heads; they had bows an ell (an “ell” equals 2 1/2 feet) long, but no more than two arrows a piece: They seemed not altogether ignorant of marital discipline, as appeared by their method of ordering and ranging their men. They were the nation which Magellan called Patagons.”

●   In an account of a voyage round the world, by Sir Thomas Cavendish
“Sailing from Cape Frio, in the Brasils, they fell in upon the coast of America, in 47 d. 20 m. North (it should be South) latitude. They proceeded to Port Desire, in latitude 50. Here the Savages wounded two of the company with their arrows, which are made of cane, headed with flints. A wild and rude sort of creatures they were; and, as it seemed, of a gigantic race, the measure of one of their feet being 18 inches in length, which, reckoning by the usual proportion, will give about 7 feet and an half for their stature.” Harris says that this agrees very exactly with the account given of them by Magellan, but in his epitome of Magellan’s account he says that the head of one of his middle sized men reached but to the Patagonian’s waist; which, supposing Magellan’s man to be but 5 feet 6 inches high, will make the Patagonian 9 at least. He says, indeed, that Magellan gave them the name of Patagons, because their stature was five cubits, or seven feet six, but, if so, his own account is inconsistent with itself, neither has he told us in what language Patagon expresses this stature.

●  Oliver Noort
The first Dutchman to attempt a voyage round the world, between the years 1598 and 1601, gives the account of the inhabitants of these parts “He went up the river at Port Desire, and going on shore, found beasts like stags and buffaloes, also some savages, who, he says, were tall portly men, painted and armed with short bows and arrows, that were headed with stone.”

●  Sebald de Weert
Another Dutchman, failed to the Streights of Magellan in the year 1598, and in his account are the following particulars. He detached two sloops to an island near the mouth of the Streights, to catch sea dogs. When these sloops came near the shore, they perceived seven canoes, with Savages on board, that were ten or eleven feet high, of a reddish colour, and with long hair. They are farther described as being naked, except one who had a sea dogs skin about his shoulders; and it is remarkable that de Weert was on this coast in May, which is there a winter month.


●  A skeleton measuring 17 feet was discovered at Gargayan 

●  Bungisngis was a cave dwelling giant.

●  Buringcantada was a house dwelling giant.

●  Gisurab / Guisurab had a house in the forest. 

●  Ikugan was a giant with a tail.


●  In 1575, when the Tartars invaded Poland, Jacobus Niezabilo-vius slew a warrior of enormous size who fought in their ranks. After the battle, Polish soldiers marveled that as he lay dead on the ground “his body was of so prodigious a bulk that… his carcass reached to the navel of any ordinary person standing by the side of it.”

●  Countess Lodoiska
The Countess Lodoiska, the Polish giantess, also showed great strength. Seven feet tall and weighing two hundred and seventy, she could with only one hand and without much strain lift one hundred and seventy pounds. In 1863, at the age of twenty, she exhibited at Saville House, Leicester-square. Writers described the Warsaw woman as “remarkably well formed,” with a pleasing appearance.

●  Martin Wierski 
Dr. Browne reports in his Travels through Germany that one Martin Wierski, a Polander who stood a full eight feet tall, was on account of his great height invited to appear at the Court of Maximilian II, emperor of Germany, during the second half of the sixteenth century.

Part  5
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