Wednesday 4 February 2015

The Giants of Carn Galva

Among these rocks and stones, methinks I see
More than the heedless impress that belongs
To lonely Nature's casual work!
They bear A semblance strange of Power intelligent,
And of design not wholly worn away.—Excursion.
One can't fail to pass a pleasant time, should the weather be fine, among the rocks and glades of Carn Galva. Above all, if we ramble hither through the ferns, heath, and furze, in the whortleberry season, we may pick the rich fruit, roll in the shade, or bask in the sun, on the beautiful green patches of turf, as soft as velvet, to be found everywhere; or one may ramble in and out, and all around, playing hide-and-seek, through the crellas between the earns, whence the good old Giant of the Carn often sallied forth to protect his Morvah people and their cattle against the incursions of the giants of other carns and hills. Those of Trink and Trecrobben were the most troublesome, because they lived near, in castles strong and high.

Now, they say that when the Trecrobben giant once got the cattle, or tin, into his stronghold, he would defy all the other giants in the country. By the traditions, still preserved in Morvah, the Giant of Carn Galva was more playful than warlike. Though the old works of the giant now stand desolate, we may still see, or get up and rock ourselves upon, the logan-stone which this dear old giant placed on the most westerly carn of the range, that he might log himself to sleep when he saw the sun dip into the waves and the sea-birds fly to their homes in the cleaves. Near, the giant's rocking-seat, one may still see a pile of cubical rocks, which are almost as regular and shapely now as when the giant used to amuse himself in building them up, and kicking them down again, for exercise or play, when alone and he had nothing else to do. The people of the northern hills have always had a loving regard for the memory of this giant, because he appears to have passed all his life at the earn in single blessedness, merely to protect his beloved people of Morvah and Zennor from the depredations of the less honest Titans who then dwelt on Lelant hills. Carn Galva giant never killed but one of the Morvah people in his life, and that happened all through loving play.

The giant was very fond of a fine young fellow, of Choon, who used to take a turn over to the earn, every now and then, just to see how the old giant was getting on, to cheer him up a bit, to play a game of bob, or anything else to help him to pass his lonely time away. One afternoon the giant was so well pleased with the good play they had together that, when the young fellow of Choon threw down his quoit to go away home,  the giant, in a good-natured way, tapped his playfellow on the head with the tips of his fingers. At the same time he said, "Be sure to come again to-morrow, my son, and we will have a capital game of bob." Before the word "bob" was well out of the giant's mouth, the young man dropped at his feet;—the giant's fingers had gone right through his playmate's skull. When, at last, the giant became sensible of the damage he had done to the brain-pan of the young man, he did his best to put the inside workings of his mate's head to rights and plugged up his finger-holes, but all to no purpose; for the young man was stone dead, long before the giant ceased doctoring his head.

When the poor giant found it was all over with his playmate, he took the body in his arms, and sitting down on the large square rock at the foot of the carp, he rocked himself to and fro; pressing the lifeless body to his bosom, he wailed and moaned over him, bellowing and crying louder than the booming billows breaking on the rocks in Permoina.

"Oh, my son, my son, why didn't they make the shell of thy noddle stronger? A es as plum (soft) as a pie-crust, dough-baked, and made too thin by the half! How shall I ever pass the time without thee to play bob and mop-and-heede (hide-and-seek)?"

The giant of Carn Galva never rejoiced any more, but, in seven years or so, he pined away and died of a broken heart.

So the Morvah people say;—and that one may judge of the size of their giant very well, as he placed his logan-rock at such a height that, when seated on it, to rock himself, he could rest his feet comfortably on the green turf below.

Some, also, say that he gathered together the heap of square blocks, near his favourite resting-place, that he might have them at hand to defend his Morvah people against the giants of Trecrobben and Trink, with whom he fought many a hard battle, Yet when they were all on good terms they would pass weeks on a stretch in playing together, and the quoits which served them to play bob, as well as the rocks they hurled at each other when vexed, may still be seen scattered all over this hilly region.

Surely a grateful remembrance of this respectable giant will ever be preserved by the descendants of those he protected in the northern hills.

We have often heard the high-country folks relate this legend of their giant in a much more circumstantial manner then we can attempt, because we do not, like the good Morvah holk, give implicit credence to all the traditions of Carn Galva. Yet this romantic region makes us feel that

"Surely there is a hidden power that reigns
 Mid the lone majesty of untamed nature,
 Controlling sober reason."—Mason's Caractacus.
from: Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 1, by William Bottrell.

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