Traditions and Hearthside Stories of West Cornwall, Vol. 2, by William Bottrell, , at sacred-texts.com
The earliest inhabitants of this stronghold were giants who protected the neighbouring people in return for cattle and other necessaries with which the last-named provided their powerful friends, as was usual here in olden times.
An aged giant, his childless wife, and their adopted son, are the only ones of whom connected traditions are handed down by old folks of Treen. Not only this giant (how we wish the chroniclers had preserved his name) and his wife but all people who depended on his protection, particularly those of Treen and bordering places, were much grieved and disappointed when they found their giant and giantess were middle-aged and had no children who would aid them in old age and perpetuate the race.
The giantess, having no household to think about, grew, as most unemployed women do, peevish and troublesome. The giant, having little or no work to occupy himself with, grew fat and lazy. Quiet and good-tempered as he was, he was dreadfully tormented by his wife. She called him a lazy, useless old loon; and said he was too fat, and didn't take exercise enow. When he had nothing else to employ himself about, in peaceful
times, she told him that he should log the rock, for a few hours every day, to stretch his sinews and make his blood circulate brisker, instead of dozing away all day and night in his chair, which may still be seen. "Go thee way’st," said she; "swim over to the Dollar Rocks, it's only two miles or so; dive round them and catch one a few good big congers; I want their fat to make a cake. And the pollock and cod that feed among the ore-weed thereabouts are excellent eating."
The dissatisfied woman's advice was sometimes taken. He would swim away, and, in an hour or two, bring her home a string of fish of a furlong's length.
Then he would log Men Amber for a bit. This he could easily do with the tip of his finger, when standing on the grass below it; for the rock is only 30 feet or so from the grass, and Treen giant stood at least 40 feet high, without his boots. He was stout in proportion, and his strength of arm was prodigious. Sometimes, with his staff, he kept the sacred stone in motion when seated in his chair, just opposite it. But often it happened, when getting through his exercise by the latter mode, that he fell asleep, long ere the sand was down in his wife's hour-glass. And then she, the faggot, would pelt her quiet husband with rocks, heaps of which may still be seen, lying loose, just as they flew from her hand and dropped at no great distance from the poor giant's chair. He would wake up, with a sore head, to hear her say, in a voice like a bellowing bull, "Stop thy snoring, thou confounded old fool, and work away, west ah? or I'll pommel thy noddle to browse."
"What the deuce shall I do to stop her tongue and cure her temper? Can ’e tell me, my good people?" He would often say to Treen folks and others, who visited him of a summer's evening; ''she's the most troublesome woman I ever heard of!"
All kinds of employment were suggested. In those days everybody thought he could manage a discontented wife, were he her husband; but actually to do it was difficult.
"Why should she fret and fume for lack of children," he used to say to his Treen neighbours, "and what erred have you either, in these peaceful times, to care whether we have descendants or no?"
Potent reasons were given both by giantess and people why they desired that their chief's race should be continued. Charms and other means were used in order to obtain the desired result.
Yet much time passed, and their rock-hewn cradle was still empty, when a happy thought struck a wise man of Treen. He advised that a baby should be stolen from the giant of Maen, who had a large family, and was, moreover, a very troublesome and
aggressive neighbour—if one may credit stories of his hurling the rocks against Treen giant, which are still to be seen at Skewjack Moor, on the bounds of their two domains. One may judge of Maen giant's stature by the size of his bed, bowls, spoon, and other utensils, that remained in a lane on Trove, at a short distance from Sennen Church, a few years ago, and some of them may be there still.
Our giant and his wife were delighted with the sage man's advice. To steal a baby from the big man who was proud of his stronghold between Pen-von-las (Land's End) and Pedn-men-du (Black Stone Headland) would be capital revenge on hire and his. "Then how nice it will be for me," said the giant's wife, "to sit on the Logan stone with the cheeld in my arms, of summer afternoons, when the waves sing lulla-by, and my old man can rock us both till the dear baby falls asleep. Or he may dandle it in his arms atop of Castle Peak, or jump with it thence, from carn to carn, to Gamp-an-sees rocks and back again, whilst I skin an ox for our supper, and you, my good people, can bring us down plenty of milk to nurse him on, that he may grow apace."
A wise woman, or witch of Treen, who could take any shape, was selected as the most likely person to execute their project without causing any stir with Maen giant, who was very fierce, and proud of his descent from old blustering Bellerus, who was said to have lived thereabouts in days of yore.
One afternoon away went the witch, and, without being noticed on the road, reached Cairn-men-ellas, where she hid herself between rocks to watch. A little before sunset she saw a giant's child, of four years or so, coming that way with some common people's children, who wanted to show him how to play bob. Now the infant giant, though as big as an ordinary man, was still a baby in every feature, and he hadn't been long weaned; he still wore a bib, though he had out-grown his clothes, and his frock and saveall (pinafore) scarcely reached to his knees. The common boys and girls, from ten to a dozen years of age—like children in size to him—led about the great slab, as they termed him, and did with him just as they pleased.
The woman, seeing them place buttons (and they hadn't many) on the bob, took from her basket a string of large bright ones, shook them before the giant baby, and said, "Now kiss me, dear, and I will give ’e all these." He kissed her again and again, delighted to have the buttons. Over awhile she said, "The tides are low and I am on my way to get lempots (limpets) and gweans (winkles) from Cowloe; will ’e go, dears?"
The elder ones said it was then too late—they must be all home to Trove before sundown, or their mammies would strap
them soundly and send them to bed without supper. But the babe-giant said, "I'll go, for I want some gweans to play five-stones, and lempots too, that my da may shoe the cats with croggans (limpet-shells) and codgey-wax (cobblers’-wax). He do dearly like that fun, and my ma do never beat me."
"Come along then, my turtle," said the witch, as she took his hand and led him off.
On the way she took from her basket many toys and showed him how to play with them. This pleased him, so that he thought no more of Cowloe, and she led him away over the Green to Brew Moors, where, to divert him she changed herself into the shape of a horse, and he trotted on her a mile or more, when she resumed her woman's form, and led him into Castle Treen, where he was received with open arms by the mistress.
It would take long to tell how he was caressed by the childless pair and fed by their people.
He often reposed, during his infancy, in a small chair that may still be seen near the large one in which the giant usually rested—the one just opposite the Logan Rock; and, until he grew too big, he frequently slept in the giant's arms.
At sunrise in summer the old giant delighted to carry him up to Castle Peak, where he placed the infant to stand on the topmost stone, which was much higher then than now, and named to him all the noted places within ken. After turning him round that he might behold the magnificent prospect on either hand of wild, sea-lashed headlands in the distance, and noble earns towering near, he would exclaim, "My dear boy, who wouldn't be proud of such a home as this? Believe me, dear son, in all this western land—from the Lizard Point, that you see yonder, to Pedn-pen-with, which lies under the setting sun—there is not another giant who owns a place equal to Castle Treen; and all shall be thine, my darling, when I am dead and gone."
When the sun shone warm he took baby down to the Castle Leas, near the Gap. This was his favourite fishing place, where a deep pit may still be seen in which he pounded browse, that was east on the water to entice in fish. From these rocks, at the water's edge, the giant, like a monstrous dolphin, stretched on the sea with the boy standing on his broad back, and holding on by the hair of his head like bridle-reins with both hands, would swim out and round to the Sees—the rock that stands like an island in Gampar, (Close or Little Cove), just under Haldyuas, and at the eastern end of the outer mound of his fortress. Having rested there awhile and given the cheeld a few shags’ eggs, limpets, mussels, and such like dainties, back they would steer, but farther out; and, coasting all the seaboard of his Castle, land in Par Pry.
When a few years older the giant taught his big boy to fish from the rocks with rod and line, showed him how to make fishhooks out of bones and croggan-rims—as boys out there do now, or did not long ago. In giants’ times they hadn't a bit of iron, not even so much as a nail. The giantess with her distaff and spindle, spun them yarn that served for lines.
It wasn't much, however, that the giant knew to teach the youngster. Like all of great bulk he had more strength than knowledge, for as we say, "The best goods are bound up in the smallest bundles."
Meanwhile the giantess took care that the boy had an unlimited quantity of food, that he might eat and drink whenever he choose. Over a few years ho was nearly equal in bulk to his new Dadda, as he called the old giant.
We like to linger over these pleasant times, for the old Titan when he took much delight in his charge. But alas! the sequel must be told in sorrow and tears for female frailty.
We don't like to—and indeed we wont—repeat all the stories handed down, which for the most part are highly unfavourable to the moral character of Treen Giantess, for fear of slandering her unwittingly. Yet it is no worse than she deserves to say that all traditions agree in representing her as a most abandoned female in her latter years.
All her care and attention were bestowed on the boy and she neglected her old husband, so that he had to dive for fish, and skin oxen, (or eat them skin, horns, and all). Sheep he could seldom get; they were dainties reserved for the young fellow. The poor old giant was often driven to such extremities that, to appease hunger, which makes brutes of the best of men, he was fain to stay his stomach on ore-weed.
To add insult to injury she often taunted her aged spouse with his weakness, which was the consequence of her neglect, and cut him to the heart by making unfavourable comparisons between him and the pampered youth who could now log the rock from sitting on the grass; and that was more, as the giantess told her husband, than he could do in the best of his time.
Worst of all, her maternal love then changed into a passion that, all things considered, one might even now, in these times of lax morality and free-love, regard as reprehensible.
The poor old giant was slow to become jealous, till he found himself utterly forsaken by his spouse and adopted son, who always stole away to sunny glades between the earns to play by themselves. That would have passed, however, without notice,—he rather liked to be left alone, to dose in his chair of afternoons —had not some Treen women, who were sharp in such things, spied what was going on, and, out of envy, told the old giant.
[paragraph continues] He then became very surly and gave the doting pair much annoyance by coming on them unawares when they withdrew to enjoy their amorous diversion. They had seldom much comfort then, except when the old fellow left his castle to get provision.
One winter's day, when he was about to start for this purpose, he told his wife and the youngster that one of them should meet him on his way back to assist in taking home whatever he might procure.
They promised to do so, but time passed so pleasantly with the couple that they thought but little of their good old provider till they heard his footsteps and angry voice, about a quarter of a mile off, as he came stamping along Pedn-y-vounder cliff vowing vengeance on his ungrateful wife and foster-son.
They became somewhat frightened, and the "strollop" of a giantess, knowing that "the first blow was half the battle," prepared for the encounter by placing herself on the rocks west of the Gap, a dozen feet or so above the narrow path which the giant would have to pass. He came stamping along, an ox on his shoulders (its legs were tied together and passed over his head,) and on each arm he carried a sheep basket-fashion, their trotters bound with their spans.
He roared louder than the stormy breakers when he entered his castle's inner enclosure and found that no one, even then, came to meet him. In his fury he bounced along without noticing his wicked rib, with her bared arm and clenched fist, awaiting his approach, and as he came along the narrow ledge she dealt him a blow in his eyes, as he glanced towards her, that sent him, cattle and all, heels over head down the precipice.
When she beheld him falling a remembrance of their early loves, or something else, caused a sudden revulsion of feeling, which made her regret her rashness, and, unwilling to witness her husband's dying agony, she stepped back westward, about twenty paces, on to a level stone between high rocks, where she stood still and cast her apron over her bead that she might hear less of the giant's awful moans. Though the giant's skull was very thick it was badly smashed on the boulders; yet he didn't die until he called on the Powers whom he served to avenge him, which they did instantly by changing his vile partner into stone, where she stood and where she may still be seen. The old giant, in his dying moments, thought of the young one more in sorrow than in anger—he couldn't in his heart feel very bitter against the simple-innocent hobble-de-hoy, and regarded his wife as the seducer.
Nothing more is known of the young giant, and but little of any others of the Titan race that in mythic ages dwelt in Castle Treen.
Of late the Giant's Lady, as she was formerly called, has been named the Logan Rock's Lady by those who are ignorant of our old traditions. When tempests rage, or anything else excites her, she rocks to and fro; but her movements are languid with age or sorrow. Pitiless storms have so beaten on her head for ages that one can't make out a feature, and her fair proportions are so mutilated that one can scarce discern a semblance of her gigantic form in the time-worn granite mass. She appears, indeed, of pigmy stature compared with her husband. If, however, she had never been larger than her stone image now appears the story is none the less credible on that score. For do we not, every day, see mere midges of women united with giants of men, according to our reduced scale?