If you have heard myths about giants, or seen them in any movies, you might believe that all giants eat humans. Well, in some stories they do. One of the most famous giant stories from Britain is Jack and the Beanstalk. The story as we know it was written in 1807 and since then, it has been rewritten, illustrated and made into many films. It is also a favourite bedtime story that parents read to children.
The giant in Jack and the Beanstalk captures Jack and intends to eat him later. However, Jack is a clever boy and manages to escape with the giant’s magical hen. Children all over the world know this story and so they might believe that all giants are the same: human-eating monsters with small brains!
This is not true. Most giants in myths have a diet similar to humans - there have even been myths of giant farmers, taking care of animals and crops.
Let’s look at some interesting facts from British history and myths from folklore to find out more.
1. Queen Elizabeth I had a giant as her porter. The general duties of a royal porter are to answer the door, welcome guests and carry luggage. We don’t know much about the Queen’s giant, but people say he was over seven feet tall! He may have also been like a security guard, helping to protect the royal family. A bit like The Mountain in Game of Thrones!
2. Giants can be master builders. All around the UK, you will find massive stone structures like Stone Henge in Salisbury, and Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Historians are still unsure of how these structures were created, because in the past, men did not have machines to move and lift heavy stones as we do today.
Look at these pictures of Giant’s Causeway. Who or what could have created the rock patterns and steps? In local folklore, the Causeway was created by an Irish giant named Finn MacCool (yes really!). It has two parts: upright stone columns as tall as 40 feet high, and flat stone steps.
The legend tells us that Finn MacCool wanted to build a path across the sea from Ireland to Scotland. Some historians say that the Causeway was made by lava around 50 million years ago. But would lava create these hexagonal shapes? Maybe we’ll never know, but 'MacCool' has to be the coolest name for a giant!
3. Giants helped create the British landscape. We’ve learned that not all giants are violent or greedy and that they feature a lot in British folklore. There are also legends about giants creating the English landscape we know today.
For example, near the city of Bristol you will find the Avon Gorge and the River Avon.
The legend of how the Avon Gorge was created, is actually a love story.
Long ago, two giant brothers named Goram and Ghyston fell in love with a giantess named Avona. The brothers decided to have a competition – whoever drained the most water from a nearby lake would win Avona’s heart. To complete this task, the brothers had to create huge channels in the hills so that the water would drain away. This became the Avon Gorge, as you can see in this picture.
Sadly, Goram lost the competition and was so upset that he drowned himself in the Severn Estuary!
From this tale, we can add another idea to our list – giants can fall in love! Let’s go back to the title of this blog - What do Giants Eat? Haven't we discovered that giants have much more in common with humans than we first thought?
We hope you have enjoyed this blog. As always, you will progress more by reading, listening and practising your English so make sure you check out IQ Global for free resources and our YouTube channel. See you next time!