THE GIANT'S HAT AND STAFF.
SOME say it was St Roach, others refer it to St Austell; but all agree in one thing, that the Longstone was once the staff of some holy man, and that its present state is owing to the malignant persecution of the demon of darkness. It happened after this manner. The good saint who had been engaged in some mission was returning to his cell across St Austell Downs. The night had been fine, the clearness of the sky and the brightness of the stars conduced to religious thoughts, and those of the saint fled heavenwards. The devil was wandering abroad that night, and maliciously he resolved to play a trick upon his enemy. The saint was wrapt in thought. The devil was working his dire spells. The sky became black, the stars disappeared, and suddenly a terrific rush of wind seized the saint, whirled him round and round, and at last blew his hat high into the air. The hat went ricochetting over the moor and the saint after it, the devil enjoying the sport. The long stick which the saint carried impeded his progress in the storm, and he stuck it into the ground. On went the hat, speedily followed the saint over and round the moor, until thoroughly wearied out, he at length gave up the chase. He, now exposed to the beat of the tempest bareheaded, endeavoured to find his way to his cell, and thought to pick up his staff on the way. No staff could be found in the darkness, and his hat was, he thought-, gone irrecoverably. At length the saint reached his cell, he quieted his spirit by prayer, and sought the forgetfulness of sleep, safe under the protection of the holy cross, from all the tricks of the devil. The evil one, however, was at work on the wild moor, and by his incantations he changed the hat and the staff into two rocks. Morning came, the saint went abroad seeking for his lost covering and support. He found them both -- one a huge circular boulder, and the other a long stone which remains to this day. [a]
The Saint's, or, as it was often called, the Giant's Hat was removed in 1798 by a regiment of soldiers who were encamped near it. They felt satisfied that this mysterious stone was the cause of the wet season which rendered their camp unpleasant, and consequently they resolved to remove the evil spell by destroying it.
[a] Another tradition affirms that one of the sons of Cyrus lies buried beneath the Longstone.