Sacred Texts  Sagas and Legends  English Folklore  Index  Previous  Next 


THE history of the redoubtable Jack proves that St Michael's Mount was the abode of the giant Cormelian, or, as the name is sometimes given, Cormoran. We are told how Jack destroyed the giant, and the story ends. Now, the interesting part, which has been forgotten in the narrative, is not only that Cormoran lived on, but that he built the Mount, his dwelling-place. St Michael's Mount, as is tolerably well known, is an island at each rise of the tide--the distance between it and the mainland being a little more than a quarter of a mile. In the days of the giants, however, it was some six miles from the sea, and was known as the White Rock in the wood, or in Cornish, "Carreg luz en kuz." Of the evidences in favour of this, more will be said when the traditions connected with physical phenomena are dealt with. In this wood the giant desired to build his home, and to rear it above the trees, that he might from the top keep watch over the neighbouring country. Any person carefully observing the structure of the granite rocks will notice their tendency to a cubical form. These stones were carefully selected by the giant from the granite of the neighbouring hills, and he was for a long period employed in carrying and piling those huge masses, one on the other, in which labour he compelled his wife to aid him. It has been suggested, with much show of probability, that the confusion of the two names alluded to has arisen from the fact that the giant was called Cormoran, and that the name of his wife was Cormelian; at all events, there is no harm in adopting this hypothesis. The toil of lifting those granitic masses from their primitive beds, and of carrying them through the forest, was excessive. It would seem that the heaviest burthens were imposed upon Cormelian, and that she was in the habit of carrying those rocky masses in her apron. At a short distance from the "White Rock," which was now approaching completion, there exists large masses of greenstone rock. Cormelian saw no reason why one description of stone would not do as well as another; and one day, when the giant Cormoran was sleeping, she broke off a vast mass of the greenstone rock, and taking it in her apron, hastened towards the artificial hill with it, hoping to place it without being observed by Cormoran. When, however, Cormelian was within a short distance of the "White Rock," the giant awoke, and presently perceived that his wife was, contrary to his wishes, carrying a green stone instead of a white one. In great wrath he arose, followed her, and, with a dreadful imprecation, gave her a kick. Her apron-string broke, and the stone fell on the sand. There it has ever since remained, no human power being sufficient to remove it. The giantess died, and the mass of greenstone, resting, as it does, on clay slate rocks, became her monument. In more recent days, when the light of Christianity was dawning on the land, this famous rock was still rendered sacred: "a lytle chapel" [a] having been built on it; and to this day it is usually known as the "The Chapel Rock." [b]

[a] Leland. [b] See Appendix C for the Irish legend of Shara and Sheela.

Next: The Key of the Giant's Castle