Devon was once the land of the giants

Torbay Weekly

Particularly our little coastal region of Torbay.

The myth was first recorded in the 19th century by a Welsh historian but is most well-known due to it being recording in Historia Regum Britanniae (The History of the Kings of Britain) written by the 12th century Cleric and historian Geoffrey of Monmouth.

Published in 1136, his book not only documented the reign of British Kings over 2,000 years but was also responsible for establishing many popular British myths and legends, including the story of King Arthur.

One myth that was documented in Historia was that of giants roaming across Britain.

Some versions of the legend are said to have occurred in London but some suggest it all took place here in Torbay.

According to legend: “The island of Britain derives its name from Brutus, a Roman consul who conquered Spain.”

Brutus was also said to be the grandson of Aeneas, a Greek mythical hero.

Following the Trojan War, Aeneas settled in Italy.

While in Italy, Brutus accidentally killed his own father while out on a hunting trip and was banished from Italy so fled and settled in Greece where he assembled together a band of Trojan refugees.

After consulting the oracle Diana, Brutus travelled to an island in the Western Seas supposedly possessed by giants.

He decided to name is after himself and called the island 'Britain'.

Upon his arrival Brutus first came ashore in South Devon and famously exclaimed “Here I stand and here I rest, and this good town shall be called Totnes.”

Remnants of this legend are still visible in the area today on Fore Street where the Brutus Stone remains.

As you can imagine, the giants were not too pleased by Brutus' arrival on the shores of Torbay.

According to Historia, whilst having a celebratory feast 20 giants attacked Brutus' men but they managed to fight back and kill the giants apart from one - Goegmagog, the leader of the giants.

Goemagog was captured and made to wrestle with a Trojan warrior named Corineus.

The two became enthralled in a brutal battle but eventually Corineus is said to have picked up the giant and threw him into the sea from a cliff where the sea was stained by the giant's blood.

The exact location of this event is unknown but is expected to be upon a high cliff somewhere in the Torbay area.

As a reward for his giant-slaying Corineus was given governorship of Cornwall, which was named after him, as it was believed that there were even more giants in Cornwall than in any other province.

The exact location of Brutus and his men killing giants when they first stepped ashore Great Britain remains highly contested with some versions saying they arrived in Plymouth and others suggesting London.

However, most popular versions of the story state that the event took place somewhere around Totnes and the surrounding area of Torbay.