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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, October 05, 2012

Oll's Magical Mystery Tour: The Giants of Plymouth


I've been quite busy since I moved out of CFZ HQ almost a year ago, but this last week has been my busiest yet. It started with me getting engaged, continued with me registering my new business with the revenue, writing and planning out the route for my first event, a tour of the Strange History of Plymouth, and will culminate in me presenting the first of my tours at 4pm this Saturday ( 6th of October 2012).


The “Strange History of Plymouth Tour” is a fantastic fifty minute foray into Plymouth's paranormal past, that will leave at 2pm & 3pm from the Shrimp sculpture near the Mayflower Steps every Saturday from the 13th of October, with a special 'première' tour (with £1 off the normal price) at 4pm on the 6th of Oll's Magical Mystery Tour: The Giants of Plymouth

I've been quite busy since I moved out of CFZ HQ almost a year ago, but this last week has been my busiest yet. It started with me getting engaged, continued with me registering my new business with the revenue, writing and planning out the route for my first event, a tour of the Strange History of Plymouth, and will culminate in me presenting the first of my tours at 4pm this Saturday ( 6th of October. Normal price is only £6 and quite frankly you'd be mad to miss out. See my company's facebook page for more information: https://www.facebook.com/BlackCatPlanning

Plymouth is not perhaps the first place you think of when it comes to strange and fortean events, but you would be surprised! In my tour alone there are Sea Monsters, witches, ghosts, unsolved mysteries, poltergiests and Giants. That is perhaps more high strangeness than you would encounter in any other UK city. But, hang on, did I just mention Giants? In Plymouth?

Up until the 18th century there were two large and ancient giants carved into the earth of Plymouth Hoe, similar to the Cerne Abbas giant or the Uffington White Horse, the larger of which was known as Gogmagot.

Gog and Magog are the names given to two giants found in Hebrew folklore. The giants appear in the books of Ezekiel and Revelations in the Bible as representatives of a powerful nation to the North of Israel that would oppose it.

The giant Gogmagot in English folklore is probably unrelated to the Giants of the Hebrew folklore as it is thought rather than being named after the pair of Hebrew Giants his name was a corruption of Gawr Maddoc which means Maddoc the great, when translated from Cornish or Welsh, so he was probably a well respected or strong local king.

The story of Gogmagot, was that when settling Britain the Trojan heroes Brutus and Corineus met with little resistance apart from a tribe of giants in the South West. One day while having dinner at their camp on the Hoe these giants attacked Brutus' party and led to a scene of carnage resulting in the deaths of many on each side. Gogmagot was the strongest of the giants and found himself facing off against Corineus himself. After a heated battle the giant was able to shatter three of Corineus' ribs. The battle looked won for Gogmagot but in a fit of rage the wounded Corineus ran towards the giant and lifted him aloft using a superhuman strength throwing his foe to the rocks below. Gogmagot's body shattered and tore on the jaged stones killing him and body was washed out to sea.

In commemoration of this event the people were said to have carved the figure of a giant into the thin layer of earth on the hoe, measuring 12 cubits in length.

The story of Brutus' founding of Britain was just a legend, but it is known that there was a huge carving of a giant on Plymouth Hoe called Gogmagot as far back as 1496 and were probably there a great deal longer as the original source notes it had been cleared of weeds by the people of Plymouth for many generations.

Although the original source doesn't explicitly mention a second smaller figure that is meant to represent Corineus there were definitely two figures carved on the Hoe by 1606.

One of the figures was, according to local legend, carved where the citadel stands now, but the location of the second figure has been lost to time and would have been covered over by landscaping between the 18th and 19th centuries.

When the foundations of the citadel were being built and the carved giant obliterated, it is said that the builders found a huge human jawbone buried under it. Maybe the giants had originally been carved as a monument to a great warrior or king from Devon and the legend was created by people who saw the carved pictures after the warrior or king himself was no longer remembered.

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