We are all familiar with the childhood rhyme;
Fe-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Most of us, however, don’t know the rest of that verse;
Be alive, or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread.
Not my idea of a cozy bedtime story for the wee ones.
All throughout recorded history, there have been myths and legends of giants that came before…flesh and blood men who lived and died just as mere normal sized humans did.
No culture is immune from a history involving giants. Giants appear in religious texts and historical accounts. Archeology and science are torn, but according to the Greek philosopher, Homer, on the earth, there once were giants.
Do a simple Google search for “giant people 1800s” and you will find photos of larger than life people. Quite a few of those pictured claim to have Tartarian bloodlines (that is a story for another day).
There are dozens of old black and white photos with men and women towering above their compatriots.
Many of us are familiar with Robert Wadlow. He was born in the early 1900s and was 8’11” at his death. He was 22 years old and his life was one of abject misery. His height caused many health issues, including a necessity of leg braces. Eventually, these issues contributed to his young death.
When researching the subject of giants, you find a lot of information on the health condition know as ‘giantism’. It is a condition almost always caused by hyperplasia in the pituitary gland causing an excessive amount of growth hormone. It is also a condition that shortens the life of those with it by about 3x.
All that said, historically, giants have been warriors and fighters. Those we consider giants today almost always have contributing health issues that would prevent them from being what we would call “warriors”.
For instance, according to the book of Samuel, Goliath was a large man who fought for the Philistines against the Israelites. Samual also states that Goliath was six cubits and one span. Current measurements translate this to about nine feet, six inches.
But, according to a Greek translation of the Old Testament, he was only four cubits and one span…which makes hime about six feet, six inches. Okay, I have a brother that height. Actually, a bit taller.
But according to scientists, the average man in that time was about five and a half feet tall, so a man of six and a half feet tall would be a bit intimidating.
One other thing to consider when thinking of Goliath, a cubit isn’t a static length. It is the distance from the elbow to the tip of the finger. Well, my brother’s cubit is going to be significantly longer than mine.
But there are several mentions of giants in the Bible. There are the Anakim (Joshua) who were thought to be descendants of the Nephilim (Genesis). All these men were considered “Giants, people great and tall.”
The Bible is only one mythos that speaks of giants.
According to the Greeks, Atlas was a giant who held up the sky. The Irish had the Fomorians, the early settlers of Ireland who were a race of giants. The Norse had Hrungnir, a drunken giant. He was one of the biggest and baddest. Even Odin challenged him because he was so formidable. The Basque people of Europe spoke of the Jentil. They were large, strong and hairy. They were said to have built many of the monolithic sites and stone circles in the region. The Japanese have the Oni, who are giants in demon form. They are usually red or blue skinned with horns. Gogmagog is said to have been the last giant in the British Isles. Many of these legends were around long before these people had contact with outside influence. So it was a prevalent belief around the world.
The legends and myths are interesting. But what about the “reality” of giants? Is there proof that giants existed at any point in time? Depends on who you ask.
On the British Isles, in 1660, the remains of a skeleton was found near a section of Hadrian’s Wall. It was said to have measured 21 feet. In the early 1800s, another was found nearby of an “immense size.”
The earliest recorded name of Stonehenge was “The Giant’s Dance.” According to legend the circle was built by a tribe called the “Cangick Giants.”
In the early 1100s, monks claimed to have found the skeleton of King Arthur. Witnesses claimed that it was over nine feet tall. Next to it was a female with a plait of blond hair, said to be Guinevere.
Then there are the mound builders of the Americas. In many ancient burial grounds around the U.S. there have been “giants” found in past years.
The earliest recorded giants occurred in the 1700s along the Cheat River (West Virginia) A gentleman noticed bones protruding from the ground. He pulled out a leg bone and when next to his own, it was seven inches longer. After he removed the rest of the bones, he estimated the skeleton was about eight feet tall. Also found in West Virginia in the 1800s around Rivesville, construction workers discovered three giant skeletons with strands of reddish hair still clinging to the heads. It was determined they were human and approximately eight feet tall.
The Oil City Times, in Pennsylavania, in 1870 ran a headline “The Cardiff Giant Outdone: Alleged Discovery of a Giant in The Oil Regions.” They were said to have exhumed a HUGE helmet of iron, a nine foot sword, and an 18’ skeleton. They stated that the skeleton was well-preserved, extremely white, all the teeth in their place, and all of them doubled and large.
There have been over 1,000 accounts of seven foot and taller skeletons reportedly unearthed in North America in the past 200 years.
So, what happened to all these bones? They seem to have disappeared from common view. Many were supposedly removed and repatriated by the Native American Graves Protection Act. Still others “began to deteriorated when exposed to air.” There are all these stories, with witnessed that have seen them in museums and freak shows, but they suddenly are no longer there.
Photos exist, accounts were written…but there is always a reason they can’t be giants…they are mammoth bones or they are some other animal that looks amazingly like a human in skeletal form.
Why hide it? What purpose does it serve? Were they human, were they alien, were they gods?
Recently, Hadley Thorne, Henry Tully, Steven Hill, and myself had a very interesting conversation about giants. We talk about all this and so much more.
When you have time, go over to wyrdrealities.net, Wyrd Realties on Anchor, or the Wyrd Realities Facebook page and give us a watch.
Until next time, stay Wyrd!