Jack the Giant Killer

Jack the Giant Killer

Most people have heard the old nursery rhyme about Jack The Giant Killer, in which Jack owed much of his success at killing giants to his four magical possessions; a coat which made him invisible, shoes that gave him speed of foot, a cap of knowledge and a sword that would cut through anything. The legend was attributed to 12th Century writer Walter Map who apparently obtained it from a French source, but we have no doubt that the original Jack was a Cornishman!

According to Cornish legend, Jack was a farmer's son who lived near Land's End in the days of King Arthur. l The folk of the area were being terrorised by Cormoran, the Giant of St Michael's Mount, who stole cattle and carried them away either on his back or dangling from his belt. A reward was offered to anyone who would slay the fearsome giant, and Jack took up the challenge. In the Cornish story Jack used no magical aids, simply his cunning. He dug a huge pit near Morvah and covered it with sticks and straw. Then he lured the Giant away from the Mount by blowing his horn. The angry Giant rushed down the Mount and fell into the pit. Jack then struck him a mortal blow with his pickaxe and filled the pit with earth. For his brave deed he was given a magnificent sword and belt. Embroidered upon the belt was the verse:

'This is the valiant Cornishman
Who slew the Giant Cormoran'

Famed for his bravery Jack The Giant Killer became something of a super hero, killing wolves and breaking the skulls of pirates in addition to being on hand to deal with other troublesome giants. Later, he travelled on to Wales to slay more of them and further embroidered his legend, and, to mark his slaying of Cormoran there stands to this day near Morvah Church a huge stone which is said to mark the Giant's Grave. It is also said that sometimes voices can be heard coming from beneath it!

yet another version says:

The Well where the paths divide (on the path up the hill to St Michael Mount) appears in the Cornish version of the story of Jack the Giant Killer. The wicked giant Cormoran lived on the Mount terrorising the neighbourhood. While he was asleep. Jack dug the well and then blew a loud blast on his horn. This woke the giant, who could not see Jack as the sun was in his eyes and he rushed down the hill only to fall to his death in the well. A stone shaped like a heart lies on the path above the well. Generations of children have been told that if one places one's hand on one's heart one can feel the giant's heart beating.