Friday, 27 May 2011

The Terrible Giant Bolster of Cornwall

Six miles from St Agnes stands the prehistoric fortress of Carn Brea, within which stands a much smaller medieval castle. This ancient fort is said to have been the home of a giant named John Gaunt, who had a feud with Bolster. The giants passed the time by chucking stones at one another. One stone struck John Gaunt on the head and killed him, whereupon Bolster hurled more stones to bury the body of his enemy. All that was left above ground was one of John Gaunt’s hands. This hand, it is said, has now turned to stone. There is a granite boulder at the western end of the fort that is shaped like a hand.

Once John Gaunt was out of the way, Bolster took to striding around his lands, and those of his neighbours. One day he stopped to drink at St Agnes’s Well at Chapel Porth. As he bent down he left his thumbprint on the rocks - and a curious rock formation can be seen there today as proof of the story.

Bolster had meanwhile fallen in love with St Agnes. As a devout christian lady she wanted nothing to do with a pagan giant and brushed off his attentions. The giant Bolster was not so easily dismissed and he became such a nuisance that the Christian community begged St Agnes to do something. She accordingly went to see Bolster and promised to marry him if he would first fill up a hole in the cliff at Chapel Porth with his blood. Bolster strode over, put his arm over the hold and opened up a vein. The blood poured out, but St Agnes had tricked the giant by choosing a hole that connected down to the sea. The giant’s blood flowed away. Eventually Bolster died from loss of blood. His body fell into the sea and was washed away.

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