Monday, 12 April 2021

Treasure those Memories … part 10 … Seaweed mulch, St Michael’s Mount with its Mythical Giants …

 

What you’d expect … we have giants in Cornwall … particularly in the Penwith peninsula area … that’s fine … but b’gorra … they be complicated to work their story out …


Jack the Giant Killer -
his history in a chapbook

 So we’ll go and collect seaweed instead – essential for the health of the grandparents' garden … it’s an amazing resource from the sea – we humans eat it … and before it was commercially available … it was assiduously collected by the farmers for spreading on their fields.

 

 


Carbis Bay - before development c 1920
We’d be piled into grandpa’s car and either go down to Carbis Bay beach below the house, or across the peninsula to St Michael’s Mount … to rake up fronds of kelp after a storm …




Collecting seaweed for the fields of
daffodils, vegetables - c 1900
Two giants – possibly brothers – one held St Michael’s Mount … while the other lived at Trencrom – the high point between St Ives and Penzance.   It’s odd one brother’s name is known – Cormoran of Trencrom … the other is just ‘the brother’ … but the myth remains.

 


This woodcut illustration c 1820
was used in a variety of chapbooks
“Jack the Giant Killer” is a Cornish fairy tale and legend about Jack, who slays a number of giants … based on these giants of St Michael’s Mount and Trencrom.

 

 


The barren granite of Trencrom
They had sibling rivalries … and used to throw granite boulders at each other – now found at the top of these two ‘granite outcrops’ … we’ll go to Trencrom (a Neolithic hill fort) for a picnic in a later post.

 

 


Tinted postcard from c 1900
photographed from Marazion village


St Michael’s Mount is believed to have been a famous mart – trading place – between the Cornish and the Orient (Phoenicia).

 

 

 

Postcard of Penzance waterfront -
the storm battered prom
This area has an incredible history … the Romans were here, earlier the Neolithic peoples populated this wild, forested, storm battered part of England …

 

 

St Michael's Mount from Trencrom
… where tin could be surface mined (an ancient bronze furnace was found just outside Marazion village) traded with the Orient (the Phoenicians) – and where, after great storms, tree trunks, now under the waters of Penzance Bay, are cast up on the shore …

 

Ictis is described as a tin-trading island in the Bibliotheca historica of the Sicilian-Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in the first century BC – it is thought St Michael’s Mount wasIctis as mentioned by Diodorus.

 

 

Map of west Penwith
Folklore, ancient history and remembrances from over 2,000 years remain, to be melded as time goes by with our more modern history … seaweed for our gardens and our kitchens.


 

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


27 comments:

H.R. Sinclair said...

I really love seeing the older photos. And of course, hearing the tales of throwing boulders! :)

Rhodesia said...

Another wow post with so much history and mythical characters. Also so much I did not know. I had forgotten there was a St Michael's Mount off of Cornwall as well as the french one. I never see seaweed for sale here but it was often in the shops in RSA.
Hope all is well over there, have a good week. Diane

Elephant's Child said...

Yet another fascinating (and educative) romp through your memories. We brought back seaweed from our (too rare) visits to the coast too and used it to feed the garden.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Those giants had complicated lives, a regular soap opera. I've been reading a lot of pre-history lately and find it fascinating. How on earth did my history teacher make it so dull and dry?

Anabel Marsh said...

Seaweed can be a bit smelly though …

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There is a really bad movie called Jack the Giant Killer. RiffTrax had no problem making fun of it.

diedre Knight said...

Giants throwing boulders...that's how thunder was explained when I was very young ;-)

Joanne said...

very interesting post and stuff I had not thought about. Obviously, living inland, the idea of going to rake up seaweed is not in my wheelhouse. But it makes perfect sense. Then I like the mythology of the giants, throwing boulders, etc. You always pull in a nice mix that's entertaining and thought provoking.

Liz A. said...

Sounds like in that sibling rivalry, the one without a remembered name lost.

Hels said...

St Michael’s Mount was a very special place to build and popularise a famous trading place. But how did customers cross the water, over to St Michael's Mount?

Unknown said...

Enjoy these posts, Hilary. Recently read that there is research with a certain type of seaweed which if added to ruminant feed reduces their burping considerably

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Holly – thank you … I’m enjoying looking at the older photos … reminding me how life was lived decades or a century+ ago. I know – the thought of boulders being lobbed at each other … is a bit shocking!

@ Diane – yes Cornwall is a place of its own … and St Michael’s Mount is just stunning … I knew I was at my Cornish home when the Mount came into view. Gosh – I don’t remember seaweed on sale in South Africa … but I did leave 25 years ago. All well here – thank you …

@ EC – thanks a simple romp including St Michael’s Mount and reminding us of our Cornish myths. Fascinating to read that you brought seaweed back whenever you, as a family, visited the seaside to feed the garden …

@ John – yes … these particular giants had very complicated lives … their genealogy must be great fun to unwind! – or as you say a regular soap opera.
Re history – oh I know … I’ve become so much more interested in all forms of history today – it was most definitely not my favourite subject …
Fascinating that you’re reading lots of pre-history … perhaps you can give us a prompt or two when you next give us ideas on books to read?

@ Anabel – seaweed is smelly if it’s left lying around, so needs to be put to use as soon as possible. The strandline is an ancient phenomenon … so seaweed with its associate pesky critters has many uses for the ecosystem – also it is always on the move … by the sea, or with the critters …

@ Alex – I noted the movie about Jack the Giant Killer … interesting to know that RiffTrax had fun with it … I must try and find some clips to watch and listen to …

@ Diedre – oh yes – I remember thunder being explained like that too …

@ Joanne – I can imagine your journey to the sea would be a little difficult … but you’d be able to get commercial seaweed for the garden, as well as seaweeds in the shops and restaurants for that matter in your area of Texas.
The giants are fun … especially for kids – or creative types, as Alex mentions above. I’m happy you enjoyed the mix and match of ideas and history, or pure myth …

@ Liz – who knows … we still believe there were two, or more, giants!

@ Hels – St Michael’s Mount has been part of history for centuries and probably millennia. There’s a small harbour for when the tide is in … on the north side of the island, opposite the village of Marazion – in the sheltered area … and also at low tide there’s a causeway to walk across … so options …

@ Sue – great to see you and yes I’ve seen those ideas about adding seaweed to ruminant feed … probably helping the excretions on the fields too … but burping less methane has to help our air gases …

Thanks to you all – lovely to see you and to have your comments … all the best, as at least we in the northern hemisphere are beginning to see warmer, lighter weather … great news as far as I’m concerned! Cheers - Hilary

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Good morning Hilary: Who knew there were boulder-tossing giants in Cornwall? I think that somehow it is quite fitting that you come from a place where big, hairy guys throw rocks at each other! Like you they were out to make a statement! As for seaweed, I know it has been used in maritime Canada for any number of purposes as long as there has been settlement, and deer visit the shore to snack on it. In pre-Covid days, however long ago that was, we always had seaweed at our local sushi restaurant. It is said to be very good for you, but I had it for the taste. It was pickled or marinated in I know not what, but it was delicious. Ah, memories.......

Mason Canyon said...

I've always heard seaweed was good for many things. Enjoyed the bits of history and boulder-tossing giants.

Natalie Aguirre said...

There's so much amazing history where you live. I love that your grandparents knew how good seaweed is before it became more popular.

Pradeep Nair said...

Very interesting Cornish fairy tale. Many places have such lovely stories of the past.

Jacqui Murray said...

What better explanation for the odd boulder found where it probably shouldn't be. "A giant threw it!" Much better than blaming it on ice! Fun post.

Keith's Ramblings said...

Tasty seaweed, a fairy tale and pictures of St Michael's Mount. What more could I wish for? A lovely piece Hilary.

Sandra Cox said...

There you go broadening my horizons. I never realized seaweed was spread on gardens.

Fil said...

Myths are so much fun - those stories are the same as Finn McCool and the Scottish giant here - his name is never remembered either - and every unaccompanied boulder lying around was thrown by Finn of course lol.
Some people still bring seaweed up for the garden - I tried a bucket of it last year but didn't realise until much too late that you need to rinse it before piling it around the kale - ahem ... might not bother this year - too much effort.

Deborah Weber said...

Gathering seaweed sounds like such a delightful seashore pastime at any time, but collecting it for your grandparent's garden seems an especially wonderful thing.

Dan said...

It's fun to learn the folklore of a place that has been around so long and has gone through so much.

Janie Junebug said...

I didn't know that seaweed could be used as fertilizer. I always learn something from you, Hilary.

Love,
Janie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ David – I know … who’d have guessed about our tossing boulder giants … and thank you for the compliment about the big hairy guys joining me in making statements on life – sad, but true I know!
Yes – seaweed is a universal product offered up to us by nature … and in Britain we have various animals who have adapted to include seaweed in their diet as they roam the shoreline …
I hope you can get out to your favourite Sushi restaurant again soon … and I agree seaweed is delicious however it’s served.

@ Mason – seaweed has so many properties … beneficial trace minerals and micronutrients – essential to us and plants. The light touch of the boulder tossing giants!

@ Natalie – yes we’re really lucky to have much of our history available to us – and I really enjoy looking back and finding out more: snippets of life. I think seaweed had been collected for the agricultural fields for centuries … so I guess easy for my grandparents to realise its value.

@ Pradeep – yes … we have an interesting history down there … and I haven’t yet mentioned pixies …

@ Jacqui – I so agree … especially when it’s chucked up a hill … yet incredibly we had the edges of ice sheets as far south as Cornwall – well from the latest ice-age …

@ Keith – remembrances for you if you get down to sunny Cornwall to camp this year.

@ Sandra – yes seaweed is a brilliant fertiliser for plants and nutrient rich for hungry humans!

@ Fil – I hadn’t heard about your Finn McCool (good name!) and his links to Scotland … but makes sense … he was a prolific practiser of his art: boulder throwing!
Re your seaweed gathering … it needs to be spread out quickly … and the fronds, stalks etc kept away from the actual food plants … so doesn’t need rinsing off … but it is hard work!

@ Deborah – it’s a hard work past-time … seaweed is heavy stuff, soggy too … but they were fun trips out – especially remembering those days now.

@ Dan – I know … I’m finding out so much I didn’t know – or knew the skeleton of, but not too much details … it’s being fun writing up these posts …

@ Janie – thank you … seaweed is premium fertiliser – for plants and us!

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting – just always glad to read you enjoy being here … cheers Hilary

Elsie Amata said...

I heard about Jack the Giant Killer - I think it was a not-so-great movie?

I had no idea you could use seaweed for its nutrients. Hmm, can I put it in my garden? We have a ton wash-up on our shores.

Have a great weekend, Hilary!

Sandra Cox said...

Fascinating about the giants.
Have a wondrous weekend, Hils.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Elsie - thanks ... from Alex I gather the film is not very good!

Yes - you can put seaweed in your garden - but use fresh, and don't let it wrap around the plants ... spread over the earth i.e. in between the plant stalks.

@ Sandra - thanks for the thoughts about the giants ... and I've been watching the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral ... which I'v enjoyed ...

Thanks to you both for the visits ... all the best - Hilary