The Legend of the Giant’s Lapstone

A giant lived in a cave near the top of Stony Ridge. He was a kindly bloke, a cordwainer by trade. The giant had a daughter who is described by Blakeborough as rarely with her father, and whilst absent on mysterious and ethereal missions left control of the household to an old housekeeper. The daughter longed to transform the cave into a luxurious home but could only use her magical powers for the good of others.

Stony Ridge

A wicked baron moved into the district and went about corrupting the local young men leading them into licentious, drunken and debauched behaviours. The women of the district were terrified of the baron and his entourage, many of the women fled in fear.

The giant began to hear tales of the shame that the baron was bringing to the women of the district and a number of men and women approached the giant to ask for his protection. On hearing of what was happening the giant was so shocked that his lapstone dropped from his knee with a crash that shook the local hills. He took the stone and hung it over the entrance to his cave. Then taking a metal bar he struck it three times calling on the gods to rise in vengeance.

Soon a beautiful chariot, fashioned in the shape of a giant boot and drawn by thirteen swans, descended from the sky driven by the giant’s daughter.  The daughter demanded to know why she had been summoned. Her father showed her the men and women who had come asking for his protection.

Woodcut,_showing_Venus_in_chariot._Wellcome_L0006603

The daughter turned to the men and told them that they had fallen because they were inclined to evil therefore their sin was their own. She then turned to the women and said that their case, in some, was different. Some were forced to wickedness but others, like the men, had brought themselves to shame and that they would be tested. The daughter then took her father’s knife and magically fashioned a hole in the lapstone, she then called upon each of the women to step forward and be tested by attempting the place their leg into the hole, then, depending on the verdict of the stone, divided the women into two groups.

Once the testing was complete the daughter addressed the first, largest group telling  them that they had nothing to feel ashamed about and any children born to them would crown their heads with blessing and not with remorse or shame,  she also informed them that any wrong done to them would be avenged on that very day. She then turned to the second, smaller, group of women and told them that the stone had convicted them and although their tempter will be removed, their shame will follow them for the rest of their days. The daughter then took the lapstone into her flying chariot and was seen, in the distance, to drop it onto the side of the bank of the Basedale Beck.

As the group retuned home from the giant’s cave they met a maiden who told them that she had been chased by the baron and his hounds. She told them how she had fled to the Basedale Beck hoping that she could escape from the pack by crossing running water. As she reached the edge of the beck the baron was just about to seize her when she lost her footing and slipped down the bank. At that moment she heard a loud thunderbolt fall to earth at which point she fainted. When she came around the hounds were lying dead around a large stone that had fallen to earth and there was no sign of the baron. Blakeborough ends the tale saying that the stone had at once become a Nemesis and a tombstone, and had rid the district of an evil thing.

Baysdale

Source – The Hand of Glory. J. Fairfax Blakeborough. 1924

Image of Venus on her chariot being drawn by swans by Albumasar Abalachi [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

3 thoughts on “The Legend of the Giant’s Lapstone

  1. Apparently JFB lived in westerdale, so this is probably the only reason this story has been recorded. Even if he tidied it up a bit, the story still records a fascinating legend and folklore connecting natural features around westerdale.
    The lap stone existed, so Is there a cave up on the Stoney Ridge ? would it be big enough for a giant?
    The giants lap stone ended up in a location called Hob Hole – but Hobs are ussually regarded as short stumpy fella’s.
    However the Hob-Thrush name comes from Hob Thurs, and ‘thurs’ was an Anglo saxon word for a giant.
    Does the westerdale story preserve this giant – hob link?

    1. The same thought struck me as I was writing mate. JFB makes this tale very location specific yet completely ignores the Hob element. There’s no cave that I know of up there but it is quite close to White Gill – thousands of flints ? Hob activity.
      There’s also the element of the maid who was chased by the hunt and tried to escape by crossing the running waters of the beck, would this indicate that the baron was a demonic figure?

  2. Agreed – these stories about giants don’t make sense!!!!!!
    I missed the crossing water bit, which does suggest he had a supernatural element about him. – his evil spirit was trapped under the stone?
    Yet elsewhere there is quite a detailed account of how women used to visit the stone to ask for the giants blessing.
    Perhaps there was originally more than one story here and they became merged over time? At least the story has been recorded.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s