8' 2" Giant grave on Lundy island

The Mystery of Stone Circles - Paul Mason

Lundy Island, from Lundy, Isle of Avalon by Mystic Realms - http://www.lundyisleofavalon.co.uk/lundy/index.htm

Giant's Graves on Lundy island

During harvest time in 1851 islanders on Lundy discovered two immense granite coffins,  one of them said to have been ten feet long the other eight.

When these sarcophagi were opened, the excavators found the skeletons of two  eight feet tall humans, seven other skeletons of normal stature and other assorted human bones. Either in the coffins themselves or beside them, sources vary, were found some pale blue stone beads and some fragments of pottery. The date attributed to the beads, and also the graves, is anywhere from Roman times to the 14th century. The beads were apparently sent to Bristol Museum but there seems to be no record of what happened to the human remains.

LUNDY ISLAND From A Handbook for Travellers in Devonshire (9th ed.),
London, J. Murray. (1879)

The island is about 3½ m. long, and very irregular in breadth, averaging about ½ m. It contains nearly 3000 acres. The surface is undulating table-land, rising to about 500 ft. at the lighthouse. There is only one safe landing-place, at the S.E. end, where there is a little bay with good anchorage. Until steamers came into play, "the difficulty of getting to Lundy was only exceeded by the difficulty of getting away. A sudden shift of wind has often kept visitors for weeks; and one amusing instance is on record of a party composed of the incumbents of 5 or 6 parishes on the adjoining coast, who had combined for a day's excursion and investigation of the wonders of Lundy, being detained there over two Sundays, to the dismay of their respective congregations." *

Lundy seems to have had a "primaeval" population: since flint flakes and pottery have been found in and near the many small tumuli which dot the surface.

A sepulchral kistvaen - a block of granite, raised on two upright slabs - was found, a little below the surface, in 1851. A fragment of pottery remained below, but there were no traces of bone.





Hubba Skeleton

A large area at the back of the farm is covered with outbuildings, not in the best condition in fact, they look as though they had been put up with a view to greater agricultural developments than have as yet made their appear-
ance and then neglected.

They are all, as is the Manor House itself, of modern date some, indeed, erected within the last few years.

It was while some of these " improvements" were in progress that the workmen made a curious discovery.

While digging foundations for the wall of the  rickyard, they came upon a pair of kistvaens, or stone coffins, built of granite, and each covered with a large slab.

The larger grave was loft, in length, and provided with a lump or pillow of granite, hollowed out for the reception of the head of a gigantic skeleton which lay within. The feet rested on another block.

The smaller cist, which also contained a skeleton, was but 8ft. long, and differed from the other in having no head or foot rest. Both were covered with a pile of limpet shells.

Mr. Heaven was sent for, and the skeletons carefully measured.

The larger had a stature of 8ft. 2in.

Mr. Heaven was present the whole time, and not only saw the measurement taken, but, as he himself told me, saw one of the men place the shin-bone of the skeleton against his own, when it reached from his foot half-way up
his thigh, while the giant's jaw-bone covered not only his chin, but beard as well.

The skeleton in the smaller cist, although that of a very tall person, was thought little of beside that of the giant. Mr. Heaven, who has some knowledge of anatomy, considered it to be that of a woman.

Close by seven other skeletons were discovered, but these were of ordinary stature, and buried without stone coverings.

At the end of the line lay a great quantity of the bones of men, women, and children, buried in one common grave.

Some glass and copper beads and one of gold were found with these bones, and a few fragments of pottery. Some of these were preserved, and the bones were then covered up.

As Mr. Chanter says, "it is most difficult to assign an era or to account for this sepulture ; the remains of women and children precluding the idea of its betokening the slain in battle, but rather the indiscriminate slaughter of an entire population." Still, as he points out, this does not explain the peculiar character and contents of the kistvaens.

These he refers to the Celtic period. But did the Celts produce such giants as the pair interred in these stone coffins?
I fancy not.

Mr. Heaven exclaimed, when he saw the larger skeleton, " the bones of Hubba the Dane !"
and the proportions are certainly rather Scandinavian than Celtic. Undoubtedly it was the custom of the Danes to remove their more honoured dead, and Lundy was "the nearest point to which the defeated army and ships could retreat."


It is interesting that there are graves like this in nearby Dartmoor:

Dartmoor kistvaens - are burial tombs or cists from the Neolithic age, i.e. they are approximately 4,000 years old.[1] Kistvaens have been found in many places, including Dartmoor, a 954 square kilometre (some 370 square miles) area of moorland in south Devon, England. The box-like stone tombs were created when the ancient people of the area lived in hut circles. A feature that differentiates Dartmoor kistvaens from kistvaens in other parts of the world is that about 94% of Dartmoor kistvaens have the longer axis of the tomb oriented in a NW/SE direction.[1] It appears that Dartmoor kistvaens were positioned in such a way that the deceased were facing the sun.[2]

Welcome to the Dartmoor National Park Authority

The Dartmoor Kistvaens

Attempting to even try to explain burial tombs which are around 4,000 years old is virtually impossible and full of modern-day conjectures and beliefs. Clearly the very design of ancient tombs had some significance and meaning to the prehistoric mind but trying to say exactly what is impossible.
So to begin with what are these tombs called, generally they are referred to as cists although on Dartmoor there is often mention of kistvaens or kists. It is thought that the word kistvaen has derived from the Celtic cist (chest) and maen (stone) aptly meaning 'stone chest' although how the letter 'k' came to be used I know not.

The accepted description of a 'typical' Dartmoor kist is that it comprises of a four-sided stone chest with a covering slab and occasionally a paved floor. They were constructed of stone, mostly granite, because presumably there was a plentiful supply on the moor. The majority were dug into the sub-soil  so that the top edges of the side slabs were flush with the surface level. There kists come in a large range of sizes which vary from one of the largest at Roundy Park to the fairly small at Drizzlecombe. Although it is estimated than an average sized kist would be about 1 - 1.5m long, 0.6m wide, and 0.6m deep.

And of course not only Stonehenge, almost directly south, there is also Carnac in Brittany:


Carnac - (Breton: Karnag) is a commune beside the Gulf of Morbihan on the south coast of Brittany in the Morbihan department in north-western France.

Its inhabitants are called Carnacois. Carnac is renowned for the Carnac stones – one of the most extensive Neolithic menhir collections in the world – as well as its beaches, which are popular with tourists.

Located on a narrow peninsula halfway between the medieval town Vannes and the seaside resort Quiberon, Carnac is split into two centres - Carnac-Ville and Carnac-Plage (the beachfront). In total there are five beaches, including la Grande Plage, and further to the east, Plage Men Dû and Beaumer.

Carnac is famous as the site of more than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones. The stones were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany. Local tradition claims that the reason they stand in such perfectly straight lines is that they are a Roman legion turned to stone by Merlin (Brittany has its own local versions of the Arthurian cycle).

The Carnac stones were erected during the Neolithic period which lasted from around 4500 BC until 2000 BC. The precise date of the stones is difficult to ascertain as little dateable material has been found beneath them, but the site's main phase of activity is commonly attributed to c. 3300 BC. One interpretation of the site is that successive generations visited the site to erect a stone in honour of their ancestors.


The Riddle of Prehistoric Britain - Comyns Beaumont

Bradshaw's hand-book to Brittany - John William C. Hughes, George Bradshaw

Plouharnel (Hotel: De Commerce).—"At about 800 yards beyond this village, and on the left-hand side on the road to Erdeven, will be found a group of three Dolmens, each approached by a gallery they were opened in 1850. The centre one contained only some broken celtae; in the second one was found, in the centre of the chamber, an earthen vase, containing fragments of bones, cinders, and charcoal, a gold torque, and two gold bracelets, the extremes of which hook into each other. This cyst had also an inner chamber, in which was found some bones and coarse pottery. The third chamber also contained some pieces of pottery, as also a large spherical vase, which, on being removed, fell to pieces. The greater part of these are preserved in cases at the Hotel de Commerce, which is a really comfortable country inn, the proprietor of which is pleased to show them to visitors.