The good giant Dan Dynas


Old folks held that the outer wall of Castle Treen was built by a deaf-and-dumb giant, called Dan Dynas (from Bottrell, Traditions and hearthside stories…)

Sunrise on RocksAssisted by his wife An’ (aunt) Venna, who broke up the ditch, filled her large apron with the soil, and put it for filling behind the rocks, as her husband rolled them into their places. When they had thus constructed a stronghold, in which people with their tin and cattle were safe from marauding pirates, the giantess and other women collected hundreds of cartloads of stones into heaps, near the mound, ready and handy for slinging at, or to hurl down on, the heads of besiegers. When an incursion happened to be made An’ Venna, with the women and old men, defended the fortress, whilst Dan and his fighting men slew the enemy or drove them to sea. The ruins of this good couple’s handiwork may still be traced from Par Pry, the southern side, to the inlet of Gampar, or Hal-dynas Cove, towards the east.

A descendant of old proprietors of Treen informed me that a great quantity of stones remained, in piles, within and near the embankment, until after wheel carriages came into use. Although this part of the cliff was then common few persons cared to remove them, and none durst take a stone from the castle walls for fear Bad Luck would pursue any one who disturbed the giant’s work. But of late years, great portions of this ancient rampart have been demolished and its facing-stones carried away for building.

It is also related—though the story seems somewhat fabulous—that this deaf-and-dumb giant would stand on Carnole and thence sink invading ships, entering Porthcurno, by hurling rocks on them, or he wrecked them, when at a distance, with huge stones discharge from slings made of bulls’ hides. When the people couldn’t charge his instruments of war as quickly as he wanted them, he would roar like thunder, make signs to stand clear, kick the rocks up out of the ground, smash them to handy pieces, and fire away again.

We may remark that, although some Cornish giants have been misrepresented as little better than savage cannibals—Cormovan Of the Mount to wit—all traditional giant stories, in this district, describe them as amiable protectors of the common folks who lived near their castles. They were, however, almost invariably, stupid and often did mischief unwittingly by having more strength than sense; therefore, it is shameful to defame those ancient heroes and ascribe to them such vile traits as are not warranted by our popular stories.