The Giants of Ancient Albion & the Legendary Founding of Prehistoric Britain
Giants are at the heart of national folklore concerning the founding of Britain, and archaic traditions state they have inhabited the country since deep antiquity. This article investigates not only the origins of Britain. It also uncovers a lost legacy of extremely tall and powerful individuals who once ruled this part of the world.
Prehistoric giant king
Merlin being assisted by a giant at Stonehenge, circa 1150 AD (Public Domain)
The earliest traditions agree that the first inhabitants of Britain were of the tall persuasion. Some say they were descendants of Noah’s son Ham, and came from Africa about 4000 years ago. Other versions state that Noah’s son Japeth, had arrived even earlier. Noah’s lineage is often said to be giants. Britain’s oldest acknowledged name is thought to be taken from a prehistoric giant king called ‘Albion’ who made his way to the island after being banished from his homeland of Greece. “He was begotten by the sea-god whom the Greeks called Poseidon, the Romans Neptune.” In Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland, by Raphael Holinshed, Albion and the giants were said to have gradually consolidated their position in Britain, ruling the land for hundreds or possibly thousands of years.
Albion Versus Hercules
After a long reign, Albion went to the south of France (Called Gaul at the time) to help his army defeat Hercules. To ensure winning, Hercules summoned his father Zeus and a shower of stones fell from the sky. These were used as weapons against Albion and he was defeated. However, the giant race of Britain continued for hundreds more years, although their numbers decreased and ended up at southwestern tip of Cornwall, until the arrival of Brutus after the Trojan wars. However, Britain’s original name could also be from a Greek giantess called ‘Albina’:
“The Chronicles of Britain, written by John de Wavrin between 1445 and 1455, relate that in the time of Jahir, the third judge of Israel after Joshua, Lady Albine and her sisters came to, and settled in, an island which they named Albion after her, and which afterwards got the name of Britain. While they were living there the devil assumed the shape of a man, and dwelt among the wicked women, and by they had issue great and terrible giants and giantesses, who afterwards much increased and multiplied, and occupied the land for a long time, namely, until the arrival of Brutus, who conquered them.”
Albina and other daughters of Diodicias (front). Two giants of Albion are in the background, encountered by a ship carrying Brutus and his men. French Prose Brut, British Library Royal 19 C IX, 1450-1475 (Public Domain)
The story of Albina has variations. One version says she was taller than average, so had ‘giant genes’. Her father Diocletian was either a Roman Emperor or possibly the King of Syria. Most versions agree that her father had thirty-three wicked daughters, but he managed to find thirty-three husbands to curb their unruly ways. The daughters were displeased and under the leadership of their eldest sister Alba (also Albina, or Albine) they plotted to cut the throats of their husbands as they slept.
“For this crime they were set adrift in a boat with half a year ’s rations, and after a long and dreadful journey they arrived at a great island that came to be named Albion, after the eldest. Here they stayed, and with the assistance of demons they populated the wild, windswept islands with a race of giants.”
“Assistance” really meant, “ mated with ” and with their offspring a new ruling giant elite were founded. These giants are evidenced in the story by huge bones that were said to be unearthed in the country during the 1400s. This echoes the story of the Grigori (or Watchers) of the Bible, who mated with human women and birthed the mighty Nephilim giants, who have remarkably similar traits to their British counterparts.
History of the Kings of Britain
Geoffrey of Monmouth’s influential 12th century Historia Regum Britanniae ( History of the Kings of Britain ) has caused one of the biggest controversies regarding the founding of Britain. Thousands of years after the giants had populated the island, Brutus and other warriors fleeing the Trojan wars landed on the coast of Albion and legend states that the modern name of Britain comes from Brutus. Geoffrey asserts that he translated the Historia into Latin (in about 1136) from “ a very ancient book in the British tongue ,” that was loaned to him by Walter, Archdeacon of Oxford. What this book was, has had scholars debating for centuries, but it could have been the Historia Brittonum ( History of the Britons ) from the ninth century, written by Nennius, a monk from Bangor, Wales. This is likely, as he covered many Arthurian myths, including the giants of ancient Albion. An important section of Geoffrey’s text has Brutus and his men realizing that Albion was already partly populated by unexpectedly tall foes: “It was uninhabited except for a few giants…. they drove the giants whom they had discovered into the caves in the mountains.”