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  • Writer's pictureJodie Newton

The Giants of Dartmoor and Clotted Cream

'Brutus! there lies beyond the Gallic bounds

an island which the western sea surrounds

by giants once possessed, now few remain'

Historia Regum Brittaniae (c.1136), Geoffrey of Monmouth

It was recorded in 1486 that a giant turf-cut figure was carved depicting two figures, one of them being Gogmagog. On Plymouth Hoe

The Legend of Gogmagog

There once was a prince named Brutus who set sail from Asia after the Trojan War, accompanied by a large following of Trojan warriors looking for a new land in which to settle. Eventually they ended up in Britain but found the country inhabited by a race of giants. The Trojan warriors fought and defeated the giants, forcing them to take refuge in the hills and caves. The giants leader Gogmagog was taken prisoner by the Trojans.

Brutus decided that there would be a wrestling match between Gogmagog and the strongest Trojan warrior.

His name was Corineus.

The wrestling match took place on Plymouth Hoe. The giants who came to watch gathered at one end and the Trojans at the other, with the two contestants facing one another in between. Gogmagog was said to be about three times the height of an ordinary man. It appeared that it would be an unequal fight and the giants were confident of victory.

They wrestled for hours and though wounded Corineus grabbed the giant by the girdle and threw him to the ground. Gogmagog lay breathless and stunned. Seizing his chance, Corineus raised him aloft, carried him to the cliff and threw him over the edge where he died upon rocks below. Horrified at the death of their leader, the remaining giants fled, most finding their way across the Tamar into Cornwall but many of them settled on Dartmoor where they remained untroubled for many years.

For hundreds of years the figures of Corineus and Gogmagog wrestling were carved out on the turf of Plymouth Hoe. One of the giants who settled on Dartmoor was called Blunderbus and his story tells us about an important discovery for all the people of Devon.

The Story of Clotted Cream

As stated above, when the giants had been driven out by Brutus, many made their home on Dartmoor while the rest fled into Cornwall. One of those who came to Dartmoor was the Giant 'Blunderbus', who settled on Dinger Tor, near Okehampton SX 586 881.

Blunderbus had four wives but his favourite was called Jennie. She was the youngest, most beautiful, kind and loving but unfortunately, she had never learned to cook. Blunderbus loved her very much and used to sit and talk with her and bring her presents.

The three other wives became jealous of Jennie, they gave her all the dirty, unpleasant jobs and most difficult chores to do.

Jennie didn't mind, she loved Blunderbus and was content in keeping him happy.

This made the other three wives even more angry and they decided they would not do any of the housework until Blunderbus got rid of his favourite. They burnt his food, made sure his bed was lumpy, refused to keep his clothes clean and nagged him all day, every day, until at last, tired, dirty and suffering from indigestion he gave in and promised to get rid of Jennie. He took her to a cave in Cornwall where he could visit her secretly, but both he and Jennie were heartbroken at being apart.

One day, while Jennie was in her cave, she overheard Cornish wreckers planning to dash a ship to pieces on the rocks below.

Frantically she lit a fire to warn those aboard the ship. Thankfully they realised the danger, dropped anchor and sent a boat to investigate.

The Captain of the ship was so grateful he taught Jennie to cook, gave her a special recipe and told her that who ever tasted it would never want to leave Jennie alone in a cave ever again.

The recipe was for clotted cream and when Blunderbus next visited Jennie she gave him some. Blunderbus was delighted with his beautiful young wife and her new culinary skills, and immediately took her back with him to Dinger Tor.

The other wives were cross, but when they tasted this delicious new recipe they welcomed Jennie back and asked her to show them how to prepare it.

Eventually the fame of Clotted Cream spread and people came from all over Devon to learn how to make it.

Blunderbus and Jennie live happily together on Dinger Tor thanks to Clotted Cream.

(I hope the sea captain taught her to make scones and Jam too.)

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