The last time I visited the beautiful St Michael’s Mount, just off the coast of Cornwall, there was a steady stream of tourists crossing the tidal causeway ahead of me. I have walked this cobbled path many times in rain and shine, it’s a place that is different in every season and in every light. On this day it was the colour of the seaweed that stuck me, such an eye-popping green and lashings of it everywhere!
When my feet touched the rocky island shore I quickly began to wind my way up the old Pilgrims Path, weaving in and out of the flock of visitors puffing up to the castle. I had a different destination, the Giant’s Heart.
This stone heart suffers the undignified fate of being trampled under the soles of innumerable walking boots on a daily basis. It is the ultimate down-trodden heart and legend has it it belonged to Cormoran the Giant.
Cormoran built the huge stone castle that sits atop St Michael’s Mount but unfortunately he made nuisance of himself by waded ashore to the mainland every night and snatching livestock from local farms for his supper.
Local villagers got really fed up and offered a reward in return for someone slaying the giant. A local boy called Jack took up the challenge and he crept over to the island and dug a large giant-catching pit. Hardly a mastermind of a plan. But it was surprisingly effective. When Cormoran awoke from his sleep he saw Jack on his island and charged at him. Blinded by sunlight the giant didn’t see the pit that Jack had dug and promptly fell into it and disappeared.
Jack became a local hero and from then on was known as Jack the Giant Killer.
All that was left of Cormoran was his stone heart . . .
and legend has it that if you stand still and listen hard you’re still able to hear the pounding beat of the giant’s unhappy heart.
I have a little stone heart that my other half gave me, it is always in the glove box of my car. It is fascinating how we humans find patterns in the world about us, we see faces everywhere and animals in the clouds. We search out meaning, we find the stories and hold on to seemingly worthless things as if they are some powerful symbol or charm.
The stone heart is another kind of the talisman. So next time you climb the Mount at Penzance take a moment to stop and listen for the beating of a giant’s heart.