Cornwall is a legendary location for holidays, but it also has many stories of mystery and intrigue. A land of Saints, Giants and Mermaids. If you are on holiday in Cornwall it is always worth doing a little bit of research and trying to seek out the local legends.
Here are some of the well-known and notorious Cornish legends.
King Arthur is the most famous of the Cornish legends. There are stories of Arthur throughout the county, starting with his birthplace in North Cornwall and homestead of Tintagel Castle. Further West is ‘Slaughterbridge’, the location of his final battle and the always enchanting Dozmary Pool where Arthur returned Excalibur to the ‘Lady of the Lake’.
Cormoran was a giant who resided on St Michael’s Mount, where you can retrace his final steps. Cormoran would wade ashore at Marazion and feast on locals’ cattle and crops and return to the mount once his hunger was satisfied. A local lad named Jack took it upon himself to rid the village of the giant. He dug a huge pit in which Cormoran fell to his untimely death. Out on St Michael’s Mount you can still see the giant’s heart on the ascent to the castle.
In the far West of Cornwall you will find the village of Zennor, home of the romantic legend that is the Mermaid of Zennor. A local chorister fell in love with the Mermaid of Zennor and followed his heart to be with her for eternity. Switching terra firma for a life beneath the waves, the villagers mourned his loss. They carved a mermaid’s chair from wood, and this can be seen at St Senara’s church, that is thought to be over 600 years old. On nights where the ocean and wind are still you can hear the lovers singing together.
A little closer to our home here in Portreath is the legend of the giant Ralph the Wrath. Ralph lived in caves near to Portreath and would use huge boulders to sink passing ships to loot the treasure and return it to his cave whilst feasting on the unfortunate sailors. The cave is still there, and you can even kayak into it. Ralph’s cupboard is a beautiful secluded spot with plenty of tales to tell.
St Agnes is home to the story of Bolster, another giant of Cornwall. Bolster imposed himself over the town folk of St Agnes, terrorising them day by day. His downfall was love. Bolster fell in love with a local lady who asked him to prove his love to her. She dug a hole and asked him to fill it with his blood, but the hole was bottomless and Bolster bled to death. The evidence of this can be seen in the red tinged cliffs at Chapel Porth.
The Mermaid of Padstow is legendary amongst local fisherman, as she created one of the most dangerous stretches of coast in all of Cornwall. There are a number of different versions of the story, but the basis is similar. She fell in love with a local man, a sailor, but they fell out and he shot her. As a dying curse she created a great storm and the Doom Bar which has since wrecked many, many ships at the mouth of the estuary leading to Padstow.