Trencrom Castle

On the summit of Trencrom Hill, commanding a view over land and sea, is the small Iron Age hillfort of Trencrom Castle. Like other hill-forts and cliff-castles, it was later said to be the home of giants.

William Bottrell in 1870 told a story of the giant of Trecrobben (Trencrom) and the giant of St Michael’s Mount. They were cousins and very friendly. They had only one cobbling-hammer between them, which they would throw back and forth between Trencrom and the Mount as needed. But one afternoon, when the giant of the Mount called, ‘Hallo up there, Trecrobben, throw us down the hammer,’ just as Trecrobben obliged, the giant of the Mount’s wife came out of the cave, and ‘down came the hammer, whack, hit her right between the eyes, and settled her.’ The lamentation raised over her by the two giants was terrible to hear, and Trecrobben buried his treasure deep
among the cairns of his castle, before grieving himself to death.

Many people dug around the cairns on Trencrom, on moonshiny nights, in hopes of finding his crocks of gold, but whenever their spade hit the flat stone covering the mouth of the crock, so it rang hollow, out from among the crevices of the rocks came troops of frightful-looking spriggans, who raised such bad weather that it scared the diggers away.

A variation on this theme is that bad-tempered giants once lived here who hid their treasure in the hill, where it was guarded by spriggans. Robert Hunt relates that, ‘not many years since’, a man who thought he knew where to dig proceeded one night to the hill armed with pick and spade. When he had been there for a while, the sky rapidly clouded over and hid the moon. The wind rose and whistled around the rocks, but its sound was presently drowned out by great crashes of thunder:

By the flashes of lightning, the man saw spriggans swarming out from all over the rocks. Although small at first, they rapidly increased in size until they assumed almost giant-stature, looking all the while, he said afterwards, ‘as ugly as if they would eat him’.

He was said to have been so frightened that he took to his bed and was unable to work for a long time after. From this it seems that the spriggans were not thought of as fairies, as in some stories, but as the giants’ ghosts.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008