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Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 11, Slice 8 "Germany" to "Gibson, William"

The Middle Causeway or Honeycomb


Under

these circumstances it is worth while to ask how it is that legend and history so abound in mentions of giants outside all probable dimensions of the human frame. One cause is that, when the story-teller is asked the actual stature of the huge men who figure in his tales, he is not sparing of his inches and feet. What exaggeration can do in this way may be judged from the fact that the Patagonians, whose average height (5 ft. 11 in.) is really about that of the Chirnside men in Berwickshire, are described in Pigafetta's _Voyage round the World_ as so monstrous that the Spaniards' heads hardly reached their waists. It is reasonable to suppose, with Professor Nilsson (_Primitive Inhabitants of Scandinavia_, chap. vi.), that in the traditions of early Europe tribes of savages may have thus, if really tall, expanded into giants, or, if short, dwindled into dwarfs. Another cause which is clearly proved to have given rise to giant-myths of yet more monstrous type has been the discovery of great fossil bones, as of mammoth or mastodon, which were formerly supposed to be bones of giants (see Tylor, _Early History of Mankind_, chap. xi.; _Primitive Culture_, chap. x.). A tooth weighing 4-3/4 [lb] and a thigh-bone 17 ft. long having been found in New England in 1712 (they were probably mastodon), Dr Increase Mather thereupon communicated to the Royal Society of London his theory of the existence of men of prodigious stature in the antediluvian world (see the _Philosophical Transactions_,
xxiv. 85; D. Wilson, _Prehistoric Man_, i. 54). The giants in the streets of Basel and supporting the arms of Lucerne appear to have originated from certain fossil bones found in 1577, examined by the physician Felix Plater, and pronounced to have belonged to a giant some 16 or 19 ft. high. These bones have since been referred to a very different geological genus, but Plater's giant skeleton was accepted early in the 19th century as a genuine relic of the giants who once inhabited the earth. Of giants in real life whose stature has been authentically recorded Quetelet gives the palm to Frederick the Great's Scotch giant, who measured about 8 ft. 3 in. But since his time there have been several giants who have equalled or surpassed this figure. Patrick Cotler, an Irishman, who died at Clifton, Bristol, in 1802, was 8 ft. 7 in. high. The famous "Irish giant" O'Brien (Charles Byrne), whose skeleton is preserved in the museum of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, was 8 ft. 4 in. Chang (Chang-woo-goo), who appeared in London in 1865-1866 and again in 1880, was 8 ft. 2 in. Josef Winkelmaier, an Austrian, exhibited in London on the 10th of January 1887, was 8 ft. 9 in.; while Elizabeth Lyska, a Russian child of twelve, when shown in London in 1889, had already reached 6 ft. 8 in. Machnow, a Russian, born at Charkow, was exhibited in London in his twenty-third year in 1905; he then stood 9 ft. 3 in., and weighed 360 [lb] (25 st. 10 [lb]). From his wrist to the top of his second finger he measured 2 ft. (see _The Times_, 10th February 1905).

The whole subject of giant myths and the now entirely exploded theory that mankind has, as far as stature is concerned, degenerated since prehistoric times, has been ably dealt with in a volume published by MM. P. E. Launois and P. Roy, entitled _Etudes biologiques sur les geans_ (Paris, 1904). See also E. J. Wood, _Giants and Dwarfs_ (1860).

GIANT'S CAUSEWAY, a promontory of columnar basalt, situated on the north coast of county Antrim, Ireland. It is divided by whin-dykes into the Little Causeway, the Middle Causeway or "Honeycomb," as it is locally termed, and the Larger or Grand Causeway. The pillars composing it are close-fitting and for the most part somewhat irregular hexagons, made up of articulated


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