Fee-fi-fo-fum: Yorkshire is the land where giants roam

The iconic Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor are thought to have been created by giants
The iconic Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor are thought to have been created by giants
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Yorkshire isn't stranger to a curious myth or two, having been riddled with tales of witches, vampires and dragons living in its midst.

And with many a mythical beast thought to have called the county home, rumours of giants once roaming the landscape isn't all that surprising.

Legend has it The Hole of Horcum in the North York Moors National Park was formed at the hands of a giant

Legend has it The Hole of Horcum in the North York Moors National Park was formed at the hands of a giant

Rombald's Moor

Rombald's Moor is a large area of moorland which stretches between the Airedale and Wharfedale valleys, with the towns of Ilkley and Keighley lying on its northern and southern borders.

While today the moor is primarily used for recreational purposes and is a popular haunt among walkers, it was once used as a ground for hunting and farming, with traces of human activity dating back as far as the Mesolithic era and continuing through the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

Awash with craggy outcrops, gritstone and rough land overgrown with heather, bracken and wild grass, the landscape is perhaps most well-known for its distinctive rock carvings.

From hanging stones and boulders to huge flat slabs, more than 400 rocks carvings (known as 'cup and ring' stones) can be found dotted around the moor, but the most notable site on the landscape is that of the iconic Cow and Calf rocks on Ilkley Moor - believed to have been created at the hands of giants.

The giants of Ilkley Moor

Sitting high above the spa town, the distinctive rocks consist of an outcrop and a boulder, and are duly named because of the way the smaller one sits close to the larger, like a cow and its calf.

According to local folklore, the moor was home to a great giant, named Rombald, who resided here with his wife.

Legend states that the rocks were formed following a domestic disagreement, which saw Rombald flee over the moor with his wife in hot pursit.

He is said to have stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley, causing it to split into two, separating the calf from the cow.

His angry wife following behind is then rumoured to have dropped the stones held in her skirt to create the rock formation now known as The Skirtful of Stones.

In other versions of the tale, Rombald is believed to have been a god-like creature who, when angered, generated thunder and hurled huge boulders across the valleys in his rage, offering an alternate explanation as to how the Cow and Calf rocks were created.

The Devil's Punchbowl

Ilkley isn't the only Yorkshire town to have been the stomping ground of giants.

Often thought of as the Grand Canyon of North Yorkshire, the Hole of Horcum is an enormous stretch of moorland in the valley of Levisham Beck in the North York Moors National Park, which is 400 feet deep and approximately 1.2km wide.

Known locally as the 'Devil's Punchbowl', the natural feature is rumoured to have been formed by a giant called Wade.

Legend has it that the hole was formed when Wade scooped up a handful of earth to throw at his wife during a heated argument, leaving the impressive concave landscape which can be seen today.

A more scientific explanation states that the hole was actually created by a process known as spring-sapping, in which the hillsides gradually erode away around the site where a spring emerges, causing the suface to collapse and widen, creating a cauldron-like formation.

But rumours that these impressive natural wonders are a result of giants at work is part of what makes the sites so popular and intriguing - and who's to say the legends aren't true?

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