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Old 06-09-2019, 06:01 PM   #1
Haunting Spirit
Join Date: Nov 2014
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Balfrog has just left Hobbiton.
Stone-giants – Finally a Credible Source

Tucked away in footnote 4 of one Ms. Seth's essays on Goldberry is what I believe is a highly significant find which deserves to be brought out into the open.


Finally after 80+ years there appears to be a credible link to 'our world's mythology' of stone-giants and those in The Hobbit. The source itself is: River Legends by E. Huggessen and the tale of*The Giant Bramble-Buffer
Ms. Seth's footnote discusses the similarities of the Stone-giants of the Alps with those in The Hobbit in more detail. But extracted below are where she found most commonality:

From The Hobbit:

“… the stone-giants were out, and were hurling rocks at one another for a game, and catching them, and tossing them … They could hear the giants guffawing and shouting all over the mountainsides. … ‘… we shall be picked up by some giant and kicked sky-high for a football.’ ”.

From River Legends:

The giants of interest were described as ‘mountain giants’ and vocal ‘Daddyroarers’:
“Sometimes they would … fling enormous stones at each other in sport, which was pastime anything but delightful to their neighbours whose lives and property were thereby grievously imperilled.”
One particular mountain giant, Bramble-Buffer:
“… if he met a man he generally gave him a kick, which sent him off fifty yards up in the air, and in most instances proved fatal.”

There isn't an awful lot said about the Stone-giants in The Hobbit. But what there is seems to match that in River Legends pretty well. I don't think we are likely to get any closer.

Others of course may disagree!
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Old 06-10-2019, 03:24 AM   #2
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I absolutely agree that the stone-giants are a callback to primary-world rural myths. Examples of these themes can be found in loads of stories: from the Brothers Grimm, we have The Brave Little Tailor/The Tailor and the Giant, which includes this playful contest:

"That may be," said the tailor; "but we shall see by and by who is the best man of the two."

The giant... took up a stone, and threw it up so high that it went almost out of sight. "Now then, little pigmy, do that if you can."
Earlier in the same book, Thumbling the Dwarf and Thumbling the Giant/The Young Giant features a stone-moving giant who punches the final human characters high into the air.

There's also loads of instances of giants being claimed as having built various large things (Stonehenge, for example), which also appears in Middle-earth. It's pretty clear Tolkien was playing about with primary sources, just as he did with trolls which turn to stone at dawn (Drangey Island is a Norse giant/troll's cow which did the same thing). Is 'throwing stones to each other in sport' specific enough to track back to this one story, or is it a moderately common attribute of giants? I actually have no idea. (Didn't Lewis use it, too? Or is that only in BBC Narnia?)

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