The Wrekin Giants  

Shropshire is a county abounding in legend and it is interesting to study some of the tales that have been handed down.  The Welsh for The Wrekin is Caer Gwrygon, a name older than the Welsh language.  

The Wrekin is a very distinctive 400m hill which dominates the views of mid Shropshire near the new town of Telford. So strong is its presence that it has entered the language of the Midlands people. “All round the Wrekin” means ‘going the long way’ or ‘not explaining something clearly and directly’, (“He went all round the Wrekin”).

It was also the inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle Earth in the acclaimed series of books – The Lord of The Rings. Tolkien used to live nearby and drew inspiration from the magnificent Shropshire landscape. Who would have guessed that Shropshire folk-lore tells us it was built by a giant who took a dislike to Shrewsbury.   

How did The Wrekin  to occupy it’s isolated position on its plain ? 

The story goes that two giants set themselves a task of building a hill to live.  In a very short time they had piled up the Wrekin.  

The Giants, however, quarrelled and one of them struck the other with a spade.  While they were fighting a Raven came and pecked at the eye of the one who was brandishing the spade. 

 The pain made him shed a tear which hollowed out a little basin in the rock which is always full of water to this day.  It is called Raven’s Bowl or the Cuckoo’s Cup and contains water still in the hottest weather.  

 Raven’s Bowl or Cuckoo’s Cup.  

The other Giant won the battle, so he built Ercall Hill and imprisoned the defeated Giant within it.    There The Giant remains to this day, and by the dead of night you may sometimes hear him groan.  

While the victorious Giant was hurling his spade at the other, he dropped it and in doing so split the surrounding rock with the spade, making a narrow cleft which is called the Needle’s Eye.  All True Salopians’ have climbed through the Needle’s Eye and any girl who looked back when going through the Needle’s Eye would never be married.

Before imprisoning the defeated Giant, the triumphant one scraped the earth off his spade, thus creating a small hillock.  

Another mythical legend suggests that The Wrekin was a creation of a wicked Giant who disliked the people of Shrewbury, which is the county town of Shropshire.  Consequently he decided to block up the Severn with a load of earth to flood the town.  

“A giant called Gwendol Wrekin ap Shenkin ap Mynyddmawr with a grudge against the town of Shrewsbury decided to flood the town and kill all its inhabitants. So he collected a giant-sized spadeful of earth and set off towards the town. When in the vicinity of Wellington he met a cobbler returning from Shrewsbury market with a large sackful of shoes for repair. The giant asked him for directions, adding that he was going to dump his spadeful of earth in the River Severn and flood the town. “It’s a very long way to Shrewsbury,” replied the quick-thinking shoemaker. “Look at all these shoes I’ve worn out walking back from there!” The giant immediately decided to abandon his enterprise and dumped the earth on the ground beside him, where it became the Wrekin. The giant also scraped the mud off his boots, which became the smaller hill Ercall Hill nearby”

The Wrekin is not the highest hill in Shropshire, several are higher, but is supposed to be the highest in Britain for the circumference of its base.

The Wrekin is perhaps Shropshire’s most significant hillfort.  Once home to the Cornovii a British tribe (originally from Iberia), the fort was stormed by the Romans under Ostorius Scapula around the spring of AD47.

Previous settlements house a Bronze Age barrow, a Bronze Age cairn, a Holy Well and possible calendar stone. The Wrekin is perhaps Once home to the Cornovii a British tribe (originally from Iberia), the fort was stormed by the Romans under Ostorius Scapula around the spring of AD47.