giant, Cubbie Roo
"In the days of miracles and other
supernatural appearances there lived a mighty giant named Cubbierow beside the
Fitty Hill of Westray. He seems to
have had a feeling of enmity towards some unlucky individual, and was determined
to punish him severely.
Although his foe had
fled to Rousay, a distance of about
eight miles, the giant took up his position on Fitty Hill; and seizing the huge
slab, he hurled it at his enemy across the intervening sound....the marks of Cubbierow's
fingers are to be seen on that stone unto this day."
R. Menzies Fergusson
- Rambles in the Far North - 1884
best-known giant was Cubbie Roo, a creature of such monstrous proportions that
he was said to use Orkney's many islands as stepping stones.
Roo's traditional home was the island of Wyre,
but there are many tales of his exploits and these were not restricted to that
small island. Evidence of his deeds can be found throughout the North Isles in
the form of "Cubbie Roo" placenames, such as Cubbie Roo's
Burden and the Cubbie Roo Stone.
an exact parallel to the tales of the Norse jotuns, and
their bridge building exploits, Cubbie Roo was renowned for his numerous attempts
at building stone bridges to link the islands - a strange obsession
for a creature supposedly large enough to stride across the stretches of water
separating each island.
In all these cases, however, Cubbie's bridge
building efforts wer in vain. The basket he strapped to his back to carry the
stones nearly always breaks and the stones fall, later becoming some well-known
landmark, mound or skerry.
For example, Cubbie Roo was
responsible for attempting a bridge between Rousay
and Wyre. The stones for this structure fell and formed the mound
now known as Cubbie Roo's Burden.
a bridge to Eynhallow, Cubbie
inadvertently created the "Skerry o the Soond", while a failed construction
attempt between Eday and Westray
formed the Red Holm. Dane's Pier in Stronsay was said to be the result of a failed
attempt to build a bridge between Stronsay and Auskerry.
In addition to his many bridge-building
efforts, Cubbie Roo was responsible for throwing a good few rocks around Orkney.
Rousay, by the Sourin shore, is the
monolith known as the Fingersteen. This stone is said to be marked with Cubbie's
fingermarks, when he threw it from Westray.
According to tradition, he was aiming for another giant on Kierfea Hill, but missed.
Cubbie Roo Stone, lying in the Evie hills,
also bears the marks of Cubbie's fingers. This is in addition to two other stones
on Rousay - one at Marlayer, the other in the hill near Onziebust.
a boulder lying in Stronsay was also
said to have been hurled by Cubbie - this time in an attempt to wake a brother
giant who was too slow to rise in the morning.