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The History of St Austell

Cornish Legends and Myths





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21 May 2009

Cornish Legends


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Long ago, in the Downs of Cornwall there lived a man in a small shack by the name of Austell. This was no ordinary man, he was more like a saint.

St Austell was known to the people on the moors for his wide brim hat that rose to  a point at the top that was flattened, also his large walking staff made from a branch from a hawthorn. These were the only possessions St Austell had. He enjoyed and took many walks across the desolate moorland, greeting the people and telling them about his God.

As legend goes, St Austell was returning to his shack one evening from one of these walks. As he made his way through the moorlands he was unaware that he was being watched by the devil, Old Scratch. Old Scratch decided he would stir up some trouble so he summoned up a storm. The wind begin to blow, stronger and stronger it blew. St Austell finding it hard to walk through the wind held on to his hat tightly so not to lose it to the wind. Then the rain came, it fell hard and hit his face and hands piercing his skin.

Suddenly as if the wind and the rain was not enough, there came a gust of wind stronger then any Austell had ever felt before and his hat flew of into the darkness. Austell helplessly watched as his hat and one of his two possessions carried away by the strong winds. Austell set off right away to search for his hat, but with the weather, the approaching darkness, and the soft ground of the moor Austell soon found his staff was not helping him and only getting in the way. St Austell thrust his staff deep into the soft turf of the moorland, and he thought to himself "I will return later to retrieve this."

Before Austell could do anything about finding his hat, the full night had came and with the wind still whipping around him, and the rain piercing his flesh St Austell soon became disorientated in the middle of the moorland in the total darkness. Austell know that he was going to have trouble finding his way home and better forget about his hat until dawn the next day. When it day broke it was only by chance that Austell found his way back to his shack. There has been many souls lost in the moor and are said to be still wander aimlessly at night, on the moor today.

At dawn the storm had passed and Austell set out to find his hat and his staff that had been left on the moors the night before. Over the downs he went up and down, searching all overt, finally Austell found his hat and his staff, but to his surprise the devil had turned both his only possessions into huge solid stone, so huge that St Austell could not retrieve them by himself. These stones were so large that later generations visiting the moors would say that they belonged to a giant, and the stone later became known as the "The Giant's Hat". Years later "The Giant's Hat" was smashed for the people feared it would bring bad luck to all.

But Austell's staff can still be seen to this day, no longer on the Down where he had planted it, and remained for many centuries, but now in Roche, and known as "The Long Stone".





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