Why is Cambridgeshire so flat? Probably because of all the giants who used to stomp around it! If you travel to or live in the land of Cambridgeshire, you could be walking in the footsteps of witches, kings, or monsters. Journey through time to meet the giant-slayers of Roman times, the future-seers of Norman times, the history-shapers of the British Civil War, and even men from Victorian times who could travel on two legs faster than a steam train! What is truth, and what is myth? Decide for yourself after reading these tales of Cambridgeshire—the home of heroes from history.
|Publisher:||The History Press|
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.50(d)|
About the Author
Chip Colquhoun co-founded Snail Tales Storytelling in 2007 and soon secured funding for a series of school residencies. He devised and performed online videos for the Oxford Reading Tree's Traditional Tales series, and was commissioned in 2013 to write guidance on storytelling in education for the EU Lifelong Learning Programme. Chip is on the board of the Society for Storytelling.
Read an Excerpt
Folk Tales for Children
By Chip Colquhoun
The History PressCopyright © 2016 Chip Colquhoun
All rights reserved.
WHY IS CAMBRIDGESHIRE SO FLAT?
Before people like you and me were born, the land was home to giants with amazing powers. They were known as gods.
Some gods were fierce and mean, and the fiercest and meanest of all was Warrior God. He wanted to rule the world, and was always fighting the other gods.
But there were friendly gods too. Sun God had powers of heat, light, growth ... and destruction. He used his powers wisely, however. He only used destruction to remove old trees and make space for new forests.
There was also Mother Goddess, whose power was creation. She could ask the land or the animals to give her anything nature could make – and they would!
Sun God and Mother Goddess often walked together through the hilly forests of Cambridgeshire. Those hills were huge! The gods loved running up one side, then rolling down the other! Have you ever tried that on a hill?
At the start of this story, though, Sun God and Mother Goddess were picnicking at a beach in Suffolk when, suddenly, Mother Goddess saw flames flickering on the horizon ... 'Oh! The forests of Cambridgeshire! They're on fire!'
Sun God and Mother Goddess both ran to their favourite land. But as they arrived ... CLANG! A huge cage fell from above, trapping them both!
From behind a nearby hill appeared Warrior God. 'Got ya! You can't get out of that cage – it's made from a metal harder than anything in nature! So your favourite forests of Cambridgeshire will burn to ashes, unless you give me what I want!'
Sun God raised an eyebrow. 'And what do you want?'
Warrior God grinned. 'I want your powers of heat, light, growth ... and destruction!'
But Mother Goddess just chuckled. 'We'll get out of this cage in no time. All I need to do is ask the land for an axe – made from the hardest material in nature!'
And what's the hardest material in nature? That would be diamond.
The land below Mother Goddess pushed out an axe with a diamond blade. She lifted it high and swung it at the cage, but ... CLANG! The bars didn't even scratch and the axe shattered into a thousand pieces!
Sun God frowned. 'This metal might be hard, but I'll melt it with my heat.'
He focused all his power on the cage, turning the bars red with heat, but they wouldn't melt.
Warrior God laughed. 'I told ya! This cage isn't made from anything in nature! It's made from ultra-hard nano-twinned cubic boron nitride, which I made myself! It's even harder than diamonds! So you're not getting out ... Not until you give me your powers of heat, light, growth ... and destruction!'
Sun God looked sadly at the burning forests of Cambridgeshire, then sighed. 'Oh well. It's a shame about Cambridgeshire. But at least Gobblewobbleshire is safe.'
Now it was Warrior God's turn to frown.
'Gobblewobbleshire? What's Gobblewobbleshire?'
Sun God shrugged. 'That's our most favouritest land in the world.'
Mother Goddess nodded. 'That's right. It's our most favouritest land in the world ever!'
Warrior God growled. 'Well, not for much longer! I'll find Gobblewobbleshire and set fire to that land too! Then, when I come back, you'll have to give me your powers of heat, light, growth and destruction!'
With that, he ran off into the distance.
Sun God turned to Mother Goddess. 'Quick! We haven't got much time! We need to think of a way out of here!'
But Mother Goddess looked worried. 'How can we break out of this cage if the bars are made of ultra-stiff ... cubic-twinned ... nitric thingie?'
Both gods thought really hard.
Suddenly Mother Goddess cried, 'I've got it!'
First, she asked some spiders to make her a huge sack from spiderweb. The spiders set to work, and the sack was ready in about a minute.
Then Mother Goddess held the sack open and told Sun God to blow heat into it. Sun God did so and, slowly, the sack began to float ...
They'd made a hot-air balloon!
The sack rose, then lifted the cage up ... and up ... and up ... and Sun God and Mother Goddess were free!
By now, the forests in Cambridgeshire burned beneath a raging fire. All Sun God and Mother Goddess could do was stamp out the flames with their giant feet. And, as they did, the land got flatter and flatter.
Just as they stamped out the final flame, Warrior God returned.
'Hey! There's no such place as
And ... oh! You escaped my cage!
How? Waaaa ...'
Warrior God sat down, and burst into tears.
Wearily, Sun God said, 'It's alright. I'm getting old now. I'll happily give you my powers anyway.'
Mother Goddess shook her head frantically. 'No! He'll only use them for destruction!'
But Warrior God looked happy. 'You will?'
Sun God nodded, and told Warrior God to look into his eyes.
Warrior God poked his tongue out at Mother Goddess, then gazed into Sun God's eyes. He could feel the power of destruction entering his body, and building up ... and up ... and up ...
'W-w-wait ... I ... I can't take it!'
But Sun God didn't stop. He kept feeding his power into Warrior God until, suddenly, Warrior God exploded!
So Warrior God was no longer a problem for anyone. But the land of Cambridgeshire had been burned and flattened so much, it never looked the same again.
Of course, there are still some hills in Cambridgeshire. For example, a large hill called Gogmagog is quite close to Cambridge city. Where did that hill come from? Find out in ...CHAPTER 2
THE LAND OF GOGMAGOG
THERE WAS ONCE A GREAT CITY KNOWN AS TROY, BELOVED OF THE GREEK GODS SUCH AS ...
... APOLLO, GOD OF THE SUN ...
... ARTEMIS, GODDESS OF THE HUNT ...
... ARES GOD OF WAR ...
... AND HEROIC MEN LIKE ARENEAS AND HIS GRANDSON BRUTUS.
EVENTUALLY. HOWEVER, TROY WAS DEFEATED IN A WAR AGAINST THE CLEVER ANCIENT GREEKS.
LUCKILY, ARENEAS AND BRUTUS MANAGED TO ESCAPE ...
... BUT IN THE DAYS OF RUNNING AND PANIC WHICH FOLLOWED, BRUTUS ENDED UP ALONE AND WASHED UP ON A DESERT ISLAND.
AS HE EXPLORED THE ISLAND, HE CAME ACROSS A TEMPLE TO ARTEMIS, GODDESS OF THE HUNT.
EXHAUSTED, HE SLEPT IN THE TEMPLE AND ARTEMIS CAME TO HIM IN A DREAM
KEEP GOING BRUTUS I AM BY YOUR SIDE!
YOU WILL FIND FRIENDS IN THE LAND OF GAUL ...
... AND YOU WILL CONQUER AN ISLAND OF GIANTS TO START A NEW CHAPTER IN HISTORY
ENCOURAGED BY THIS VISION, BRUTUS SET OFF TO FIND HIS DESTINY.
WHEN HE ARRIVED IN GAUL BRUTUS TRIED TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE LEADER OF THE BARBARIANS KING GOFF ...
'NOWADAYS KNOWN AS FRANCE -ED
... BUT FIRST HE HAD TO PROVE THAT HE COULD BE TRUSTED ...
THERE'S A MAN IN MY DUNGEON CAUGHT STEALING OUR DEER.
HE'S SO STRONG IT TOOK 20 MEN TO STICK HIM IN CHAINS 2 INCHES THICK!
IF YOU REALLY ARE MY FRIEND, YOU WILL KILL HIM WITHOUT QUESTIONS,.
ARE YOU PREPARED TO DIE THIEF?
BRUTUS HAD FORGOTTEN KING GOFF'S COMMAND NOT TO ASK QUESTIONS ...
ARTEMIS, I AM READY TO MEET YOU IN HEAVEN.
... BUT THE ANSWER TOLD BRUTUS WHO HIS REAL FRIEND SHOULD BE.
YOU'RE A TROJAN?!
BRUTUS WAS SURE CORINEUS WAS THE FRIEND ARTEMIS HAD MEANT HIM TO FIND ...
THE GAULS WOULDN'T SHARE FOOD WITH A TROJAN, SO I HAD TO HUNT THEIR DEER, I DIDN'T KNOW IT BELONGED TO THE KING
I OWE YOU MY LIFE.
ARTEMIS SAYS MY DESTINY IS TO CONQUER A LAND OF GIANTS
I COULD USE A STRONG FRIEND LIKE YOU!
BRUTUS AND CORINEUS FOUND OTHER TROJANS TO JOIN THEM, AD THEN SET SAIL FOR THE ISLAND OF ALBION ...
... THE ISLAND OF GIANTS!
THE CHAMPION OF THE GIANTS, THE LARGEST OF THEM ALL WAS GREAT MADOC ...
STUPID MEN SAIL HERE ON BOAT I THROW STUPID MEN AWAY THROO SKY!
I GRAT MADOC! I THROW YOU THROO SKY!
CORINEUS WAS THE FIRST TO STEP UP TO THE CHALLENGES
I THINK I KNOW WHY ARTEMIS WANTED US TO BE FRIENDS!
SORRY, WHO DID YOU SAY YOU HERE?
I GREAT MADOC! I THROW YOU THROO SKY!
NAH, I BET YOU CAN'T EVEN THROW A PEBBLE
HERE! I MAKE YOU A HAT!
SHOWING INCREDIBEL STRENGTH, SKILLS AND SPEED, CORINEUS JUMPED ONTO THE FLYING LAND ...
... THEN JUMPED AGAIN ...
AND THRUST HIS FIST INTO MADOC'S JAW.
IH ... IH GRAG MAGOG ...
WHAT DID YOU SAY YOUR NAME WAS? "GOG MAGOG"?
IH GRAGE MAGOG. AH IH BLOW BLOO BOO FIE!
ONCE MORE, CORINEUS NIMBLY SLIPPED AWAY - AND MADOC ...
... RAN STRAIGHT OVER THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF ...
IH GRAG MAGG BOOBA DA KIR MEN?
THAT'S RIGHT 'GOG MAGOG', HE'RE GOING TO KILL YOU.
BRUTUS, WAIT ... YOU ONCE SPARE ME SO I BECAME YOUR FRIEND. IF WE SPARE MAGOG, MAYBE HE WILL BE OUR FRIEND TOO?
LET'S NOT START THE NEW COUNTRY OF BRITAIN WITH CRUELTY, THE WAY OTHERS HAVE TREATED US.
LET'S START A COUNTRY WHERE EVERYONE CAN FEEL AT HOME.
CORINEUS HAS RIGHT, THE GIANTS BECAME THEIR FRIENDS AND ALLOWED BRUTUS TO BE CROWNED KING OF THE ISLAND ...
WHICH HAS NAMED AFTER HIM, BRIATIN.
CORINEUS AND GREAT MADOC - OR GOG MAGOG, AS THAT HAS THE ONLY WAY HE COULD SAY HIS NAME WITH HIS BROKEN JAW - BECAME GREAT FRIENDS. WORKING TOGETHER AS THE GUARDIANS OF LONDON.
AND DO YOU KNOW YOU CAN CHECK. IF THIS STORY IS TRUE?
WELL, REMEMBER THAT THAT MADOC THREW AT CORINEUS? THAT LAND, UH, LANDED NOT TOO FAR FROM CAMBRIDGE ...
... CREATING ONE OF THE ONLY HILLS IN THE FLAT COUNTRYSIDE, WHICH IS NAMED AFTER THE GIANT HIMSELF, GOGMAGOG, AND DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE?
SOME SAY IT LANDED RIGHT ON TOP OF THE WARRIOR GOD ..."
'SEE CHAPTER 1: 'WHY IS CAMBRIDGESHIRE SO FLAT?' - EDCHAPTER 3
By the year AD 470 (that's the fifth century), most of the Romans had left Britain. The people who stayed called themselves 'Britons', and divided the land into several kingdoms. But they didn't really like each other, and were usually fighting.
Not only that, there were also other countries who wanted to take over Britain. So Britons were also fighting armies from France and Saxony (a land that we now know as Germany).
Not only that, but there were still some giants roaming about! Some were friendly, like Gogmagog, but even the nice ones still needed a lot to eat.
So ordinary people like Jack, a boy who lived with his mum, sometimes found it very hard to get food – especially since they lived in the Fens, the fields north and east of Cambridgeshire.
Remember the fire made by Warrior God? That had left the Fens very dry, almost as dry as a desert! Plants wouldn't grow there, only grass and weeds. So Jack and his mum couldn't grow vegetables.
Instead, every morning, Jack left their cottage to hunt, taking his bow, some arrows, and his dog, who was called Riothamus.
That's a funny name for a dog, isn't it. Jack had named him after the king of Cambridgeshire back then – a Saxon called Riothamus – but Jack usually called his dog 'Rio' for short.
Jack and Rio would wander the Fens until they saw a nice juicy bird flying through the sky. Then Jack would raise up his bow, aim an arrow, and ... ping!
Jack was pretty good with his bow and arrow, and usually hit a bird first time.
As the bird fell from the sky, Rio would run after it ... 'WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!' ...and, after a while, he would run back carrying the bird in his mouth: 'WMMF! WMMF! MMF! WMMF!'.
Jack would then take the bird home for his mum to cook.
This is how they passed every single day. Jack and Rio would wander the Fens until they saw a nice juicy bird flying through the sky. Then Jack would raise up his bow, aim an arrow, and ... ping!
As the bird fell from the sky, Rio would dash after it ... 'WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!' ... and, after a while, he would race back carrying the bird in his mouth: 'WMMF! WMMF! WMMF! WMMF!'.
Jack would then take the bird home for his mum to cook.
Now, can you imagine eating the same food every single day? Well, that's what it was like in that cottage!
However, at the start of this story, Jack and Rio had hunted for a whole week – and still hadn't found any food. Every bird in the sky had already been caught by the armies or the giants. So Jack, his mum and Rio were all very hungry.
As Jack put on his hunting boots once more, his mum said, 'Oh Jack. Don't hunt today. There aren't any more birds and I'm worried a giant might eat you instead!'
But Jack smiled. 'Cheer up, Mum! We'll catch a bird today, I'm sure! Come on Rio!'
So off they went, wandering the Fens. Half the day had gone when, suddenly, Jack heard a sound above them ... CAW!
It was a bird, and it was the largest bird he'd ever seen! Quickly, he raised his bow, aimed an arrow, and ... ping!
As the bird fell from the sky, Rio dashed after it ... 'WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! WOOF!' ... and, after a while ...
Then, after a longer while ...
Then, after a really long while ...
Now Jack felt nervous. What was taking Rio so long? Had he been picked up by ... a giant?
Rushing as fast as he could, Jack crossed that field – and several more fields – until, at last, he found Rio.
Rio was sat on a riverbank. He whined.
Jack understood. The bird had landed on the other side of the river. 'Oh Rio, you can't bring the bird back from the other side of the river on your own? Well, we'll just have to trudge over there and get it together, won't we!'
Jack took a branch from a nearby tree, and dipped it in the river. No one had ever taught him how to swim, so he hoped the water wasn't too deep. He took the branch out and held it beside his body. The water only went up to his waist. Phew!
Keeping the branch for balance, Jack waded across. Rio paddled alongside him (dogs never seem to need swimming lessons, do they?).
Once out the other side, Jack followed Rio, and Rio followed his nose. They crossed one more field – and then Jack's jaw dropped open. 'Wow!'
The bird had landed on the head of a large, juicy cow – and now the cow was ready to eat as well!
Jack gasped. 'Rio! Mum's gonna be so happy! We'll have a bird to eat, and some beef! This must be our most luckiest day in the world!'
Rio picked up the bird in his teeth. 'WMMF!'
Jack dragged the cow back to the river. But, as they reached the riverbank, Rio began to whine again.
Jack understood. 'You can't carry the bird and swim at the same time? Don't worry ... I can manage ...'
Jack hefted the bird onto his shoulders, then grabbed the cow. The weight nearly stopped him from moving, but Jack really wanted his mum to see his catch. So he stepped into the river, carrying the bird and dragging the cow. Rio paddled alongside him.
After a while, Jack felt his feet getting heavier, and trudged slower and slower ... Rio whined, worried for his master.
But Jack smiled. 'Don't ... worry ... Rio! It doesn't ... matter ... how slow ... I go ... I'll still ... get there!'
Jack trudged ... slower ... and slower ... and ... slow ...
... and then he made it! He heaved the cow up the riverbank. Of course, he still had to drag the cow to the cottage. But it was easier to walk on that dry land, even though his feet still felt heavier than normal.
At last they arrived home. His mother was waiting by the front door, looking out for them; she had been very worried. But now she grinned at the sight of the huge bird – and then gasped at the sight of the cow!
Jack beamed. 'That's right, Mum. We'll have a good meal tonight ... and probably tomorrow ... and the next day!'
Jack sat on the ground to take off his boots ... then his jaw dropped open even further than before. 'Mum! Look! Look at the fish in my boots! That's why my feet felt heavier than normal!'
Sure enough, Jack's boots had caught loads of fish from the river! Jack couldn't believe his luck: 'This must be our most luckiest day in the world ever!'
With the exercise from his journey and the extra food, Jack's muscles grew much stronger. So, soon after, Jack left home to help King Arthur rid Britain of some of its last and meanest mythical creatures. I wonder if you can find any more stories about Jack the Giant Slayer – maybe you already know one?
It's hard to follow in Jack's footsteps today, though, because the Fens aren't as hard and dry any more. The Fens have almost all become marshes: wet, soggy land that's difficult to walk over.
Want to know how that happened? Well, our next story just happens to be called ...CHAPTER 4
WHY THE FENS ARE MARSHES
By the seventh century, the Saxons ruled England. Most people were happy about this because it meant the fighting stopped for a while, especially when a man called Oswy became King.
Oswy brought many of the English kingdoms together. Being a good Christian, Oswy liked the idea of England being peaceful. To help, he invited monks from another Christian country, Italy, to visit England and build churches.
One of these monks was a man called Felix. And, at the start of this story, Oswy asked Felix to find a town in Cambridgeshire that might be good for a very special kind of church known as an abbey.
Now today you can get to Italy in about five hours, sitting comfortably the whole way. But in those days, they hadn't invented planes yet. They hadn't invented cars yet. They hadn't even invented bicycles yet. So Felix had a bumpy horse-ride the whole way. For Felix, it took five weeks!
So, when Felix arrived in Cambridgeshire, he was very tired ... and very hungry ... and very thirsty ...
He arrived at a small town in the middle of the Fens. After parking his horse, he hobbled to the first house in the street and knocked at the door.
The door was opened by a tall woman with a long nose and thin lips. She looked down her nose at Felix and sniffed. 'Yis?'
Excerpted from Cambridgeshire by Chip Colquhoun. Copyright © 2016 Chip Colquhoun. Excerpted by permission of The History Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Thank Yous,
1 Why is Cambridgeshire so Flat?,
2 The Land of Gogmagog,
3 Jack's Catch,
4 Why the Fens are Marshes,
5 The Wisbech Giant,
6 The Eel Catcher's Daughter,
7 King John's Jewels,
8 Whirlin' Sunday,
9 Donkey Boy,
10 The Shapeshifter,
11 The Ghost of the White Horse Inn,
12 The Ballad of Eliza Woodcock,
13 The Histon Giant,
14 The Fastest Men in the World,
15 Fearless Mary,
16 The Soham Rail Disaster,
Tips For Sharing,
More About the Stories,
About the Author and Illustrators,