The world’s tallest true giant from the Hebrides

Angus MacAskill from the Hebrides, the world's tallest true giant. PIC Wikicommons.

Angus MacAskill from the Hebrides, the world's tallest true giant. PIC Wikicommons.

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It is said he could lift a horse over a fence without breaking a sweat and raise an anchor weighing more than 140 stone to his chest.

Angus MacAskill, from Berneray in the Outer Hebrides stood at 7ft 9ins tall and toured the world during the 19th Century to show off his physical might and impress with his deeds of sheer strength.

A model of MacAskill with his performing sidekick Tom Thumb at the Giant Angus MacAskill museum on Skye. PIC Wikicommons.

A model of MacAskill with his performing sidekick Tom Thumb at the Giant Angus MacAskill museum on Skye. PIC Wikicommons.

MacAskill, born in 1825, was so small as a baby it was feared he might not survive but he rapidly grew during his teenage years. The span of his hand measured a foot wide with his shoulders stretching some 80 inches.

In 1981, he was named as the world’s largest true giant by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Tales of his physical abilities are plentiful with it claimed he could pull a fishing boat in two and carry barrels of pork weighing over 20 stone under each arm with ease.

READ MORE: The Great Wizard of the North who put a spell on the world

The monument to Giant MacAskill on Berneray, the island where he was born. PIC www.geograph.co.uk

The monument to Giant MacAskill on Berneray, the island where he was born. PIC www.geograph.co.uk

Frequently challenged to fights and physical tests, he was injured by an anchor after lifting it to please a group of French sailors.

When he was six, the MacAskills were cleared from Berneray with the family setting up a new life in Nova Scotia in the mid 1830s. MacAskill later became known as the Cape Breton Giant or simply Big Boy by those who knew him.

Despite his incredible physical presence, he is also remembered for his gentle nature and soft voice.

In 1850, MacAskill was asked by a captain who visited his home town of Englishtown to travel to America with him and perform some shows with the move opening up a lucrative showbusiness career for the Hebridean, whose stage name became Giant MacAskill.

He joined PT Barnum’s Circus and was regularly performing alongside Tom Thumb, who was just 3ft tall. It is said the Scot could hold his sidekick in the palm of his hand with the double act often appearing on circus flyers together.

READ MORE: The myth of the Hebridean mermaid

During his travels across Europe, MacAskill was invited to Windsor Castle by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert where the monarch declared him “the tallest, stoutest and strongest man to ever enter the palace”, He was presented with two gold rings as a show of appreciation.

MacAskill returned home a wealthy man to his home community where he purchased a gristmill and a general store. He died suddenly at the age of 38 from brain fever.

The Halifax Acadian Recorder of August 15, 1863, reported that “the well-known giant... was by far the tallest man in Nova Scotia, perhaps in British America” and that “his mild and gentle manner endeared him to all who had the pleasure of his acquaintance”.

There are two museums to MacAskill - the Giant MacAskill Heirs Association in Englishtown and the Giant Angus MacAskill Museum in Dunvegan, Skye. There, models of his giant bed and chair are on display, with the originals held by the Canadian museum. A memorial stands in his name at Berneray.

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