Corineus King of Cornwall, Cornwall
How we love to link ourselves with the ancients. The story of Corineus is a subsidiary part of the legend of the Trojan Brutus, after whom Geoffrey of Monmouth would have it Britain was named. In his wanderings in the distant Mediterranean Brutus came across Corineus and his people, Corineus becoming his second-in-command. That appointment may have been regretted by Brutus, given his lieutenant by hunting without permission sparked a war in Gaul that forced the exiled Trojans to move on again – to Alba, soon renamed Britain.
While Brutus took the rest of the land the Southwest was given to Corineus, not because of his love of cream teas nor of surfing but of fighting giants, with which that corner of the country was then apparently packed. The area was duly named Cornwall after the new arrival, whose men quickly thinned the ranks of their enormous enemies.
As the Trojans were feasting one day the remaining giants attacked, and slew many of the warriors before they could rally and drive their attackers back to Dartmoor . The leader of the giants, Gogmagog, was wounded in the raid and captured. When his wounds healed Gogmagog agreed to fight Corineus for the kingship of that region. In spite of the size difference Corineus triumphed, throwing his opponent to his doom over a cliff said to be at either Totnes or Plymouth , traditionally near the Hoe.
It is not only Geoffrey of Monmouth who wrote of Corineus: John Milton in his History of Britain also records the legend, colourfully noting how Gogmagog’s blood turned the waves purple.
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