There Were Giants in Those Days... Page 17
There Were Giants in Those Days... Page 17

Giants of the Far North; Giantism or Acromegaly

We note that the discovery of "Giant" remains in around 1930 was written up in the scientific journals of the day with casual racism. We note with interest as well scientific attempts to explain why a "modern" man --and other remains found in the same cemetary" were of such huge size and why they exhibited characteristics similar to those of remains science had called Neanderthal.

Some creationists have previously suggested that Neanderthal was simply a modern man suffering some type of pathology. Evolutionists have resisted such an idea.

Here, science ironically tries to explain “giant”, and or “Neanderthal like” characteristics found on an obviously “modern” man as-being due to some type of pathology. “

Man of Gardar

Photo: Egil Skallagrimson

What manner of man was the Man of Gardar?

Was he a surviving neanderthaloid type, thousands of years out of his time in the middle ages? Was he a freak Eskimo, living with the dwindling colony of Norsemen on the unfriendly coast of Greenland in the twelfth or thirteenth century?

Or was he a degeneration type arising from the inbreeding of a malnourished group of white men cut off from the rest of the world?

These questions have been roused by the recent discovery in the medieval Christian cemetery at Gardar, southwest Greenland, of a most extraordinary skull, that has many of the characteristics of the low-browed, heavy-jawed Neanderthal race that inhabited mainland Europe scores of millennia ago.

The find was made by Prof. F.C.C. Hansen of the University of Copenhagen, and is discussed in the scientific journal Nature by Sir Arthur Keith, noted anthropologist.

Sir Arthur is inclined to look upon the strange skull as a result of a disorder of growth, somewhat like the fairly common and distressing type of giantism known as acromegaly. This disease is due to a glandular failure, and frequently results, says Sir Arthur, in the assumption, “in a bizarre form, of all the characteristics of the skulls of ancient fossil man—particularly Neanderthal and Rhodesian characters.


“Homo gardarensis must have been the subject of a particular disorder of growth—the kind of disorder which causes giantism in man, but whereas in most giants growth soon becomes irregular, in Homo gardarensis it remained regular.” ..July 19, 1930 Biofortean Review


Perkins M. (1931) Acromegaly in the far north. Nature 128 (No 3229) p. 491-2.

Acromegaly in the Far North

Heidelberg Jaw

Discovered by gravel pit workers in 1907 near Heidelberg in Germany the Jaw of Heidelberg Man as shown is approximately 40% to 50% larger by volume than the that of "Modern" man. The Gandar Jaw being discussed on this page is even larger than the Heidelberg Jaw.

In his letter in NATURE of Aug. 8 on the pituitaristic character of Egil Skallagrimson, Prof. Seligman has brought forward a remarkable subject which made a forcible impression on myself some years ago.

His opinion of the Gardariki skull confirms the existence of pituitary disorder among the Viking Scandinavians, but he does not allude to the very peculiar features which distinguish Egil's case from common clinical conditions, nor to the interesting heredity which the sagas record.

Egil closely resembled his father, Skallagrim, and paternal grandfather, Kveld Ulf, in "growth, appearance, and bent of mind " (Egla S. xx., xxxi.); while the name of the latter suggests that he recalled his maternal grandfather, Ulf the Fearless, who was ancestor through a son, Hallbjorn, 'Half-Troll' (half-giant), to the equally remarkable family of Ketil Haeng, culminating in Grettir the Strong, whose bones, like Egil's, were dug up in a churchyard and admired for their astonishing size (Gretla S. lxxxiv.).


Gigantism seems to have become endemic in the Fyrdafjord district of Sogn (Norway), where Skallagrim was able to find a dozen near his home who were "more like giants in growth and seeming than mortal men . . . all the strongest men and many shape-strong ", men who, like their chief and his father, used to run, ‘berserk' in fits of uncontrollable rage followed by exhaustion (Egla S. xxv., xxvii.).

After the emigration to Iceland three of these giant families, can be recognised by the same features reappearing in their descendants: that descended from Skallagrim, that of Giant-stead, and the descendants of Ani, among whom we may note a grandson, Steinar, who was "of all men the biggest and mighty of strength, an ugly man, crooked of growth, long-legged and short of body . . . quarrelsome and headstrong" (Egla S. lxxx.).

Here again, are signs resembling pituitary disorder, coupled with a morose, uncertain temper. Thorir, 'Long-chin', one of the most famous berserks, and Ofeig, 'Clumsy Foot', are other cases where characteristic pituitary features appear in a berserk family.

Egil and his father were noted for premature greying of their black hair with baldness at twenty-five. The father and grandfather of Grettir, in the line of Ofeig, 'Clumsy Foot', were also prematurely grey.

The precocity, both mental and physical of Egil and his brother may be associated with this premature senility, and possibly indicate a correlated excess Of' either adrenal or pineal function.

Skallagrim had several children who died young, but there is no suggestion that they suffered from a total premature senility, and in such case the father and Egil the surviving son would scarcely live to the ages of 88 and 81 respectively, or perform astonishing feats of strength on the day of death.

Grettir, far from being precocious was distinctly backward, and seems unexpectedly feeble in the development of genitalia (Gretla S. xiv., lxxv.): possibly in his case pituitary disorder passed into a stage of hypofunction, but he was in full vigour when killed at 35.

Although mentally very alert and a clever poet like Egil and Skallagrim, Grettir like his father, was noted for laziness, which also suggests hypofunction. On the other hand, the Egil family were unusually brisk; but Thorbjorg the Fat, a granddaughter of Egil, may have developed pituitary hypofunction.

Egil had also, and Grettir was credited with a son who died at 17, after promising to develop into something altogether extraordinary (Gretla S lxvii.)

The tendency to berserk (hamask), so obviously resembling the running amok of Malays, was closely interwoven with “shape-changing” or being “shape strong” (hamrammr, vide T. R. Eddison, 1930, "Egil's Saga", notes, p. 245 ff.; and Du Chaillu, 1889; "Viking Age", ii. p. 425), The latter may broadly be regarded as peculiar behaviour in the dusk, such as sleepiness and surliness (Kveld ,Ulf), berserk fits (Skallagrim), mad drinking fits (Egil), dusk prowling, supposedly in animal shape (Storolf Haengson), terror of the dark (Grettir).

We may imagine that evening terrors would provoke an adrenal release which might become translated, in those with constitutional adrenal excess, into a fit of berserk rage. Berserk fits, being involuntary, may also be compared with the 'uncinate’ epileptiform seizures of pituitary hypertrophy, and, there seems to be a strong hysterical element, because the subject was believed to be impossible to wound, which may mean that he was insensible to pain and did not bleed from non-arterial traumata.

As regards heredity, I have traced 52 male and 19 female descendants of Ulf the Fearless in 12 generations. Seventeen of the males are recorded as peculiar in one or more of the above ways, 6 others probably were so, but details are not available in the sagas at my hand, and of these 4 males evidently transmitted the heritage; 4 males transmitted without being noticed as unusual themselves.

Females naturally have attracted less attention, but 3 of the 19 seem to have been unusual and 8 transmitted. Skallagrim and Grettir were each the offspring of berserk families on both sides among 14 members of the associated families, 7 seem to have been peculiar; while the two other berserk families from Fyrdafjord referred to above include 7 peculiar among 9 individuals.

In brief, half, of both sexes, may be believed to have had a peculiar hereditary constitution; and the condition seems not to be sex-linked.

These details are drawn from the well-known sagas of Egil, Grettir, Laxdale, Burnt Njal, and the Norse Kings: lack of space makes publication of the genealogical table inadvisable, while it may yet be improved by reference, to the sagas of Ketil Haeng, and others not yet translated.

It is certain that descendants of Ulf the Fearless settled in Greenland, because, soon after its discovery, fourteen ships reached that land from Borgafjord of Skallagrim's settling and Breidafjord the home of Grettir's mother, through whom he derived from Ulf: it is therefore quite possible that the Gardariki skulls include some of Ulf's descendants.

The description of the unusually tall Grettir as “a handsome man. . . . with a face rather broad and short, red-haired and somewhat freckled.” (Gretla S. xiv.), places him at once as that well-known German-resembling Caledonian type which attracted the attention of Tacitus; it also suggests the much more ancient Cro-Magnon with dysharmonic face a conspicuously giant type.


On the other hand, the Egil family, with its, black hair, great height, thick skull, prognathism, precocity, and fits of rage, is curiously parallel to the tall negroid in everything except indolence, which was certainly displayed on the Grettir side, and pigmentation of the skin.

Hamrammr may even be compared with the 'Leopard Society’ prowling of West Africa. This parallel is interesting, because rock-tracings at Tanum in South Sweden introduce us to sea raiders and settlers who were familiar with the leopard, the camel, the ostrich, and the turtle, as pointed out by Du Chaillu (“Viking Age” ii. p.124).

Some are represented of immense size, many are prognathous with a suggestion, of the acromegalic chin some have unusually long legs and short bodies like Steinar, several are remarkably fat; often pictured fighting with vigour, they might well represent ancestors of Egil.

Also the Fomorians, supernatural giants, who exactly parallel the Scandinavian Trolls in Irish tradition and played the part of vikings in their earliest history, were explained as "sea-raiders from Africa" by the medieval scholarship in Keating's well-known “History of Ireland”.

As a hypothesis, the tall and fair Scandinavian, or even taller red Caledonian, raiding up and down the Atlantic coasts in very early days, might conceivably contact with the tall negroids of Jaloff, and thus acquire with captured women the seeds of a black-haired stock unbalanced in many ways and marked by excessive height, such, as that producing Egil Skallagrimson. MICHAEL PERKINS, Little Cloisters, Westminster Abbey, S.W.I.

A Different Opinion on Acromegaly Related to Gardar Skull


As one sees on these two radiographs of acromegalic patients, the deformations relate to the facial part of the head, and nothing justifies that this disease can cause the shape of the occipital part of the skull of Gardar.

Quite to the contrary, the assumption which seems to impose itself here, and that most reject because of the recent character of these remains, and their localization, is that it appears to be those of Homo erectus bones."



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