Rüstige Rysen / Gentle Giants

Sassisk

Wat ik my de leste jåren oft prakkeseier, is wår of wearld vurd kümt. Et düt my der neet um of wy dårmed us uutvögeln kinnen wat of us mål yn leavent is, dår glööv ik my neet hard up. Wat of ik my wichtiger neam, is dat ter neet en soad vortellingen binnen dee hard gån up dat ter en absolüüt begün is. Meskeen kinnen wy der twey: de Big Bang-teory van et scientisme, en et creatio ex nihilo uut et Jouden- en Kristendom. Mor good, by dee earste is et nog mor de vråg ho stark det ex nihilo is, umreaden de Big Bang kin up en heyle sood wyses interperteard worden. En in et Jouden- en Kristendom geit et meskeen ouk aans, in al val historisk seyn, as wy Ellen van Wolde glöven mogen. Neavens höär moten wy et begün van Genesis up en ander wyse leasen. Gen 1:1 is neet et begün van skepping, mor en ankondigen van de vortelling, dee oaverset worden kin as: ‘up et begün wårin God de himmel en de aerde skeidde’ (‘Why the Verb bar’a Does Not Mean ‘to Create’ in Genesis 1.1-2.4a’ (2009), p. 21).

Good, geen creatio ex nihilo dus. Wat din? Was der altyd doch wat? Likt ter up, as wy kyken når meynste mytologys de wearld oaver. Byvübbeld as wy us en mål kyken når de veale verskydene Aboriginal-stammen uut Australien: by höär is aerde der sünt tydstyden haer, en skepping wordt allennig beskreaven as et invüllen van landskapskenmarkens. Dit geit an tydens ‘de Dröymtyd’, of beater, ‘de Dröym’. Disse Dröym is geyn preteritum perfektum: ouk up dit momint is de Dröym, en dus skeppen, nog altyd aktyv (Tony Swain en Gerry Trompf, The Religions of Oceania (1995), p. 20-21).

Vöär Dröym-like tostanden höven wy us neet to wyd vut to kyken, umreaden ouk de Sassiske umråden kinnen lyke skeppens as disse Dröym. Kyken wy eys en mål når motyv SINSAG 0131 Die Entstehung der Hügel (et ontstån van höyvels), en sagemotyv uut Sinninghe’s Katalog der Sagen im niederländischen Sprachraum (1943). Nedderlanske Volksvortellingendatasåmling givt ungevear twinnig versys van disse vortelling wårin rysen disse höyvels maken. Vyv kommen uut Sassiske umråden, mor der binnen der seakers mear. Et is en tema det döär heyl Nourdwest-Europa geit, med meskeen dus wel en vöärkristelke vorleaden. Seakers bin ik my dår nimmer um, dår is wårelk en bült mear undersök by nöydig.

Ditmål wil ik ju twey vortellingen bringen. By earstens sellen ju my vorgeaven moten, dat et en vortelling up et Lutherdüütsk is. Allennig wat of twey rysen mekander seggen is up Sassisk. Disse vortelling kümt uut et book Die Gläserne Kutsche van Heinrich Specht. Et book is en vorsåmling volksvortellingen uut Bentheim, en umråd in Düütskland stuv teagen Nedderlanske pål an. Vortelling sülv kümt uut darde uutgåve, uut et jår 1967, en is andrägen döär Ludwig Sager.

Hunold, der Hüne von Hilten

Das war wieder eine tolle Nacht gewesen, die Walpurgisnacht auf dem Hünenbarg in Höcklenkamp! Von weit und breit waren die Riesen gekommen und hatten da oben ihr Gelage gefeiert, Ochsen gebraten und Met aus Eimern getrunken. Unten in der Hünenbecke hatten sie immer wieder den heißen Kopf gekühlt. Ihr Gesang – ach nein, das war kein Singen, das war Heulen des Sturmes. Die kleinen Menschen ringsum in den Holz- und Lehmhütten waren vor Angst in die Brambüsche hinter den Kiefern  gekrochen.

Im Morgengrauen waren ihrer neun [rysen] heimgewandert, sie wohnten in den Gölenkamper Bergen. Nur Hunold, der größte und wildeste, hauste in den Heidbergen von Hilten. Tief unten im Sande lag seine Höhle, die mit Ochsenfellen ausgekleidet war. Beim Abschied lud er seine acht Gesellen ein, mit ihm noch ein Faß alten Honigwein zu trinken, das er hier versteckt hielt. “Bringt mir aber nicht all den Sand in mein Haus!” rief er ihnen zu, “schüttet die Schuhe aus!”

Da haben sie die Schuhe von den langen Beinen gezogen und haben sie ausgeschüttet. Er selbst machte es ihnen vor. Was kam da aus den breiten Latschen heraus! Vor einem großen Hügel Sand stand zuletzt ein jeder. “Wat’n Bült” rief der erste, “wat’n Barg!” rief der zweite. So ging’s weiter bis zum neunten und letzten, und jeder wollte den höchsten Haufen aus der Höcklenkamper Sandwüste mitgebracht haben.

So sind die “Neegenbarge” entstanden. Da trafen sich später die Bauern der umliegenden Gemeinden Hardingen, Hilten und Lemke. Hier setzten sie die Steine, die ihre Gemarkungen abgrenzten.

Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche (1925/1967), p. 33

Tweyde vortelling kümt krekt oaver pål hin uut Nedderland, uut et dörpke Gramsbargen, uut et bookske Verhalen oet Gramsbargen döär en seakere H. Roelofs. Der is my wat komisk med disse versy, umreaden under de vortelling steit noar een verhaal oet “Die Gläserne Kutsche” von Heinrich Specht (p. 15). Dee earste vortelling! Etsülvde is et seakers neet: oardeal der sülv mor um.

De Reus

In vrogger tied, heel lange leene, wonn’ d’r in disse contreien völle reuzen. In Grambargen wonn’ iene van de grootste reuzen; hie huuzen onder ’n Hogen Esch; doar hatte zien hol. Het hol van de reus was of -ekleed met koevellen. Hie had t’r goed netties. Het was niks te roem veur hum; zien heufd lag bi’j ’t Hammegien, en veur ziene bienne hatte nog een heel stuk oet-egreven onder ’n Oosteresch tot an de Ossenweide! Of gleuv’ i’j het niet dat het onder ’n Hogen Esch hol is? Now, a’j midden op ’n Hogen Esch goat stoan, en i’j stampt dan héél hard met de voete op de stroate, dan klinkt het hol! En a’j dat niet höört, dan stamp i’j niet hard genog!

Den Grambarger reus hieten “Archibald”. Het was een goediggen reus; zien collega’s kwamen graag bi’j hum op bezuuk um een vat wien met hum te drinken! Mar Archibald zee aaltied: “Jonges, ik hebbe graag da’j komt, mar keert dan owwe lèèrzen umme véúr da’j in Grambargen bint, aanders make i’j mi’j zo’n rommel! Ik wil het hier graag ’n bettien schier holen!

De reuzen oet het zuden van ’t laand gooiden heure léérzen leug in Holten en Lemele; zo bint de Holter en Lemeler barge ontstoane. Die as oet het oost, oet Duutslaand kwamen, keerden heure lèèrzen umme in Wielen en Wilsum; dat wörden de Wieler en Wilsummer barge. De noordelukke reuzen stötten ze umme in Drente: de Hondsrugge. Wie as korter bi’j wonn’, en ok de kleine reusies kiepten ze leug in Bèèrze en in Rheeze: de Bèèrzer en de Rheezer bilten!

Iederiene was bange veur de reuzen! As ze een feest hadden, dan gonk t’r hèèr! De grond in Grambargen dreunden d’r van! Zie maken zo völle lawaai! En zie brulden zo! Mar ’t mut -ezegd wörden, a’j ze niks in de weg leen’ ha’j d’r aanders niet zo völle last van!

H. Roelofs, Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (1994), p. 13-14

Wat ouk skyr is: motyv SINSAG 0131 Die Entstehung der Hügel kümt eyglyks nimmer allennig vöär; meynstyds is ter nog en ander vortelling deran plakket. Dat geit ouk by beide vortellingen van ditmål, en dår sellen wy en ander mål wel mear um vortellen. Vöär as ju no al nyskyrig worden binnen: dit heyle bepråt haar ik my en mål earder publisearet up et Nedderlansk hyr. Dit hyr is en mear updatearde versy, med wat mear oug vöär detai.

Et algemeine plot van beide vortellingen is glyk: der is en feast van rysen med en sood gelüüd, dår lü bangigheyd vöär hebben, en groutste rys nöydigt andre rysen uut by hum to kommen wat to drinken. Vöärdat rysen in et med koienvellen-ofkleide hul van groutste rys kommen, vrågt groutste rys höär um styvels um to kearen, en höär dus van sand to leagen. As rysen dit doon vörmt et sand höyvels up et landskop.

Meynste undersökers van tydstyden haer (en süms ouk van disse tyd) binnen höär heyl blyde med disse glyknissen, dee vöär höär genog weasen um en vöäl ollere tradytsy to postulearen. Dår gå ik neet sündermear in med. Vorskydenhyd is my ouk heyl wichtig. Beider vortellingen hebben höär eigen detais vansülv. In de Nedderlanske vortelling wor groutte van rys syn hul angeaven med landskopskenmarkens: van et Hammegyn töt by Ossenwyde. Ouk vortelt et um ho of Houge Esk leag klingt as ju der hard genog up stampen. In de Düütske vortelling wor et feast med mear detai vortelt. Et geit um de Walpurgisnacht, dee neet echt länger feiert in Nedderland wor, dus dårum neet nöömet in Nedderlanske tekst is. Düütske tekst har sülvs en vorklåren van windhulen: et is et skreien van rysen.

Wat my eyglyks et meast vorbåst, is ho aans beide vortellingen van mekander binnen. Nåmen van rysen binnen al aans. Nedderlanske vortelling hev Archibald, en arkaiske nåm. Düütske heyt Hunold, en wor en ‘Hüne’ nöömed, når nomåden dee vanof 5e eyw nå Kristus Europa binnenkommen. Hünen en rysen worden med enkander identifiseared vanof 19e eyw in volksvortellingen. Ouk vanof dee tyd worden megalithiske bauwsels in Nedderland hüneberren nöömet (De Blécourt, Willem, Ruben Koman, Jurjen van der Kooi, & Theo Meder. Verhalen van Stad en Streek: Sagen en Legenden in Nederland (2010), p. 193). Wichtigste andring is dee dee vortellingen lokålisearet in eigen umråd. In Düütskland geit et um de Neegenbargen, en ryg an höyvels in de umråd van Gölenkamp. Up Nedderlanske kant geit et um söyven höyvels van rysen uut et süden, ousten, nourden, en uut desülvde umråd. Neet uut et westen. Villicht neet, umreaden skryver glöövt hum/höär neet an rysen up de polder of by Randstad in de nåhyd.

Wat my disse vortellingen seyn låten is dat en bült vortellingen en soud up enkander lyken, mor dat et meist faskinearende höär tount do de vorskydenhyd in dee teksten seriöst nömen wor. Wat of disse vorskydenhyd bringt is altyd en sture vråg, mor en wichtige. Lykas wy et landskop vörm geaven döär use vortellingen, so vörmt et landskop use vortellingen up syn tyd ouk.

English

What I’ve been thinking about the last couple of years is where the world comes from. I don’t care about whether that helps us to discover any meaning to our lives, I don’t really believe in that. What is more important to me is that there are not a lot of stories that postulate an absolute beginning. Perhaps we know of two: the scientistic Big Bang-theory, and the creation ex nihilo as found in Judaism and Christianity. Still, with the first one it is the question in what sense this is a creation ex nihilo, because the Big Bang can be interpreted in many different ways. And in Judaism and Christianity we might also see a difference, at least historically, when we put our trust in Ellen van Wolde. According to her, we need to read the beginning of Genesis in a different way. Gen 1:1 is not the beginning of creation, but an introduction of the narrative, which can be translated to: ‘In the beginning in which/when God separated the heaven and the earth’ (‘Why the Verb bar’a Does Not Mean ‘to Create’ in Genesis 1.1-2.4a’ (2009), p. 21).

Good, so no creation ex nihilo. What then? Has there always been something? Seems like it, when we take a gander at most mythological systems the world over. For example, when we look at the many different Aboriginal tribes in Austrialia, we find that in their cosmology the earth is there since the beginning, and creation only fills in characteristics of the landscape. This happens during ‘the Dream Time’ (better is ‘the Dream’). This Dream is no past perfect: even on this very moment the Dream, and thus creaton, is still active (Tony Swain en Gerry Trompf, The Religions of Oceania (1995), p. 20-21).

We don’t have to go far for Dream-like circumstances, for the Saxon areas know similar creation antics as this Dream. Let’s look at motif SINSAG 0131 Die Entstehung der Hügel (the creation of hills), a saga-motif from Sinninghe’s Katalog der Sagen im niederländischen Sprachraum (Catalogue of Sagas in the Dutch language area) (1943). The Dutch Folktale Databank provides approximately twenty versions of this narrative in which giants create these hills. Five are from Saxon areas, but there are definitely more around. It is a theme that is present thoughout all North-Western Europe, and perhaps has a pre-Christian past. I’m not sure about any kind of statement like this, because we truly need a lot more research for this to be conclusive.

Today I want to present to you two stories. Unfortunately, the first one is primarily written in High German. Only twice, when giants are saying something, is written in Saxon. This story is found in the book Die Gläserne Kutsche (the Glass Carriage) by Heinrich Specht. The book is a collection of folktales from Bentheim, an area in Germany very close to the Dutch border. This specific story stems from the third edition, which was added by Ludwig Sager in 1967

Hunold, the Hun from Hilten

It had been another great night, the Walpurgis-night on Mount Hünen in Höcklenkamp! The giants came from far and wide and celebrated their feast up there, roasting oxen und drinking mead from buckets. At the foot of the mountain, in the Húnen creek, they again and again cooled their hot heads. Their singing – no, that was no singing, that was the howling of the storm. The small people around the mountain, in their huts made out of wood and clay, out of fear dove in the blackberry bushes behind the pine trees.

In the grey of the morning nine of them [the giants] walked home, they lived in the mountains of Gölenkamp. Only Hunold, the biggest and wildest, lived in Mount Heid of Hilten. His hole lied deep under the sand, decorated with ox-skins. When saying goodbye he invited his eight companions to drink one more barrel of honey wine, which he kept hidden there. “Just don’t bring all that sand into my house!” he shouted to them, “pour it out of your shoes!”

Then they took of the shoes from their long legs and poured the sand out. He showed them how to do it. You won’t believe how much came pouring out of these wide slippers! In the end everybody stood in front of a big hill of sand. “Such a pile” the first shouted, “what a mount!” the second shouted. This continued until the ninth and last, and each of then wanted to have brought the biggest heap from the wasteland of Höcklenkamp.

This is the origin of the Neegenbarge (Nine Mounds). Later the farmers from the surrounding communities Hardingen, Hilten, and Lemke met there. There they put up stones, that marked the borders of the districts.

Heinrich Specht, Die Gläserne Kutsche (1925/1967), p. 33

The second story is from just across the border in the Netherlands, from the village Gramsbergen, from the booklet Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (Stories from Gramsbergen) from H. Roelofs. Something interesting is happening with this version, because underneath the story we find written noar een verhaal oet “Die Gläserne Kutsche” von Heinrich Specht (after a story from “Die Gläserne Kutsche” (the Glass Carriage) from Heinrich Specht (p. 15): our first story! It is definitely not the same: judge for yourself.

The Giant

A long time ago, many giants lived in this area. One of the biggest ones lived in Gramsbergen; he lived underneath the Hogen Esch; he had his hole there. It was decorated with cowskins. It was quite tidy. It was quite tight as well; his head laid at Et Hammegien, and he had dug out a bunch for his legs underneath the Oosteresch up to the Ossenweide! Or don’t you believe that it’s hollow underneath the Hogen Esch? Now, if you stand in the middle of the Hogen Esch, and you stamp very hard with your foot on the street, then it sounds hollow! And if you don’t hear it, then you’re not stamping hard enough!

The giant from Gramsbergen was called “Archibald”. He was a gentle giant; his colleagues liked to visit him in order to drink a barrel of wine at his place! But Archibald always said; “Guys, I love having you over, but please turn your boots upside down before entering Gramsbergen, otherwise you make such a big mess! I’d like to keep this place a little clean at least!

The giants from the south of the Netherlands emptied their boots in Holten and Lemele; this is the origin of Mount Holte and Lemele. Those who came from the east, from Germany, emptied their boots in Wielen and Wilsum; that became Mount Wiele and Wilsum. De giants from the north emptied them in Drenthe: the Hondsrug. Those who lived close by, and also the small giants, emptied them in Beerze and Rheeze: the Hills of Beerze and Rheeze!

Everyone was afraid of the giants! When they had a party, it was wild! The ground in Gramsbergen would shake! They made so much noise! And they roar so loudly! But it has to be said: if you didn’t get in their way, then they wouldn’t bother you!

H. Roelofs, Verhalen oet Gramsbargen (1994), p. 13-14

Also interesting: motif SINSAG 0131 Die Entstehung der Hügel hardly ever appears alone: most of the time another narrative is connected to it. This is also the case with both stories of this time, and we will tell more about that some other time. If you’re growing impatient now: I’ve published this whole story before in Dutch here. This is an updated version, with more eye for detail.

The general plot of both stories is the same: there is a party of giants with a lot of noise, which scares people, and the biggest giant invites other giants to come and drink at his place. Before the other giants enter an oxen-skin clad hole, the biggest giants asks them to empty their boots, which contain sand. When the giants do so, the sand forms hills in the landscape.

Most researchers in the past (and sometimes also nowadays) are super happy with these similarities, which can be enough for them to postulate a way older tradition. I won’t join that bandwagon without arguments. Differences are also important to me. Both stories of course have their own share of details. In the Dutch story the size of the giant’s hole is illustrated by markers in the landscape: from Et Hammegien up to the Ossenweide. It also recounts how the Hogen Esch sounds hollow only if you stamp on it hard enough. In the German story the party is given more attention. It is a Walpurgis-night celebration, which is no longer celebrated in the Netherlands, and therefore is not mentioned in the Dutch text. The German text even has an explanation for the howling of the wind: it is the screaming of giants.

What surprises me the most is how both stories are so different from each other. The names of the giants are already different. The Dutch giant is Archibald, which is an archaic name. The German giant is Hunold, and is called a Hun, after the nomads who entered Europe starting in the fifth century BCE. Huns and giants are equated with one another starting in the 19th century in folktales. Also from that time onwards megalithic structures in the Netherlands are called hunebedden (beds of Huns) (De Blécourt, Willem, Ruben Koman, Jurjen van der Kooi, & Theo Meder. Verhalen van Stad en Streek: Sagen en Legenden in Nederland (2010), p. 193). The most important change is that which localizes the stories in their own area. In Germany these are the Neegenbargen (Nine Mounds), a row of hills in the proximity of Gölenkamp. On the Dutch side it is about seven hills from giants from the south, east, north, and from the same area. Not from the west. Perhaps not because the author did not believe that giants could live on a polder (land reclaimed from the sea) or near the big cities in the Netherlands.

What these stories show to me is that a lot of stories look like each other, but that the most fascinating things show themselves when one takes the diversity in these narrative seriously. What caused this diversity is always a difficult question, but an important one. Just as we shape the landscape by our stories, on their turn the landscape shape our stories as well.

“Jonges, ik hebbe graag da’j komt, mar keert dan owwe lèèrzen umme véúr da’j in Grambargen bint, aanders make i’j mi’j zo’n rommel!” / “Guys, I love having you over, but please turn your boots upside down before entering Gramsbergen, otherwise you make such a big mess!”
(Model: Arjan)

Spookplåtkepråt

Um et måken van de foto

As du eyn foto maken wilst van eyn rys, dan bruukst eyglyks en man med lank hår, en bård, en hy sel din en groute breide trüye dragen moten. Sümmige lü sellen höär en stur perbleam hebben med et vinden van süks en meråkelse kearl, mor ik bin seagenet dat ik med süks en man disse webstea maak. Dus op en goie dag fytsten wy en pår kilometer de wyden van Grönn in. Med eyn kyver sand en styvels as ankleaden. Vöär langskommende wandelår moot et n vrümd ansikt west weasen, mor wy mogen et gaern lü to vorbåsen låten. Disse foto haar geyn bewarken nöydig. As du vanof goode hörn de foto makst, den is eyn rys eyn rys.

Spooky Spectral Speculations

About creating the picture

When you want to yake a picture of a giant, you need a man with preferably long hair, a beard, and dress him in a big knitted sweater. Some people might have trouble finding such a person, but I am very fortunate to co-host this website with a man with these exact features. So on a nice day we took our bicycle and cycled a few miles into the meadows of Groningen. A bucket of sand and some rain boots as props. To the passing hikers this photoshoot must have been a strange sight, but we love to add some surprise to a common day of random people. This photograph needed no editing, when you hit the right angle, a giant is a giant.

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