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The Lost Giants of Unst, Shetland Isles

The Shetland Isles have a culture and history that owes far more to Scandinavia than Britain or even Scotland. One of the Norse myths that endures on the islands is that concerned with the less than bright giants Saxi and Herman who once lived on the most northerly of the Shetlands, Unst.
According to some tellers they were brothers, for others they were merely rivals, both deeply in love with a beautiful mermaid they observed swimming in the seas around their homeland, temptingly out of their reach. The giants tried vainly too woo her. Perhaps not the most skilful or subtle of lovers they may have annoyed her, but eventually elicited a response from the lovely sea creature: she would give herself to whichever of them managed to swim to the North Pole with her. The mermaid set off swimming, and the love-struck giants without hesitating strode into the sea and followed her, never to be seen again. Whether she deliberately wished to drown them, or they made it to the icy north and live with her to this day, we do not know. But Saxi and Herman are commemorated in the island still: there is a great hill called Saxa Vord on Unst; and the National Nature Reserve there famed for its cliff-dwelling birdlife is called Hermaness.

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