“Corineus and Gogmagog were two brave giants who richly valued their honour and exerted their whole strength and force in the defence of their liberty and country; so the City of London, by placing these, their representatives in their Guildhall, emblematically declare, that they will, like mighty giants defend the honour of their country and liberties of this their City; which excels all others, as much as those huge giants exceed in stature the common bulk of mankind.”
– Thomas Boreman, “Gigantick History”, 1741-
It’s told that the Roman Emperor Diocletian had thirty-three wicked daughters and that he found husbands for them to curb their wicked ways. Under the leadership of the eldest sister, Alba, they murdered their husbands and for this crime they were set adrift at sea. They washed ashore on a windswept island, which they named “Albion”, after Alba. Here they coupled with demons and gave birth to a race of giants, whose descendants included Gog and Magog.
In his twelfth century Historia Regum Brittaniae, Geoffrey of Monmouth tells that some time later Brutus fled the fall of Troy and arrived at the same islands. He too named them for himself, so we also know them as Britain. With him he brought his most able warrior and champion, Corineus, who faced the leader of the giants in combat and hurled him from a high rock to his death. The name of the giant was Gogmagog and the rock from which he was thrown became known as Langnagog or ‘The Giants Leap’. As a reward Corineus was given the western part of the island, which came to be called Cornwall after him. Brutus travelled to the east and founded the city of New Troy, which we know as London.
Another legend tells that Gog and Magog were defeated by Brutus and then chained to the gates of his palace on the site of Guildhall. They are now the guardians of London, their wooden statues located at Guildhall and their wicker effigies carried during the Lord Mayor’s Show in November.