Giants, gods and monsters all feature in stories from around the Whiteadder. The place name of Edin’s Hall is a clue in itself. This is sometimes ascribed to the Norse God Odin, but also to a creature thought to originate in Irish mythology called the Red Ettin – a terrifying beast with three heads.
When Arthur Granville Bradley (1850-1943), researched his book ‘Gateway of Scotland’ (published in 1912), he heard local people speak directly of the giant of Edin’s Hall broch:
The country people have their legend, which, though interesting as folklore, hardly assists in the solution of the problem.
According to them, it was the lair of an altogether troublesome giant, whose reputed achievements in the way of raiding and reeving cast those of the Kerrs and Armstrongs, the Charltons and Robsons of the Middle Marches into the shade.
He appears to have made life intolerable in the neighbourhood for all his days, and giants lived long. On one occasion he was carrying away a bull on his back and a sheep under each arm from Blackerstone, near Duns, and as he crossed the Whiteadder at the Strait loup a pebble washed into his shoe, which so worried him as he breasted the hill, that he plucked it out and tossed it down into the river, where it still stands, weighing about two tons.
Bradley also notes that a lot of the local myths and stories were already being forgotten, even over his own lifetime and blames it squarely on people being more educated.
I am afraid the education of the hundred and fifty souls who inhabit the parish of Abbey St. Bathans has been too much for the faith in such beautiful stories, though it is happily preserved in their memory. Eighty years ago, I find by the reports of the then minister of the parish that the schoolmaster taught not only Latin but Greek, and charged seven shillings a quarter for this extra. No giant could live against this.
Bradley, 1912 'Gateway of Scotland – East Lothian, Lammermoor and the Merse' Ch 9 - Which can be downloaded in its entirety from:
If you’d like to know more about the Red Ettin, which is an entirely different type of monster than a traditional giant, it features in The Blue Fairy Book by Selkirk-born fairy-story writer Andrew Lang (1889). You can read the full story here: https://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/141/the-blue-fairy-book/3966/the-red-etin/