The Giants Of Seville: Could Some Myths Be Real?
For more detailed information on the existence of giants, read The Myth Of Man by J.P. Robinson.
The real existence of giants some time in remote history continues to be dismissed as a possibility by mainstream academics. Despite human skeletal remains of folk between 7 and 9 feet tall discovered in many parts of the world, with an emphasis on the Unites States, giants are still considered mythological.
There are a select minority of humans today who have grown past the seven foot mark, but in most cases, this anomalous growth has been due to genetic disorders such as gigantism and acromegaly. Despite developing from the same region in the body, the pituitary gland, gigantism and acromegaly are not the same disease although both are treatable. Gigantism occurs only in children, and it is the excessive amount of growth hormone that is produced which triggers bones to grow in length at the growth plates. Acromegaly on the other hand, is a rare condition found only in adults, which is not associated with increases in height because the growth plates fuse after puberty, but both conditions overproduce growth hormones due to a benign tumour on the pituitary gland.
The tallest man in living memory, Robert Wadlow (see above) or the ‘Alton Giant’ as he was commonly known, suffered from hyperplasia of his pituitary gland which involves the over production of human growth hormones to abnormally high levels. His unusual growth was still continuing but as he died so young, one can only wonder at what height he would have peaked if his life hadn’t have been cut so tragically short. It is very possible, considering he was less than an inch away from reaching 9 ft. at the time of death that he could have grown 10 ft. tall and beyond.
His case is actually quite unique, even by giant’s standards, as he didn’t suffer from the normal causes of gigantism, a condition which has afflicted so many of the world’s tallest people. Gigantism is caused by a tumour pushing against the pituitary gland which forces the gland to effectively squeeze out more height growth hormone. But in Wadlow’s case, it was the gland itself that was abnormally large and not a tumour pushing against it which was responsible for his incredible growth.
The couple we are about to discuss did not suffer from any of the aforementioned diseases, so act as solid evidence that human beings DO have the natural capacity to reach astounding heights.
The title of ‘tallest married couple’ in history goes to Captain Martin Bates and his wife Anna Swan, who married on 17 June, 1871. This remarkable pair (see image at top of page) grew close to 8 feet tall, with Anna measuring 7 ft. 11 compared to her husband of 7 ft. 9, giving them a combined height of 15 ft. 8.
Anna Haining Swan weighed 18 lbs when she was born in Nova Scotia on August 6th 1846. She was almost five feet tall by the time she was four years old, and once she reached her maximum height, half an inch short of eight feet, she began an exhibition career working with P.T. Barnum in his New York Museum, shortly before her seventeenth birthday.
Swan travelled Europe with Barnum at the age of nineteen where she was introduced to Queen Victoria, and also visited the homes of her Scottish ancestors, but despite earning a lot of money working with the famous promoter her life was rife with disaster.
She barely survived a fire at the original Barnum Museum, as she was trapped on the third floor, and due to her immense size firemen were unable to rescue her, which very nearly cost her her life. It took the aid of a crane from a nearby construction site to demolish the outside wall before the servicemen were able to get her out safely. Once rebuilt, the museum experienced another fire in which the giantess lost all of her possessions, leading her to quit for a while and return home. Barnum managed to persuade her to embark on a tour of the United States in 1869, and it was here where she met her future husband, a Kentucky gentleman named Martin van Buren Bates.
Bates, a former Confederate Captain during the Civil War also happened to be close to eight foot tall, and the couple fell in love and married shortly after. Billed as the ‘World’s Tallest Couple’, the pair received many wedding gifts, and Queen Victoria herself actually gave them the wedding gown and diamond ring.
Once settled in Seville, Ohio, the giant couple put their vast career earnings to good use and built themselves a colossal home fit for their specific purposes. Every door was over 8 feet high, the ceilings reached 14 feet, and all the furniture was custom built to suit their immense frames. In 1872, Swan gave birth to a baby girl weighing 18 lbs, coincidentally the same weight she herself had been at birth, but tragically the child did not survive long. Seven years later she gave birth to a boy who weighed even more than the girl, a huge 22 lbs, but once again he didn’t survive long.
The size of her babies implied that her children would have grown up to be giants also, just like their parents, but sadly it was not to be. Anna Swan died unexpectedly the day before her 42nd birthday in 1888, and left a distraught husband behind who erected a monument to his late wife which included a 15 ft. statue of a Greek goddess atop the grave. Bates remarried a woman of regular stature 11 years later, and died in 1919 of nephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys, at the age of 85.
The reason for the inclusion of discussing these modern giants is to highlight the fact that despite its rarity, the human body is very capable of growing to eight feet and beyond, and not necessarily because of some growth disorder such as gigantism. As the previous case of Martin Bates reveals, a man close to 8 ft. tall can live a normal and even successful life, dying at a more than reasonable age of a non size-related disease.
One wonders if the more recent cases link back to a past where giants were more common than they are today. Maybe, in a forgotten period of history races of giant men and women walked this earth, whose presence and sheer existence has been commemorated in the world’s myths and legends. The sheer existence of folk like the Giants of Seville is testament to such a possibility.
Excerpt taken from the chapter 'The Forgotten Race' in The Myth Of Man by J.P. Robinson.