The Big Hul and the Little Hul - the creation of two hills
In the time when giants still roamed the land, it so happened that the giant of Uddel, who lived near Uunnilo, was woken one night by the noise of a violent thunderstorm, followed by a terrible crashing sound. Thunar1, the great God of Thunder and enemy of all giants, rode wildly across the skies. The thundering sound held on, and then slowly passed. When the giant heard it no more, he understood that Thunar had only driven by on his way elsewhere. Soon he drifted back to sleep.
But the next day he noticed that his oven, which stood about a hundred paces from his home, had been shattered by a single blow of the Thunderer’s hammer. It had been completely destroyed. The giant became so furious that his wife walked outside to see what was going on. Together they looked at the devastation and the woman moaned that she had to bake fresh bread tomorrow. ‘Yes,’ sighed the giant, ‘and it’s impossible to build a new oven in a single day.’
‘You know what,’ said his wife, ‘go to our neighbour at the Hardenberg and ask whether we can use his oven tomorrow.’
‘Yes, I’ll do that,’ answered the giant, having learned from experience that his wife usually knew best.
A Visit to Elspeet
And so he went to Elspeet, where another giant lived on the Hardenberg. The two giants were close friends and when the giant of Uddel had told his tale to the giant of Elspeet, the latter said, ‘Of course, bring your bread here. You’re in luck, I too have to bake tomorrow and the oven is big enough for both of us’.
‘Then I’ll fetch the wood for the fire,’ said the giant of Uddel.
After they’d cursed and railed at the mighty Thundergod together, the giant of Uddel went to the forest to collect the firewood. He chose some large pine trees, pulled them out of the ground, and only returned to Hardenberg with his large bundle of heavy pines, tied together with a young birch tree, when night had already fallen.
The giant of Elspeet and his wife received him hospitably and invited him to join them near the hearth and share their porridge, which hung, boiling and bubbling, in a colossal pot over the fire.
After the meal, while the wife was cleaning the pot with an oak-bush, the two giants talked for a while and toasted many times to the success of their baking. In that manner, they drank rather more mead than was strictly necessary for that success and their night’s rest.
When the giant of Uddel finally got up to go home, he promised his friend that he would certainly be back with his bread at six the next morning.
Whether it was caused by the mead or by fatigue, he slept surprisingly deep that night and snored so heavily that you could hear it from seven miles away.
The sun had already risen above the Hunnenschans2 when the giant of Uddel awoke and worriedly remembered that he had to be in Elspeet by six. He threw his wife out of the bed-box and yelled at her: ‘Prepare that bread and be quick about it, because I think it’s late’.
The wife hurried to the trough to knead the bread while her husband went outside to see whether the smoke was already rising from his neighbour’s oven. There, he heard to his consternation that they were already scraping out the trough at the Hardenberg. He rushed inside, threw the breads on a plank, and walked across the heath to Elspeet as fast as he could.
In his haste a lot of sand got into his wooden shoes, which severely hampered his journey. About halfway between Uddel and Elspeet he stood still to shake the sand out of his shoes. First the right shoe, which held the most sand, and then the left one. There wasn’t much of a breeze, so that the sand remained where it was.
It is there still. Today one can still see, between Uddel and Elspeet, the two hills, now covered with heather. People call them the Big and the Little Hul.
The giant reached his neighbour, who was waiting, ready to close the oven, just in time.
From Legends of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen by Gust van de Wall Perné, published in 1910-1912 by Scheltens & Giltay and translated by Eva Weggelaar
1. Van De Wall Perné writes that he used the Saxon name Thunar, instead of Thor or Donar, as that was the name most likely used in the east of The Netherlands. Traces of its use can still be found in certain place names such as Tinaarlo (Thunar’s forest).
2. Hunnenschans: ‘schans’ means sconce, a small protective fortification, such as an earthwork, often placed of a mound as a defensive work, and primarily used in Northern Europe from the late Middle Ages until the 19th century. The Hunnenschans is a circular rampart from the early Middle Ages, near the Uddeler lake in the Dutch province of Gelderland. It was most likely a Saxon defensive work, the ‘Hunnen’ not referring to the Huns but to ‘Hūnen’, meaning the Saxons.