Giant Angus MacAskill Museum
The charming white-washed, thatched roof cottage located on the main street of the village of Dunvegan is home to a most unusual museum, dedicated to the tallest Scotsman in history – Angus MacAskill. Born in 1825 on the island of Berneray in Scotland’s Sound of Harris, Angus MacAskill grew to a height of 7 foot 8 inches, with his body in the correct proportions for his height. Having no abnormalities or birth defects, MacAskill’s height earned him an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest natural giant who ever lived. He is also recorded as having the biggest chest measurement of any non-obese man, and well as the being the world’s strongest man.
Angus MacAskill’s parents and siblings were of average height, and at birth Angus was considered to be of average weight and size. Most of his growth occurred in his teenage years, with his adult weight being around 500 pounds. He was reported to have a mild and pleasant manner, offsetting the intimidating effect his height may have had. Standing next to his likeness at the Giant Angus MacAskill Museum reveals just how intimidating a man of his stature could be, and most visitors to the museum cannot resist having their photographs taken next to this gentle giant. Other exhibits at the museum include the MacAskill genealogy, an outsize coffin, a giant-sized bed and other furniture built for his size.
Although the lines of fact and fiction may have been blurred over the years, some of the feats he is credited with are conceivable for a man with shoulders measuring 44 inches across, with the palm of his hand at 8 inches wide and a chest measurement of 80 inches, while other feats may need a stretch of the imagination. His legendary displays of strength include lifting an adult horse over a four foot high fence, carrying 300 pound barrels of pork under each arm, and rending a fishing boat in two – although one may wonder why he felt the need to do this.
When Angus was six years old, during one of Scotland’s most difficult periods of history where Scottish Highlanders and Islanders were evicted from ancestral lands, his parents were cleared from their land. After living for a time in Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides, they moved to Cape Breton Island on the Atlantic Coast of North America, in what is now the province of Nova Scotia (New Scotland), Canada. Accounts of Angus in adulthood include him travelling for a time through North America and Europe as part of a carnival where he appeared with the shortest adult man of the time, General Tom Thumb. Sadly, Angus took ill and died in August 1863.
Although Angus MacAskill spent most of his life outside of Scotland, local history enthusiast Peter MacAskill founded the Giant Angus MacAskill museum in honor of this extraordinary member of his clan. Visitors should be sure to stop by this quaint museum when visiting the picturesque Loch Dunvegan.