Manx Giant's Pillar – St John's, Isle of Man - Atlas Obscura

Manx Giant's Pillar

St John's, Isle of Man

An unusual monument to a 19th-century circus star. 


It may look like this cottage gate is waving at you, but the fingers stretching skyward are more than a quirky decoration. It’s an unusual, unexpected memorial to a large man and his larger-than-life legacy. 

Arthur Caley, better known as the “Manx Giant,” was born in Sulby, Isle of Man, in 1824. He grew to a staggering seven feet, 11 inches tall (though some accounts suspect he was a bit shorter), and soon became a local celebrity because of his “giant” status.

Caley left the Isle of Man when he was in his 20s and became a regular feature in the salons of Paris before faking his death a year later. People were a bit suspicious, as Caley’s death occured not long after his manager had taken out a life insurance policy for him.

But as it turns out, his untimely disappearance may have been a bit more than insurance fraud. Caley shed his original identity and resurfaced as “Colonel Routh Goshen, the Arabian Giant” in P.T. Barnum’s Circus in New York. He had a successful career in the circus and eventually retired in New Jersey. The “Arabian Giant” didn’t admit the truth about his real identity until he was on his deathbed in 1889.

Caley left an unexpectedly small footprint on his native island for a man of such stature. But an odd reference to him remains at Rose Cottage on the outskirts of Sulby. There, standing next to the front gate, is a large concrete pillar topped with a life-sized cast of Caley’s right hand. When measured from the base of the pillar to the tip of the middle finger, the strange memorial’s height is the same as Caley’s.

Know Before You Go

It's just after the crossroads heading east along the West Regaby Road, right at the roadside.

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