Giant Angus MacAskill lived from 1825 to August 8, 1863. At 7ft8in (2.36m) tall, he was the tallest Scotsman ever to have lived, and the tallest recorded true giant. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Angus MacAskill was born at the north end of the island of Berneray, in the Sound of Harris, the fourth of ten children of average sized parents. As a baby, Angus was so small he was not expected to survive. When he was 6, Angus's parents and their children were "cleared" from their land and forced to emigrate to the new world, where they settled in St Ann's, Cape Breton. Angus added most of his size during his teenage years, and by his early 20s has become renowned for feats of strength, becoming known as Gille Mor, the Cape Breton Giant, or Giant MacAskill.
Some of the stories about him, inevitably, grew in the telling, and today it is difficult to know what he was actually capable of. It was said that he could carry barrels of pork weighing over 300lb under each arm; or lift a fully grown horse over a four-foot fence; or pull a fishing boat into two pieces. In time, Angus's fame reached New York, and he was recruited to take part in a travelling show, where he put on performances across North America and Europe, working alongside General Tom Thumb, the shortest fully grown man of the time.
While in New Orleans or New York - accounts differ - Angus MacAskill was challenged by some French sailors to lift an anchor on the harbourside. It has since been estimated that this weighed between 2,200lb and 2,700lb. He lifted the anchor successfully, but as he dropped it he was seriously injured by one of its flukes.
Angus retired to St Anne's, by now a wealthy man, and he settled down to run his business investments. However at the beginning of August 1863 he suddenly fell ill with what was described as "brain fever", and he died on 8 August. There is a museum celebrating the life of Angus MacAskill in Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye.