Year 3 Language and Literature

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Tall Tales - Albion and Brutus

Once upon a time there was a giant called Neptune. When he was still a boy, Neptune loved the sea. All day long he played in it, swimming, diving and laughing gleefully as the waves dashed over him.

neptune being led by the mermaid to her island

As he grew older he came to know and love the sea so well that the sea and the waves loved him, too, and acknowledged him to be their king. At last, people said he was not only king of the waves but god of the sea. Neptune had a beautiful wife who bore him many sons. As each son became old enough to rule a kingdom, Neptune made him king over an island. Neptune's fourth son was called Albion. When it came to his turn to receive a kingdom, a great council was called to decide upon an island for him. Now Neptune loved Albion more than any of his other children. This made it very difficult to choose which island should be his. The mermaids and mermen, as the wonderful people who live in the sea are called, came from all parts of the world with news of beautiful islands. But after hearing about them, Neptune would shake his head and say: 'No, that is not good enough for Albion.'

At last a little mermaid swam into the pink and white coral cave in which the council was held. 'O Father Neptune,' she said, 'let Albion come to my island. It is a beautiful little island. It lies like a gem in the bluest of waters. There the trees and the grass are green, the cliffs are white and the sands are golden. There the sun shines and the birds sing. It is a land of beauty. Let Albion come to my island.'

'Where is this island?' asked Neptune.

'Oh, come, and I will show it to you,' replied the mermaid. Then she swam away and Neptune followed, with all the mermaids and mermen. They swam and swam until they came to the little green island with the white cliffs and yellow sands. As soon as it came in sight, Neptune raised himself on a big wave, and when he saw the little island lying before him like a beautiful gem in the blue water, just as the mermaid had said, he cried out in joy: 'This is the island of my love. Albion shall rule it and Albion it shall be called.'

So Albion took possession of the little island and called it by his own name. For seven years Albion reigned over his little island. At the end of that time he was killed in a fight with the hero Hercules. This was a great grief to Neptune. But because of the love he bore to his son Albion, he continued to love and watch over the little green island which was called by his son's name. For many years after the death of Albion, the little island had no ruler. At last, one day there came sailing from the far-off city of Troy a prince called Brutus. Seeing the fair island with white cliffs and golden sands, he landed with all his mighty men of war. He made himself king, not only over Albion, but over all the islands which lay around. He called them the kingdom of Britain or Britannia after his own name, Brutus, and Albion he called Great Britain because it was the largest of the islands.

Although, after this, the little island was no longer called Albion, Neptune still loved it. When he grew old and had no more strength to rule, he gave his sceptre to the islands called Britannia, and that is why the people there built a navy with many great ships to sail upon the waters of Neptune's seas. They wrote a patriotic song about this called 'Rule Britannia' which says that 'Britannia rules the waves'.

This activity is adapted from pages 50 - 51 of What Your Year 3 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here. This activity has cross-curricular connections: click below to see the related activity.

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