On Sunday 25th March, 38 DPA members and non-members met at Four Winds car park for the walk to Great Mis Tor. The weather was as favourable as any of us could have wished for.
Many of the photographs below were taken on a reconnoitring mission in good weather a few days after the March snow and remnants of it were still on the ground.
This was the largest group I have led on a DPA walk and the comments received afterwards were very encouraging – it was lucky my referee’s whistle was in good working order – someone mentioned to me the concept of “herding cats” but it was all very ordered and a really enjoyable walk. Near Great Mis Tor, I sent some of the more energetic walkers off on a detour to use up some energy while I called regular breaks to admire the view, you understand.
The snow in the photograph above was laying under Merrivale Newtake wall, the track to Great Mis is off the right edge of this photograph.
The first real stop on the walk was at Little Mis Tor, where, under the ledge to the right in the photograph, the story of the Little Mis Tor Cross was told (click on the small image to see the best detail).
From Little Mis Tor some of the group crossed the hill to the corner of the prison land, where an incised “DCP” stone – Directors of Convict Prisons.
The old Forest bound stone above is seen very easily when approaching Great Mis from the southerly direction – it was possibly erected sometime after the 1240 Perambulation of the Forest of Dartmoor.
There are several large rock piles that constitute this tor, with some wide spaces between them. The main pile is shown in small part above, where the topmost rock shows a jagged edge: this is the now-broken edge of a weathered rock pan known in 1240, and no doubt earlier, as Mistor Pan …..
Looking down, in an easterly direction, on Mistor Pan. In this area, the group had a short coffee break.
The view south from Great Mis Tor includes the gash in the land that is the gert around Over Tor Brook which runs off to the right, into the River Walkham. This was the site of tin-streaming works in the past. There seems to be no easy way to date for this work but tinning on Dartmoor was active from about 1,150-1,650 AD with the peak period being 1500-1550, when 252 tons of white (smelted) tin was produced in the year 1,524 – tin was a very important industry.
This is a recorded gun or mortar emplacement at Heritage Gateway Devon & Dartmoor HER – MDV55591 – Gun emplacement, at SX 56333 76151, it consists of two straight banks at 90° and a dug-out area here filled with water. The sqyare pit nearest the camera is an ammunition pit – there are quite a few of these on this slope ……
The third of four hut circles seen on the walk from Little Mis Tor to Over Tor Gert, at SX 56144 75805; some of the circles have unusual pits associated with them and even inside them – these are possibly WW2 artefacts?
Hut 3 can be seen on Google Earth, complete with four pits around it. These pits are clearly seen scattered all over this hill side, sometimes associated with hut circles and more often not. This is suggestive of some sort of military exercise that took place before D-Day.
The view above was taken at the lower end of the gert, where the newtake wall can be seen at the left. The elongate bumps are waste earth, gravel and stone left from the careful running of water from a leat (from the brook, reinforced by a reservoir) to wash away the lighter “gangue” material and leave the heavy tin ore (tin dioxide). Large stones and other material were dug out and removed first by hand.
Church Rock, SX 5587 7540, is part of Over Tor – this is a tor where the rocks are scattered over a wide area. The name is supposed to come from the appearance of a preacher’s lectern on the right end of the pile as seen in the photograph above.
“Mrs Bray’s Washhand Basin” – that is how Rev. Edward Bray designated the rock pile above in his 1802 Journal, when he was Vicar of Tavistock, or so wrote his wife in her 1832 letter to the Lakes poet, Robert Southey. Source: Bray Mrs (1879), The Borders of the Tamar and Tavy, 2nd edn, Vols 1 & 2, Kent & Co, Paternoster Row, London, Vol. 1, p.338.
Notes: Anna Eliza Bray (or Mrs A. Eliza Bray) lived 1790-1883. Mr Bray wrote to her with “My Dearest Eliza” (Vol. 1, p.313). This book, first published in 1836 as three volumes, entitled: A description of the part of Devonshire bordering on the Tamar and the Tavy, was condensed by herself into two volumes for the 2nd edition, in 1879. It was compiled using letters she wrote to the Lakes poet, Robert Southey (1774-1843); where each letter forms a chapter, with 38 in total. The book uses material from her husband, Mr. Bray’s Journals – Reverend Edward Atkyns Bray, Vicar of Tavistock (1778-1857). The letters are dated 1832 to 1835 (Vol. 2, p.374) but sometimes the Journal material is from thirty years earlier e.g. September 1802 (Vol.1, p.209). What is regarded today as Bronze Age remains is attributed in the book largely to the Druids
This photograph shows an edge view of the weathered rock basin in the top of the rock in the central area, with Great Staple Tor behind. In the time of the Bray’s, it was assumed that these rock basins were used in ceremonies by the Druids.