TORS OF DARTMOOR

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Eastern Tor

East Tor

Eastern Tor is easily overshadowed because it struggles to rise above the turf. This, therefore, has led to several commentators to devote little attention or ignore the tor altogether. Indeed, Crossing (1912, p.449), mentioning it in passing, says that Eastern Tor "is of no great height." However, Hemery (1983, p.187) goes into much greater detail explaining that Eastern Tor is "the (small) tor 'east' of Gutter. It consists of scattered large slabs and some horizontal badding, and amid its debris is a pound enclosing a single hut-circle (ref. 'Pound' I, ii); on the southerly slopes the clitter is widespread." Jeremy Butler (1994, p.125) gives a plan of the prehistoric settlement on Eastern Tor but comments that "the site has suffered accordingly."

There is little to impress of the tor as its multiple rocks fail to appeal to most visitors. All across the hilltop there is a messy sprawl of low, broken outcrops, the best ones perhaps found on the south-east side where the views up the Plym captivate the visitor; the valley as it climbs narrows and is bounded by the Hartor Tors on the left and Calveslake Tor and Little Gnats' Head on the right, while in the foreground you cannot fail to miss the magnificent Drizzlecombe Ceremonial Complex, Worth (1953, p.209) describing the site as "the most neatly arranged group on Dartmoor, and, with the possible exception of Merrivale, the sole example which shows what by our modern standards would be regarded as planning." His plan of the site shows two large cairns one of which is the Giant's Basin, four barrows, two kistvaens, a kerb retaining circle around an internment pit, two pounds and six hut circles.

It is important to remember that this area has seen a lot of change in the form of human habitation, which may have resulted in some sections of the tor being used for building material. Atop the tor's heavily weathered crown on the north side there is a ruined prehistoric reave, and on the west flank a leat that would have transported fresh drinking water from Thrushel Combe Brook to Ditsworthy Warren House, a stunning ruin that Crossing (p.436) described as "always referred to in our childhood's days as 'Ware's Warren', being occupied, as it still is, by a family of that name." However, the dwelling is long since abandoned, but was used in Steven Spielberg's 2011 production 'War Horse' that was adapted from Michael Morpurgo's 1982 book of the same title. Spielberg was very impressed with this area's natural beauty writing "I have never before, in my long and eclectic career, been gifted with such an abundance of natural beauty as I experienced filming War Horse on Dartmoor."

Eastern Tor also overlooks one of the most extensive warrens on Dartmoor, Ditsworthy, that contains a number of pillow mounds and vermin traps, the latter set up to catch stoats and weasels that preyed on the rabbits in the area. In his booklet, R.G. Haynes (c.1970) gives examples of traps on the eastern slopes of the tor and using his descriptions, Steve Grigg (2020) has recorded locations at SX 58528 66434 and a possible site at SX 58551 66658 that is part involved with a pound wall. There is such a plethora of interest all around Eastern Tor that is worth a visit, and from the tops of the scattered outcrops there are lovely vistas to be had of one of Dartmoor's most settled valleys, with the medieval field system below Hen Tor clearly visible across the river. It is an altogether fascinating place.

Eastern Tor
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 5842 6655
Height:
333m
Parish:
Sheepstor
Tor Classification:
Emergent
Access:
Public
Rock Type:
Granite
Credit:
Ordnance Survey
Reference:
Ordnance Survey Maps
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
Jeremy Butler (1994): Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities Volume Three - The South-West
William Crossing (1909): Guide to Dartmoor
Richard Hansford Worth (1953): Worth's Dartmoor
Steve Grigg (2020): R.G. Haynes Vermin Traps listed on the Dartefacts Website
BBC (2010): Steven Spielberg enjoys "natural beauty" of Dartmoor

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