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Over Tor

This is possibly one of the better, if not best known of the lesser known tors of Dartmoor (if that makes sense). Situated at SX 558 753, the tor consists of three relatively widespread and quite separate outcrops, of which the sturdiest and most north eastern pile is known as Church Rock, documented elsewhere on this database. According to Crossing (1912) this rock used to be recognised as one of the "abodes of pixies" and in addition to this, the author explains that church bells can be heard, by placing an ear against the granite. A myth from which, no doubt, the rock has acquired its name.

The most southern pile of the tor, now almost totally collapsed, is where a series of jumbled boulders, when viewed from the north, give the distinct impression of falling forwards into the dense and heavy clitter below. This observation is largely consistent with Hemery's (1983) reference to a tor, that has been "overthrown", an assertion linked to the assumption that visitors once ransacked and vandalised the rocks at the turn of the 20th Century, and Baring-Gould adds to this; "The tor Over Tor, on the right-hand side of the road, was overthrown by some trippers - the first swallows of a coming - early in the century." In light of these accounts, Over Tor would seem to be a rock pile that is steeped in myth and fantasy, for in addition to the above speculations, much has been made of the small, yet fascinating, water filled rock basin upon the summit of the southern rocks. This phenomenon is affectionately known as 'Mrs. Bray's Wash-hand Basin' and on occasion continues to offer the facility of rinsing muddied fingers. On the north side of the southernmost outcrop, there lie on a huge tilted slab two further basins that Max Piper observed. They resemble peanut-shaped depressions. Easily the largest and most ruinous of the piles, the southern group forms a rock face of some 10 feet in height on the Merrivale and King's Tor side. A short distance to the south east of this point, an oblong topped worked stone lies at SX 55799 75213, and with feather and tare marks provides a good indication of the quarrying activity of this area.

The third and least significant pile of the tor, though mostly flattened, nevertheless gives rise to a large and dense clitter on its western slope, that extends to the Merrivale Newtake wall. Approximately 3-400 yards north of the tor, a large and deep tinner's gert runs west to east across the open moor, through which at its lower end, extending into the newtake, a lively stream courses. Strangely, despite its close proximity to the road and its many and well documented references, the Ordnance Survey (OS) continue to overlook the colourful history and folklore associated with this tor. Therefore, it is hoped that at some point in the future, Over Tor will receive the full attention it deserves and with its inclusion on maps will enable the rocks to become more widely recognised as one of the most intriguing and historically influential features of the moor, in the Merrivale region. One map that does show the tor is Harvey's Dartmoor Superwalker Map dated to 2001 that Hemery was affiliated with to record some local names that the OS are reluctant to include.

Over 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 5578 7529
Dartmoor Forest (formerly Walkhampton)
Tor Classification:
Rock Type:
William Crossing
Sabine Baring-Gould
William Crossing: Guide to Dartmoor
Sabine Baring-Gould: A Book of Dartmoor
Tim Jenkinson: Lesser Known Tors and Rocks of Dartmoor
Eric Hemery: High Dartmoor

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