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Shadyback Tor

Shearaback Tor, Sherraback Tor

Henry Edmund Carrington is the first to describe this tor in 1828 but he uses an earlier name when he writes: "Shearaback-tor about two miles east of Shaugh seems to owe its origin to some violent convulsion of nature. The very bowels of the earth here are torn open and large rocks are scattered over the surface of the moor to a great distance- almost exclusively to the north. Many of the fragments on the south side wear the aspect of ruined fortifications."

Writing several decades later it is William Crossing (1909) who introduces Shadyback Tor describing it as a local name, but whilst he acknowledges Carrington's contribution, he offers nothing more than a cursory "small tor" for the location. The tor is much better than that comprised of a cluster of large rocks that give it a somewhat pointed appearance from the south. The main rocks occupy a most pleasant spot overlooking the south bank of the River Plym and are set opposite the foot of Legis Lake about 400 yards to the north of Trowlesworthy Warren Farm. A small, elevated crag of some 15 feet in height lies on the north side and when viewed from the east this appears to lean southward as if swept or sheared backwards by centuries of wind and rain. The corruption to 'shady' is obvious to anyone who visits in winter as the tor casts a shadow on that same side that is rarely relieved. Like the Trowlesworthy Tors high above to the south-east, the tor is composed of pink granite and numerous quartz veins, some large, are seen as stripes of white crystals alongside dark tourmaline that occur in no particular pattern throughout the tor's substance.

All about the tor are the remains of old walls and reaves some of them once associated with the breeding of rabbits. To the north and east there lies the extensive rubble of tin streaming that took place here from as early as the 12th Century. A dilapidated grass reave runs into the tor near its crown and its dense clitter on the north west side is once more involved in the ruins of settlement walls and much later tinner's enclosures. Above the river further crumbling prehistoric pounds in and below the bank can be found. South of the summit close by on a grassy level is a large Bronze Age settlement system with remains of hut circles. There are some fine specimens including three surviving vermin traps that lie not far from the track to the Farm. Jeremy Butler (1994) provides a comprehensive account of the antiquities here along with a detailed map of the site.

The scene from the top of the tor is mostly dominated to the north by the slopes of Legis Tor, but there is a pleasant view upstream to the east, where Hen Tor is seen beyond the extensive tinner's spoil that lines the riverbank. Shadyback Tor is well worth a visit, for not only are its rocks more distinctive and interesting than previously documented, its position concentrated as it is amid centuries of human habitation and industrial activity, makes it unique.

Shadyback 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 5666 6507
Shaugh Prior
Tor Classification:
Rock Type:
HE Carrington
HE Carrington (1828): The Plymouth and Devonport Guide
William Crossing (1909): Guide to Dartmoor
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
Jeremy Butler (1994): Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities Volume Three: The South West

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