TORS OF DARTMOOR

a database of both lesser & well-known rocks and outcrops
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Shovel Stone

This is a very diminutive granite outcrop that is only noteworthy as an ancient boundary marker for Widecombe Town Manor. We learn from the noted authority on Dartmoor Boundary Markers, Dave Brewer (DB) that the Town Manor once had an area of some 1575 acres that included in the late 19th Century 706 of these on the open moor. The Shovel Stone is the intermediary marker between the Rugglestone and the northern point of Top Tor. However, although marked on OS maps by that name the Stone's location has often proved problematic. Old Ordnance Survey Maps place the Shovel Stone some way to the west of its actual location, which has consistently fuelled confusion as to its whereabouts. Even William Crossing was mistaken, for when looking from Hollow Tor he states, "A little northward of which is a bond-mark known as Shovel Stone."

A lively online discussion in early 2011 regarding the position of the Stone, stimulated in part by the Widecombe Local History Group's enquiry to Tim Jenkinson, provoked Tim into writing a short piece to Dartmoor Magazine (DM) later that year and under the heading 'Shovel Stone...setting the record straight?' provides the following account "For as long as I can remember there has been confusion over the exact location of this stone even though it is clearly marked on OS maps". He explains that he was reminded of a letter that appeared in Issue 9 of DM from winter 1987 written by DB, in response to a query as to the Shovel Stone's location from none other than George Thurlow author of 'Dartmoor Companion'.

Tim goes on: "In his reply Dave gives quite precise instructions as to how to find the stone on a line between the southern tip of Southway enclosures and Top Tor and describes it as 'a small horizontally layered outcrop standing approx 5' 6'' high seen from the west, but from the east one can step upon it.' He also explains that when standing on the stone the top northern part of Top Tor can be seen to the east whilst below there is a 'peep of the Rugglestone in the greenery'." Following several visits to the area Tim explains that after making "comparison of notes and GPS fixings with fellow Dartmoor enthusiasts Dave Bellamy and Stephen Jenkins we have collectively agreed that the stone in question is just as DB describes but not quite at the grid reference as shown on OS maps. Indeed, the stone can be found some way to the east of previous estimations at SX 73425 76321."

The appearance of the Stone is just as DB describes presenting as a small, fissured outcrop that is best seen from the lower west side, it has a rounded top and if stood upon the view described by Dave fits perfectly. As with all the tors and rocks along this ridge there is an impressive view to the north of the B3357 where the range of rugged tors that run along the spine of Bonehill Down are visible. Tim concludes his commentary thus "So I think we can now safely assume that this is the Shovel Stone, although it bears no inscription. I trust that this information will also be of use to the Widecombe Local History Group".

Shovel Stone
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 7342 7631
Height:
402m
Parish:
Widecombe in the Moor
Tor Classification:
Valley Side
Access:
Public
Rock Type:
Granite
Credit:
Parish Boundary
Reference:
William Crossing: Guide to Dartmoor
Dave Brewer: Dartmoor Boundary Markers On and Around Dartmoor (1986), Letters to the Editor Dartmoor Magazine number 9 (1987)
Tim Jenkinson (2011): Shovel Stone...setting the record straight? Dartmoor Magazine number 103

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