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Tor Rocks

Torr Rocks, The Parrot Rock

This secluded and part shattered tor lies a mere 350 metres or so to the south-west of Harford Moor Gate. Apart from a few scattered large boulders, unusually the main rocks are not visible from any part of the moor to the north or east but upon descending Butter Brook the fascinating tor remnant is revealed. Crossing was equally impressed first describing the Rocks "as a very interesting pile" and later as one that "the rambler should visit". Hemery uses even more superlatives calling it "an extraordinary pile".

Set above the south bank of the brook the granite here has been plundered with a huge excavation in the side of the hill. This was reported upon in the Western Morning News of July 1861 with a somewhat scathing account about the Duchy of Cornwall's role in moorland management upon the proposed closure of the nearby Harford Moor Rifle Range: "Beyond once a year coming down on Harford Moor to search for bullocks, the Duchy have never exercised any rights or committed any acts of ownership until about five years since, when, alleging that the moor was theirs, they granted permission to a company to open a granite quarry, by which Torr Rocks, a valuable and interesting monument of antiquity, was destroyed".

This therefore dates the quarry, which is still marked by that name but disused on modern OS maps to about 1856. Whilst the rockpile is not entirely 'destroyed' it has certainly suffered, but still retains some interesting features. For example, near the summit there is a curious rock formation that from certain angles resembles a parrot's head. Some of the outcrops on the north side are considerable and it is a most sheltered and picturesque spot beside the brook that flows beneath. Higher up the slope though, the true extent of the quarrying is revealed and indeed there has been considerable disturbance to the tor's substance. The main quarry is very large gouged as it is into the very heart of the rocks and the ruin here is a sobering reminder of how the desire to cut granite out of the hillside to be used as a building stone completely overtook parts of the Dartmoor landscape in the mid 19th Century. That said views from the top of the quarry are especially good. The Rocks here are easily reached from the aforementioned Gate and look out for some superb examples of hut circles that are set above the Butter Brook on its north side.

Tor Rocks
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 6411 5913
Tor Classification:
Rock Type:
Ordnance Survey
William Crossing
Ordnance Survey Maps
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
William Crossing (1912): Guide to Dartmoor
19.7.1861 Western Morning News: 'The Camp at Harford'

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