The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Coffin Stone

Natural Rock Feature


This rock with reputation is so near all the stone rows and cists and hut circles at Yar Tor that I don't feel too cheeky to add it.
The descent to Dartmeet [from New Bridge] by the road is one of over five hundred feet. Halfway is the Coffin-stone, on which five crosses are cut, and which is split in half - the story goes, by lightning. On this it is customary to rest a dead man on his way from the moor beyond Dartmeet to his final resting-place at Widdecombe. When the coffin is laid on this stone, custom exacts the production of the whisky bottle, and a libation all round to the manes of the deceased.

One day a man of very evil life, a terror to his neighbours, was being carried to his burial, and his corpse was laid on the stone whilst the bearers regaled themselves. All at once, out of a passing cloud shot a flash, and tore the coffin and the dead man to pieces, consuming them to cinders, and splitting the stone. Do you doubt the tale? See the stone cleft by the flash.
From p195 of Baring-Gould's "Book of Dartmoor" of 1900.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st November 2011ce
Edited 1st November 2011ce

Comments (3)

I have recently become fascinated with the Ancient sites of Dartmoor. Are there any books you would recommend which reference the ancient (prehistoric) circles, rows and the like?
I walk there regularly now and would like to know more. I am trying to visit every site on Dartmoor in the coming months and have been enjoying the North East section where resides The Fernworthy circle, Greywethers, Scorhill, Shovel Down and so on. Actually my favourite so far is one with no name (that I am aware of) at the base of Buttern Hill, near to the Scorhill circle. I visited it recently and amidst the grey of the skies suddenly beams of sunlight broke through to provide me with an awe inspiring show. Inspiring times.
Posted by Zeit
16th November 2011ce
The best books by far are the "Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities" series by Jeremy Butler (four regional volumes cover the whole moor and a fifth is more general commentary). They include excellent plans and maps and a lot of the sites aren't on the 1:25000 OS map. Unfortunately they're out of print and can be a bit pricey, but if you keep an eye out you can probably pick them up for not much more than their original price. Try Amazon, ebay, etc.

The other brilliant book is "Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor", written in the early years of the 20th century and re-printed several times. You can find this in second hand shops easily enough.

Hope that helps and look forward to hearing about your visits.

Buttern Hill circle is here by the way:
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
17th November 2011ce
Oh and Crossing's book you mention is online, along with a few of his others (although the website seems to be playing up this morning)

And you're very lucky Zeit to get out there regularly, I wish I could, especially on a crisp day like today. Inspiring times indeed.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th November 2011ce
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