|11 July 2004
It might be mid July and it might be raining but......you can't stay inside all day on your day off with all that countryside to explore.
So off I goes towards North Hill and the road up onto the moor edge to see if I can find the Nine Stones of Altarnun.
Parked the car at Tolcarne (SX250784) and climbed the footpath up onto the moor. After a short distance a wood is reached and the footpath goes to the right of it towards Clitters. I stayed left, atop the wood. Once at the end of the wood I headed straight up the hill trying to follow the boundry stones. To my left sat Clitters Cairn
I didn't actually bother to visit this, but walked past it heading for the Nine Stones. It was only later on that i realised what a prominant position it occupies in the landscape. It might be because of the blackthorn growing out of it but...wherever I happened to be all day in the area I could see the cairn. Not only that but I knew if I needed to retrace my steps i only had to head for it to find my way back to where I had left the car.which I totally ignored in my rush to get to the stone circle.
Apparently it was excavated in the mid 1980's.
Very soon it appeared out of the mist, and after a few more gorse bushes were avoided I arrived in a large clear area with the circle towards the western end. Nine Stones
After a while I had to decide where to go next, the rain was still hanging around but showing signs of clearing up so I thought...why not, lets try and find the stone row.
Don't make the same mistake I did and try to cut the corner of the Redmoor Marsh. I thought I had gone far enough west to have missed the boggy bits but no...at times my trusty stick sunk up to 2 ft into the mire! I squelched about from tussock to tussock wondering if anyone would ever find me if I got stuck. Mind you, on my way through I found some amazing flowers and mosses...
I finally made land to the south east of the low hill with the two cairns on
east moor ring cairn
This large cairn sits atop of the low hill at the western end of the East Moor stone row. It is about 60 ft in diameter and lovely and flat in the middle with a surounding low ring of stones covered in grass for much of the time.,east moor cairn
This is the first cairn of its type I have come across, were they used for burials or just for ritual? answers on a postcard please.
Just to the SW of the ring cairn sits a traditional cairn with a mound in the middle. The long granite stone that lies on the north side has been suggested as a possible menhir that along with other similar stones once surounded the cairn.and with wet feet headed up the hill. Both cairns are easy to find and the view to the south towards the Twelve Mens Moor and the ridges of Trewartha Tor, Hawks Tor and Kilmar Tor is great. Now to find the stone row....
It's not too difficult to find the blocking stone, and from there you are supposed to be able to find the stone row...unless you suddenly decide to hunt for the ritual enclosure!
east moor enclosure
This is a sod to find!
Down on the edge of the grassy area, north of the ring cairn and the blocking stone sits this archaeological mystery. It is supposed to be the shape of a D but I only found the curved bit. There are supposed to be 42 visible stones but none of them are more than 10 cm high! The Cornwall Archaeological Unit claim it to be a ritual enclosure..or at least they did in 1994.
Not being someone who bothers with GPS or even a compass I did a little bit of wandering amongst bemuzed sheep for a while before I remembered that the book had said the enclosure was bisected by two trackways. gaining one I headed east untill I found what looked like a couple of stones ahead of me...they turned out to be dried sheep shit but never mind, the stones I was looking for were only another couple of yards ahead.
They are really small and insignificant, I followed them in a large ark going east for about 50 ft before heading back up the hill to find the stone row. This was a doddle after the enclosure!
I agree with Pure Joy...finding the stone row from Fox Tor would be nigh on impossible. From this end find what the experts call the blocking stone (see photos) and then head down hill slightly to the right of a line towards Fox Tor summit. After a while you will find the first upright stone...and then another...and I then slowly made my way east towards Fox Tor, attempting to find the stones on the way East Moor Stone Row.
By walking in roughly a straight line you will find several more stones, some flat on the ground, some leaning at severe angles, very ocasionally an upright. As you climb the hill towards Fox Tor they become harder to find, you lose sight of the ones behind and eventually end up amongst the clitter of the tor itself.
I wonder...does the row line up with Brown Gelly and the northern end of Dartmoor. I was too busy trying to find the next stone to take much notice...also by the time you get to one end you have lost sight of the other.
Reaching the top of Fox Tor
For Fox Tor stone row see East Moor stone row....I decided to have lunch, the sun had come out and the views south had just got better. I had decided originally to retrace my steps but changed my mind and decided to head down to Tregune, follow the road and the turn right along a series of footpaths, back to the car. A route I have planned for a forthcoming book that will describe a walk of about 50 miles right around the moor.
Fox Tor itself is a jumble of rocks and the chances of finding anything amongst them has to be left to the experts. I thought I had found one of the hut circles but then changed my mind....
A modern cairn has been constructed on the top of the tor along side the old trig point. Nice painted stone inset in it.
Good views to the south towards Trewartha Tor, Hawks Tor and Kilmar Tor.
On reaching the road at Tregune I came across this menhir Tregune Menhir No2,
I can not find any reference to this stone, and it is definately not the Tregune Menhir which stands in the middle of a field nearby. This one stands beside the road leading from Tregrenna to Tregune. It is about 5 ft high and has three sides. There are no signs of it being shaped by man and no holes where it may have been used as a gate post. The fact that it stands beside a track that leads onto open moor and important sites like the East Moor stone row makes me think it is not just another rubbing post. I no not if it is an ancient stone but it looks good to me.
The rest of the walk back to the car follows paths through recent pine plantations, beside old mine workings and the wonderful Clitters, an abandoned farmhouse that obviously someone is using as a weekend retreat. Look out for the two serpents in the wood!