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

High Willhays



Heading approx south from the high crags of Yes Tor.... well, certainly 'high' for these parts, anyway.... the traveller will reach the marginally taller (2,039ft/621m) summit of High Willhays in 'round about half a mile of more-or-less level plodding enhanced by some fine medium/distant views. The topography of the summit plateau itself is (thankfully) enlivened by several granite outcrops - or 'tors' - exposed rock formations apparently laid down some 280 million years ago by the greatest powers of all. Now there's a number to make the head spin, assuming the climb up here doesn't cause the old knapper's gyroscope to malfunction first.

If the current OS maps are to be taken at face value... well, that is that. However this being Dartmoor, where the remnants of past civilisations often appear (to me) to merge seamlessly with the very landscape itself, it can arguably pay dividends to sit down and let the subconscious do some observing before subsequently letting the conscious 'you' in on the secret. First up is TSC's 'revetted mound' adjoining the southern flank of the initial tor encountered at SX58028944. To be fair, if my experience is anything to go by, it is easily missed, not least since the construction is not something I've encountered elsewhere, at least in this upland context. So OK, although I'm not 100% convinced it is of prehistoric origin - my lack of Dartmoor expertise notwithstanding - it's nonetheless difficult to think of what else it could represent up here?

The actual summit tor of the mountain is crowned by a rather pathetic attempt at a walker's cairn, seemingly so precariously sited as to be at the mercy of the next storm front. The intervals between which, I would assume, are not that excessive. However as I plonk myself down to take in the moment, not to mention some caffeine, I'm suddenly aware of an arc of what looks suspiciously like the remnants of a retaining kerb below to the near east at SX58038922. No, surely not? Closer inspection only serves to further convince me that these 'orthostats' can not be the result of natural outcropping and stand here as a result of human agency, that derisory summit cairn actually representing the lingering residue of a much more ancient monument (see Misc post). Yeah, that's better. And funnily enough EH agree, a retrospective search of Pastscape citing these standing stones as forming part of a possible ring cairn to complement the monument to the north. Seems Dartmoor's highest tor isn't so unaccountably devoid of archaeology as might initially be surmised. Bonus site. I can live with that.

I can also live with descending back to the car via cairns sited at Fordsland Ledge and upon Longstone Hill. Not that I'm aware of the latter. Yet.
7th July 2014ce
Edited 7th July 2014ce

Comments (3)

Wonderful radar moment there. An incentive for me to go back again, in something other than a heavy downpour. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
8th July 2014ce
It does once again highlight the 'out of sight, out of mind' aspect of another upland site though, does it not? Not exactly an obscure peak..... GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
8th July 2014ce
Yep, certainly does. The revetted ring is an odd feature isn't it? thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
8th July 2014ce
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