Thursday, 12 March 2009

Caves on Dartmoor

This extract is taken from on on-line book resource (Project Gutenberg) and is another of Sabine Baring-Gould's MANY books, Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe. I am thankful to my fellow-blogger Thelma over at Northstoke for raising my awareness of this book being listed on there. One branch of my ancestors lived in Hennock, so I found this entry particularly interesting and would love to walk up to Bottor Rock next time we are in Devon (hopefully this summer).

In the crevices of Bottor Rock in Hennock, Devon, John Cann, a
Royalist, found refuge. He had made himself peculiarly obnoxious to the Roundheads at Bovey Tracey, and here he lay concealed, and provisions were secretly conveyed to him. Here also he hid his treasure. A path is pointed out, trodden by him at night as he paced to and fro. He was at last tracked by bloodhounds to his hiding-place, seized, carried to Exeter and hanged. His treasure has never been recovered, and his spirit still walks the rocks.

At Sheep's Tor, where is now the reservoir of the Plymouth waterworks,
may be seen by the side of the sheet of water the ruins of the ancient mansion of the Elfords. The Tor of granite towers above the village. Among the rocks near the summit is a cave in which an old Squire Elford was concealed when the Parliamentary troopers were in search of him. Polwheel in his "Devon" mentions it. "Here, I am informed, Elford used to hide himself from the search of Cromwell's party, to whom he was obnoxious. Hence he could command the whole country, and having some talent for painting, he amused himself with that art on the walls of his cavern, which I have been told by an elderly gentleman who had visited the place was very fresh in his time." None of the paintings now remain on the sides of the rock. The cave is formed by two slabs of granite resting against each other. It is only about 6 feet long, 4 wide, and 5 feet high, and is entered by a very narrow opening.

Fascinating, and two more interesting bits for me to file away in my memory about my beloved Dartmoor. Incidentally, my father found a Civil War breastplate one day as a lad when he jumped over a bramble brush and landed on it, cutting his knee.,com_mumancontent/task,view/sectionid,32/catid,296/For many years it was proudly displayed on the wall of the school and is now on display in the lovely little Museum at Bovey Tracey, which is where the old railway station once was. The Cavaliers were routed by the Roundheads when they were disturbed over a game of cards. I often wonder whether this breastplate was lost on that fateful day.


sukipoet said...

I love that name "Sheeps Tor." I have ordered Dart due to your writing about it previously.

Bovey Belle said...

You won't regret it Suki. I heard it first on Radio 4, and fell in love with it then. It is a long long piece of poetry, but absolutely magical and containing the essence that is Dartmoor, her people, and of course the East and West Dart rivers, from the moor to the sea.

Morning's Minion said...

Reading that bit of history literally gave me some cold chills--I'd love to tour your part of the country--all the out-of-the-way places that are missed on charter excursions [which I would find very confining!] I am always fascinated when the stories of a lesser known person emerge from the larger scene of a national era.

Rowan said...

Here's your chance BB - when you go to Hennock you'll have to search for John Cann's missing treasure! How exciting that your father was the one who found the breastplate, I'd love to discover something like that. It looks in good condition judging by the photo.