A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park
December 27, 2022
‘Old’ Ditsworthy Warren Boundary Stones and an Eylesbarrow Bond Stone.
To the south of Whittenknowles Rocks and on the north western slopes of Eastern Tor, four upright stones can be found, which are all recorded in Mike Brown’s Dartmoor Gazetteer. None of the stones bears any inscription, are all crudely fashioned between 1m and 2m tall and bound and area of around 45000 sq. metres (or 11 acres). Following some research, the author has managed to find three sources of information relating to the stones, which may provide some theories and reasons as to their origin and function.
The first research source comes from Fletcher, Newman and Probert who suggest in their survey of the area that the Stones date from the medieval (or later periods) and probably relate to Ditsworthy Warren to the south. No other information is supplied.
The second research source comes from Eric Hemery in High Dartmoor (Page 187), where he states: “On the east side of the tor (Eastern) stands a bond-stone of Eylesbarrow Mine, and near it, what appears at first sight to be a reave running down hill from Whittenknowles Rocks to Thrushel Combe Foot. It is actually a crumbled rabbit warren wall of ancient Ditsworthy, considerably pre-dating the lease of ‘Aylesborough’ to Warrener Ware in 1859. A gateway interrupts the wall at the foot of the hill, one post being erect, the other fallen and having a gate hanger”.
The third research source comes from R.G.Haynes (Vermin Traps and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor)where he states: “Ditsworthy Warren was (originally) approx 220 acres. Its boundary was defined as on the south by the Plym; on the west by a long wall from the Legis Tor Warren boundary to Sheepstor Brook at Burrcombe Gate. The eastern boundary down to the Plym is problematical but is believed Sheepstor Brook upstream for a little distance then east to the ridge of Eastern Tor then following a line of unmarked boundary stones to Drizzlecombe Brook and the Plym”.
From the above three sources, the author concludes that it is probable that three of the stones in all likelihood relate to ‘Old Ditsworthy’ boundary (Haynes), with the most south westerly of the four stones being a just a bond-stone for Eylesbarrow Mine and is not a Boundary Stone (Hemery). That said, the author has given a second theory at the end of the post, which has all four stones as part of the ‘Old Ditsworthy’, with the fourth stone doubling up as a bond-stone. This post details the locations of these four stones and some surrounding features and considers the evidence as to their origin an function.
Further to the above, according to Historic England these 4 stones marked the corners of a (temporary) enclosure which was created around 2001 following an outbreak of sheep scab.
Fletcher, Newman, and Probert, 1999, Drizzlecombe, Eylesbarrow, Ditsworthy and Hartor areas in the Plym Valley (Survey)
Hemery 1983, ‘High Dartmoor’ (page 187)
Haynes, 1970, Vermin Traps and Rabbit Warrens on Dartmoor