Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

South Hessary – a comparison 100 years apart

You would have thought that a granite tor would not have changed at all in a period of around 100 years. This post compares South Hessary Tor from a postcard from early 20th century with the same view in 2022. Apart from the obvious changes to vegetation and the demise of part of the drystone wall in front of the tor, the author noted there is one major change to the tor itself in this period.

South Hessary Tor is also known as ‘Look-out tor’. The name dates back to the beginning of the 19th century and relates to a stone and timber tower which was built approx 1/2 mile south – southeast of the tor. The tower was called ‘Look-out Castle’ and was built as to warn the local population of any pending invasion (from Napoleonic troops).

SH1
South Hessary Tor on an overcast day in September 2022
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South Hessary Tor from early 20th century with five people on top. Given the clothes these folks were wearing, the climb can’t have been that easy. The author is only aware of one way up and that is near the gaps in the rocks near to the lady wearing a bonnet.
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The photograph from September 2022 cropped to the same size as the early 20th century picture (postcard)
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The early 20th century superimposed onto the early 21st century picture. It was from this composition that the author noticed something was missing from the 21st century view.
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By comparing the pictures at the southern end of the tor, behind the two figures, it is evident that there was once a logan stone in place 100 or so years ago but is no longer there. The author has researched this how this “missing logan” was toppled without success. Being generous the author would like to think the logan suffered a natural fate such as a lightening strike but sadly suspects it was toppled by vandals.
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The author returned to the tor in October 2022 with a waking companion, who agreed to pose on the tor to compare the picture with the early 20th century postcard view.
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Overlay of the early 20th century postcard view and a 21st century walker
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Intrigued by the fallen logan, the author took some photographs to speculate the possibilities. Boulder 1 looks favourite, but boulder 2 has a cut out section, which might have once been a rock basin
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Zooming out, boulder 3 is also a possibility, but unlikely as it would have had to get “around” boulders 1 and 2
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The author speculates that boulder 1 was once atop the tor. It has some minor indentations, which might have been the start of potential rock basins. It was recorded at SX59711 72348

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