Sunday, November 14, 2010

skaigh two



Crockern Tor, way across the moor to the south of here, is said to be the home of the mythical Old Crockern, variously described as a spectral figure on horseback, galloping across the moor on a skeleton horse with his phantom Wisht Hounds; or as a local god of the moor in pre-Christian times.

“The gurt old sperit of the moors, Old Crockern himself, grey as granite, and his eyebrows hanging down over his glimmering eyes like sedge, and his eyes as deep as peat water pools.”

The Wisht Hounds, stabled at nearby Wistman's Wood, are a pack of fearful hounds who hunt across the moors at night in search of lost souls and unwary traveller's. Old Crockern sometimes appears to the locals in their dreams, to give warnings about not disturbing the apparent emptiness of the moors and for them to pass on these warnings to whomever might be causing offence. People have tried to farm or otherwise tame the moor but these plans never work for long and the moors are littered with the remains of such attempts.

Crockern Tor, was also the venue for Devon's Stannary Parliament. The Stannary Parliaments (there was another for Cornwall) were the tin miners' own parliaments with their own set of laws which generally overruled the English Laws. These parliaments date back to the 12th century and Devon's Parliament last met in 1748. There are some unusual acoustics at Crockern, which give the effect of a natural amphitheatre and make it a suitable venue for speaking.

Crockern Tor is almost in the centre of Dartmoor, a little north of Two Bridges, making it the omphalos of Dartmoor. Tors are also known as pixie, or rather locally as 'piskie' castles. If a fog comes down here and you lose your path and get lost it is described as being piskie-led. The piskies also have their own parliament.

The rivers here can become quite dangerous and people do drown in them every year, to the extent that the river Dart even has this local rhyme associated with it;

"Dart, Dart, cruel Dart, every year she claims a heart"

or

"River of Dart, oh, river of Dart!
Every year thou claimest a heart"

When we leave the woods we should be able to get a glimpse of a tor.


Information from High Dartmoor by Eric Hemery (Robert Hale 1983) drawing upon folklore research by Theo Brown [kindly supplied by Tracy Brown of Wisht Maen magazine].
And the fantastic website Legendary Dartmoor: which is very much recommended.http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/index.htm

10 comments:

Penny said...

what a great tale!
About the crockern that is.

"grey as granite, and his eyebrows hanging down over his glimmering eyes like sedge, and his eyes as deep as peat water pools.”

what a picture comes to my mind!

My most favourite of all the pics is pic number 7.

The moss covered trees and rocks and the water going by....
I love it.

We have been out hiking ourselves, did a good 3-1/2 hours the other day.
Foraging along the way.
Got a good size clump of oyster mushrooms, gave half away and are still eating the rest.
Also gathered a good amount of late nettles, that were a regrowth, which means the leaves were not elongated and very sawtoothed.

Both delicious and nutritious.
Do you forage? Or just hike?

We also got to see some white tailed deer running through the woods. First spying a big male and his mate?
I should say he saw us too.

Then we saw a group of about 5 running up a hill through the woods.
Quite a beautiful sight.

Of course, we did not bring the camera with us.
OH well..

As always john, beautiful pics, just beautiful

nobody said...

It's all so goddamn fecund. The trees are covered in moss and the moss has ferns growing out of it. Is there something growing out of the ferns? Craziness. And how about those figure-skating trees? They make Torville and Dean look like white people.

It's all so absurdly green it makes my eyes hurt.

john said...

Cheers Penny and thanks. It's nice to hike without a camera too as I spend a lot of time pottering and taking photos which does slow down the walking a bit, but I like to take photos.

We do some foraging, it depends on what turns up really. If I walk alone I tend not to so much but if I walk with the maid she points out all the unusual plants, some of which are tiny and which I'd miss otherwise. It depends what your eyes look for.

There are some lovely places to stop here, just to listen to the river. Glad you enjoy the photos and thanks again.

john said...

It is very fecund nobody. It seems as if the ferns have insects growing out of them, though not so many this time of year, and if anything stays still for long enough some lichen will grow on it.

This fecundity runs out as we get onto the moor which is an empty a landscape as you can find anywhere and is just up around the corner from here. It's a funny old place.

Thanks nobody and cheers for now.

evat said...

Hi ,john . I think you've enjoyed so much in your walking there , it is nice wild area ,the nature is beautifull and dangerous at the same time .

water means life , but we should be carefull with mad river ,well sometimes it is mad ,not all time , is it ?

It is clear that most people don't go to this area much , because it is very wild , i can see the green cover of plant "mybe it is a sort of moss ,agla " on the trunks and rocks , and you work very well to keep it like that .

I wonder ? if you've got some photos for the animals there ,as squirrels ?

well ,actually , you are very lucky to live in your green country , are you ?

have good time .

john said...

Hi Evat and thanks. It is a lovely place to walk. The rivers flood quickly after heavy rain and we had this happen here last week when we had lots of flooding of the local rivers which was very bad in Cornwall. Most of the time the rivers are gentle.

I didn't see many animals on this walk so no photos this time. I was looking out for a bird called the Dartmoor Dipper but didn't see one, hopefully another time. I did see some of the wild dartmoor ponies.

ahlan wa sahlan Evat

the Silverfish said...

Nice images as usual John, are they all covered in snow now? I heard that the UK has been getting a kick in the teeth lately.

Of course we here in the Great White North being such a hardy lot would shrug off such weather as a minor inconvenience.
The snow started here on and off about two weeks ago and hasn't really let up much. Damn I've been having fun with the toy Skye bought me, give that beast a good bite and it will throw snow a good one hundred feet. Now the half mile driveway don't seem such a much of a much and now I'm just waiting for a real good dumping so that it can earn it's keep.

Have a good one John and be safe and warm Ok.

john said...

Thanks Silverfish. Hope all going well where you are. Yes there has been plenty of snow around here, mostly up north and to the east though but I have seen quite a bit on my travels around. The worst thing seems to be the wind at the moment; it is very cold indeed.

I have been a bit slow doing things on the blog and internet lately because we just found out recently that my dad is very ill and that has been taking up a lot of my thought and our time lately.

I must get round to updating the blog soon and apologies to the folk who's emails I haven't responded to yet.

cheers for now.

Penny said...

oh john, I am sorry to read that.
About your Dad..

Of course, I will only send positive thoughts...

I can very much empathize as this has been, as you know, a difficult year.

Oh and btw, silv may be from the great white north, as am I, but..
no snow here!

Thankfully as I haven't got the snow tires on the vehicle yet

john said...

Cheers Penny. Yes it is a very sad business. It is something we are always aware of but is always in the future somewhere, then suddenly it is that future. Time goes so fast and I don't like to say goodbye to the ones I love so much, it will be difficult.

Thanks Penny and good luck with the snow when it turns up.