TORS OF DARTMOOR

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Rabbits' Holt

Foxes' Holt

The magnificent dome of Cosdon Hill shows some fine prehistoric remains including the magnificent triple stone row on the east flank and the Queenie Meads settlement on the low west slope. On the northernmost edge of the eminence there is a sprawling clitter that Ordnance Survey call 'Foxes' Holt' yet Crossing (1909) calls it 'Rabbits' Holt'. Given the OS errors when surveying Cosdon in the past, there is a good argument to support Crossing's statement despite writing rather dismissively describing "a small clatter known as Rabbits' Holt." In addition to this, there is some dispute about the legitimacy of the name 'Foxes' Holt' as Hemery (1983), when describing Ladybrook Tor, confidently proclaims that "Its clitter is known as Foxes' Holt, a name used solely by OS for a small clitter on Cosdon's north-east shoulder." This discrepancy, if the author is correct, hasn't been remedied by OS who continue to display the name on the north slope of Cosdon.

There is clear evidence of the granite being worked here, numerous rocks scattered across the slopes bear the tell tale tare and feather marks, this valuable resource likely plundered to build the walls that illegally encroached up the slopes in the 19th Century and eventually led to the Duchy of Cornwall erecting bound stones after a violent dispute with the locals. One of those stones stands above the Holt, mentioned by Crossing as; "a stone about 6 feet in height, one of a line erected in 1885, to mark the boundary of certain mineral rights, and also that between what was anciently known as the manor of Zeal Toeny and the land over which the Duchy claims jurisdiction." Found at SX 64029 92543, it is inscribed 'DC 2' on one side and 'SZ 2' on the other, and is quite a prominent feature when ascending the steep slope up from the field systems below. Paul Buck (2019) wrote a blog article about the dispute entitled 'The South Zeal/Duchy of Cornwall Bound Stones' and in it he states that "This is the most well-known of the bound stones, labelled as 'Stone Post' by Ordnance Survey and the only one that is marked on modern maps." For more about the dispute, visit Paul's updated (2021) post here.

Rabbits' Holt is where hawthorn finds refuge, a place where foxgloves (otherwise known on Dartmoor as cowflops) occasionally grow and is an altogether remarkable place where you can step back in time and imagine the significance of the site as a boundary point. Views from here are captivating and your eyes are drawn to the rolling fields of Mid Devon which stretch off northward towards the heights of Exmoor. The villages of Sticklepath and South Zeal lie far below in the valley.

Its history as well as the spectacular scenery is what makes it so worth a visit on a clear day and the visitor should take some time enjoying the thrilling vista. Accessing the Holt is easiest, if steepest, from South Zeal where a myriad of tracks that run between enclosure walls take you out onto the moor. Leaving the tracks, the terrain is steep and difficult walking in places so tread with caution, especially amongst the clitter.

Rabbits' Holt
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 640 926
Height:
450m
Parish:
South Tawton
Tor Classification:
Clitter
Access:
Public
Rock Type:
Granite
Credit:
William Crossing
Reference:
Ordnance Survey Maps
William Crossing (1909): Guide to Dartmoor
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
Paul Buck (2021): The South Zeal / Duchy of Cornwall Stones

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