Devon Myths and Legends
The hunter with the stony visage
Bowerman's Nose and Hound Tor are famous sites on Dartmoor and it's all thanks to a hunter not looking before he leapt.
Hundreds of visitors will make their way to the Bowerman's Nose outcrop on Dartmoor or Hound Tor nearby, but how many know the tale behind it?
History books are full of legends of people being turned to stone.
Medusa made a habit of it, Wagner's operas say that's what happens to the ruler of the Earth when he dies, and there are many more tales of spontaneous petrifications.
In this instance the tale surrounds a brave moorland hunter called Bowerman and the one time he stepped in what was definitely the wrong place.
According to the legend Bowerman was a huge, powerful hunter. Whatever he found on the moors he would hunt down relentlessly until it was caught to fill his or his neighbours pot.
He and his hounds were a common sight on Dartmoor and also well respected, most people learning to stay out of his way when he was defiantly hunting prey.
One day he and his hounds were chasing a hare across the moors and came across a coven of witches.
Rather than run around, the single-minded pack ran straight through the centre of the circle, disrupting the witches rituals.
The next night, in revenge, one of the coven turned herself into a hare and caught the attention of one of Bowerman's hounds.
The chase was on and the hunting group raced after the magical beast, chasing it over the moorland incessantly.
Unfortunately for Bowerman and his canine companions the hare led them such a merry dance they were soon exhausted, something that had never happened before.
The hounds collapsed first with the man carrying on the hunt until he too succumbed to tiredness and fell.
It was at this point the witch turned herself human again and with her coven sisters cast a spell.
The hunter himself was turned into the stones now known eponymously as Bowerman's Nose and the dogs became the rocks upon Hound Tor.
So that's the torrid tale of the Dartmoor locations, and a warning to all not to take a shortcut through a circle of women.
last updated: 21/02/2008 at 16:49