I think it is a well known fact that Devon has more than its fair share of Badgers, just read any discussion regarding T.B. But there are many badger setts to be found in the more remoter areas of high Dartmoor and some of these have been established for many years. There is no better way of spending a summer’s night that sat up by a lonely moorland sett as dimpsey descends and watching these fabulous creatures playing and squabbling noisily. This is what I term as a ‘Dartmoor Badger’ as they are true wilderness dwellers. I do not propose to go into any detail of where the setts are located for obvious reasons but will pass on immediately to the Badger in tradition and superstition, some of which are still in practice. One tradition was/is that if you carry a badger’s tooth in you pocket you will be certain of winning any bet or wager. Another version narrows the chances down somewhat as a badgers tooth will only bring you luck when playing cards. Many years ago I found a badger’s skull outside one of the moorland setts and took some teeth from it, and to this day carry a badgers tooth in my pocket. The very fact that I am not blissfully roaming the moor every day and going to work shows the accuracy of this fallacy. It must be a well known story because several years ago the tooth was attached to the zip of my walking jacket. One night my car was broken into and the rucksack stolen. A few weeks later all the items were recovered except the badgers tooth?
My ‘Lucky’ Badgers Tooth
Some people believed that it was good luck to have a badger cross your path behind you, to cross your path ahead of you meant bad luck was on its way. Another strange belief was that if you heard a badgers bark and then the cry of an owl this was a sign that death was on its way.
Direct place-names relating to the badger are very scarce on the moor, the only one I know of is the ubiquitous ‘Badger’s Holt’ which is now a noted tourist spot. However, if you look to the badger’s other name, ‘Brock’ then a few more association can be found in, Brock Hill with its mire, ford stream, and water There is also a Brockhill Wood and Brockley Bottom, all of which derive from the Anglo Saxon word for a badger which is – Brocc or possibly from the even earlier Celtic word – Broc.