Named Rocks – At the top of the hill behind Poundsworthy (sic) there is a rock locally known as the Batch Loaf. It was formerly a logan called the Ringed Tor.” – T.D.A. 1902, p.85.
On a mission or what? Whilst browsing through some old copies of the Transactions of the Devonshire Association I came across the above, very brief entry in the report of the Folklore Committee. Over the centuries we have lost a huge amount of the traditions and history of Dartmoor and part of this loss are place-names. So, as that subject ‘floats my boat’, so to speak, I wanted to see if the ‘Batch Loaf’ rock could be located. As can be seen, there is not an awful lot to go on apart from a couple of clues. Firstly, it is/was at the top of the hill behind Ponsworthy, in theory the word’ “behind” should suggest in a northerly direction but then again it could be anywhere depending on ones position? Additionally there is no mention of exactly how far ‘behind’ Ponsworthy this rock is, could it be a few hundred metres or a few kilometres? This is a critical factor because although unlikely, there is a rock outcrop on Leigh Tor called ‘The Batch Loaves‘ which lies about 2.5km to the south east of Ponsworthy. When describing Leigh Tor William Crossing notes; ‘One of the piles of the tor has the fanciful name of the Batch Loaves bestowed upon it…‘, 1990, p.335. When he ever referred to ‘piles‘ it was normally in the context of rock outcrops which tend to be much larger that single rocks. In similar vain, Ruth Cresswell writes; “… and pass out to the commons, with Leigh Tor just above us – a couple of fantastic groups, some of the rocks being locally named the Batch Loaves.“, p.101. Therefore considering this fact and the actual distance of Leigh Tor from Ponsworthy one could tentatively assume that the Batch Loaves is not what we are searching for?
So onto the next step, the very fact that it was called the; “Batch Loaf” may indicate that the rock is so shaped and possibly quite large? There is also a slight question as to the actual spelling of what should be ‘Ponsworthy’, as can be seen it’s spelt; “Poundsworthy“. In theory not a problem, just a typo but there is a Poundsgate not a million miles away from Ponsworthy, so hopefully it is not a drastic typo? Also when going under its pseudonym of Ring Tor the rock is described as being ‘formerly a logan’ which is a term used to describe a trigged or pivoted stone which will ‘log’ or rock when touched (see – Logan Stone). If this be the case then there should be evidence of another rock lying on or below the larger loaf-shaped rock?
So, as it is not possible to visit the Devon Local Records Office due to a 130 odd mile separation the next step is the internet and my Dartmoor Library. In 2006 the Widecombe and District Local History Group published a book entitled, ‘One Hundred Years and More of Ponsworthy‘. Sadly there is no mention of the rock but then again in such a book why should there be? Unfortunately there is no mention of the Batch Loaf in any of the key Dartmoor tomes or on the internet either.
In normal circumstances the first port of call should be Ponsworthy but at the time of writing we are in the midst of the ‘Winter of the long rains’ (December 2015) and Devon is on a red flood alert. Thanks to modern technology the next best thing to actually being in the ‘field’ is Goggle Earth along with the hope that a large rock could be identified. There possibly are a couple of contenders, the favourite one being to the west of Lock’s Gate Cross which is behind Ponsworthy to the west? This most likely candidate is the one shown below which appears to fit the shape of a loaf, the only problem is that it would take a great deal of imagination to refer to it as a tor let alone ‘Ringed Tor’?
Incidentally, this is not the only rock formation on Dartmoor that is associated with bread and baking, as mentioned above there are some rocks on Leigh Tor called the ‘Batch Loaves’ but this is not the only one:
|Name||OS Grid Reference||Description|
|Arthur’s Oven||SX 6715 8129||AKA King’s Oven – a prehistoric cairn|
|Bakers Arms, The||SX 6999 8797||Now The Bullers Arms|
|Bakery Hill||SX 6010 7372||Natural incline|
|Batch Loaf, The||SX ???? ????||Natural rock formation|
|Batch Loaves, The||SX 7125 7174||Natural rock formation|
|Bachelor’s Hall Bakery||SX 6010 7360||Natural rock formation|
|Branscombe’s Loaf||SX 5520 8915||Natural rock formation|
|Bun Barrow||SX 7378 7496||A prehistoric barrow|
|Cottage Loaf, The||SX 6653 6517||AKA Eastern Whittabarrow – a prehistoric barrow|
|Flour Rocks||SX 6821 7401||Natural rock formation|
|Gregg’s Quarry||SX6591 9093||Quarry – well OK this is stretching it a bit 🙂|
|Parsons Brown Loaf||SX 7799 8131||AKA The Mapstone – a natural rock formation|
|Rolls Tor||SX 5432 7661||AKA Roos Tor|
If by any chance anybody has any further information as to the exact location of this rock please let me know. In the meantime I will update this page as soon as I have identified the mystery ‘Bath Loaf’.
Crossing, W. 1990. Crossing’s Guide to Dartmoor. Newton Abbot: Peninsula Press.
Cresswell, R. The Homeland Handbooks – Dartmoor, Vol. 8. London: The Homeland Association Ltd.