There is a growing amount of evidence that man has lived and stalked the moors for a good 10,000 years when at that time he would have been a lot sturdier, hairier and muscular than today. As time went by the human race slowly evolved into what we are now, leaving behind all primeval vestiges of our past – or did we? I recently came across the following story, never before had I encountered it, is it a legend, an urban myth or one of those conspiracy theories? I will leave you to judge.
One morning in the winter of 1948 a local doctor recieved several mysterious telephone calls from local officials with varying degrees of rank. Everyone alluded to what was classified as a, “highly dangerous patient”, who had been captured whilst roaming somewhere in the wastes of Dartmoor. It was made perfectly clear that the patient would be delivered to the doctor’s hospital in an hour and upon arrival would need an isolation room and specialist attention. As you can imagine the doctor was slightly alarmed at the prospects of a lunatic arriving at his hospital and even more so of having to treat them.
It turned out that the special delivery arrived 45 minutes later by means of a police van which drove around to one of the side doors. Seven burly but nervous looking policemen alighted from the van, they were in the doctor’s words, “desperately trying to restrain what only could be described a hair-covered Neanderthal2. After a very intense struggle the ‘patient’ was dragged along the corridor which lead to the ready prepared isolation unit and pushed through its door which was then immediately slammed shut. The ‘patient’ was described as standing just over six feet tall with huge muscular arms and legs, the creature’s body was covered in an inordinate amount of thick body hair except for its face, palms and the soles of its feet. The face had a thick protruding brow line and by modern standards a wide nose and a long, thick matt of hair growing down over its shoulders.
The next three days saw a veil of secrecy drawn over the hospital when frantic phone calls went back and forth to the police, the Lord Lieutenant of Devon and the Home Office. Eventually the news came through that the ‘patient’ was to be removed to what was described as a: “secure location” somewhere in London at which a thorough examination would take place. Late that night the same seven policemen arrived at the hospital with instructions that the ‘patient’ was to be sedated prior to being taken away. After a tremendous struggle the doctor finally managed to administer the sedative and the ‘patient’ was laid on a stretcher and immobilised with heavy straps. The stretcher was then taken out to an awaiting police van where a mysterious and unidentified doctor took charge of the transfer operation. Immediately the stretcher was loaded the van sped away into the dark winter’s night along with the ‘patient’, the doctor and the seven policemen. Mysteriously the ‘patient’ was never seen or heard of again, it was as if the incident never took place and it was only after the doctor retired that he briefly told this story.
The famous Devon folklorist, Theo Brown collected several old tales which spoke of encounters with such Neanderthal-like creatures on and around Dartmoor. She recounted how a friend of hers was walking alone one night around the old Hunter’s Tor hillfort which is located on the eastern side of Lustleigh Cleave. Apparently the woman suddenly encountered a family of, “cave men”, some were dressed in animal skins and other were completely naked. Seemingly they appeared to be coming in and out of their huts, stooping under the low doorways as they did so.
Over the centuries there have been stories of various tribes of savages living in remote parts of the moor, probably the last and most famous of these were the Gubbins’ of Lydford. But who knows, there is 368 square miles of moor, valleys, and countryside within the Dartmoor National Park which should be ample room to secrete at least one or two ‘patients’.