Thursday , June 20 2024



It is not very often that ‘new’ legends are found, especially ones that have been handed down through the generations but Vic Cowling has sent me another version of the Brentor story. Below are the contents of his email:

“There is an older legend about Brentor which was told by my late grandfather, John Cowling, which, according to him, has been passed down through generations of our family:

In pre-Christian times Brentor Hill was a sacred place to the Druids who used the location for worship and rituals. It was overseen by a resident Druid priest who was responsible for the ceremonies, including human sacrifice in praise of the sun. These priests were required to be celibate and eschew female company. Living around about was a tribe of “Celts”, who manned the trenches surrounding the base of the hill. At the time of this story the priest was named Druga, aged 30, and the local chief was called Dagon who had a beautiful daughter, Issis.

During this period the local rivers were being washed by the Phoenicians looking for tin. Their leader presented Druga with a seven stringed harp, having learned of his love of music. Soon Issis became attracted to Druga’s playing and singing until one night the guards on the trenches discovered Issis in the arms of Druga, entirely contrary to what was expected of him. As they were about to take the couple before Dagon, Issis, to shield Druga, declared that she had come to offer herself as a sacrifice, whereupon Druga plunged his knife into her heart. Druga, fearing the wrath of the Dagon, immediately ran away and hid. Later that night he was approached by the Devil who offered to protect him for sixty years on condition that at the end of that time Druga surrendered himself to the Devil, terms which were readily accepted.

Little is known of what happened to Druga during the intervening years but one night, when he was a very old man, Druga became nostalgic and decided to visit Brentor again, possibly for the last time. As he was standing in the familiar trenches a hand was laid on his shoulder and a voice said “Druga, come with me. Your sixty years are up”. But at once there appeared a third person, Issis, who said ” No, for I have been where the tin streamers speak of, where the sun is not worshipped but one called Christ” At the name of Christ, the Devil vanished leaving Druga and Issis who both became as they were in their youth. As they were standing there a cloud passed over and drew them up into it. The harp, which Druga had carried throughout his travels, fell from his grasp and where it fell a spring of water welled up. To this day there is a spot, just inside the entrance to the trenches, which is always green and never dries up.”


Many thanks to Vic Cowling for taking the time and trouble to send this story to me.

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

One comment

  1. Hi Tim,
    I have used many of your tales as inspiration in the past and present for the drama work I do in schools. I am currently putting together performances for July in various primaries, where hopefully we will be able to stage our event outside at least. I am based in Tavistock and am slowly discovering the delights of Dartmoor. Despite living here for over 20 years, I have mostly been working and so lockdown has been the opportunity to go out there and really discover this amazing place. I have even had to buy sensible clothes…
    I hope you will be able to come and see some of the performances when they happen. Check out the website if you want more information about the work I do!

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