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Amicombe Hill

Amicombe Hill

High up on the northern moor at an elevation of 560m is the centre of the huge ridge called Amicombe Hill or ‘The Devil’s Dome’. One would be hard pushed to find a wilder, bleaker and remote a spot anywhere on Dartmoor and this very fact is the reason for it being the Devil’s Dome. For centuries man has dug for tin and peat on and around the hill and in doing so must have endured some of the coldest and wettest conditions imaginable. It would not be remiss to say that a lot of the time it must have sheer hell with the wind howling across the exposed hilltop and temperatures more be befitting a deep freeze. But ‘hell’ is exactly what this place was regarded as because it was here that the Devil was banished to live for eternity. But who, what and why? Well, over the centuries Satan has been stalking the moor where he’s wreaked havoc and mayhem. But in 1638 he paid a visit to a certain Mr Jan Reynolds at Widecombe when not only did he drag him kicking and screaming off to the fires of hell but he left his calling card on the local church. This resulted in the death of several villagers and a great deal of damage to the building which has always been regarded as the ‘Cathedral of the Moor’. Following the Devil’s visit the folk of Widecombe decided that the time had come to put an end to Mr Beelzebub and his wicked ways. One particular inhabitant came up with the idea that it might be amusing to banish the evil one to live for eternity on the coldest place of the moor. Many will say that you can’t find a colder place than Widecombe-in-the-Moor or Widecombe-in-the-Cold as it is sometimes known. However, somebody must have been well acquainted with Amicombe Hill because it was here that the villagers decided to send him. Time has carelessly lost the details of how the folk from Widecombe managed to banish the Devil to Amicombe Hill but to this day there is proof that they were very successful. Pay a visit to Amicombe Hill on any cold winters night and it is said you will hear blood curdling howls which are said to come from the Devil himself as the cold icy winds chill his body to near freezing point. It is if every blast of wind acts as a whip lash across his body, making him scream and squirm as he tries to find shelter amongst the small heather banks. There are also rumours that on dark nights mysterious fires can be seen on the hill, some say that again its the Devil keeping himself warm whilst waiting to inflame the famous Okehampton/Tavistock Feud.

Amicombe Hill

If you would like a very modern addition to this legend then simply visit Google Earth and go to the following position – 50º39’03.15″N 4º01’13.23W and zoom down to an altitude of 2,177 feet. The above image can clearly be seen and if that is not an outline of two cloven feet and a horned head then I must cut down on the cider. What moor proof does one need that the Devil has been banished to the slopes of Amicombe Hill otherwise known as the ‘Devil’s Dome’.

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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