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Nun’s Cross Farm Mystery

Nun's Cross Farm Mystery

If you’re ever near Nun’s Cross Farm have a careful look along the numerous enclosure walls and you may spot a strange stone embedded in one of them. As can be seen from the pictures below it certainly did not originate from that area and does not seem to be in context. Carved into it is a shield and emblem which possibly make up a coat of arms. The only mention I have ever seen of it was in the 1987 summer issue of the Dartmoor Magazine where a photo and a request for further information was printed.

Nun's Cross Farm Mystery

The Mystery Stone in 1996

The ravages of time have further eroded the stone but the emblem consists of the letters ‘V’ and ‘T’ separated by an upright sword. These are then enclosed within a shield shaped border. Manaton (1987, p.2) suggests that the ‘T’ may well represent the name Tyrwhitt who at one time was a large landowner who lived at nearby Tor Royal. Other suggestions of the time were that the stone could have come from the old Nun’s Cross Mine or even the Devonport Leat. More believable is Mike Brown’s theory that VT refers to the Vincent Thomas School of Exeter who at one time used the nearby farmhouse as a base for summer field courses, p.14. There appears to have been no owners or tenants of the nearby farms whose names would fit the initials so possibly the stone was ‘acquired’ elsewhere and built into the wall as a ‘novelty’. Certainly there has been no further mention of the stone in any recent publications or books so the mystery continues…


Brown, M. 1998. Dartmoor Field Guides – Vol. 15. Plymouth: Dartmoor Press.

Manaton, L. 1987, Mystery Stone, Dartmoor Magazine – No. 7, Quay Pub., Brixham.


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor


  1. Hi Tim,
    just to further muddy waters regarding the ‘mystery stone’ built into the wall near Nuns Cross Farm! I may be wrong but I believe that Vincent Thomas School didn’t use Nuns Cross Farm as a centre. Your previous respondent might be getting mixed up with the nearby to VT school – St Peters CofE High School. During the early to mid 1980s the school rented the farm building from the Duchy of Cornwall for several years. I was the teacher responsible for bookings!
    Is there any on line information about the history of Nuns Cross Farm?
    Thanks and best wishes,

  2. In the 1960’s and 70’s nuns cross was used by the Royal Navy as an expedition base for trainees from HMS Raleigh and Fish guard.
    We slept under canvas in the walled enclosure before setting out to walk the tors to Mary Tavy and then on to Peter Tavy. It was map-reading and compass work as well as surviving the extreme cold as we were ensconced there in December/ January.

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