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Touch Stone

Touch Stone

The reason I have included the ‘Touchstone’ under ‘Ancient Monuments’ is that this menhir is probably the first one to be erected on Dartmoor since the Bronze Age. To mark the millennium, John Powls decided it would be a fitting monument to celebrate the new century with and put his idea to the National Park. At the time John Powls was the ‘poet in residence’ with the national park and so he wrote a poem to be inscribed on the stone. The stone was erected on Rundlestone Crest during the summer solstice in 1999. There was then a dedication ceremony held during the winter solstice in December 1999. The stone for the menhir came from the old prison quarry where Powls was the one-time governor and the poem was carved on it by Kevin Andrews of Polzeath in Cornwall. The touchstone stands at a proud 2 metres from the ground and as you can see from the picture below has become an excellent ‘rubbing post’ for the bullocks.

Touch Stone

The Touchstone

This stone touching
Open moor and sky
Granite land mark
Raised to stand
For all times
As one time;
Now, then and ever
In love and beauty
Our story is a book
Always open
At the centre
Half of experiences
Half of
Un-named hopes.
John Powls 1999

When I took the above photo of the Touchstone the field was full of bullocks and not wanting them in the picture I spent ages getting them into the next field. Having done so I then got the shot I wanted but no sooner had I done that than they all came stampeding back into the field.

Touch Stone

A very indignant bullock!

In the distance a loud ‘whoomping’ sound could be heard and it was getting closer and louder when all of a sudden the reason for the bovine charge became apparent:

Touch Stone

This Chinook came ‘whoomping’ low over the ridge and although the above picture is not that sharp you can clearly see the soldier sat on the open ramp. I do not know if the military have taken the name of the stone literally and tell the pilots to see if they can ‘touch’ the stone as they fly over but this one certainly was having a go.  As it continued on its ground level flight a skein of geese came flying across on a crash course and both had to take emergency manoeuvres to avoid each other – the soldier sat on the ramp soon moved inside the cabin!

Touch Stone


About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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