During the late March of 2017 there was a great deal of excitement on Dartmoor which brought locals and pilgrims from afar out to the remote Great Staple Tor on Dartmoor. All were trying to find ‘The Saviour’s Rock’ which had caused something of a mini media storm. The story began with a lady who wishes to remain anonymous so we will call her Mrs. P. She was the proud owner of two spaniels, Misty and Bracken, who each morning she would take on their walk up to the tor. One morning she noticed that Bracken was sat quietly whimpering infront of a large rock on the eastern side of the tor. Apparently Bracken was a master hunter of adders and with this in mind Mrs. P. hurried across to make sure she never got bitten. However on arriving at the spot she could see no sign of a snake or anything else which could possibly cause Bracken’s behaviour. So she patted the dog and began to walk away but the dog never followed, it just sat staring intently at the rock. Just as she started back to fetch the dog the early morning sun broke through the clouds and lit up the rock, what she plainly saw was beyond belief. For directly infront of where the dog was sitting miraculously appeared what seemed to be a man’s face. As she studied it closer she could plainly see two eyes, a nose, a mouth, long straggly hair and something that looked like a crown resting low on its forehead. Time was ticking on and she had a busy day ahead so Mrs. P. grabbed her mobile and took a photograph of the rock.
Later that day Mrs. P. closely examined her photo in detail and suddenly realised that the face took on the countenance of Jesus, a cold shiver shot up her spine. She then went to her laptop and Googled ‘Jesus visitations apparitions’. Within seconds she was presented with a gallery full of images showing the face of Jesus appearing on a multitude of objects; an orange, a crisp, in cloud formations, a slice of toast and even a KitKat. All looked very much like what she had seen or thought she saw on the tor. For fear of ridicule Mrs. P. made her mind up that there was no way she was going to relate her ‘holy’ encounter to a living soul, not even members of her family. That same night she lay awake for hours searching for any logical explanation for what she had seen but none was forthcoming. So she hit on the idea that just perhaps she could seek the local vicar’s thoughts on the matter as being a holy representative he should know what to do.
The next morning she once again ventured up to Great Staple Tor with her dogs and made her way to the rock, sure enough the face was still there, staring sadly out of the granite. This time she was certain as to what was there and so made her way back to her local church in search of the vicar. Eventually he appeared and nervously Mrs. P. asked if she could confidentially ask his opinion on a personal matter. Naturally he agreed and assured her whatever it was would be treated with the greatest of confidence. Without saying a word she produced her mobile and showed the vicar her photograph of the face. He studied the picture intently and after a few minutes of silence as the lady if she could take him to the rock which she willingly agreed to do.
For the second time that day Mrs. P. made her way back up to the tor and to the rock. The vicar closely inspected the rock, tutting and sighing as he did, eventually he gave his expert opinion. There was no denying that there did seem to be what could loosely be described as a face on the rock and possibly there was some resemblance to the face of Jesus. But, and it was a big but, the features had been made by the various cracks and joints in the granite along with small patches of mosses and lichens, in other words they were a natural phenomenon. He also added that he was certain the face was a temporary thing and one good storm or an animal with an itchy back would soon obliterate it. In a way Mrs. P. was relieved, she had not witnesses a holy apparition or visitation and all the attention that would bring.
Somehow word of the supposed ‘holy face’ spread amongst the locals and then cascaded further afield. The result being that large numbers of folk made their way up to the tor, some out of curiosity and others out of a devotional calling. Soon the rock became known as ‘The Saviour’s Rock’ which is probably a name that will remain with it for eons to come. For a good couple of days a steady trickle of people could be seen at the tor, there were even reports that some of them were actually hacking off pieces of granite to take home as their personal relics. Small pieces of paper began appearing in the various cracks in the rock, all containing heartfelt pleas and prayers in the vague hope they would be answered. But then, just as the vicar had predicted, a mighty thunderstorm swept across the moor with spells of hail and torrential rain lashing from the heavens. Just as mysteriously as the face appeared on ‘The Saviour’s Rock’ it vanished leaving no trace of its presence. All that remains as evidence of what may have been a miraculous event are sodden bits of paper and freshly cut bits of granite. You can see above the photograph Mrs. P. took of the ‘face’ and my thanks to her for allowing me to publish it here. If you squint your eyes a bit there could possibly be the features of a face but in all reality I just see cracks and patches of mosses and lichens.