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HER Number:MDV54463
Name:Route of the Tavistock to Ashburton pack-horse track


The pack-horse track was originally marked by guide stones which ran from Tavistock to Ashburton across the moor. Tracked by Hemery as far as New Bridge, much of the course has been replaced with the modern roads. Record location is approximate in places.


Grid Reference:SX 632 725
Map Sheet:SX67SW
Admin AreaDartmoor National Park
Civil ParishDartmoor Forest
Civil ParishHolne
Civil ParishWalkhampton
Civil ParishWidecombe in the Moor
DistrictSouth Hams
DistrictWest Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishHOLNE
Ecclesiastical ParishLYDFORD
Ecclesiastical ParishWALKHAMPTON

Protected Status

  • SHINE: Walling of Bronze Age hut circle and earthworks and open cut remains of 19th century Gobbett Tin Mine, including tunnel adjacent to the River Swincombe
  • SHINE: Earthwork and structural remains on Walkhampton Common including 19th century Swelltor and Foggintor Quarries, a section of the early 19th century Plymouth and Dartmoor Tramway, later converted to railway, also streamworks along the Yes Tor Brook
  • SHINE: Earthwork and structural remains of a section of the late 18th century Devonport Leat running from Nun's Cross to Princetown including extensive tinning remains at Whiteworks Tin Mine
  • SHINE: Earthwork remains of an area of the Hart Tor tinworks west and north of Hart Tor, Walkhampton Common

Other References/Statuses

  • National Monuments Record: SX57SE17
  • National Monuments Record: SX67SW245
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 440071
  • National Record of the Historic Environment: 620356
  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SX67SW/436

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • PACKHORSE ROAD (Early Medieval to Post Medieval - 1066 AD (Between) to 1750 AD (Between))

Full description

Shillibeer, W., 1805-1818, Map of Freehold and Enclosures on Dartmoor, 1805-18 (Cartographic). SDV218725.

Ordnance Survey, 1880-1899, First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map (Cartographic). SDV336179.

Depicted on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch late 19th century (1886) map as a sinuous footpath.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1950, SX57SE17 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV275891.

(12/02/1980) In addition to the thirteen stones recorded by Worth a further stone has been found by T. Greeves near Merrivale Bridge. (See diagram and photographs) Of those located during investigation all but one are wedge split tapering granite posts, varying from 1.5m. to 1.7m high, and approximately 0.2m. by 0.3m. in section. Only 'D' is an uncut moorland slab. Those stones which are uprooted are undamaged, 2.2m. long, and lie with their former buried ends against the packing stones.
This route is rarely visible as short lengths of parallel hollow ways; for most part the pony track is undefined.
Details of the stones are as follows:
A: SX 55357505; C: SX 55787469; and D: SX 55927465; all free standing.
E: SX 56307450; fallen.
F: SX 56397440; free standing.
G: SX 56527425; now missing, but was probably at one time re-used as a gatepost, as in H at SX 56657403.
J: SX 56787392; free standing.
K: SX 56967390; uprooted.
L: SX 57097388 approximately. Not found but unlikely to have been destroyed; probably overgrown.
M: SX 57237378; uprooted.
N: SX 54427364 approximately. Not found.
P; SX 54607351; free standing.
No time was spent searching for Worth's doubtful stone to the east of this last.
Stones surveyed at 1:10 000 on MSD.

Worth, R. H., 1967, Worth's Dartmoor, 397-401 (Monograph). SDV337618.

Donne's map of 1765 shows a track delineated by guide stones which starts east of Merrivale Bridge, passes to the north of South Hessary Tor, to the north of Fox Tor Mire, and by way of Hexworthy and Cumsdon Rock, goes to Holne and Ashburton.
The marking may have been done in 1699-1700 when Plymouth Corporation paid #2 towards defraying expenses of erecting moorstones along the Plymouth to Exeter route. Six stones were known to exist in 1911 in the Merrivale-Yellowmead area since when a further seven stones have been found (see map). One, 200 yards east of the last shown, is in doubt and requires excavation. In the eastern part of the route two stones are in use as gateposts at Swincombe, and one was taken to Lowery during the Napoleonic wars.

Hemery, E., 1983, High Dartmoor, 86-87 (Monograph). SDV249702.

Hemery records the route of the path, from Merrivale to New Bridge.
The Tavistock - Ashburton pack-horse track, originally marked by guide stones ran from the Tavistock - Chagford pack-horse track near Merivale (sic) to the crossing point of the River Dart at Newbridge and beyond into border country. Guide stones were erected in 1699-1700 at a cost of two pounds.
From above Meavy Head it ran into Tor Royal and across the N flank of Royal Hill to the River Swincombe. Crossing here at Swincombe Ford it continued over the N foot of Down Ridge to Hexworthy…

Hemery, E., 1986, Walking Dartmoor's Ancient Tracks (Monograph). SDV220153.

Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England, 1987-1993, Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit, M. J. Fletcher (Report - Survey). SDV350839.

(24/04/1989) The pack-horse track from Meavy Head (SX 5842 7335) may have followed more or less the course of the present tarmac road from Princetown to Tor Royal and the concrete road from the farm to Bull Park (SX 6001 7317 to SX 6027 7330).
A partially metalled 20th century banked track which crosses the Tor Royal newtake in a dead straight line, has probably effaced much of the evidence of the early route but resident at Tor Royal Farm has identified some short sections, mostly on the southern side of the metalled track, during the dry summer season. A low, denuded earthen bank on the west flank of Royal Hill between SX 60?72 7327 and SX 6073 7323 probably indicates its course down the steep slope.
The relatively sinuous course of a track crossing the newtake is depicted and annotated 'road to Torroyal' on an early 19th century Duchy map.
A guide stone in the Tor Royal - Sherberton boundary indicates its route and beyond to Swincombe Ford (SX 6414 7249) it is visible as a crude track, delimited in part by drystone enclosure walls. Beyond the ford to the east edge of Sherberton it probably followed the line of a slight embarked hollow-way which has an eroded natural boulder-stone surface.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV218725Cartographic: Shillibeer, W.. 1805-1818. Map of Freehold and Enclosures on Dartmoor, 1805-18. Map of Enclosures on Dartmoor -1805-1818.
SDV220153Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1986. Walking Dartmoor's Ancient Tracks. Walking Dartmoor's Ancient Tracks. Paperback Volume.
SDV249702Monograph: Hemery, E.. 1983. High Dartmoor. High Dartmoor. Hardback Volume. 86-87.
SDV275891Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1950. SX57SE17. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV336179Cartographic: Ordnance Survey. 1880-1899. First Edition Ordnance 25 inch map. First Edition Ordnance Survey 25 inch Map. Map (Digital).
SDV337618Monograph: Worth, R. H.. 1967. Worth's Dartmoor. Worth's Dartmoor. A5 Hardback. 397-401.
SDV350839Report - Survey: Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England. 1987-1993. Duchy Farms Project Survey Visit. Royal Commission for the Historical Monuments of England Archaeological Survey. Unknown. M. J. Fletcher.

Associated Monuments

MDV115716Related to: Ashburton 'parole' stone at Dart Vale (Monument)
MDV16573Related to: Ashburton to Tavistock routemarker, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV130309Related to: Boundary stone north-west of Yellowmeade Farm, Datmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV130310Related to: Boundary stone north-west of Yellowmeade Farm, Datmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV5017Related to: Boundary stone north-west of Yellowmeade Farm, Datmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV4948Related to: Boundary stone on Walkhampton Common (Monument)
MDV130308Related to: Boundary stone south-west of Yellowmeade Farm, Datmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV130319Related to: Boundary stone south-west of Yellowmeade Farm, Datmoor Forest (Monument)
MDV54471Related to: 'Conscies Road', Tor Royal (Monument)
MDV5005Related to: Foggintor Quarry, Princetown (Monument)
MDV51400Related to: Quarry north-east of the site of the Four Winds School, Merrivale (Monument)
MDV28204Related to: Quarry on Walkhampton Common (Monument)
MDV125413Related to: Ridge and furrow north-west of Sharp Tor (Monument)
MDV123021Related to: Ring O' Bells Farmhouse, Hexworthy (Building)
MDV77452Related to: Ring O' Bells, Hexworthy Farm (Monument)
MDV28222Related to: Streamworks along the Yes Tor Brook, Walkhampton (Monument)
MDV54472Related to: Streamworks on tributary of the Blackbrook River (Monument)
MDV6259Related to: Swincombe Cottage, Hexworthy (Building)
MDV26082Related to: Swincombe Farm (Monument)
MDV70254Related to: T/A stone east of the Dartmoor Inn (Monument)
MDV16974Related to: Tavistock to Moretonhampstead road (Monument)
MDV5076Related to: The Abbots Way, Dartmoor (Monument)
MDV118360Related to: The Forest Inn, Hexworthy (Building)
MDV123022Related to: Western farmstead at Hexworthy (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV7375 - Archaeological recording during construction of the Dousland to Rundlestone water main (Ref: 94.40)
  • EDV8054 - Watching brief on land next to the Villa, Princetown (Ref: OA1532)
  • EDV8146 - Royal Commission Survey at Down Ridge and Swincombe
  • EDV8296 - Dartmeet Premier Archaeological Landscape (PAL) Field Investigation Project
  • EDV3462 - Survey at Huccaby Farm, Lydford
  • EDV8628 - Tor Royal Farm Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8632 - Sherberton Farm, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8634 - Brimpts Farm, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8664 - Torgate House, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV8666 - Tor Royal Plantation, Duchy Farms Survey
  • EDV4779 - Historic Building Recording at Tor Royal Farmhouse, Princetown (Ref: 10R051)
  • EDV4939 - Condition survey of Devonport Leat
  • EDV7100 - Holne Moor Survey
  • EDV8409 - Dartmoor Royal Forest Project
  • EDV8423 - Duchy Farms Project

Date Last Edited:Jun 17 2022 12:51PM