Rough Tor is in North Cornwall, not far from Camelford. It sits on the northern edge of Bodmin moor, a series of granite towers overlooking a stark landscape.
It’s in The Jamaica Inn but I haven’t actually read any Du Maurier. Don’t tell my dad.
The land leading up to the peak of the tor is scattered with granite boulders as big as a person, you’ll sometimes find cows or sheep rubbing against them. The site looks like what it is – an instance where the earth rose up and spat out great wads of itself.
Some of the stones are more even. Hut circles. This was a site of Neolithic significance. You can find the remains of an ancient walkway that might have had ceremonial purpose, leading from the hill to the stream at its foot.
In the lee of the hill, away from the walkway, there is a stone circle. The land here has human remnants that are millenia old. Neolithic magic makers walked North Cornwall, and we have what they left in their wake.
Far more recently, in the 19th century, a woman was found dead there in a story lurid enough to be a penny dreadful. Apparently 20,000 people watched her murderer hang. By the carpark that the national trust established you can find a memorial to her, which recounts the details in only the way an excitable and bloodthirsty Victorian could. Well. We do True Crime ourselves I’m sure we could make it exciting.
This hill is steeped in history. There’s a world war two monument drilled to the top of the stone towers I haven’t even mentioned yet. Every time I’ve visited it we’ve found new old things in the crevices between the rocks.
It’s places like this that remind me the world is impossibly dense with information. Stories. Histories. There’s no unplugging from it, you just switch to a different bandwidth.
The stories these hills could tell…