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B is for ...

B is for ...

Published: 27 August 2019

Beast of Dartmoor

Often said to have been the inspiration behind The Hound of the Baskervilles, this is said to be based around the tale of Squire Cabell, and this myth has had (four) legs for centuries.

Squire Richard Cabell lived during the 1600s and was the local squire at Buckfastleigh. He had a passion for hunting and was what in those days described as a 'monstrously evil man'. He gained this reputation for amongst other things immortality and having sold his soul to the Devil. There was also the rumour that he had murdered his wife...

On 5th July 1677 he passed away and was laid to rest in 'the sepulchre'  but that was only the beginning of the story. The night of his internment saw a phantom pack of hounds come baying across the moor to howl at his tomb. From that night onwards he could be found leading the phantom pack across the moor usually on the anniversary of his death. If the pack were not out hunting they could be found ranging around his grave howling and shrieking. In an attempt to lay the soul to rest the villagers built a large building around the tomb to be doubly sure a huge slab was placed on top of the grave to stop the ghost of the squire escaping. Even after this people have reported a strange red glow emanating through the iron bars. Others have reported seeing a whole host of demonic creatures gathered around the grave trying to get the promosed soul for their master.

It is said that if you run around the tomb seven times and then stick your hand through the iron bars either Squire Cabell or the Devil will bite your fingers.

Many have looked into the possibilites of historical accuracy, and although there is some truth there are also inaccuracies.

Nowadays 'the beast of Dartmoor' is often used to allude towards a livestock attacking, foot-print leaving and howling wild animal roaming the moors. Is it a released puma? Or an escaped pet? Or... one of Squire Cabell's hounds? No irrifutable evidence has yet been presented, but there are those who have a thirst for answers and are trying to find out the truth.

In the meantime, the beast has leant its name to an annual charitable fundraising challenge run and is also the title of the Royal Marine Commando speed march. A name such as Beast of Dartmoor still has some power so it seems, many will scoff at the idea of the beast but we suspect few will run around the tomb seven times...just in case.

Coming soon...C is for


Laura Braithwaite

Written By : Laura Braithwaite