Hawks Tor (South)

View from the east.

A single stone row measuring 4.7m long, including at least five closely-spaced large and medium-sized stones wedged into a natural crevice and packed with smaller stones. The row is orientated south east to north west and points at a dramatic notch in an adjacent tor. From the row and tor, Lundy, the Bristol Channel and Plymouth Sound are at the limit of visibility. There are prehistoric settlements in the vicinity.


England     Cornwall     Bodmin Moor     SX 25324 76301     Lat 50.560223     Long -4.467614

Map showing the location of Hawks Tor (South) stone row.

Plan of Hawks Tor (South) stone row. Standing stones shown grey, packing stones shown blue and granite shown yellow (Source: Survey by Sandy Gerrard, Janet Daynes and Stuart Dow at 1:50).

Plan of Hawks Tor stone row showing the maximum heights of the stones.


Type: Single Length: 4.7m
No. of stones: 5 Size of stones: Medium and large
Orientation: 126° Altitude: 321m
Upper end: – Lower end: Natural rock notch
Straight (Yes or No)  : Yes Sea View: Yes
Context:  Prehistoric Settlement

Notes: This row is very different in character to all of the others in South West England and its closest parallel is Brainport Bay in Argyll and Isles. The row has clearly been constructed by wedging the stones into a crevice in the granite bedrock with additional support being provided by packing stones. The row points at a dramatic notch in a nearby tor and calculations strongly suggest that the mid winter sunrise would have appeared in the base of this notch when viewed from the row.  This means that it is very likely that this row had an astronomical function, although a remarkable visual link with the sea, Lundy and Staddon Heights near Plymouth was also observed.

Other Information

Public Access:  Yes
Land Status: AONB
Scheduled Ancient Monument: No


Category: Plausible. The only characteristic of this stone row which could create an element of uncertainty is the close spacing of the stones. Compared to most sites the stones are much closer to each other, although examples of similar spacing can be found at Lluest Uchaf, Saith Maen WSW, Merrivale 4, Lakehead Hill, East and Nant Tarw. For this reason it would seem to churlish to dispute the stone row identification on this ground. The intimate visual relationship with the prominent notch in the adjacent tor is remarkable, especially when one considers that the mid-winter sunrise would appear through this notch when standing beside the row. The visual link with Lundy is very likely to be of significance as is the glimpse of the sea at Plymouth Sound.  The stones have been carefully wedged into position and kept firmly in place with smaller packing stones and we can therefore be certain that this is not a natural feature. This is therefore a fine example of a perfectly preserved stone row which has the potential to provide helpful insights into the function and purpose of this type of monument.


This stone row is of Type S3. Information on this form of stone row and other rows of this type is available here.


View of the stone row from the tor to the south east (Scale 1m). 

View from the north east (Scale 1m).

View from the south west (Scale 1m).

View from west with the notch on the right (Scale 1m).

Looking along the row through the notch (Scale 1m). The mid winter sunrise appears through this notch.

The stone row and notch.  It is difficult not to conclude that the row was built to signify the importance of this geological feature (Scale 1m). At many sites visual landscape links have been identified but here the relationship between this row and the notch are clear.  

This is probably the clearest evidence for a link between a row and a significant landscape feature.

The stone row can be seen from the ground below the tor. View from south.

Landscape Comment

From the row, the island of Lundy can be seen hovering above the distant horizon. This type of visual relationship is one that has been identified at many rows. In this instance three separate promontories are visible. Promontories seem to have been of particular interest to the row builders. When standing at the row it is impossible to easily dismiss the idea that it was built at this spot to incorporate the wider landscape in its “raison d’etre”

From the tor at the end of the row Plymouth Sound and a further promontory (Staddon Heights) is visible.

Lundy and Staddon Heights are visible from only the small areas shown on this map.

Access Information

Limited parking is available at SX 26006 76124. From here walk north along the bridleway to SX 25940 76282 where the left branch in the track should be followed. The lower slopes of the hill are covered in dense vegetation and it is easy to get lost in the myriad of small tracks, but experience showed that it is best to stick to the more clearly defined ones or alternatively visit in the winter or spring when the vegetation is likely to be less of a problem. It is certainly worth making the effort.


I am extremely grateful to Stuart Dow for bringing this site to my attention. He also, together with Janet Daynes, helped with the survey and has freely discussed this site and others in the area with me. I am delighted that he chose to share his discovery with me.

Visited:- 2nd September 2019

First Published:- 26th September 2019

Last Updated:- 5th February 2020

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