Cater’s Beam Post/ Wollake North Post (467 m) (365, Q10, pg303)

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467m above sea level was recorded at the above NGR by Max Piper.

Notes: There is much conjecture about what Cater’s Beam actually is, with various sources citing it as a hill or a tin working. The earliest mention of the name is by Mudge in 1809 on the very first Ordnance Survey Map. Samuel Rowe (1848) describes it as an eminence “Above Plym Head. 1544 ft.” William Crossing (1901) later proclaims that Cater’s Beam is “A high, rounded hill, a little to the westward of the headwaters of the Avon. Placed on the Ordnance map much too far to the west.

Crossing later comments in 1909: “In the latter two cases the name [Beam] has attached itself to the hill near the workings.” This is for Cater’s Beam and Holming Beam, but there are significant workings at the former. The name was still misplaced on the Ordnance Survey Map at what is today marked as Crane Hill. In 1931 we learn that “Beam is found in many old Dartmoor minor names, e.g. Lapwyll beme, Yealbroke beme 1538, Bollamerebeym 1539, Peppercornebeme 1611. R.H. Worth (DA 58, 360) suggests that the word was a mining term, perhaps referring to the ‘rocking beam’ of a pump used for mining purposes.” By 1954/56 the location of Cater’s Beam had been shifted to the east, with Crane Hill established in the former location of Cater’s Beam. The location has not changed to this day but one wonders why it was misplaced for so long?

According to Eric Hemery (1983) a wooden sleeper upright post is inscribed ‘CATERS BEAM’ close to the marked map location, at the head of Wollake/ Blacklane Brook (since replaced c.2015). 8 years later in 1991 John Hayward (1991) selected the wooden post as ‘Cater’s Beam’ in Dartmoor 365; but we think this may have caused further confusion as many people are now being led to believe that the post itself is the Beam.

The name of ‘Beam’ on Dartmoor has always referred to an open tinwork and, despite all of the evidence, there are still numerous tin workings to the north and east to consider, which lie not too far away. The wavy blue line depicting a stream near Naker’s Hill is actually a series of pits.

So is Cater’s Beam a hill, post or working? Technically, to some extent, all three, but really the latter, which could be at SX 63460 69040 near Naker’s Hill, or at SX 6268 6923 by Fox Tor House (Tinners’ Hut).

References:

  • Mudge’s Map of Devon 1809
  • Rowe, S. (1848): A Perambulation of Dartmoor
  • Crossing, W. (1901): One Hundred Years on Dartmoor
  • Crossing, W. (1909): Guide to Dartmoor
  • Gover, J. E. B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F. M. (1992): The Place-Names of Devon
  • Hemery, E. (1983): High Dartmoor
  • Hayward, J. (1991): Dartmoor 365
  • Greeves, T. A. P.  (PhD. Thesis) (1981): The Devon Tin Industry 1450-1750, An Archaeological and Historical Survey

Acknowledgement:

  • Steve Grigg, Paul Glanville and Kate Butterworth for their field trips to the area to record information about Cater’s Beam.
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