Worth’s Incised Marks on Gutter Tor’s Parted Block (343 m)

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In ‘Worth’s Dartmoor‘ (R. Hansford Worth, 1953) there is a fascinating photo (PLATE 13, B. ‘Parting in rocks. Gutter, Ringmoor Down, Plym Valley, Photo: D. P. Wilson, 1952.)‘ that shows a ‘parting of blocks‘ at Gutter Tor. On p. 26 Worth provides a diagram (Fig.4. Gutter, Plym Valley. Parting in rocks on tor. Plan and section.) and discusses (pp.25-26) the possible causes of such gaps including frost, slippage due to gravity, earthquake, lightning and ice. Worth chooses lightning as the most likely cause for the Gutter Tor example. He also explains that ‘there is now no apparent continuing movement. I incised marks in the rock on either side of the gap, and in the past twenty-six years their distance has not varied.‘ The Editor of the book further details that ‘If Dr. D. P. Wilson’s photograph (Pl. 13B), taken in 1952, is compared with that originally published by the author, taken at least 23 years before, there is still no evidence of change.‘ I do not have access to that original photo by Worth but by superimposing Wilson’s 1952 photo over my own (April 2016) there would still appear to be no change. It is a pity that in the copy of Worth’s Dartmoor that I have (Fourth impression, 1988) there is no indication of the actual original distance measured between the two ‘incised marks’. The ‘incised marks’ themselves are rather tricky to see in the photographs so for the purposes of clarity I inserted two pieces of nearby ‘straw’ into them (and removed them immediately after). If Richard Hansford Worth (born Plymouth 5 November 1868 – died Plymouth 11 November 1950) checked the gap for 26 years then he could have made these incised marks in 1924 (or even earlier). It would appear they were made with a 1 inch chisel and hammer.

This item was first located on Tuesday 15th March 2016 (The ‘Ides of March’!)

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