Bowerman's Nose

Hayne Down



England, United Kingdom. (OS Ref: Sheet 191 SX742804)



"A granite god,
To whom, in days long flown, the suppliant knee
In trembling homage bow'd."


From 'Dartmoor' by N.T. Carrington



Bowerman's Nose is a precariously piled stack of weathered granite on Dartmoor, England. Standing about 6.6m (21.5ft) high it is situated on the northern slopes of Hayne Down, about a mile from Hound Tor, not far from the village of Manaton.

Antiquaries believed this place to have been a place and object of veneration, a theory existed that its name derived from the Celtic fawr maen, the 'great stone', a theory refuted by R. Hansford Worth who noted that the correct Celtic form would have been maen fawr, meaning that faer maen was unlikely to have mutated into the modern 'Bowerman'. A John Bowerman was buried in nearby North Bovey in 1663 and the name also appears in a Dean Prior register of 1772, suggesting that the name is of no great antiquity. It is a place seemingly formed by a process of destruction rather than construction, similar stacks of rock may have been pushed over and destroyed to leave this single stack of rocks prominent. It may be that a small number of rock stacks once stood upon the summit of Hayne Down and Bowerman's Nose remains the single extant example. Whatever its nature, Bowerman's Nose is a landmark, a feature by which one can guide themselves about and through the landscape.

According to local legend, a huntsman by the name of Bowerman lived on the moor over a thousand years ago. When chasing a hare with his pack of hounds one day he unwittingly ran into a coven of witches, overturning their cauldron and disrupting their ceremony. The witches plotted their revenge. When once again Bowerman was out hunting he and his pack of hounds came across a great white hare and gave chase. Little did he know but the hare was a witch in disguise and she led him a merry chase about the woods, bogs and rocks of the moors, when just as Bowerman was exhausted she revealed herself and turned him and his dogs to stone - the hounds became the jagged chain of rocks upon Hound Toor and the huntsman himself became the rock formation known as Bowerman's Nose. (In some versions of the tale the hounds become the 'clitter' of blocks at the foot of the rock tower.) It is said that on dark, cold, misty nights Bowerman the Hunter and his pack of Hounds briefly come to life to continue their hunting upon Hayne Down.


With some imagination it is possible to make out the profile of a human face in the rocky outline of Bowerman's Nose, but as John Page stated in Exploration of Dartmoor (1889): "If his nose bore any resemblance to the topmost layer of the pile, it cannot have boasted much comeliness."