North Devon Coast

National Landscape

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St Catherine’s Tor and Medieval Swannery

The conical shaped hill known as St Catherine’s Tor overlooks Spekes Mill. It is alleged that a chapel once stood on the top, possibly linked to the Monastery at Hartland Abbey. Coastal erosion has meant that any evidence of this has been lost. The valley below St Catherine’s Tor was once used as a ‘Swannery’ – also linked to the monks at Hartland Abbey. It is thought that a pond would have been contained within some large earthen ‘stone faced walls’, the remains of which can still be seen today.

Dean Milles, 1760, records “Catherine Tor – under which is a marsh in ye abbot’s time a swan pool.” From above the head of the fall, the swannery’s 20ft thick, stone revetted clay dam bisects the valley bottom. The Dam is still marked on OS 1964 map.