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UK fine art landscape prints by David Ross

Brentor church, Dartmoor, Devon

Fine art archival landscape print


Image ID: DSC0419

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THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTOGRAPH

David RossThe church of St Michael at Brentor is one of the most famous landmarks in the Dartmoor area, though techinally it lies outside the Dartmoor National Park boundaries. I drove to the nearest village of East Brent well before dawn, but it was the first time I had been there, and, well, there's no nice way to say this - I got lost.

I could see the church in the distance, on its rocky hill, but I couldn't find a trail that led to it. I walked across several fields, lost sight of the tor, wandered aimlessly, and decided to turn back. Then I discovered that I had lost my glasses. I retraced my steps, head bent, looking this way and that like some sort of myopic admirer of earthworms. My luck was in, for I found my glasses by a stile, and walked briskly back to East Brent.

I was completely stumped, but as luck would have it I passed someone out walking their dog in the brisk morning air and they told me how to find the church. I arrived at the base of the tor just as beautiful morning sunlight flooded the scene. It really is an impressive location, with great views over the surrounding area.David Ross Photography signature

ABOUT BRENTOR CHURCH

The church of St. Michael de la Rupe at Brentor sits on a crag of Dartmoor, a dramatic but odd location, a good walk from the nearest village. The tor has also been the site for a hill fort, and a beacon. The church was dedicated in 1155, giving us a minimum age. It may have existed as a temple of some other religion well before this. It was common to replace an existing deity or saint with a suitable Christian equivalent. This theory is supported by pagan-style burials within the church, alongside later Christian graves, which are characterised by an eastwards orientation. The dead are meant to face the sun on judgement day.

Stories have appeared about the origin of the church. One tells that the residents of the nearby village built the church at the foot of the tor. However, the devil resented them for not worshipping him, and moved the church to the tor. The villagers then dedicated the church to St. Michael, who had power in high places, to prevent Satan from more mischief. Another story tells that a merchant caught in a storm at sea, prayed to St Michael to save him, and built the church out of gratitude. The merchant was wealthy, but could only build a small church because Satan appeared every night to destroy what had been built.

The church's history goes beyond its construction. On the south side, there is a sundial marked with the date 1694, making it the oldest sundial in Devon. The church may have been used as a beacon in wartime, as well as during Queen Victoria's jubilee. Brentor church is still used for weddings, though they are usually planned for nice days, to avoid well dressed guests sliding down muddy, post volcanic slopes.

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Image is © David Ross