edge of Foxtor Mires, about 300 yards north of the Fox Tor Newtake
O/S Grid Ref: SX/61651/70163 Longitude/Latitude (Degrees+/-): -3.95273/50.51486
Map location: Click here to view map.
Purpose: One of a number of crosses that marks the route of the Monks’ Path. This is the ancient name given to the track that links the Buckfast Abbey with those at Tavistock and Buckland. This path takes a more northerly route than the more commonly known Abbots’ Way.
Size: 3 feet 1 inches (0.94 metres) high. 1 foot 9 inches (0.53 metres) across the arms. The shaft is 13 inches (0.33 metres) wide and 8˝ inches (0.22 metres) deep.
Information: This cross is named after Lt. Goldsmith R.N. who rediscovered it in 1903, after it had been lost for many years. Lt. Goldsmith was apparently out on his favourite walk whilst on leave from serving on HMS Imperial. On stopping for lunch, he happened to notice a large rectangular hole cut into the large boulder on which he was sitting. Further investigation amongst the heather revealed the head and then part of the shaft.
Lt. Goldsmith informed William Crossing of his find, but Crossing was sceptical, having difficulty in accepting that another cross had come to light so soon after the publication of his detailed book on Dartmoor Crosses. This attitude prompted Lt. Goldsmith to take action and on returning to his ship he enlisted the help of four hefty sailors and the party then returned to the scene, where the two sections of the cross were cemented together and the cross settled back into its socket.
Drawings were made and bearings taken and supplied to William Crossing who finally acknowledged the newly found 'Goldsmith's Cross' in his book Guide to Dartmoor, published in 1909. It is thought that the cross now stands very near to its original position.
The above photographs, which I understand have not previously been published, were kindly supplied to me by Lt. Goldsmith's grandson, Commander Bill Andrew, who was recently responsible for the restoration of the Walkhampton Church House Cross.
Lt. Goldsmith was also responsible for the restoration of one of the crosses on Ter Hill.
Goldsmith's Cross is sited fairly close to the path that crosses the Foxtor Mires from Whiteworks. Foxtor Mires has gained the reputation of being very dangerous, with warnings that no-one should put their lives at risk by going anywhere near the boggy area. Although this is very good advice, a little known fact is that it is possible to cross the mire in periods of drought, but great care must be taken to keep to the path on the one route where a crossing is possible. In fact, an old railway sleeper has been laid across the stream in the middle of the mire to assist with this crossing. However, our advice would be not to attempt a crossing without assistance from an experienced Dartmoor guide.
A visit to Foxtor Mires gave Sir Arthur Conan Doyle the inspiration to use the mire as the basis for his fictional 'Grimpen Mire', the favourite haunt of the infamous hound in his book: The Hound of the Baskervilles.