Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Devon, England

Hound Tor

Legend says these rocks used to be hunting dogs, a story that may have inspired Sherlock Holmes' most famous case. 

Hound Tor is an outcropping of granite rock in England’s Dartmoor National Park, and while they might not look much like dogs the legend of their origin is that they were hounds turned to stone by vengeful witch, and it was this legend that is said to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles.

As the tale goes, the tor (a large rock outcropping) was formed when a pack of hunting dogs and their master (see Bowerman’s Nose) were turned to stone after disrupting an easily angered witch’s ceremony. Given the size of the stones, the dogs would have had to have been giants, or at least large in number to make up the rocks that exist today. However since magic does not exist, it is unlikely that they were ever dogs.

In any event the fog shrouded rocks have long been associated with canines. So much so that it is said that the stones were the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles, in which the master detective investigates reports of a red-eyed hell hound stalking the foggy moors. Hound Tor was even used as a location in the modern adaptation of the story in the BBC show Sherlock.