Ten Commandments Stones, Buckland Beacon, Dartmoor

Buckland Beacon, Dartmoor National Park

Buckland Beacon is 382 metres above sea level, overlooks the Dart Valley and is famous for its ten commandment stones. The walk itself is a very easy 1 mile from the Cold East Cross car park. 

We wanted to see the 10 commandment stones at Buckland Beacon. It was a bit iffy as to which way the weather was likely to go for the day. Plus, this part of Dartmoor is quite a distance from us. So rather than plan several things to do whilst in the area, we plumped for a relaxed, wing it day. Just to make our journey longer we missed our turning and ended up taking the scenic route.


Before walking to the beacon we wanted to visit St. Peter’s Church in Buckland-in-the-moor because it has a unique clock face. Instead of numbers around the clock, the hours are replaced by the letters ‘MY DEAR MOTHER’.

William Whitely, Lord of Buckland Manor, had the clock made in 1931 as a memorial to his Mother. The clock is said to chime ‘All things bright and beautiful’ every quarter-hour. However, we were in the church and wandering its grounds for a good hour and sadly, didn’t hear the clock chime once. Maybe, the chimes have been turned off at present. 

St. Peter’s is a lovely late 15th/early 16th-century church although there has been a church on the site since the 13th century. Inside, is a stunning 14th-century screen, very ornate Norman font and a coat of arms to George II dated 1745. I also spotted the 10 commandments on its back wall. Beside the church is a lovely little thatched cottage. Below the church is the vestry. Which is, apparently, the only thatched vestry in England still to be used. 

Once we saw everything at the church we made our way to the car park near Buckland Beacon. We didn’t park at the closest car park as there is a small one beside a little river which is very pretty.

It took us a little under an hour to reach the Beacon but this was because there where so many things to be photographed along the route. The area is full of stonechats, several of which were very chatty with us.  We also saw a meadow pipit which was a real treat for us. 

When we finally arrived at Buckland Beacon we were the only people there, which gave us a nice opportunity for some photographs. There was an absolutely stunning sky, so bright and full of clouds. Unfortunately, it did make it harder for Nik to get the photos of the landscape he wanted as the bright sky darkened the land. 

Because of the way we walked to the top of the beacon, we completely missed the commandment stones initially. This wasn’t really a problem other than by the time we’d walked all the way around the base others had arrived. So we sat and had our lunch looking over the Dart Valley. 

Buckland Beacon is one of the chain of Dartmoor frontier heights which was used as a fire beacon. Apparently the Spanish Armarda was spotted from this spot.

The Ten Commandment stones sit slightly to the left, at the base of the Beacon. Carved in 1928, the two granite stones are shaped in such a way that they give the impression of one stone being cracked down the middle. William Whitely is responsible for these as well as the clock face at the church. 

In 1927 the House of Commons made a proposal to revise the book of common prayer by replacing the ten commandments with Jesus’ two commandments. This was rejected and William Whitely commissioned the stones as a celebration. 

A stone’s throw away from the Beacon is another small pile of stones. Beside these stones, we noticed a mare and her foal and so Nik had to see if he could get close enough for a photo before we walked back to the car park. Nik was hoping to walk down to the river and along its bank on our return journey. As it turned out the cows that live on this part of the moor must also enjoy walking along the river and have mudded it up considerably. Muddy walking shoes were the result. 

This spot seems to be well used by locals for playing in the water with their children. And later in the evening lots of dogs were being brought here for their evening walk. 

For more blogs about our adventures, please click HERE

The days’ Photos
Click the images below to enlarge

2 thoughts on “Buckland Beacon, Dartmoor National Park

  1. Thanks so much for the info and the fantastic photos. This is to be our first post lock down walk for a group of elderly locals. Have visi many times but not know the back story so we’ll told. Bob

    1. Thank you. We’re so pleased that we were able to provide you with some extra details about a much loved walk.

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