Vixiana, the witch of Vixen Tor
Dartmoor is a place of many strange legends and folktales featuring the most extraordinary characters. One of the most extraordinary must surely be Vixiana the Witch of Vixen Tor. She was also known as Vixana and had an evil reputation among the local people who greatly feared her. There are a number of different versions of her story and the one presented here has been pieced together from more than one source. A brief description of the tor followed by the story of how Vixiana came to meet her match is presented here and concludes with a few conundrums to think about.
The tor is situated between Tavistock and Princetown on Dartmoor. It is also called ‘The Sphinx of Dartmoor” because of its sphinx-like appearance when viewed at certain angles. Some say it’s a vixen. Others say that when seen in silhouette to the sky it can also resemble an old man wearing a cap who has his back turned on his wife. Different people tend to see different things but essentially it is a mass of granite that appears to be made from rocks piled on top of each other.
Vixen Tor became a place of ill omen and foreboding in the lifetime of Vixiana who had a terrifying reputation. According to tradition at her bidding, creatures from the Underworld had hollowed out a cave which ran underneath the tor. There on bleak and wild Dartmoor she lived in that cave alone.
She was ugly and so old that the local people could only ever remember her as being old even when they were children. She just got older and older, uglier and uglier and more evil as the years passed by. Read more