Dozmary Pool

In the heart of magical, mystical Bodmin Moor lies Dozmary Pool, steeped in mystery, myth, and legend. It's a fabulous location for picnics, photography, and peace and quiet, but the atmosphere is undoubtedly a little spooky. Even at the height of summer, the air can be cool and the mist come out of nowhere. It's not even known how the tarn got its name, though one local legend suggests the name comes from 'Dozy Mary', a tragic murder victim nearby. It's been known previously as Dozmare and Dosmery Pool.

Dozmary Pool - Bodmin Moor
Dozmary Pool

The pool has strong associations with 'Excalibur', the mythical sword belonging to King Arthur. In some legends, the Lady of the Lake herself gives Arthur the weapon. As he lies dying after his final battle at Camlann, the king asks one of his most loyal knights, Sir Bedivere, to return the sword to the pool. Bedivere hurls the weapon into the lake, and a slender white arm reaches up, taking the weapon back into the water.

In some tellings of the tale, once the Lady of the Lake has reclaimed the sword, a black boat appears, bearing several black-clad women, including Arthur's treacherous sister Morgan le Fay, and the Lady of the Lake herself. They carry Arthur off to his eternal afterlife in Avalon. In 2017 a visiting family found a sword in the pool, though it's highly likely it was some kind of prop.

The local area is riddled with natural features named after King Arthur. Armour and other relics have been discovered near Slaughterbridge, possibly the location of a major battle. Remains of Stone Age flint workings have also been found in the area.

Dozmary Pool
Dozmary Pool

Then there's Jan Tregeagle, a 17th century and reputedly the murderer of both his wife and son. He also allegedly acquired his estate by trickery. At a trial after his death, Tregeagle was summoned by one of his former tenants. Most of those in the courtroom fled in terror when Jan's ghost seemed to materialise in the witness box, but the judge had enough presence of mind to question the apparition.

After his confession, leading to the tenants winning the case, "Tregeagle" begged not to be returned to Hell. A local clergyman intervened; Jan was instead assigned various impossible tasks, including emptying the bottomless depths of Dozmary Pool with no tools other than a limpet shell with a hole in it. Legend has it his ghost can be heard to this day, howling over the moor. The pool has also been associated with a "witch's ladder", a spell to either cause or remove ill health, in a novel called Mrs. Curgenven of Curgenven.

Dozmary Pool Fence
Dozmary Pool Fence

Dozmary Pool is about a mile in circumference and lies in what's now known as the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, slightly over nine miles northeast of Bodmin, just over a mile south of Bolventor, and close to Jamaica Inn. The lake is reached via a minor road leading from the A30. And despite the Tregeagle legend, the tarn isn't bottomless – even at its deepest, it's only about nine feet, and in 1859 and 1976 it dried up completely.