Cutty Dyer


Yesterday we talked about the lovely town of Ashburton,  but have you heard about the story about Cutty Dyer? Cutty is purported to be a water sprite or  evil ogre – although some accounts indicate he may be connected to St Christopher.

Some say he has been sighted near Williams Crossing and the town hall of Ashburton.  Generations of this town’s “naughty” children have been warned to keep away from the Yeo or Cutty Dyer would cut their throats and drink their blood.

One written account of Cutty Dyer published in the Western Antiquary in September 1881 said:

The Yeo, which runs through Ashburton, was said to be haunted by an ogre called Cutty Dyer. In the last generation he was the dread of children, who, when naughty, were threatened with the displeasure of Cutty Dyer and its undefined consequences.

To the generation before he was the scare of the more mature years, and was then believed to inflict summary punishment on topers as they reeled by night across the stream, which then ran open. Those who saw him, although always under very hazy circumstances, represent the being as a giant wading in the water, with eyes as large as saucers, trying to pull them in.

Remembering that “Cutty” is the short for the giant Christopher, whose great work, according to the legend, was to carry persons across the river, we may in some way connect the ogre with the rain, especially as there is an entry in the churchwarden’s book, under the date of 1536-7 –“Paid vjd. for lokyn of a stock to make Saynt Cristoffer, and again in 1538-9 –“Paid jxs. in part payment of greater sum for making the image of St. Christopher.”

Here there is a connection between that saint and Ashburton, where the image was probably set up near the passage of the stream, as it to be seen in the present day in Austrian-Tyrol. Moreover, half a mile above Ashburton, there is a bridge across the same stream called Cuttyford Bridge.

Whatever the truth maybe, it’s one of the many interesting stories of Dartmoor and Devon. What do you think? I would love to hear any stories you may have, tell us what you think by posting your comments below. Why don’t you Share this with your friends and family by clicking the Facebook icon?

(image credit: The Faery Folklorist)

About the Author: Carole Langman works behind the scenes at Bowerland Cottage Holidays and Devon Dogs as the Business Manager. Her office is always a hive of activity, and with the vast amounts of work Carole has, we never really know how she gets through it all! To unwind, she loves gardening, hikes around Bowerland, travelling and writing.

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