Some refer to it as the eighth wonder of the ancient world along with The Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Great Pyramid.

Some say it extends towards the centre of the earth and some say it goes right through and comes out the other side of the earth and that the earth rotates on this as its axis.

We are of course talking about the mysterious rusty pole that is situated at the Foxholes end of The Maer that over the centuries has inspired poets and philosophers alike. This majestic pole towers above all that surrounds it and leans to the left or perhaps the right, depending on which way you approach it, or for that matter how much you have had to drink! Pisa in Italy may have its famous leaning tower but it is nothing compared to Exmouth’s Rusty Pole. You only have to witness the hundreds of people who visit The Pole and get photographed standing with their hand theoretically holding it up to appreciate its appeal to locals and visitors alike. The amount of tourist revenue it generates has never been worked out, but it must run into hundreds of thousands each year; which begs the question, why is this enormous wealth not being used for the benefit of the good folk of the town, such as keeping open and even perhaps opening more of our public conveniences? But as this is a local history column, we will park that for now.

Exmouth Journal:

Many ancient myths abound about the pole of which there are far too many to list here. One is that someone from the Iron Age dropped a nail on the site that was long held to have mystical or spiritual meanings, and that this nail, suitably watered by the Devon rain, rooted itself and grew over thousands of years into the rusty pole we see today. It was even thought that the daily tides, with the abundance of salt in the air over thousands of years, turned it rusty.

In Medieval times it is thought to have had important fertility rites and that every May Day the local maidens would dance around the pole in the hope of being with child by June. It is perhaps no coincidence that if one studies the birth rates in Exmouth over the centuries, these spike nine months after such festivities. When this wonderful old custom of dancing around the pole died out no one knows, but again, if one looks at the declining birth rate in Exmouth in the latter half of the nineteenth century when this custom supposedly died out, just perhaps The Pole does have such amazing qualities.

There is also evidence that maidens dancing naked around The Pole at a full moon has an effect on their fertility as the ancient Greek philosopher Megotpregnacious wrote in his highly acclaimed works, so revered by Greek and Classical scholars at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

Later, some ancient medical men laid out the theory that without the iron contained in The Pole, that Exmothians would gradually rust themselves. This is contained in the ancient Book of The Homeoleecheths that in the ancient world was the definitive medical works that all herbalists and apothecaries adhered to.

Whatever the truths behind any of these ancient myths, much is done locally to keep the spirit of The Pole alive. Visitors often leave gifts of flowers, stones or candles in reverence to The Pole and say a prayer. The Pole is both child and dog friendly and is a great day out to this spiritual site. The Exmouth Rusty Pole Group are holding May Day celebrations this year on Saturday, April 29 from 12.30pm, so perhaps The Pole will weave its magic and the birth rate will soar once again the following February.

If you would like to find out about Exmouth Museum please visit or email Mike at