Great Hangman, with its summit at grid reference SS601481, is 1,043 feet (318 m) high with a cliff face of 800 feet (244 m). It is the highest sea cliff in England and the highest point on the South West Coast Path. Little Hangman is 716 feet (218 m) high and overlooks the village of Combe Martin at the western boundary of Exmoor National Park. Both cliffs lie on the South West Coast Path and are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
No early forms of the place-name Hangman here are recorded: its first mention, as Hangman Hill, was in 1792. However there is a fanciful derivation of the name, based on a local legend. The story goes that a sheep stealer was walking over the hill carrying a stolen ewe slung over his shoulder. He stopped to rest on a rock and the struggling sheep caused the cord tied around its legs to tighten and slip round the man's neck, strangling him.
In fiction, Great Hangman is part of the setting of Meet the Tiger, the first in a long series of novels by Leslie Charteris featuring "The Saint". Simon Templar stays on Great Hangman in an abandoned World War I pillbox so he can find out about a Chicago gangster staying in Baycombe aka Combe Martin.
- "Combe Martin and the Hangmans". Exmoor National Park. Retrieved 2012-10-11.
- "South West Coast Path". National Trails. Retrieved 2007-12-05.
- Gover, J.E.B., Mawer, A. & Stenton, F.M (1931). "The Place-Names of Devon". English Place-Name Society. Vol viii. Part I. (Cambridge University Press): 37.
- See for instance: Page, John Lloyd Warden (1895). The Coasts of Devon and Lundy Island. London: Horace Cox. p. 53.
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