Friday, 8 May 2009

Stones of Dartmoor

Bank holiday weekend dawned with some warm weather and so we decided to pile into the motor and take a quick sojourn over the Devon - Cornwall border to the edge of Dartmoor, about 20 miles to the east of Middlewood. We drove up onto the moorland plateau under beautiful clear blue skies, accompanied by the sound of a tourist coach labouring asthmatically up the road in front of us and, more pleasantly, burbling skylarks above. Despite the sun it was still too cold and windy to take our little daughter(six months old) on a proper hike so we stopped in a layby just off of the B3357 to take a look at the Merrivale Stone Rows.

From what we could see there are three rows - two double jobs and a single. Both the doubles run east to west, but they are not parallel. The first one is fairly close to the road and it contains some 170 stones, including some very small ones. Further south is the longer row containing over 200 stones. Its eastern end is blocked by a large triangular lump of rock. The third row, the single one, is very short, not many stones and leading leading off to the south west.

Heaven alone knows what the rows are for, they are too low to be seen properly from ground level, although you could probably get a nice view from one of the nearby tors. One thing for sure, though, they were not designed for alien spacecraft landing strips, and anyone who tells me otherwise I'm afraid will be wasting their breath. I have read in a factual tome however that they may be aligned with the May rise of Pleiades, a group of stars the Greeks are supposed to have used to predict harvests, but whether that's true or not I don't know.

Nearby is one of the waymarking stones raised in the late 17th century when an act of parliament required towns at the edge of the moor to place markers to help travellers in bad weather. This particular stone is marked with a T for Tavistock/Ashburton.

Here endeth the history lesson....

Stones, stones, stones.........

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