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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Merrivale from Pork Hill

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas NOVEMBER. 19, 2020

[106-365] 19th. November 2020- These two views were taken on top of Pork Hill, Dartmoor, Devon. The first is a view South across the moor with a slight glint of the sea in the distance. The dark silhouetted ridge is a line of Tors, or rocky outcrops. This particular outcrop is Pew Tor.

Tors usually overlie unaltered bedrock and are thought to be formed either by freeze–thaw weathering or by groundwater weathering before exposure. There is often evidence of spheroidal weathering of the squared joint blocks.

From exactly the same vantage point looking East one can just make out Merrivale Bronze Age Site. The lower half of this photo shows granite walled enclosures of a contemporary farm, although these walls are probably several hundred years old, and in the half above this you can just make out some lines of stones in the distance with some sightseers getting a close up look.

This is the Merrivale Complex dating from 2300 to 700 BC. So the pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx were about 300 years old when the earliest known settlement began here.

The strange thing about this photo is that this was so far away that I couldn't actually see the stone rows and only realised they were there when I looked at the photo back home. I was photographing the stone enclosures. I will return and have a closer look at a later date. Having only moved here this year I have just been making exploratory drives over Dartmoor to see what potential for photography there is. I think I already have a lengthening list of subjects I want to visit in more detail. Dartmoor is very wild, exposed and elevated so I have to time it right because where I live on the coast and at sea level, it can be a sunny day while on Dartmoor it can be heavy rain or fog.

The Merrivale complex demonstrates every example of Bronze Age monument, namely burial cairns, a menhir, a stone circle and stone rows. These ceremonial monuments were built by people living in the nearby settlement and must have played an important part in their lives. The location of ritual monuments may also reveal how the landscape was organised to meet what spiritual requirements the early moor dwellers had. It has been suggested that ‘prestige cairns’ (cairns with a diameter of more than 20 metres) lie in impressive locations that would enable them to be seen from great distances. One reason for this could be that they were meant to impress and inform neighbouring groups or newcomers that the area was already occupied .

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