The modern visitor to Devon, travelling west into the region, is greeted by a panorama of the high ground and rocky outcrops of Dartmoor. In a county renowned for its ‘rolling hills’, Dartmoor’s high moors, topped by granite tors, preside over the massive folds of its peripheral valleys, incised by the fast-moving moorland rivers and streams as they flow towards the hinterland.
Dartmoor was designated as one of England’s first National Parks in 1951. It is this natural beauty and tranquil, rural landscape that initially attracts visitors, but a fuller appreciation of this landscape is enhanced by knowledge of its cultural past.
Dartmoor is southern England’s largest upland tract, often promoted as ‘England’s last wilderness’. Nevertheless it is a maintained landscape. Its management began with traditional forms of hill farming and woodland management in the Neolithic, and continues to the present day.
The Field Archaeology of Dartmoor describes and narrates Dartmoor’s landscape history from 4000 BC to the present, analysing and summarising archaeological and historical studies from the 19th century onwards.
A brief section describes Dartmoor’s geological shape. Then its prehistoric settlement, Romano-British organisation, medieval character and early tin industry are described in turn. Next, Dartmoor’s 19th- and 20th-century industrial landscape and heritage (tin, copper, silver-lead and China clay), and how they co-existed with traditional forms of upland farming, are described. Subsidiary industries (peat, gunpowder mills, ice works and tramways) and the moor’s use for military training bring the narrative up to the present.
A concluding summary assesses Dartmoor’s history and ponders its future.
'up-to-date and sumptuously illustrated with colour plates (the air photos are especially notable), survey drawings and historic illustrations.'
British Archaeology, January 2012
'The volume benefits from a wealth of excellent survey and interpretative plans, aerial and groundwork photography from the recent fieldwork programme.'
Medieval Settlement Research
Medieval Settlement Research
'The wonderful body of newly presented data is bound to excite any reader. The numerous splendid plans and maps...are the really striking features of the book, and are breathtaking in their scope and detail.'
'The volume benefits from a wealth of excellent survey and interpretative plans, aerial and ground photography from the recent fieldwork programme ...' 'The book's parameters appear defined for an audience of the interested public. It will certainly provide a useful, attractive entry point for those wishing to learn more about the clearly artificial features they encounter on their walks on Dartmoor.'
Dave Hooley, Medieval Settlement Research
English Heritage Assessment Team South Downgate