New Views over Megalithia

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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby Mick Harper » 3:27 pm

1. You'll have to explain how an enclosed tor is different from an unenclosed one (I'd never heard of such a thing)
2. You will have to explain what is a tor and what isn't a tor before we can start enclosing and dis-enclosing them.
3. Since the two in Devon are presumably the most easterly of all enclosed tors, and one is 'special', you'll have to find out what's special about the other one, unless not being special is what's so special about it.
4. While you're down there you had better check out whether there is any relationship between enclosed tors and river confluences since you mentioned it.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby PeterC » 11:20 am

Brilliant questions, living daily amongst these things I forget everyone’s consciousness isn’t filled with granite in various arrangements.

‘Hill’ is a basic translation for tor, but really we are looking at a Rocky outcrop, often elevated, but not necessarily. Many outcrops here still don’t get the name tor and nor do some hills with outcrops get blessed with the name (for instance the Dewerstone is not known as Dewerstone Tor). But nevertheless a high point of moor with granite outcrop(s) is quite safely known as a Tor. And I thought that would be the easy question to answer….

The ‘enclosing’ part is accepted by archaeologists to be some of the earliest Neolithic constructing/earthworking and as important to the culture as the ‘causewayed enclosures’. How this conclusion is drawn I don’t know because I still don’t think anyone has a good idea what a causewayed enclosure was for anyway. For more information on this type of Neolithic construction consult the internet not me.

Depending on the shape of the Rocky outcrop it is ‘enclosed’ by stone and earth wall up to 4m high (Stowe’s Hill on Bodmin has a teardrop shape wall around the entire outcrop, the Dewerstone, with escarpments on two sides, just has a third side built up enclosing the outcrop). I believe only a few have been properly excavated and even then possibly not since the '20s. Some show occupation and some don’t, like many Neolithic sites, the purpose seems unclear.

Some of Cornwall’s tors seem to be on the Michael Line including the previously mentioned Stowes tor (the famous Cheesewring) with a Craddocks Moor stone circle only a stone's throw (sorry) further south west down the line.
Being pretty much all on moorland it is unsurprising many of these sites are associated with mining or quarrying.

As for the other Devon enclosed Tors I only know a small amount. One is Hound Tor rocks (not my side of the moor) and Whittor or White Tor near Brentor. Although not on either the Michael line or the proposed line they sit on high points on the edge of the moor, very useful if you want to avoid or get off the moor. Seeing as people still struggle now to navigate Dartmoor today, big beacon towers at any of these points would be pretty useful. Being at the edge of the moor and on high places they often overlook river valleys, so possibly the confluence is a nice bonus rather than the aim…

Now for some possibly meaningless observation - seemingly Brentor, Whittor, Merrivale monument and Walkhampton church make a nice semi circle surrounding the lower ground of which Tavistock sits in (an important stannary town for centuries and site of a Norman abbey)

On a personal note I do not believe Merrivale is Dartmoor’s Carnac. You’d have to be a blindly proud Devonian or a cynical and literally blind Breton to draw that conclusion. It has an array of different yet small monuments and the double stone rows, although very pretty, are fairly underwhelming (if not minuscule compared to Carnac) in scale of stones and the overall monument. Having an array of monuments seems to suggest to me that Merrivale had an array of uses but what they are is currently beyond me. Some archeoastronomy has been carried out in the book Dartmoor Sun, which is not a book I set much store by. But I’ll leave that up to the readers.

I believe some people are currently working on some film there exploring the plague market idea; notes for ME2, Merrivale is 5 miles from Tavistock but it is fact surrounded by farms rather than nowhere near them.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby hvered » 12:59 pm

Hallo Peter, thanks for the informative post about tors.

Although not on either the Michael line or the proposed line they sit on high points on the edge of the moor, very useful if you want to avoid or get off the moor.

I'm not convinced tors are useful as landmarks, they all look very similar especially when the mist comes in. Unless you are a local person familiar with the landscape. Brentor is the exception, being conical and with a church on top, in the mould of other tors such as Glastonbury on the main route, the Ridgeway (aka Michael Line).

William Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor advises people who lose their bearings to find the nearest stream and follow it downhill. They may end up none the wiser but it gets them off the moor.

Merrivale is 5 miles from Tavistock but it is fact surrounded by farms rather than nowhere near them.

The point about Merrivale is it's not only on the only main east-west road but the road bisects Dartmoor into two (equal?) halves. It would surely have been a very busy place though whether the route was to give access to the quarry or the quarry constructed because the route was there isn't clear.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby Mick Harper » 1:02 pm

‘Hill’ is a basic translation for tor

Very much not. It is a basic translation of 'tower'. There's a huge difference. Everyone assumes they are hills because they cannot conceive they may be artificial. It doesn't make them so but you should at least not rule out the possibility by an incorrect etymology.

but really we are looking at a Rocky outcrop, often elevated, but not necessarily. Many outcrops here still don’t get the name tor and nor do some hills with outcrops get blessed with the name (for instance the Dewerstone is not known as Dewerstone Tor). But nevertheless a high point of moor with granite outcrop(s) is quite safely known as a Tor. And I thought that would be the easy question to answer….

Well, although modern usage is not to be taken as definitive, you should perhaps treat it as a reasonable starting off point.

The ‘enclosing’ part is accepted by archaeologists to be some of the earliest Neolithic constructing/earthworking and as important to the culture as the ‘causewayed enclosures’. How this conclusion is drawn I don’t know because I still don’t think anyone has a good idea what a causewayed enclosure was for anyway. For more information on this type of Neolithic construction consult the internet not me.

I was hoping for enlightenment from you since you used the term without explanation. I still don't know. I know what a causewayed enclosure is though I wouldn't necessarily be made any the wiser by consulting the internet.

Depending on the shape of the Rocky outcrop it is ‘enclosed’ by stone and earth wall up to 4m high

Why would it?

(stowe’s hill on Bodmin has a teardrop shape wall around the entire outcrop, the dewerstone, with escarpments on two sides just has a third side built up enclosing the outcrop).

Are these 'rocky outcrops' and if so, of what shape?

I believe only a few have been properly excavated and even then possibly not since the 20s.

Why is this relevant?

Some show occupation and some don’t, like many Neolithic sites, the purpose seems unclear.

Look, I don't want to be too unhelpful [Voices off: "Oh yes he does, he's a total aresehole"] but to us Londoners the idea of living on a tor, whether it is enclosed or not, rocky or not, called a tor or not, is passing weird.

Some of Cornwall’s Tors seem to be on the Michael line including the previously mentioned stowes tor (the famous cheese wring) with a craddocks moor stone circle only a stones throw(sorry) further south west down the line.

Well, come on, give us some numbers. And I don't mind you giving us an e e cummngs impression but keep it consistent. Either capitalise consistently or not at all. Consistent capitals would be better from a comprehensibility perspective, no caps from an artistic/poetic angle. You choose. Most of us here are mildly dyslexic but we fight against it.

Being pretty much all on moorland it is unsurprising many of these sites are associated with mining or quarrying.

You must not use these sweeping generalisations in the presence of curmudgeonly pedants. Me, I am surprised.

More later after I've had a little lie down and some raspberry topping.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby PeterC » 2:15 pm

Worry not, I don’t find this questioning annoying at all, rather it tells me to put more effort into scrawling into a dialogue box. Although as a dyspraxic trying to type on a mobile phone that keeps ‘correcting’ me, you will have to attempt to capitalise on my contribution whether my capitalisation is consistent or not.

You are damn right about Tor/tower. But yes in a modern sense it is a natural hill with a natural rock formation on top to a greater or lesser degree of impressiveness.

Enclosed tor. Tor with a wall built around it, what more can I say? I fall back on the fabulously vague nomenclature of archaeologist on describing something they know nothing about because frankly, no one else has any language to deal with these things. If this does not help still a google image search of an enclosed tor might help the imagination even if a search of causewayed enclosures won’t. The additional information of habitation and excavation was merely to try and flesh out this particular scrawny bird.

I agree Tors themselves aren’t great landmarks as there are many in the landscape, but a tor with a big fire on top, throwing up smoke signals would be easy to pick out. If we think of those great megalithics in Chaco canyon, USA and the dead straight roads marked by natural buttes with evidence of large fires atop, a leyline with a tor and protected fire is not a big jump.

Some of the enclosed Tors are disputed but from a map of someone’s dissertation what I nicked, 6 sit on the Michael line; carn brae, st stephens beacon, Helman Tor, Berry down, Treggarick, Stowes Pound and Notter.

On Dartmoor it’s hard not to associate any occupation with mining and quarrying and that’s largely true of Bodmin too - and I’m sticking by that generalisation. A simple mile jaunt will have you tripping over industrial archeology (from a range of periods) every minute, the only thing more common is animal droppings which you can’t move for.

Yes the Tavistock/Merrivale/Princetown road does slice the moor into two east west pretty perfectly (and a straight pretty straight line too, definitely not Roman!)
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby Mick Harper » 5:08 am

On a personal note I do not believe Merrivale is Dartmoor’s Carnac.

That would probably mean Carnac is not Carnac either. It is difficult to see that such odd agglomerations of lined up stones could have two different functions.
Having an array of monuments seems to suggest to me that Merrivale had an array of uses but what they are is currently beyond me.

This hardly follows. Am 'array' pre-supposes a single purpose. I always resist theories about multifunctionality. Human beings simply don't work like that though later human beings often come along and use phrases like 'an array of uses' when they don't know what that function was. The explanation we offered in TME for both Carnac and Merrivale may be wrong but it has the merit of parsimony.
It has an array of different yet small monuments and the double stone rows, although very pretty, are fairly underwhelming (if not minuscule compared to Carnac) in scale of stones and the overall monument.

It is not a question of aesthetics. Presumably, we would argue, one is for the provision of large megaliths transported by sea for the entire system; the other is for purely local distribution overland. But I have seen neither Carnac nor Merrivale so your strictures may be apposite.
Some archeoastronomy has been carried out in the book Dartmoor Sun, which is not a book I set much store by. But I’ll leave that up to the readers.

Archeoastronomy is not something I set much store in.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby Mick Harper » 5:23 am

Some of the enclosed Tors are disputed but from a map of someone’s dissertation what I nicked, 6 sit on the Michael line; carn brae, st stephens beacon, Helman Tor, Berry down, Treggarick, Stowes Pound and Notter.

Some statstical analysis is needed to understand the significance of this.
On Dartmoor it’s hard not to associate any occupation with mining and quarrying and that’s largely true of Bodmin too - and I’m sticking by that generalisation.

That is not the generalisation you made. Let me remind you
Being pretty much all on moorland it is unsurprising many of these sites are associated with mining or quarrying.

Yes the Tavistock/Merrivale/Princetown road does slice the moor into two east west pretty perfectly (and a straight pretty straight line too, definitely not Roman!)

This strikes me as potentially important. Two different causes-and-effects might bring it about
1. The road was designed to serve the whole area and therefore driven through the middle
2. The road dictated the area of activity and therefore ended up in the middle.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby hvered » 12:56 pm

It has an array of different yet small monuments and the double stone rows, although very pretty, are fairly underwhelming (if not minuscule compared to Carnac) in scale of stones and the overall monument.

It is not a question of aesthetics. Presumably, we would argue, one is for the provision of large megaliths transported by sea for the entire system; the other is for purely local distribution overland.

Merrivale isn't much to look at, agreed. It may have had more to offer but the locals almost certainly carted off at least some of the quarried stones, bearing in mind the site's accessibility thanks to the road and its closeness to Tavistock. Carnac on the other hand is notoriously difficult to access at least from the sea, hardly worth the effort.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby Mick Harper » 2:01 pm

Well, hang on there a mo. I didn't realise Merrivale is slap bang on the road that runs straight through the middle of this megalithic zone, next to the main burg. Why the hell else to site it there if it isn't the man distribution centre? As for Carnac, I know nothing of the difficulties of which you speak, but why have it next to the sea, halfway between the top and bottom of the megalithic limits and adjacent to a prime megalithic port, if it isn't a main distribution point?

Too many coincidences for them not being prima facie candidates.
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Re: New Views over Megalithia

Postby Boreades » 11:27 pm

Did Stonehenge have a thatched roof on it?

landscape architect, Sarah Ewbank, who believes Stonehenge was once a spectacular thatched building, and all we can see today are the ruins. .. most people take it for granted that this was always just a stone monument – that this was always the way it looked. There is an assumption that the stones were symbolic and ritualistic and people rarely consider the idea that what we are actually looking at is the stone framework or skeleton of a large, enclosed structure complete with a roof.

See https://stonehengeroof.uk/
and
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydLiP3pNSOE
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