'Hoartsberry where the seven Lords meete and seven stones are pitched up together to each Lord a stone, and the stone that belongs to the Lord of the Manor of Buckland is the South Stone save one', (Brown, 1994, p.14).
I discovered all this courtesy of the wonderful Legendary Dartmoor website http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/seven_lords.htm: which I haven't visited for ages, but can heartily recommend. I was trying to remember how many lords it was and now am absolutely fascinated by what I have read about the area through the millennia, and I may be Gone Some Time now!!!
The Dartmoor branch of my dad's family lived in Hennock for 3 or 4 generations, by which time the oldest had died and the younger folk moved away for work, to Plymouth, London or emigrated to New Zealand or America. I have been fortunate this week, in my latest bout of family history research, to suddenly find some new "rellies" which I'm excited about. One, believe it or not, lived within 25 miles of us when we lived in Dorset.
I came from poor stock - "Ag. Labs" - workers on the land until they were too old and infirm to do so - late 70s and early 80s some of them. Then a pauper's grave. The fate of many. My 3 x g. grandfather was a sailor in his youth and indeed was at Trafalgar, aboard HMS Belleraphon and another a branch of the family tree gave me an Adams ancestor on board the Victory itself. Poor William Bolt found himself hoeing swedes with the best of them when he came home from sea though. . .
To say I love Dartmoor is an understatement and I feel the pull to return to my roots getting stronger and stronger with each passing year. Hopefully next year we may downsize there for good.
It will be to a far better house than my ancestors could ever have dreamed of. Even the long-houses mentioned below were something they could never aspire to. Sabine Baring-Gould, in his book "A Book of the West: Devon", writes thus:
An old moorman's home was a picturesque object: built up centuries ago of granite blocks unshaped, set in earth, with no lime or cement to fix them, low-browed, with the roof thatched with rushes, the windows small, looking into a small court-yard, and this court-yard entered through a door in a high blank wall. On one side the turf stacked up, the saddles, the harness; on the other, a cow-house and stable, the well-house accessible from the kitchen without going from under cover, the well being nothing other than a limpid moor stream diverted and made to flow into a basin of scooped-out granite. the door into the house gives admission into an outer chambr, where is every description of odds and ends; where are potatoes, old barrels, infirm cartwheels, and the poultry hopping over everything. On one side a door gives admission to the kitchen, hall, parlour, all in one, lighted by a small window looking into the court-yard. Or again, on the one hand is the cattle-shed, on the other the kitchen, all under one roof, and beyond the kitchen the common sleeping-chamber. Rarely is there an upper storey. The object of making these ancient houses so tootally enclosed was to protect the dwelling from the furious storms. They were castles, but walled up against no other enemy than the wild weather. Nowadays these ancient houses are rapidly disappearing, and new, vulgar, staring edifices are taking their places - edifices that let in wind and water at every joint and loophole.
A view taken from the Churchyard in Moretonhampstead. My g.g. grandfather and his family lived in the town, and he was firstly an ostler at the White Hart Inn, then a postillion and then a coachman, ending up as the licensee of a local pub. He is buried in this churchyard.
The Medieval Clapper Bridge at Postbridge. I have spent many happy weekends camping down here, and walking the moor.
The modern road bridge above the West Dart just upstream of the Clapper Bridge.
On the way to Widecombe - looking back towards the edge of the moor near Postbridge.
Hay Tor in the distance. If I didn't have two copies of Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, and had one and the other one Worth's guide, I could quickly identify the nearer tor.
Can't remember where I took this, but t'was the other side of Widecombe and near Hound Tor I think.
And if you're wondering, 'arrish' is Devon slang for field (elsewhere is refers distinctly to the stubble of wheat or grass) and Foale was a farmer who owned those fields at one time.