The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Down Tor

Stone Row / Alignment


Once I climb down from the top of Down Tor itself, I'm expecting to see the first of today's sites. After all, it's a very well-preserved circle, together with a 350m long row and a terminal stone standing nearly 3m tall. In fact, there's no sign of it until I head further east. Suddenly I'm over a small crest and practically on top of this megalithic wonder. What a beauty this is! The circle itself is lovely, 12m across and surrounding the remains of a damaged but recognisable central cairn. Another cairn sits a few yards away to the northwest. This really is a terrific site, aided by the splendid isolation I get here today.

And then there's the row. It extends away to the northeast, heading further into Dartmoor's magnificent empty space. Clouds race past, drawn towards a convergence over the horizon. At the southwestern end, next to but separate from the circle, the row terminates in a huge upright monolith, almost 3m tall and very thick - it weighs about three tons. Seen from this end, the row appears pretty much straight (which it is). It leads uphill towards another cairn, as well as a small prehistoric enclosure. By the time I reach the northeastern terminal stone, the row appears to curve away back to the cairn circle. This is actually an optical illusion, caused by the gently sloping contours that the row crosses. This weird "not curve" further enhances what is undoubtedly one of the best sites I've been to. I still struggle rather with Dartmoor chronology and don't really know whether the row post-dates the large-scale clearances carried out during the Bronze Age. It's hard though to imagine creating such a wonderfully designed monument in the middle of trees, where the form could not be easily appreciated.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
14th September 2010ce

Comments (2)

You recommended I visit this site in your comment on my White Moor fieldnote last year; I finally made it yesterday and my experience matched yours exactly in terms of discovery and solitude though as I was leaving a veritable crowd (well, seven people) was approaching.
Thanks for the pointer; a great site, a lovely and undemanding walk, stunning views all the way there and back, what more could you ask for?
ironstone Posted by ironstone
3rd August 2014ce
Brilliant, glad you made it there :)

Look forward to reading your own account.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
3rd August 2014ce
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