The Myths of Dartmoor Park

The Dartmoor National Park is homed some of the most famous myths and legends in the world. This strange place, with its eerie granite huts, standing circles, broken stone roads, and reaves where moorland water still bubbles and gurgles through, is also the home of the wild mystical creatures that exist vibrantly in our imagination.


It is thought that Dartmoor Park was once inhabited, or perhaps still are, was filled with the haunting of pixies. Not just pixies either, but also the famed headless horseman suppsoedly ran rampant throughout the dark wet moorlands.  A strange large black dog was also spotted throughout the moorlands, hunting and haunting the settlers with its nightmarish size, amongst other creepy ghosts that wandered aimlessly (or perhaps purposefully) throughout the wet moorlands of Dartmoor Park.


It was during the Great Thunderstorm of 1638 that the moorland village of Widecombe in the Moor had inhabitants that said the town had been visited by the Devil himself.


Because of this interesting and haunting past, Dartmoor National Park with its Neolithic Bronze Age history and peoples, have inspired many artists. This inspiration can be seen in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with his story The Hound of the Baskervilles and The Adventure of Silver Blaze. Even J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter blockbuster success pays homage to the Dartmoor Park during the 4th installment of the series Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, they hold the 1994 Quidditch World Cup finals between Ireland and Bulgaria, hosted on none other than the Dartmoor moors themselves.


Kitty Jay’s Grave or sometimes just called Jay’s Grave, also resides within the Dartmoor National Park. The grave is the supposed last recting place of Jay, a person who fell victim to suicide. People think that Jay died somewhere in the mid to late 18th century. Since Jay’s death, the grave has become a very famous landmark within Dartmoor National Park and obviously a great inspirer of folklore, ghost stories, and other things that go bump in the night.


Still to this day, people report fresh flowers are laid at Kitty Jay’s Grave, but no one admits to whoever lays the flowers.


Along with Kitty Jay’s Grave, there is also the Childe’s Tomb. Child’es Tomb is an elaborate cross that was raised upon a constructed base. The story behind this tomb is less scary and more about reward.  A famed hunter by the name of Childe was reportedly killed in a snow storm, despite killing his horse and climbing inside the horse for warmth. The corpse of Childe was found with a note saying whoever buried his body properly would inherit all of his lands in Plymock. The story itself has become famous enough that when the original Childe’s Tomb was destroyed by a man who took the stones to build his own house, the tomb was partially reconstructed in 1890.


Stories like these and others abound about Dartmoor National Park. As it should, since it is one of the if not the largest holder of Bronze Age history in all of the UK. It remains inspiring writers, artists and travelers by inspiring their imagination to think of what these neolithic settlers must had been like, as well as the ideas of the wisping of pixies flying in and out of the wet, ancient moorlands.



The Ancient People of Dartmoor Park

Dartmoor National Park  holds the largest findings of Bronze Age items than anywhere else in the UK. Suggesting that a large population of neolithic people existed during this time here in the Dartmoor high moorlands. While not much is known about the people anymore, there is currently many volunteers and archaeologists that are exploring this park and putting together the history of these ancient peoples piece by piece.


The largest stone road exists in Dartmoor Park. There are huge systems of Bronze Age farming fields that are divided by what are known as reaves – an ancient method of diverting water from field to field. To this day, some of these ancient reaves are still the main source of drinking water for several farms that exist in the Dartmoor Park area. Many Dartmoor businesses make a living by fixing and repairing these ancient reaves. These farms and reaves cover more than 10,000 hectares of the lower moors.


Prehistoric settlers cleared the forest. Presumably the prehistoric settlers did this to start farming the land and creating the first rural farming communities in the Dartmoor Park area. The main method that these settlers used and waged upon the land to create the excavations for their farms was fire. Fire was used to clean the forest, allowing them to manufacture pastures and swidden types of farmland that was fire fallow. When they burned away an area that was less than ideal for farming, the settlers would use it likely for grazing for their livestock. As time went on, the Neolithic peoples practices expanded the upland moors where they helped in creating the acidification of the soil which helped resulted in the accumulation of peats and bogs.


What is intriguing is that the climate eventually changed and thus made it impossible for farming of the land by the settlers. This, along with the acidification of the soil, killed off any organic remains. Despite everything that was organic dying off during this time, the buildings of the people lives on. The Neolithic inhabitants used various pieces of granite to build their standing circles, their huts, buildings, farm houses and even their monuments. Because of the climate, much of what it was like back then remains today mostly undistrubed by Victorian and modern man. The granite structures still stand and bring in quite the tourist traffic who wish to view the ancient buildings of the Neolithic inhabitants and their remaining flint tools that they once used in the moorlands.


This has created quite the community of tourism around these Neolithic people. People come from all over the world to view the ancient structures, monuments and ancient reaves that still are usable that have running water gurgling through them to new modern day farms. The stone circles and the burial chambers denote a certain form of religious and paganistic rites that were held by the Neolithic people – including one famous doorway that supposedly helped with women who were stricken with infertility. By walking through the doorway, their infertility would be cured and they would be able to once again have children.


These kind of sites dot all throughout the Dartmoor National Park, and continues to fill peoples minds and imagination with visions of these ancient peoples.



What is Dartmoor Park?

Dartmoor Park is a national nonprofit park in the UK. Originally owned by Ellis Daws, it was later purchased by the Mee family and eventually repurposed from strictly a zoo into a non profit organization. Most of the park now serves duty to the 1995 Environment Act that comes from the Acts of Parliament.


These purposes are to help conserve natural beauty in all of its wonder. Conserving the natural beauty includes several different things that the Dartmoor Park adheres to. Some of these include the responsibility to enhance the natural beauty. As well as to take care of the wildlife that resides within the Dartmoor National Park. Conserving also includes preserving the cultural heritage of the park.  The park is currently staffed by over a 100 people and controlled by 19 prime principles overseeing the park’s future.


Dartmoor Park also allows people to live within the park’s boundaries, providing socio economic benefits for those who do. Along with these benefits, the park provides several different benefits to residents such as education on farming and farm planning. This helps provide the mainstay for the park’s economy.


Along with being an iconic landscape to live in, the Dartmoor National Park supports and provides for a large diverse business community. This business community is charged with the need to keep the local economy alive through their businesses. The overseeing powers that be in the park help create a “Your Dartmoor” business plan for your small business (or anyone who decides to create a small business within the national park).


The Dartmoor Business Forum provides an easy way for various Dartmoor business owners to have their voices heard. At the first event of the Dartmoor Business Forum there were over 50 Dartmoor business owners present to help explore the various opportunities that are inherent within the park. The event was so popular that the Dartmoor Business Forum will become a regular event for other entrepreneurs to participate in and to take part in to help make the Dartmoor National Park more successful in both the private and public sector.


Some of the businesses that were represented were in the tourist industry (obviously, many people want to visit the Dartmoor National Park), along with farming since the park houses many farmers and farming areas. Other Dartmoor businesses that were present were ratail and manufacturers of various products that call Dartmoor National Park their home.


The official site for Dartmoor National Park also hosts a vast amount of information for someone looking to start a Dartmoor business. This includes an entire PDF on funding and the best methods to obtain funding to have working capital to create your business. Along with this PDF, there are other sources for proactively planning for your business’s start and how to maintain momentum and growth into becoming a profitable business that produces viable products for the local and national market places. The Dartmoor Parks business center shows not only the park being important from a national identity reason, but also important to support rural businesses and the importance that goes into supporting these rural businesses.




A Farm Turned Into a Park

Dartmoor Park is a beautiful zoological wild life park that was started by Ellis Daw. Ellis Daw’s family actually bought the land that Dartmoor Park is one as farmland back in 1948, but by 1968, Ellis Daw had converted it from farmland into a national wild life park for others to visit and take care for.


Ellis Daw has come underneath much criticism in the past. In 2001 her zoological park was at the center of a heated debate over animal welfare. It was stated that animals keep in the zoo were being mistreated, and the welfare of these animals was being heavily questioned by those protesting the park, saying that the animal’s living conditions were not being held to the UK’s standards.


Ellis Daw denied these allegations. She looked to the zoo’s 33 year track record (at the time) as a way to deflect the criticism that she was facing. However, she did end up being charged on multiple offenses. The courts were leery to actually close down the Dartmoor Zoo Park because of fear of the future welfare of where these animals would go or end up if they did close down the Park.


Ellis Daw ended up being stuck with 15 offenses that the courts charged her with. Most of these charges were eventually dropped save for one offense. This one offense dealt with the findings and evidence that Ellis Daw was caught breeding Siberian tigers outside of a proper and regulated breeding programme. Because of this, the council charged her with a heavy fine that she was fine of 200 pounds and a conditional discharge. The Siberian tigers left the Dartmoor Park Zoo and were sent to a wildlife centre in the Netherlands.


Eventually the zoo was forced to close to the public. There last day to the public was on the 23rd of April 2006 where the park was bought for over 1.1 million pounds by the Mee family. The Mee family started the official refurbishing of the park and by 7 July 2007 the zoological Dartmoor Park was reopened to the public after the Mee family spent $500,000 on fixing it up and updating the grounds.


Since then, the Dartmoor Park has been opened to the public and has been quite successful underneath the new operators of the zoo. in 2014, the Mee family turned the Dartmoor Park Zoo into a charity, having raised over $340,000 dollars via crowdfunding sources. The park puts large cats on display, amphibians, reptiles, and several different forms of invertebrates for people look upon when they visit the zoo.


The zoo is the largest collection of big cats in the entire region, and people from all over come to visit the Dartmoor Park Zoo because of the big cat attractions that they offer. As of today, they are still open and people still come from all over to see their wide variety of animal life. There is also a funny block next to the house in honor of Ellis Daws, the original owner, saying:


ELLIS BOWEN DAW – Born 15th September 1928 – FOUNDER OF DARTMOOR WILDLIFE PARK 29 JUNE 1968 – Here’s to those who wish me well and those who don’t can go to hell!

To enjoy the splendid sites of Dartmoor, here’s a video of it from the air:

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