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Merrivale and Foggintor

The Walk

Map of the Walk

Foggin Tor Quarry and Merrivale Settlement

The group will assemble at Whiddon Down at 10 am and the first item for discussion will be where and when will coffee be consumed. Second item will be a careful consideration of timing to ensure we do not miss out on lunch and beer.

Foggin Tor Quarry

Stone row with Foggin Tor in the background

An interesting trip with a walk of just over 4 miles covering some more recent industrial archaeology and a settlement with just about every prehistoric feature to be found on Dartmoor. This pleasant little trip has the benefit of the Dartmoor Inn to the Northwest selling Jail Ale and food and the brewery to the North East Making the stuff. Other pubs are available and with a favourable breeze we might be able to sniff the beer all day.

Apparently Merrivale was once known as the Plague Market" or the "Potato Market". When bubonic plague hit the area in 1625 the chip van used to go there to feed the inhabitants. The money used for payment was disinfected with vinegar - hence the tradition of putting vinegar on your chips.

One of the stone rows

The layers of human activity over such a large timescale is known as a palimsest and makes archaeologists very excited. This is not the same as incest which is something completely different.

Merrivale quarry on the other side of the valley is a source of the radioactive minerals meta-autunite and meta torbenite. A former science teacher collected samples from there and kept them in his lab at school until they were discovered by some spoilsport with a geiger counter and removed. It is not known how many mutations they may have caused because it was found to be too difficult to tell the difference with the local population.

On the west side Sweltor Quarry lies the corbels. Now many people think this is an area of Glasgow but the harsh Scottish accent makes the "c" sound like a "g". The corbels were produced for London Bridge but someone forgot to put them on the lorry. The weakened bridge couldn't stand the strain which caused it fall down which led to the composition of a popular song much loved by cockney gits who are not the same as us.

The Gorbals

Recommended reading -

Merrivale - An Archaeological Landscape. English Heritage - about £4 (picture below will be removed after our visit)

Dartmoor Atlas of Antiquities - Vol Three - The South-West, Jeremy Butler