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Areas of bracken are home to the high brown fritillary and pearl-bordered fritillary. Insects found in the heathlands include the emperor moth , green hairstreak and the bilberry bumblebee.
The majority of the prehistoric remains on Dartmoor date back to the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age. Indeed, Dartmoor contains the largest concentration of Bronze Age remains in the United Kingdom, which suggests that this was when a larger population moved onto the hills of Dartmoor.
The prehistoric settlers began clearing the forest, and established the first farming communities. Fire was the main method of clearing land, creating pasture and swidden types of fire-fallow farmland.
Areas less suited for farming tended to be burned for livestock grazing. Over the centuries these Neolithic practices greatly expanded the upland moors, and contributed to the acidification of the soil and the accumulation of peat and bogs.
After a few thousand years the mild climate deteriorated leaving these areas uninhabited and consequently relatively undisturbed to the present day.
The highly acidic soil has ensured that no organic remains have survived, but the durability of the granite has meant that the remains of buildings, enclosures and monuments have survived well, as have flint tools.
It should be noted that a number of remains were "restored" by enthusiastic Victorians and that, in some cases, they have placed their own interpretation on how an area may have looked.
Numerous prehistoric menhirs more usually referred to locally as standing stones or longstones , stone circles , kistvaens , cairns and stone rows are to be found on the moor.
The most significant sites include:. There are also an estimated 5, hut circles still surviving although many have been raided over the centuries by the builders of the traditional dry stone walls.
These are the remnants of Bronze Age houses. The smallest are around 1. Some have L-shaped porches to protect against wind and rain; some particularly good examples are to be found at Grimspound.
It is believed that they would have had a conical roof, supported by timbers and covered in turf or thatch.
There are also numerous kistvaens , Neolithic stone box-like tombs. It was not until the early Mediaeval period that the weather again became warmer, and settlers moved back onto the moors.
Like their ancient forebears, they also used the natural granite to build their homes, preferring a style known as the longhouse — some of which are still inhabited today, although they have been clearly adapted over the centuries.
Many are now being used as farm buildings, while others were abandoned and fell into ruin. The earliest surviving farms, still in operation today, are known as the Ancient Tenements.
Most of these date back to the 14th century and sometimes earlier. The prison has an incorrect reputation for being escape-proof, due to both the buildings themselves and its physical location.
The Dartmoor landscape is scattered with the marks left by the many generations who have lived and worked there over the centuries — such as the remains of the Dartmoor tin-mining industry, and farmhouses long since abandoned.
Indeed, the industrial archaeology of Dartmoor is a subject in its own right. Dartmoor is known for its myths and legends.
It is reputedly the haunt of pixies , a headless horseman , a mysterious pack of " spectral hounds ", and a large black dog , among others. During the Great Thunderstorm of , the moorland village of Widecombe-in-the-Moor was even said to have been visited by the Devil.
A few stories have emerged in recent decades, such as the " hairy hands ", that are said to attack motorists on the B near Two Bridges ;  and the "Beast of Dartmoor", a supposed big cat.
Over half of Dartmoor National Park Because of the Act, Dartmoor was largely unaffected by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act , which established similar rights in other rural parts of the country, but in , this Act opened up much of the remaining restricted land to walkers.
There is a tradition of military usage of Dartmoor dating back to the Napoleonic Wars. Today, a large British Army training camp remains at Okehampton — also the site of an airbase during the Second World War.
The Ministry of Defence MoD uses three areas of the northern moor for manoeuvres and live-firing exercises, totalling Red and white posts mark the boundaries of these military areas shown on Ordnance Survey 1: Flagpoles on many tors in and around the ranges fly red flags when firing is taking place.
At other times, members of the public are allowed access. Blank rounds may also be used, but the MoD does not notify the public of this in advance.
Some "challenge" and charitable events take place with assistance of the military on Dartmoor including the long established Ten Tors event and the more recent Dartmoor Beast.
The disused Rippon Tor Rifle Range was built to train soldiers during the Second World War, and remained in use until its closure in Throughout human history, the landscape has been exploited for industrial purposes.
In recent years, controversy has surrounded the work of industrial conglomerates Imerys and Sibelco formerly Watts Blake Bearne , who have used parts of the moor for china clay mining.
Licences were granted by the British Government but were recently renounced after sustained public pressure from bodies such as the Dartmoor Preservation Association.
The military use of the moor has been another source of controversy, such as when training was extended in January The national park authority received 1, objections before making the decision.
Objectors claimed that Dartmoor should be an area for recreation, and that the training disturbs the peace. During her lifetime, Lady Sayer was another outspoken critic of the damage which she perceived that the army was doing to the moor.
Dartmoor has a resident population of about 33,,  which swells considerably during holiday periods with incoming tourists. The largest settlements within the National Park are Ashburton the largest with a population of about 3, , Buckfastleigh , Moretonhampstead , Princetown , Yelverton , Horrabridge , South Brent , Christow , and Chagford.
For a full list, expand the Settlements of Dartmoor navigational box at the bottom of this page. Until the early 19th century Dartmoor was not considered to be a place worth visiting: The oldest leisure pursuit on the moor is hill walking.
Letterboxing originated on Dartmoor in the 19th century and has become increasingly popular in recent decades.
A recent related development is geocaching. Geocache clues make use of GPS coordinates, whereas letterboxing clues tend to consist of grid references and compass bearings.
Whitewater kayaking and canoeing are popular on the rivers due to the high rainfall and their high quality,  though for environmental reasons access is restricted to the winter months.
Other white water rivers are the Erme , Tavy , Plym and Meavy. Other activities are rock climbing on the granite tors and outcrops, some of the well-known venues being Haytor , Hound Tor and The Dewerstone;  horse riding, which can be undertaken on any of the common land ;  cycling but not on open moorland ;  and angling for wild brown trout , sea trout and salmon —although much of the river fishing on Dartmoor is privately owned, permits are available for some stretches.
The visitor centres located in Postbridge and Haytor feature information, maps, guidebooks and items for exploring the area.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Dartmoor disambiguation. List of Dartmoor tors and hills. Dartmoor National Park Authority.
Archived from the original on 8 September Retrieved 12 July Retrieved 7 July Retrieved 3 June Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Archived from the original on 1 December Retrieved 2 September Retrieved 7 August Archived from the original on 23 August Archived from the original PDF on 27 February Retrieved 19 March It is a tourist destination set on the western bank of the estuary of the River Dart , which is a long narrow tidal ria that runs inland as far as Totnes.
Their combined population at the above census was 6, In , the Domesday Book lists Dunestal as the only settlement in the area which now makes up the parish of Dartmouth.
It was held by Walter of Douai. It paid tax on half a hide, and had two plough teams, two slaves, five villagers and four smallholders.
There were six cattle, 40 sheep and 15 goats. At this time Townstal as the name became was apparently a purely agricultural settlement, centred around the church.
The port was used as the sailing point for the Crusades of and , and Warfleet Creek , close to Dartmouth Castle is supposed by some to be named for the vast fleets which assembled there.
The narrow mouth of the Dart is protected by two fortified castles, Dartmouth Castle and Kingswear Castle. In Geoffrey Chaucer visited and among the pilgrims in his Canterbury Tales.
The earliest street in Dartmouth to be recorded by name in the 13th century is Smith Street. Several of the houses on the street are originally late 16th century or early 17th century and probably rebuilt on the site of earlier medieval dwellings.
The street name undoubtedly derives from the smiths and shipwrights who built and repaired ships here when the tidal waters reached as far as this point.
Smith Street was also the site of the town pillory in medieval times. It was granted by the FitzStephens to Torre Abbey in about , the Abbey having been founded in , and the present stone-built church was probably started shortly after this.
Manorial transactions are first recorded in , when the manor house was at Norton, about half a mile west of Townstal.
Names of occupations also started to appear, including taverner, tailor, coggar, korker, goldsmith, glover, skinner and baker.
The flow of water out of the pool through the Mill Gullet powered a tidal mill. The dam was used as an unofficial footpath linking Clifton, to the south, with Hardness, to the north.
Before this it was necessary to go westwards to the head of the creek at Ford to travel between the two settlements.
The lord of the manor was given the rights to hold a weekly market and an annual fair in In , a legal case proved that the Lord of Totnes had the right to charge tolls on ships using the river, and this right was bought by Nicholas of Tewkesbury in , who conveyed the town, river and port to the king in , so making Dartmouth a Royal Borough.
The king gave the river to the Duchy of Cornwall in , who still own the "fundus" or bed of the river. In , the town was granted a Royal Charter, which allowed for the election of a mayor.
The borough was required to provide two ships for forty days per year. After , no more is heard of lordship rights, and the borough became effectively independent of any lord.
It contains a pre-Reformation oak rood screen built in and several monuments including the tomb of John Hawley d.
A large medieval ironwork door is decorated with two leopards of the Plantagenets and is possibly the original portal. Although it is dated "", this is thought to be the date of a subsequent refurbishment coincidental with major renovations of the church in the 17th century.
In mediaeval times, land access from the Totnes direction passed the manor at Norton and the parish church at Townstal before falling steeply along what are now Church Road, Mount Boone and Ridge Hill to the river at Hardness.
These were all too steep for vehicles, so the only land access was by packhorse. In there is the first mention of the building of the "New Ground".
The area proved too unstable to be built on, and is now the Royal Avenue Gardens. It was originally linked to the corner of the Quay by a bridge, opposite Duke Street.
At the other end of The Quay, Spithead extended into the river for a few yards. Henry Hudson put into Dartmouth on his return from North America, and was arrested for sailing under a foreign flag.
They rested a while before setting off on their journey in the Mayflower and the Speedwell on 20 August The Mayflower departed alone to complete the crossing to Cape Cod.
The town contains many medieval and Elizabethan streetscapes and is a patchwork of narrow lanes and stone stairways.
A significant number of the historic buildings are listed. Its intricately carved wooden fascia is supported on granite columns.
Charles II held court in the Butterwalk whilst sheltering from storms in in a room which now forms part of Dartmouth Museum.
The Royal Castle Hotel was built in on the then new quay. The building was re-fronted in the 19th century, and as the new frontage is itself listed, it is not possible to see the original which lies beneath.
Agincourt House next to the Lower Ferry is also 14th century. Dartmouth sent numerous ships to join the English fleet that attacked the Spanish Armada , including the Roebuck, Crescent and Hart.
It was reportedly anchored in the River Dart for more than a year and the crew were used as labourers on the nearby Greenway Estate which was the home of Sir Humphrey Gilbert and his half-brother Sir Walter Raleigh.
Greenway was later the home of Dame Agatha Christie. The remains of a fort at Gallants Bower just outside the town are some of the best preserved remains of a Civil War defensive structure.
The Parliamentarian General Fairfax attacked from the north in , taking the town and forcing the Royalists to surrender, after which Gallants Bower was demolished.
Before , what is now the town centre was almost entirely tidal mud flats. Spithead was extended in when the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway arrived in Kingswear and a pontoon was constructed, linked to Spithead by a bridge.
The railway directors and others formed the Dartmouth Harbour Commissioners. At this time, all the roads in those parts of Dartmouth which were not land reclamations were very narrow.
In Higher Street was widened into Southtown and linked to Lower Street, which was also widened, with the northern part renamed Fairfax Place. Some of the buildings were rebuilt further back with decorative frontages.
In the Harbour Commissioners produced a scheme for an embankment or esplanade from near the Lower Ferry to Hardness, across the remains of The Pool, to provide an attraction for tourists and further mooring space.
It was completed in after much disagreement between the Borough, the Commissioners and the Railway now the Great Western Railway. A new station was also built at this time.
The coming of steam ships led to Dartmouth being used as a bunkering port, with coal being brought in by ship or train. Coal lumpers were members of gangs, who competed to bunker the ships by racing to be first to a ship.
This led to the men living as close as possible to the river, and their tenements became grossly overcrowded, with the families living in slum conditions, with up to 15 families in one house, one family to a room.
In all this time only one effective rescue was made by the lifeboat. The area to the north of Ridge Hill was a shallow and muddy bay "Coombe Mud" with a narrow road running along the shore linking with the Higher Ferry.
The mud was a dumping ground for vessels, including a submarine. The reclamation was completed in by the extension of the Embankment and the reclamation of the mud behind it, which became Coronation Park.
In the s, aided by government grants, the council made a start on clearing the slums. This was aided by the decline in the use of coal as a fuel for ships.
The slums were demolished, and the inhabitants were rehoused in new houses in the Britannia Avenue area, to the west of the old village or hamlet of Townstal.
The process was interrupted by the second world war, but was resumed with the construction of many prefabs , and later more houses.
Community facilities were minimal at first, but a central area was reserved for a church, which was used by the Baptists and opened in  , together with a speedway track.
The latter was later used for housing, but a new community centre was opened nearby  , together with a leisure centre, an outdoor swimming pool, and later an indoor pool  , and supermarkets.
There are also light industrial units. In the latter part of the Second World War the town was a base for American forces and one of the departure points for Utah Beach in the D Day landings.
Slipways and harbour improvements were also constructed. Much of the surrounding countryside and notably Slapton Sands was closed to the public while it was used by US troops for practise landings and manoeuvres.
Between and the Embankment was widened by 6 metres and raised to prevent flooding at spring tides. A tidal lock gate was provided at the Boatfloat bridge, which could be closed at such times.
Dart Lifeboat Station was reopened in , the first time that a lifeboat had been stationed in the town since It has initially been kept in a temporary building in Coronation Park.
In , a fire seriously damaged numerous historical properties in Fairfax Place and Higher Street. The town returned two members of parliament from the 13th century until , after which one MP was elected until the town was disenfranchised in It remained a municipal borough until , when it was merged into the South Hams district, and became a successor parish of Dartmouth with a town council.
Dartmouth Town Council is the lowest of three tiers of local government. It consists of 16 councillors representing the two wards of Clifton and Townstal.
The event sees the traditional regatta boat races along with markets, fun fairs, community games, musical performances, air displays including the Red Arrows and fireworks.
A Royal Navy guard ship is often present at the event.