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Dartmoor Traditions

Stag Hunt

Stag Hunt

Whilst researching the Okehampton Deer Park I came across the Okehampton Stag Hunt, which amazingly, has nothing to do with hunting deer at all. No, the ‘stag hunt’ was in effect what can only be described as the forerunner to the modern Anti Social Behaviour Order or ASBO. This tradition …

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Sittaford Tor

Sittaford Tor

‘From the soaking heights of Siddaford, above the Grey Wethers, there spread northerly a mottled desert patched with darkness of heather on a ground of livid and dead grass. This wan covering brightened in the bogs, where sedges perished in red death and spread dark, ruddy stains, as though blood …

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Sheepstor Church

Sheepstor Church

“The little granite church upholds Four pinnacles like holy hands, A missioner proclaiming God To ancient unbelieving lands. Long time it dared the indifferent hills Childlike, half frightened, all alone, Lest chink of matin bell offend The mother of its quarried stone. Now it is proven and at peace, Yet …

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Riding Water

Riding Water

Whilst browsing through an old book of 1875 I came across the following eyewitness account of the ancient tradition of ‘riding to water’ which took place in the Dartmoor village of Lydford. “We spent the morning with our friends, and early in the afternoon retraced our steps to Lydford. As …

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Ram Roast

Ram Roast

Bacchanalian rites and pagan sacrifices on Dartmoor, surely not? Licentious and bawdy carousing at Holne, the birthplace of Charles Kingsley, can’t be? Well, sadly it’s was probably true, I say sadly because the ‘Holne Ram Roast’ is/was no longer any of the above. The ‘rite’ took place on May Day …

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Plough Monday

Plough Monday

A farmer’s lot is not an easy one as there is always work to be done somewhere and nothing demonstrates this better than ‘Plough Monday’. Not that long ago the success of the harvest would mean the difference between having food on the winter table or not. So it is …

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New Year

New Year

No matter whether the old year had been kind to folk or if it was one best forgotten they have always celebrated the transition from one year to the next. Many of the customs and traditions have centred around either attracting good fortune for the coming year or not doing …

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Mid Summer’s Day

Mid Summer's Day

If the astro-archaeologists are to be believed then man has been celebrating Midsummer’s Day on Dartmoor for around 4,000 years. It was also the time of the Summer Solstice which in simple terms is when the earth is at a stage of its orbit where the northern hemisphere is most …

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Michaelmas Day

Michaelmas9

“He who eats goose on Michaelmas day; Shan’t money lack or debts pay.” The feast of St. Michael and All Angels otherwise known as Michaelmas Day arrives on the 29th of September. This is one of the four Quarter Days of the yearly calendar that marked the changing seasons and …

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May Day

May Day

Down through the centuries ‘May Day’ has always been a significant day in the calendar with celebrations held in most of the Dartmoor towns and villages. The roots of May Day can be found deep into the pagan beliefs in the form of Beltane which  occurs from the 30th of …

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