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Museum of Dartmoor Life

Museum of Dartmoor Life

Ever seen a truck-a-muck? How were sheep shorn on Dartmoor? What did the inside of a Bronze Age roundhouse look like? How was cider pressed? What did a Dartmoor kitchen look like? Ever made a Lydford Penny? Why, When, Where, What, Which, How … Questions, questions, questions, and the answers can be found all under one roof at Okehampton. Where? why the Museum of Dartmoor Life of course.

Here you can journey from Dartmoor’s dim and distant past of the Bronze Age and travel back through time to the yesteryear of the moor. The numerous exhibits portray how the folk of Dartmoor lived, worked, and played in bygone eras. Nostalgia can be found around every corner of the museum as can mysterious objects that at one time were everyday tools and utensils for the folk of the moor. For instance, click on the image below, this is known as a trendle or trunnel and at one time was found on most farms and cotts of Dartmoor. Sarah Hewett in her 1892 book, ‘The Peasant Speech of Devon’ also lists the utensil as a trindle. The etymology of the word probably goes back to the Old English word, trendel which describes a circle or ring, possibly alluding to the trendle’s shape. There is an old Devonshire saying, “there’s nort in the trendle“, which basically means the larder is empty.

Museum of Dartmoor Life

Back before the days of electricity and deep freezes the only way of preserving meat was to ‘salt un down’ and a trendle was used for salting joints of pork. Many farms and cotts kept a pig for meat and as soon as it had been slaughtered the trendle would be filled with salt and the joints placed in it. This, along with smoking, enabled the moor folk to eat the meat throughout the lean winter months.

Regardless if you live locally or are down on holiday there can be no nicer way to spend some time that a trip to this museum. The actual building which houses the museum was originally a granary that was built in 1811 and the site is on one of the old burgage plots of Okehampton. The Museum of Dartmoor Life was opened in 1982 and has evolved over the years into not only a large collection of Dartmoor artefacts and memorabilia but also an exhibition/events gallery and a local research centre. The museum redevelopment has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Southwest Regional Development Agency, West Devon Borough Council, Okehampton Town Council, the Okehampton Disabled Fellowship, Okehampton Non-Ecclesiastical Trust, Adapt Sightline, the Dartmoor National Park Authority and members of the local community.

Museum of Dartmoor Life

Any idea what the above object is? Fish trap? Waste paper basket? Bee skep? Plant pot holder? Visit the Museum of Dartmoor Life and you will find out, you’ll be amazed what it was actually used for.

Opening Hours

Easter – Mid November

Monday – Saturday 10.15am – 4.30pm

Admission Charges

Adults – £3.00

Family of 4 – £7.00

Students – £1.00

Museum of Dartmoor Life



About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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