Home / Dartmoor Traditions (page 4)

Dartmoor Traditions

Soul Bell

Soul Bell

The batt, the night-crow, or a skreech-owle. To these I heare the wild woolfe howle In this black night that seems to skowle. All these my black-booke shall in-rowle. For hark, still, still. the bell doth towle, For some but now departing sowle. There is nothing more evocative than to …

Read More »

St. Clements Day

St. Clements Day

“Come all you Vulcans stout and strong, Unto St. Clem we do belong, I know this house is well prepared With plenty of money and good strong beer, And we must drink before we part, All for to cheer each merry heart. Come all you Vulcans, strong and stout, Unto …

Read More »

Sun Dancing

Sun Dancing

“But, oh, she dances such a way No sun upon an Easter day Is half so fine a sight.” John Suckling. Whilst perusing the old 1900 issue of the Transactions of the Devonshire Association I came across a report about the old tradition of watching the sunrise on Easter Morning. …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »

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 …

Read More »