Depending on your views the internet can be a blessing or a curse but there is one thing for sure, it’s here to stay and there is a lot of valuable information out there if you know where to look. I would suggest that you have an interest on Dartmoor or else you would not be on this website and depending on how deep your interest goes there is a lot of not so obvious information out there. I bet nearly everyday somebody, somewhere on Dartmoor is compiling a report about something that will eventually find its way into some archive. Occasionally these archives and resources are made available on-line and sometimes they can be freely accessed by the public. Not only are there papers and reports there are even complete books, maps, photographic archives and aerial images freely downloadable.
Although this is strictly not a correct term, ‘grey literature’ appears in numerous guises, some are free and others need some of your hard earned cash to acquire. These basically consist of studies, surveys, and reports on specific Dartmoor topics which range from archaeology to ecology. What a lot of these sources have in common is that they take some digging to find as they are usually deposited in the depths of various web sites and at first are not easily found. There will be a whole host of on-line resources which would take up a complete web site if they were all listed so here are my top 10:
1) English Heritage Landscape Investigations
EH describe these as grey literature and describe them thus: “They typically contain 20 – 100 A4 pages, with detailed descriptions and interpretations of the sites, monuments or landscapes they cover, fully illustrated with maps, plans, drawings, photographs and copies of historic documents where appropriate”. Cost wise they range from £5 – £15 depending on the size of the report. Currently the following Dartmoor sites are available:
Haytor Down, Ilsington, Devon; by Phil Newman (£10)
The Merrivale Guardianship Area, Walkhampton, Devon; by Simon Probert (POA)
The town and castle earthworks at Lydford, Devon; by Phil Newman (£5)
Drizzlecombe, Eylesbarrow, Ditsworthy and Hartor areas in the Plym Valley, West Devon; by Simon Probert (POA)
East Hill/Halstock Camp, Okehampton Hamlets, Devon; by Simon Probert (£5)
Headland Warren, Dartmoor, Devon; by Phil Newman (£15)
Boro Wood, Ashburton, Devon; by Phil Newman (£5)
Druid Mine, Ashburton, Devon; by Phil Newman (contact EH)
Willsworthy Common Training Area Integrated Land Management Plan Implementation; by Simon Probert (contact EH)
Headland Warren and the Birch Tor and Vitifer Tin Mines; by Phil Newman (£15)
Shipley Bridge China Clay Works, South Brent, Devon; by Phil Newman (£5)
Dartmoor Prison Farm: Archaeological Survey and Evaluation; by Simon Probert (contact EH)
Langstone Moor, Pater Tavy, Devon; by Phil Newman (£5)
Okehampton Castle and Park; by Simon Probert (POA)
Earthworks on Brent Tor, Western Dartmoor, Devon; by Phil Newman (£5)
Caroline Wheal Prosper: a tin mine at Buckfastleigh, Devon; by Phil Newman (£5)
Hunter’s Tor, Lustleigh, Devon: an earthwork survey; by Ben Moore (£5)
When these reports are listed as, “contact EH” it usually means they are of a sensitive nature such as a prison or they have been lost as is the case with Willsworthy. Where it states, Price On Application” then be prepared to dig deep. Buts as can be seen these reports are mostly of a landscape archaeology or industrial archaeology nature but well worth the money. If you want further details then click – HERE
2) Dartmoor Conservation Area Appraisals.
Next we come on to the Conservation Area Appraisals that are hidden deep in the bowels of the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s website. These basically, “aim to define and analyse the special interest which constitutes the character and appearance of a place” and cover the major town and villages of Dartmoor. Currently available are: Ashburton, Buckfastleigh, Chagford, Crockernwell, Drewsteignton, Dunsford, Horrabridge, Lustleigh, Lydford, Manaton, Moretonhampstead, Murchington, North Bovey, North Brentor, Princetown, South Brent, South Tawton, South Zeal, Sticklepath, Throwleigh and Widecombe-in-the-Moor. They come in pdf format and best of all are free to download, to do so click – HERE
3) Dartmoor Training Area Conservation Surveys.
Many people will be conversant with the Dartmoor Training Area website probably because they check the military firing notices but also on this website are again some downloadable surveys and reports on a diverse range of subjects found on the military ranges. Once again these come in a pdf format and are totally free. Current topics available are; Okehampton Camp Historical Appraisal, Okehampton Artillery Range Report and Photo Survey, Doe Tor Farm Survey, Bird Survey, Ecology Review and Landscape Review. These can be found – HERE. The Environmental Assessment for 2007 can be found – HERE
4) Archaeology Data Service.
This website provides many of the National Monument Register entries for Dartmoor which includes hundreds of records which range from pre-historic to modern landscape features. In the library section there is a growing collection of unpublished fieldwork projects although as yet there is nothing specific to Dartmoor. The easiest method of search is to use the Ordnance Survey grid and then enter the required radius for your inquiry, this page can be found – HERE
5) British History Online.
This website is a good and growing resource for Dartmoor topics and if you are looking for old (1800s) Ordnance Survey maps is ideal. The only problem with the maps is to navigate around them takes some mastering and can be time consuming. There truly is a wealth of information here with things like Lyson’s Magna Britannia, a gazetteer of fairs and markets, state papers, ancient deeds etc. Some of the content such as access to state papers is available only by subscription but that at the moment that is only £20 a year. If you have some spare time this website warrants exploring and can be found – HERE
Apart from its search engine, Google has a wealth of tools and resources available that make online research that bit easier. For aerial photographs of Dartmoor there is Google earth which will return some fairly high resolution images. At the moment the service is free but I can’t see that always being the case. The books section is excellent for researching any topic and basically you get three types of reference, snippet view, limited preview and full book. The first two are hand for finding books that contain information on your search topic but will not go into too much detail. This is handy in finding books and their page numbers on your relevant topic but then you have to either visit a library or buy the book to get what you need. Full books are literally that, the complete works, downloadable and free. As far a Dartmoor books go you can download the entire books of Rowe’s ‘Perambulation of Dartmoor, the three publications of Bray’s ‘Legends and Superstitions…’, Evan’s ‘Home Scenes or Tavistock and its Vicinity’, many of Carrington’s poetry works and some early Transactions of the Devonshire Association. If you sign up for a free Google account there are then some handy tools to use with the book section. There is a ‘My Library’ whereby you can save any book you come across in its file and also a ‘Notebook’ facility which enables you to select sections of text and save them to file. This is handy if you find something and then need it again in the future, instead of wondering which book, website it was on simply go to your notebook and there it is along with a link to the original source. The other handy service Google provide is their daily news bulletin, simply enter the topic ie Dartmoor and every day an email is sent with all the latest news and Blog entries relevant to Dartmoor.
Google Earth – HERE
Google Books – HERE
7) Project Gutenberg.
This is another excellent resource full full versions of old books although they take some finding but for instance the full version of Northcote’s ‘Devon Scenery…’ is available. The only problem with this site is that the save facility is not as good as Google’s and a trifle complicated. To be honest I just cut and paste the books into word, that way you can also use the ‘find’ option to extract individual search words. You can find Project Gutenberg – HERE
8) The Dartmoor Archive.
If its old Dartmoor photographs that you are after then this steadily growing collection has to be your first port of call. There are currently over 6,000 images in the archive along with some information about each one although in many cases its sparse and in some incorrect. Nonetheless it is an excellent resource and well worth a visit which can be found – HERE
There is a veritable mine of Dartmoor information on this website which ranges from baptismal registers, maps, bibliographies, numerous articles by Mike Brown and much, much more. Access is completely free and well worth a visit, click – HERE
10) Devon Libraries Local Studies.
An excellent website and resource for information, sadly compared to some counties a lot of it is not available on-line but there is some Dartmoor related material available. But the major factor of this site is that it will give you the reference numbers for the information which you can obtain via the various record offices etc. When I visited here and put in a search for ‘Dartmoor’ the search engine refused to work. Access to the site can be gained – HERE