Bodmin Moor is a wonderful place – not least, because there’s hardly anyone there to make a mess of it (well not in recent times, anyway). Not even the lack of National Park status has encouraged anyone to build anything of any significance here for at least the last century. There should be more places like this.
But to see Bodmin Moor as an expanse of natural wilderness is to seriously misunderstand this remarkable place. The moor has been a hive of human activity since the dawn of recorded history. The ancient village of Temple, with its Templar connections, dates back to at least the 12th century. Yet this part of the moor had been occupied by people who had passed over the horizon of history long before the Knights Templar made their fleeting mark.
In a swathe of unprepossessing moorland overlooking Temple, lies a vast array of granite lines and circles, which are the traces of a civilisation that flourished in the area over 4000 years ago. The actual occupation dates dowsed only to be between 2500 and 2200 bce – the age of the erection of the many of the stone rows, circles and monoliths of the West Country – and bearing a close comparison to the official archaeological view.
In total, there are the remains of some 96 dwellings. Presumably they were more or less all in use at the peak of the occupation – or the carefully collected granite boulders would have been robbed out (as they say in Time Team) to build other structures. These huts dowsed to have once housed, typically, 5 or 6 people each, giving a total population of between 450 and 600 – a veritable Neolithic city. There were also the remains of corrals or enclosures, presumably for animals – although we could not come to an agreement as to which animals were farmed at that time.
Being mostly students of the Alan Neal school of dowsing, some of us tried ‘remembrancing’ – following the footsteps of people contemporary with the stone remains – and with some success.
While energy lines were present across the site, it was difficult to tell if the layout of the dwellings really took this into account. However, when we came to the spot, quaintly termed on the OS map as ‘cairn’, the feeling was quite different. This is, in fact, a small boulder of unusual shape, situated on strong and intersecting energy lines. On one side, it seemed to have been fashioned into a stylised cross – and it was evidently a site of some importance. Further up the hill still lay three other small circular cairns, which also marked strong energy crossing points.
This remarkable place has always been a struggle to inhabit – even for a couple of hours on a bright February afternoon - in the lazy, biting wind so characteristic of the moor. It may have been more hospitable in the balmier climate of 4000 years ago, but in recorded history it has been a location only for the hardy and the hearty.
The Tamar Dowsers were indeed pleased to retire to nearby Abbey Farm - for a welcome hot drink, and a chance to mull over the events of the day.