A first formal joint outing for the Tamar and the Devon Dowsers
Dowsing in the far South West of England is undergoing a subtle surge. A few months ago the TDs had a first outing with our cousins, the emerging West Cornwall Dowsers - while July found us treading the moorland turfs with our senior siblings, The Devon Dowsers.
We started with some 18 of us, comprised about half and half of the two groups - with some a bit of both, if you get my drift. With the timely arrival, later in the proceedings, of another group of trainee dowsers and novices, on a course led by local tutor John Bowers, the throng swelled well into the twenties - scattering themselves, as only dowsers can, across the Merrivale tableau.
Merrivale is a dowser's paradise. But to avoid it being overrun with rod-waving trippers, as this is my local site, I feel I should be putting this bit in very small writing, perhaps even aaaaaaaaaaaaa (invisible) type. Seriously though, if I was going to show someone the vast array of applications of dowsing, from the instantly practical to the mind-expandingly esoteric, this is definitely where I would start.
This vast archaeological site is best known for its iconic double stone rows. They are not huge, or even unique, but they are quintessentially Merrivale. The energy that flows in and along the rows forms vibrant coloured braids, which seemed to charge up as we interacted with them. There are more leys than you can shake a stick at (not that you would want to shake a stick at a ley line, of course) and there is a wide band of negative energy, which has something to do with the vast open wound of the now defunct Merrivale granite quarry.
Nearby is the enigmatic, and vaguely linear, feature marked on some maps as a Reeve. As boundary walls go, it doesn't, and presumably has never, had much of a function. Even a sheep can work out that a stone stockade is a bit useless, if you can walk around either end of it. The vast boulders of the 'Reeve' have largely been chopped up and liberated for other uses in times gone by, but the energy footprint they have left (or once marked) is strong and clear - two braided rows and lots of water lines, with a few burial mounds and a possible 'virtual' stone circle for good measure. Some of the fallen markers can be dowsed lying beleaguered amongst the bracken, while their original locations can be found along the main alignment.
Some associated the feature with a trackway leading to the south eastern horizon - and who knows, maybe the dowsed construction date of around 1500BCE indicates that it had indeed been a bona fide reeve at some point along its time-line. This mighty ragged remnant deserves more attention.
Also on this south-facing plain is one remaining stone circle, strangely largely left alone by the stonecutters, perhaps because it is composed of rather insignificant rocks - or just maybe because of its association with the rituals of the unseen. This classic structure normally has about 14 radial energy lines emanating from it 'at rest', but on arrival, I found 25 - clear evidence, later confirmed, that someone had been working with it earlier in the day. By the end, our conjoining had raised it to a sluggish 38 radials, by my count - but by then, perhaps either it or I (or some interaction of both of us) had become dowsed-out in the summer haze.
I have to say that on the scores of occasions I have been to Merrivale, as often as not I am in a big coat and several jumpers, grasping my rods firmly in a most inappropriate dowsing stance. This is a seriously exposed bit of Dartmoor, with nothing between it and the English Channel but the great sweep of the valleys of the Walkham, the Tavy and the Tamar. To be idling around in a t-shirt in 27 degrees and warm light easterly wind was an unheard of, and somewhat soporific, luxury. We pondered the age of the elements of the site, whether they were erected in one fell swoop or evolved over a much longer period of time. We examined the nature of certain stones and how they interacted with the leys. Even the most experienced dowsers and those of us who had been there more times than England have won World Cups announced that we had been shown new aspects of this fascinating place. We had new questions to answer - and new answers to question.
The afternoon was spent in making new friends and acquaintances - with as much networking as new working, and as much dozing as dowsing. Quite rightly so. John Bowers produced copies of some fascinating material from the collection of Guy Underwood, including the late great innovator's own dowsing maps of the Merrivale site. It didn't all ring true to us, but then GU was working with a blank sheet of paper and was in action here by the road to Princetown just seven years after dowsing had been decriminalised - while we have the benefit of standing on the shoulders of noble eccentrics.
A few of us - mainly those of the West Cornwall persuasion - finished the day off outside the nearby Dartmoor Inn (purely to avoid dehydration, you understand). Even there, people swapped stories and made dowsing job offers. A good day was had by all, and we resolved to repeat the joint event another year.
Many thanks to the Devon Dowsers for turning up in force, to Alan Neal for joining us amidst his busy schedule, to John Bowers for making an unexpected cameo appearance and to Annie Holland, with a foot in both dowsing camps, for providing the backcloth script and plans for the afternoon's events, in her own inimitable style.
Did I get in the bit about this being a major archeo-astronomical site, or about the community of round houses, or about the activities of the miners and the warreners, or about remanencing for former occupants, visitors and tourists, or the bit about the spirit, or the hot spot, or the fairy hole, or . . .? Next time, maybe.
A footnote - if anyone with pronounced 3-D visual dowsing abilities is ever passing this way, please let me know, as I feel, even now, we are only starting to realise the full potential for working on this site.