At the request of Dartmoor National Park (DNP), a group of TDs attended an Open Day to mark the last day of excavations at the old Widecombe Manor House on the eastern side of the moor.
The archaeologists displayed a few of the walls that they had uncovered during their dig, and we marked up a few that they hadn’t had time to do.
Being a site of ancient habitation, there was a ley close by, which happens to run straight though the tower of the village church. Helpfully, some previous residents had obscured the clear line of sight to it by planting some (now) rather tall trees. Consequently, people trying their hand for the first time were able to find the ley and, by stepping aside, to then note that it also went through the church tower - which was a most reassuring piece of feedback for them.
We had the usual wonderful range of questors, from established dowsers through to complete beginners. The visitors from afar are always great to talk to, especially those encountering English eccentricities for the first time. A family from Holland proved to be most adept, with two of the sons becoming hooked immediately.
Indeed they were so good, so quickly that, within a few minutes one of them had got a response for an underground piece of metal. Not being shy, he spoke to the on-site metal detectorist, who obligingly dug it up for us. OK, it was only a rusted 18th century bolt, rather than the lump of gold the lad might have expected but, hey, not bad for a beginner (and an important lesson learned already about asking the right question). As a demo of physical dowsing working in public, it was a cameo I would have loved to have had on film.
A lovely group from Japan also came to talk to us, and again picked up the craft quite easily. One gentleman, who had very little English, was very much a fellow traveller. He had found some holed pebbles on a beach, and spent a while using them to make high-pitched whistling noises to draw heaven and earth together. We noted that we are usually regarded as being more unusual than the surrounding demonstrators at events such as this – and it made a change to be more than matched by a member of the general public. A really nice chap.
Whilst we were certainly greatly boosted by having very experienced tutors, Ann Lodygowski and David Lockwood, with us, as ever it was very clear to us all how much more quickly people were picking up the basics. We encountered several very talented dowsers, some discovering the skill for the first time – and often to their own evident surprise. We were able to get the DNP’s administrator dowsing, and also her previously rather sceptical husband, which was a bonus.
Many thanks to all those who came to help - and especially to the DNP’s Emma Stockley for inviting us.
Something Old - but Always Something New
With eight DDs and seven TDs, eight women and seven men - and most of us around a certain age - this was a nicely balanced group, with a very positive outlook.
As many readers will know, with its array of residual archaeology, earth energy features galore and ancient village of round houses - all spread over a platform of half a square mile - Merrivale is something of a dowser’s adventure playground.
Despite my many and frequent visits to the site over the decades, I always learn something new at my local dowsopolis - and this was no exception. For example, I happened to ask, for the first time, about Hartmann and Curry lines, which have recently come to the front of my attention, only to find that a Hartmann line runs straight down the main stone row – which is also a defined line of consciousness and a multi-braided carpet of interwoven earth energies. Additionally, the engraved waymarker at the eastern end of the site is right on a Curry line. Are these just random alignments - or am I finding them when the time is right for me? I am a few days older, not much wiser, and the plot has thickened yet again.
Not quite at right angles to the main stone rows is an enigmatic feature, known on OS maps as a Reeve (boundary work). As a defensive structure, it would have been quite useless (as you can walk around either end!), yet the work involved in its construction would have been considerable. It dowses as being at least a 1,000 years older than the rows themselves, and to have once been composed of much larger blocks - which was probably why quarrymen cut up and took away so many of them. Yet, the enigmatic broken monoliths that remain indicate that this was once the most energetic part of the whole complex - and the dowsable earth energies resemble the format of the more modest stone rows nearby.
While the more recent dowsing adherents had much to encounter, even those of us with more experience came across new approaches and new ideas. Peter Mullen, who dowses aurally, showed how the non-physical energy of a stone circle could be sensed - and changed - by placing one person at the energetic centre, whilst others are holding, and then releasing, each stone in the ring.
Some members clearly struggled with some of the numerous concepts under discussion, but then so did the tour guide - so, no change there. There was much to get one’s head around, much to try at home and much more to come back to work through again on a quieter occasion.
After a playful shower to set the proceedings off, the weather brightened progressively - and the group visibly melded in the growing appreciation of any entourage of temporary pilgrims with a common direction of travel. We ended as a circle of friends in the welcoming ambience of a 5,000-year-old round house, with father sun smiling on us benignly.