Long houses and hard lives: Medieval life on Dartmoor

20150228 MA MTMTE Moor Medieval Symposium (16)

The Moor Medieval project was launched with a symposium held at Parke, on life during medieval times on East Dartmoor.  This illuminating day was organised to share and review our existing understanding of the iconic Dartmoor Longhouse, its role in medieval life and its context in the landscape. There were thought provoking sessions from some of the country’s leading historians; (from left to right) Tom Greeves, John Allan, Peter Beacham, John Thorpe, Nat Alcock and Ian Mortimer.
What was very apparent from the day was the enthusiasm and interest from the full-capacity audience as well as the breadth and depth of knowledge that the speakers conveyed. The speaker’s passion for these buildings was palpable and this helped to emphasise the importance of conserving and protecting the longhouses for the future.  The Dartmoor Longhouse, with accommodation for human occupants at one end and livestock at the other was presented as being every bit as iconic for Dartmoor as the Dartmoor pony. One particularly colourful analogy used to illustrate the role of the longhouse and its occupants was that of the medieval ‘Dartmoor cowboy’- a leather clad cattle farmer living with his animals.

We are looking at ways to bring some of what was presented to a wider audience and will keep you informed via the newsletter as to what format this might take.
Building on the considerable interest in the longhouse and medieval life on Dartmoor we plan to set up a Medieval Study Group. A meeting for those interested will be held on Sat 25th April in Moretonhampstead. For more information and to reserve a place, contact Emma at emma@moorthanmeetstheeye.org

Ian Mortimer will be leading an event at Higher Uppacott on 11th April entitled “The Changing Medieval World”

Moor Medieval is a parish based project which will further our understanding of medieval life and the effects that early farming had on the landscape of Dartmoor over a thousand years.  The project will initially focus upon an area of medieval significance where Ancient Tenements group around the East and West Dart to the East of Dartmoor Forest and the adjoining Spitchwick Manor in the parish of Widecombe in the Moor.  Over the next five years Moor Medieval will look at the Dartmoor Forest parish and five of the parishes that border it.

The study group will take part in research to develop a deeper understanding of medieval life on Dartmoor with particular reference to farming and settlement.


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