When I take a series of photos I try and decide whether there is anything that might be interesting for a blog posting. The next step is to try and find a theme for that posting (I’d like to think most of them succeed!). “Granite” and “Dartmoor” are so closely linked I found it hard to believe that I had not used granite as a tag before. The moors are granite mostly and Dartmoor is a fine example of granite moorland.
This is looking towards Vixen Tor in the mid ground and Great Mis Tor in the distance with a few outcropss of granite in the foreground. It is hardly surprising that so much granite was actually used over many centuries – it was a free resource just lying around waiting to be used. People tend to look at Dartmoor and see it as “natural”. It is anything but that if you look carefully and closely.
The picture above indicates the first part of the process for splitting and shaping granite. It is known as “feather and tare” on Dartmoor. Holes are drilled in the granite and then wedges hammered in to split the rock. Granite was a great resource for building material. It is used for gateposts and buildings, bridges from very early clapper bridges to the stone for a London Bridge. It has been used on tracks and roads and for crosses and way marks. It has been used as a railway line.
Industrial use of the moors spans centuries from early inhabitation for simple agricultural purposes to modern day china clay works and quarries. Above are two example of worked stone. On the left is a stone worked for use with tin mining, on the right a stone has been made to control the flow of water in the leat. It has a hole in the stone which allows the flow of water to be stopped and diverted (know as a bullseye stone).
This is a view of the same leat looking roughly north towards Staple tor.
The granite itself varies in granularity and colour across the moor. There are area which have very pink granite and here the low light at the end of the day gives a glimpse of that tone. I will certainly return to the subject of granite and its uses in further blogs.