Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Archaeologists want help: solve the mystery of a stone row on Dartmoor

Dartmoor National Park (UK) has asked for help to trace the origin of the double row of stones on South Dartmoor.

Introducing Andy Crabb, an archaeologist who wants to involve the public in his research into Piles Hill’s Double Stone Row and the original placement of the stones within it. To tackle the archaeological find, scientists are looking for any archival photographs, drawings or sketches relating to the attraction, reports the Mid-Devon Advertiser.

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This intriguing venture is the result of a joint effort between Dartmoor National Park, Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Our Mountain Communities initiative. The project aims to deepen understanding of the nature of mountains not only on Dartmoor but also in other areas.

The double row of boulders on Piles Hill, on the ridge of Harford and Ugborough Townships, are gracefully folded from east to west, about 850 meters. The row consists of over 40 visible boulders, all of which have fallen or tilted, still hidden in the surrounding vegetation.

The China Earthworks railway line at Redlake Mine – now a popular footpath and part of the Two Moors Way – breaks the line and several cores can be found nearby.

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Scientists believe that the origins of stone rows can be traced back to the Neolithic and early Bronze Age. They are difficult to date, but valuable information can be obtained from radiocarbon dating of layers of peat above and below the stones.

In particular, radiocarbon dating of several stepping stones at Cut Hill yielded an unexpected result, which corresponded to an alignment of 3620 BC, making it even older than Stonehenge and the Giza Pyramids. The discovery highlights the global importance of Dartmoor as a culturally rich place.

A geophysical survey carried out on Piles Hill revealed a surprising amount of hidden features, including 70 possible burial stones, 158 possible pits and evidence of a pyramid at the western end. In addition, along the entire length of the row, beyond its western boundary, burial stones and other objects were found.

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Among the unexpected discoveries was the presence of a possibly extended rock mound crossing a series of ridges, as well as indications of possible early rock layers crossing the current boundary.

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