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You are in: Devon > Discover Devon > Devon Dialect > Dartmoor voices

Archive photo showing Mr Warren outside Uppacott

Archive photo of Mr Warren at Uppacott

Dartmoor voices

Most of us can only imagine what life was like on Dartmoor in the early part of the 20th Century. Now, the people who lived and worked there are telling their stories as part of a unique oral history of Dartmoor.

Mod cons were late in arriving on many parts of Dartmoor, and those living there have vivid tales to tell of what life was like before the days of running water and electricity.

But as time passes many of these fascinating memories were in danger of being lost forever.

Moor Memories is an oral history project which has recorded the story of everyday life on Dartmoor during the 20th century.

People who have lived and worked on the moor have spoken about their experiences and about the changes they've witnessed over the past Century.

Workers gather around a haystack

Workers gather around a haystack

The reminiscences, which have been recorded on three CD collections, offer a fascinating insight into the history of Dartmoor from a very personal perspective.

The first set of recordings, 'Rabbits, Whortleberries and Railways', recorded life as it was without household electricity, running water or motorised transport.

A second collection of recordings, entitled 'Lovely Days', includes memories of domestic life when all that was required for day-to-day living was produced and obtained locally.

This collection also gives an insight into the early days of the tourist trade, the sheep and wool industry and the changing fortunes of the Dartmoor pony.

The final set of recordings, 'Blacksticks and Blizzards', looks at the harsh weather that is part and parcel of life on Dartmoor. Dartmoor residents remember the snow storms of 1947 and 1963 and the precautions they took to stock up for the winter.

They also reminiscence about gathering produce from the moor, self sufficiency, trading and life during World War II.

The Moor Memories oral history project was initiated by the Dartmoor National Park Authority to mark the 50th anniversary of Dartmoor as a National Park.

Man on horseback, Haytor 1934

Man on horseback, Haytor 1934

Becky Newell, the oral history project officer for the park authority, said: "It's a wonderful compilation of memories.

"The collection brings to life Dartmoor’s recent past, opening a window onto the cultural life of the moor."

More than 100 people have been interviewed for the three CD collections. All the recordings have been fully transcribed to form a permanent archive for future historical reference.

They are also available for use in schools as part of the national curriculum.

"We are hoping to spread the culture of Dartmoor as widely as possible," said Deborah Griffiths, head of archaeology at the National Park Authority.

"The montage of voices contains lots of domestic detail about life on the farm and life in the village together with memories of early tourism.

"Potentially this is an enormously useful resource."

The project has been expanded to include four online Virtual Tours exploring four places of historic and archaeological interest.

The tours of Princetown, Postbridge, Haytor and the Dartmoor longhouse at Higher Uppacott, combine expert interpretation with personal experiences.

Want to listen?

The CDs are available to hear at listening points at the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s High Moorland Visitor Centre, Princetown, and the Authority’s Information Centre at Postbridge.

Listening points can also be found at Ashburton Information Centre and the Museum of Dartmoor Life in Okehampton.

The collection of CDs and accompanying booklets can be purchased from the Dartmoor National Park information centres, priced at £13.75.

Archive photographs courtesy: Oral history project contributors

Large print versions of the booklets are available for people with visual impairment.

last updated: 14/02/2008 at 14:53
created: 14/02/2008

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