Glaciers 'helped shape Dartmoor'

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Media captionThe research contradicts beliefs that glacial ice did not form in the area

Ice age glaciers helped shape Dartmoor, new research has found.

A study by the universities of Durham, Exeter and Stockton Riverside College said the Devon moor had valley glaciers at its centre and an ice cap.

The cap would have been an estimated 80km sq (31 square miles) and up to 100m (330ft) thick. The research contradicts a previous belief that such ice did not form in the area.

Researchers carried out observations on the ground and used aerial photography.

'More complicated'

They said the evidence of ice age activity included several glacial features being found, including elongated rounded mounds or drumlins.

Evidence of moraines - piles of rock deposits formed after being carried along by melting glacial ice - was also found, the study added.

Professor David Evans, of Durham University's Department of Geography, said the research showed the story of Dartmoor's formation was "more complicated than we have traditionally believed".

He said: "A landscape that has been regarded as a classic example of cold, non-glacial processes was, in fact, covered by a glacial ice cap.

"Dartmoor was the location of the southernmost independent ice cap in the British Isles, the evidence for which is so subtle that researchers had missed it for almost 100 years."

University of Exeter scientist Dr Stephan Harrison added that the research techniques may help to see "if other southern upland areas of the UK were also glaciated and shaped by ice."

The Dartmoor National Park Authority said in a leaflet that the moor's landscape had been shaped by ice and snow, adding "although there were probably no glaciers on the moor".

It was not available for comment following the publication of the study.

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