Open Trenches and Open Minds
At the request of Dartmoor National Park (DNP), a group of TDs attended an Open Day to mark the last day of excavations at the old Widecombe Manor House on the eastern side of the moor.
The archaeologists displayed a few of the walls that they had uncovered during their dig, and we marked up a few that they hadn’t had time to do.
Being a site of ancient habitation, there was a ley close by, which happens to run straight though the tower of the village church. Helpfully, some previous residents had obscured the clear line of sight to it by planting some (now) rather tall trees. Consequently, people trying their hand for the first time were able to find the ley and, by stepping aside, to then note that it also went through the church tower – which was a most reassuring piece of feedback for them.
We had the usual wonderful range of questors, from established dowsers through to complete beginners. The visitors from afar are always great to talk to, especially those encountering English eccentricities for the first time. A family from Holland proved to be most adept, with two of the sons becoming hooked immediately. Indeed they were so good, so quickly that, within a few minutes one of them had got a response for an underground piece of metal. Not being shy, he spoke to the on-site metal detectorist, who obligingly dug it up for us. OK, it was only a rusted 18th century bolt, rather than the lump of gold the lad might have expected but, hey, not bad for a beginner (and an important lesson learned already about asking the right question). As a demo of physical dowsing working in public, it was a cameo I would have loved to have had on film.
A lovely group from Japan also came to talk to us, and again picked up the craft quite easily. One gentleman, who had very little English, was very much a fellow traveller. He had found some holed pebbles on a beach, and spent a while using them to make high-pitched whistling noises to draw heaven and earth together. We noted that we are usually regarded as being more unusual than the surrounding demonstrators at events such as this – and it made a change to be more than matched by a member of the general public. A really nice chap.
Whilst we were certainly greatly boosted by having very experienced tutors, Ann Lodygowski and David Lockwood, with us, as ever it was very clear to us all how much more quickly people were picking up the basics. We encountered several very talented dowsers, some discovering the skill for the first time – and often to their own evident surprise. We were able to get the DNP’s administrator dowsing, and also her previously rather sceptical husband, which was a bonus.
Many thanks to all those who came to help – and especially to the DNP’s Emma Stockley for inviting us.
Nigel Twinn July 2015