Assailed by aerial spiders, dowsing for marsh mallows and moving on the mad axe man. Even by the past performance of Dowsing Improvers’ Days, this one proved to be a bit special.
As I always say, every time I visit our local site, at Merrivale, between Tavistock and Princeton, I learn something new. I also tell every group that I will learn more from them than vice versa – and so I thank them for coming!
The September 2018 DID was a visit to examine the dowsable energy features and the archaeological aspects of this part of western Dartmoor. We assembled as a dozen diverse dowsers, with both the Tamar and Devon groups well represented; each with our own ideas and on our own quests.
The weather was wonderful. The words hot and Merrivale don’t usually appear in the same sentence, but this event actually had people removing layers of clothing – on Dartmoor – astonishing (as David Coleman used to say)!
It’s always a bit difficult to know quite how to pitch a session for an unknown number with unknown expectations, but we worked our way through the menhirs, the circle, the hut circles, the stone rows and the reave. It ended up more as an extended mobile Q & A session, with yours truly priming with a few ‘facts’ and miscellaneous observations to keep the pot boiling.
Almost from the off, novelty (in the sense of new stuff) was afoot. All around us, we were being targeted by tiny spiders parachuting from the heavens, with miniature cotton wool ‘chutes and gossamer life straps. Apparently, it’s a way of spreading the survival options, and avoiding all being eaten at once, but none of us had ever seen it before – astonishing (again) and mildly distracting at times.
Having come across Simon Dell, the dowsing-friendly retired Tavistock community constable in the car park as we assembled, I was aware that he was leading a group of primary school children around the Merrivale archaeology at the same time that we were doing our circumnavigation of the complex. What actually transpired was that the two groups sort of collided at one end of the stone rows, with the result that a dozen adult dowsers with varying outlooks, did their best to teach twenty odd very young people, and their teacher, how to dowse with no introduction to the subject whatsoever!
The outcome was predictably a bit chaotic, but many of them, including the teacher, picked it up within a couple of minutes. In so doing, they were months ahead of myself as a rookie dowser 30 years ago. True, the bit about looking for underground water was a bit like dad-dancing, but hey, they discovered that you could find sensible stuff, like marshmallows, too. I almost felt the stern Colonel A.H. Bell, DSO, founder of the BSD, turning in his grave, but who knows, maybe he liked marshmallows too.
Perhaps as a consequence of this diversion, I forgot the bit about the detrimental energy streaming out of the quarry and through the stones, so we had to retrace our steps a bit. Such was the interactive nature of the group that before long we were wondering if anyone had died in the quarry, which might be something to do with the detrimental line. This went on to finding that several deaths had occurred in the quarry over the centuries – and also at another quarry workings in the direction of the line, but to the east of the site. Someone with local knowledge happened to mention that a Dartmoor Jail prisoner, a ‘mad axe man’ was reputed to have been killed in the quarry in the 1950’s, which had someone else feeling called to try to release him. To cut a long story short, not only did she appear to release the former criminal, but all the other souls went too.
My walk-on part in all this excitement was to find the line in the first place, and then to find that it had gone – not just neutralised, but disappeared. Some of us have been trying to dampen down the detriment here for donkey’s years, but we were working on the assumption that the line was caused by physical quarry damage to earth energies, not to incomplete deaths in situ. I will be fascinated to check if the detriment has ceased altogether. If so, even more astonishing.
We had a good debate about the nature of the lines running down the stone rows – energy leys, lines of consciousness, processional paths (and it was interesting to note that the children had naturally processed down one of the rows) energy lines forming a complex braiding, different colours, maybe even different sounds, ‘blocking’ stones, the position of cists, the dating of different types of stone, sockets of missing stones . . .
I was asked if the leat running between the two stone rows was part of the original ground plan. My head said that a Georgian or Victorian leat was not a megalith artefact, but my dowsing was more equivocal. Apparently, the leat is a canalised stream that had existed from the ancient days, and was indeed a core element of the complex. Back to the drawing board yet again!
As is my wont, we finished up on the reave. I find the energy and dowsing at this part of the platform suggests that it was actually once the most significant part of the whole site. Here, the stones dowse as having been much more massive than those that remain – and therefore much more interesting to the stone cutters. Some of the half cut remnants indicate the lengths that the cutters would go to extract a decent piece of granite.
With most of the original uprights now toppled, the appearance, apart from the general shape of the linear embankment, is of a string of natural rocks lying across the open moorland. Yet the dowsing tells a completely different story, with many rocks being fallen menhirs, and others having been cut up and dragged away over the intervening centuries. The energy patterns, braiding and water features all indicate that this may once have looked a bit like other parts of the Merrivale site, but on a much grander scale.
We stopped at 3.00 – there’s only so much astonishment you can take in a day.
Nigel Twinn , Tamar Dowsers/ Devon Dowsers, September 2018