Hound Tor- look out for the ghostly huntsman!
Dartmoor is a wild, rugged but also inhabited landscape, formed over 300 million years ago and populated from around 10,00 years ago to the present. The landscape is dominated by granite tors towering up out of the bracken and it is home to many species of wildlife, birds and plants making it a tourist destination since Victorian times. It is also home to Dartmoor farmers and their cattle and sheep, as well as the famous wild Dartmoor ponies and is now a National Park, hopefully protected from development in the future.
Hound Tor and Hound Tor medieval village are the focus of our first free excursion this year for our adult students this coming Thursday 13.01.22 and we are looking forward to exploring the area and history with them (weather permitting of course!).
Our students at Hound Tor summer 2021
Hound Tor itself is famous because of its links with one of England's foremost crime writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writing towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. He created Sherlock Holmes, the brilliant detective, and his assistant Dr Watson, who solve crimes through deduction and analysis. Actually Conan Doyle was in advance of real crime analysis in that his fictional detective used fingerprint and footprint analysis, handwriting comparison and other forensic methods which were in their infancy in real life.
Conan Doyle was introduced to Dartmoor by a friend who took him on a tour of Dartmoor in the late 19th century. Hound Tor has various legends associated with it including the legend of a pack of ghostly hounds running across the moors at night, led by a demonic huntsman, and this story becomes part of the plot of 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. Like all Sherlock Holmes' stories, the plot is complicated and devious- and worth a read! It's also the first book after Sherlock Holmes' 'death'- so became hugely popular with his fans.
Near Hound Tor you can also see Jay's Grave, where fresh flowers appear mysteriously on the grave of a young suicide in the 19th century called Kitty Jay.
On the slopes of Hound Tor you will find the remains of the Hound Tor medieval village.
The village existed in teh 13th century and you can see the remains of homesteads in the grey walls and shape of the foundations. The village is one of the best preserved medieval villages in the UK and has been excavated several times. The interesting question is why the village was deserted? The answer seems to be because of climate change- the weather got wetter so if you were living on the high part of the moors it became too difficult to live with all the rain- and also the plague or Black Death as it was called.
This trip combines two really exciting aspects of Dartmoor in my opinion - beautiful, unspoilt landscape and impressive tors with a fascinating insight into local history and how people lived all those years ago.
We are hoping to do this trip this Thursday 13.02.22 and will post some more photographs to show you what it was like on a possibly wet January day in 2022!
If you want to join us in future trips take us up on our New Year Special offer 2022- see details here.
After the event- yup! We went to Dartmoor and had a wonderful crisp wintry day to enjoy the wild landscape and soak up the ghostly atmosphere. This photograph really shows the vastness of the landscape and our insignificance within it.
It was cold and bracing- British understatement for bitterly cold- so the students were delighted with Richard's suggestion that they thaw out in the warmth of the wonderful inn at Widecombe. Here they are, sharing lives, thoughts and ideas across four different cultures- Italy, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and England- everything that makes an English language course face to face in a multi-cultural language school an enriching and enlightening experience.