Dear Bernard, Thank you for your interesting response. I am sorry to hear of your sad loss, but will do my best to give your mind an alternative focus.
I have been a Guide for the Dartmoor National Park for over thirty years, and met Andrew Fleming fairly early on. He managed to persuade me that the Dartmoor Reaves were boundaries, and I continued to quote his book for the next twenty years.
I could never see the sense in constructing pointless boundaries for imagined territories, so eventually I decided to take a good look at his book, and the raised banks in question. I subsequently realised that Fleming failed to give any evidence for his theory, and that some of the local archaeologists were puzzled by his work. In his book he quotes the work of William Crossing who wrote a Dartmoor Guide book. He makes great play of the "Common sense" of Crossing who could not see that reaves could possibly be trackways because they went through cairns and tors.
scientists are wary of common sense these days because it is often a way of claiming something to be true without giving evidence.What Crossing failed to realise was that pack animals needed firm ground to walk on, and it made good sense to take them on the ridges of the hills where possible. Pack animals can cope with stony ground, but soon get bogged down in deep peat.All over the country raised tracks were created over wet and boggy ground to accomodate pack animals, and I suggest that the tin traders and miners of Dartmoor were no exception.
Unfortunatly once a theory has been widely accepted it is a mammoth task to shift it.
Bernard, you say that you have been weighing up the evidence on either side. I would be happy if you could show me the evidence in favour of a boundary solution,(no one else has so far), and I would be prepared to take you out onto the moor and show you the evidence in favour of a raised track or causeway function for the Dartmoor Reaves.
Beat Wishes, Roger.
> Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 17:44:19 -0500
> From: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: More pack animals!
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Dear Roger,
> I have been watching this subject for some while, and, indeed, have been
> weighing up the 'evidence' one way and another.
> This matter is unfortunately somewhat fraught with varied opinions from
> different professional opinion, and, to date - it seems - never the twain
> shall meet. I consider this a pity, since, with proper open and considered
> debate, the matter will not be resolved. My opinion is that there are factors
> to be considered on both sides... oh how this sounds like sitting on the
> fence... not so.
> From what I have read recently ( and I am not at this stage going to quote
> same, simply for the reason that my Mother died yesterday and am not up to
> fine detail just at the moment), that there is every reason to believe that
> raised 'was' were erected for the passage of packhorse routes. They were
> indeed many and in varied construction.
> Old passage routes (W.Country particularly), were historically many and
> varied, and followed all sorts of boundaries. They indeed criss-crossed all
> over the place, simply due to whatever Port, destination or market they had
> to reach... furthermore, and to complicate matters further, there were other
> older routes that were partially or directly followed that were non mining
> related, but, in some way shape or form became incorporated. This leads to
> the question of what was where first... and there were many, BUT, the
> packhorse routes needed a sounder construction... however... so did the main
> footway routes... of which there were many. Do not forget we are not talking
> about wagon or coach ways, these either followed entirely new routes due to
> terrain, or partially followed the old routes where they were able.
> Ok, this does not answer the original question of these so called
> boundaries - or whatever one may call them. Raised 'walls' are common in some areas
> for the use of packhorses. I have seen them myself. Such elevated
> constructions can easily be mistaken for simple boundaries. Moorland terrain makes
> this judgement even more difficult, but as far the West country is
> concerned, don't be blinkered into thinking that such constructions are only to be
> found there.
> What I have said might stimulate conversation I hope. I am looking for
> something to take my mind off things, and such a seemingly volatile subject
> might just be the thing!!!
> Regards, Bernard
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