Set within the beautiful parish of Whitchurch, the Merrivale hamlet was previously the hub of prehistoric life. Idyllically situated at the crossing of the River Walkham and dominated by the spoil tip from the recently closed Granite Quarry, Merrivale offers an insightful view into our past.
Once the setting for prehistoric life, the Merrivale Settlement is believed to have been built during the Bronze Age. It contains the remains of at least thirty six hut circles and four separate enclosures suggesting a significant settlement was once based there.
In fact, evidence suggests that the site was lived on for a number of centuries as it is highly likely that the ritual stones on the site belong to several different periods.
Alongside the obvious signs of human life, a number of earthen mounds have been discovered. These have been traditionally associated with burial rituals and suggest that such practices were followed at the site.
But visitors to Merrivale should be careful when looking for evidence of prehistoric rituals. A rounded stone at the site has previously been mistaken for a burial site or tomb marker. In actual fact the stone was used for crushing apples and was likely used in the making of cider. However, for those interested in ancient burial practices, an example of a stone-lined tomb can be viewed further along the site.
Whilst very few artifacts were ever found in Merrivale, the huts still offer a unique visual to prehistoric life. In 1985 the site was excavated by Dartmoor Exploration Committee and this has led to further clues about the people who once lived there. Of the 36 huts, 16 have visible doorwarts and whilst only two fireplaces were identified, every hut contained remnants of charcoal.
Looking for travelling tips while in the area? Have a read of our Journal.