Wednesday, 9 October 2013

A clapper bridge and Lydford Law.

Yesterday, after getting the grandsprogs up, dressed, washed, fed and delivered to school we felt we deserved a bit of down time so we headed off, up onto Dartmoor. In the past, as there was little usable wood on the moor, stone was used for most things and on the moor that meant granite, a hard and difficult stone.

Most places the gateposts would be made of wood with a wooden gate hung from them. On the moor it was stone and the gate consisted of, in this case, four poles. One end inserted into the holes of one post and the other dropped into the L shaped slot. Simple. I've never come across any still in use but I expect there may be.
We went as far as Postbridge, a small hamlet halfway between Princetown, of prison fame, and Moretonhampstead.

Its most famous feature, actually its only one of note, is the ancient clapper bridge across the East Dart. It was probably built in the 13thC to enable the tinners to bring the tin down by packhorse to the stannary town of Tavistock. Crockern Tor, where the Dartmoor Stannary Parliament was held, is only a mile or so away. Obviously tin was the big thing around here in the past. In fact Dartmoor was almost a self governing state within a state, ruled by the stannators. It had its own customs, laws, courts and gaol. This was Lydford Castle on the western edge of the moor, it was not a pleasant place, in 1512 it was described as, "One of the most hainous, contagious and detestable places in the realm." The justice meted out there became a byword for injustice, the poem about it sums it up.

I've often heard of Lydford law,
How in the morn they hang and draw,
And sit in judgement after.

Well the stannaries are gone, the castle is a ruin and tin is no longer mined on the moor, but the scars it has left are still highly visible.
Then it was back to collect the kids from school, feed, bath and get them into bed. Where does the time go?

Watch this space...........

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