by Sandy Gerrard
On a pleasant day Bodmin Moor is clearly visible from Dartmoor. Yet it was not until the 1970’s that Martin Fletcher of the Royal Commission identified the first stone row in the area. Since that time others have been discovered and recorded. It’s funny how the discovery of one site rapidly led to the identification of others. Plans of seven rows appear in “Bodmin Moor – An archaeological survey Volume 1: The human landscape to c 1800” by Nicholas Johnson and Peter Rose published in 1994. This publication makes a number of interesting comparative points between the Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor rows and would seem fairly helpful in any consideration of that “line of stones” at Mynydd y Betws.
The Bodmin Moor volume notes (green text below):
The Bodmin Moor rows, like the Dartmoor examples, are orientated in the north-east to south-west quadrants
[Mynydd Y Betws is orientated north-east to south-west]
and exhibit certain noteworthy characteristics:
a If they are on a slope, however slight, the lower end is the southerly end.
[The lower end is the southerly end at Mynydd y Betws]
b Six of the seven rows have taller stones, transverse stones, or other structures at the southern terminal.
[The largest stone at Mynydd y Betws is at the southern terminal]
c There are two distinct types of row: (1) those with small stones and small gaps between the stones and (2) those with larger stones and larger gaps between the stones.
[Mynydd y Betws has small stones and small gaps]
Four out of four is not bad. So the Mynydd y Betws stone alignment shares the broad characteristics of the Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor stone rows as identified by the Royal Commission, English Heritage and Cornwall Archaeological Unit. Any claims for a different interpretation will obviously need to explain why these characteristics are not pertinent and furthermore provide equally persuasive parallels for any alternative explanations. Simply stating that there is no dating evidence, will not suffice. Most Dartmoor rows and all of the Bodmin Moor rows would also fall at this hurdle.
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