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The Merrivale complex is situated approximately 4.5 miles east of Tavistock, off the B3357. There is a car park at (approx) grid reference SX553750 from which the complex can be easily accessed.

The complex consists in the main of a pair of stone rows (head roughly south of south-west from the carpark to be sure of finding these), a stone circle and an outlying standing stone. Several burial cairns and kistvaens scatter the area. To the north of the road is the remains of a much later tin-mining settlement and a modern quarry (which closed in 1997). The area of the stone rows to the south of the road is also known as the ‘Plague Market’, supposedly since provisions for Tavistock were left here during an outbreak of plague.

The two stone rows run roughly parallel, E-W and each consist of pairs of stones. There are blocking stones at the end of the rows, and the southern row is bisected by a kistvaen. A small leat runs between the two rows. The pairs of stones that make up the rows are set 3-4 feet apart allowing a visitor, should one choose, to walk between the stones along each row.

Merrivale Stone Row. © AlanS

Merrivale Stone Row with central kistvaen © AlanS

To the south of the avenues is a large kistvaen, the ‘lid’ of which was broken in two by a farmer sometime in the past who made a gatepost out of it. Numerous tors are visible from the site, including King’s Tor and Staple Tor.

Merrivale Kistvaen © AlanS

The stone circle, consisting of 11 stones some of which have been added in 19thC restorations, lies some 150 yards south of the western end of the rows. A fine menhir, some 12 feet or so in height lies a further 50 yards south, close to a modern field wall.

Merrivale Stone Circle © AlanS

Merrivale Menhir © AlanS

There is an in-depth description of Merrivale and the surrounding landscape on the Legendary Dartmoor web site. For those who wish to delve deeper into this fascinating area, and the wider regions of Dartmoor, we cannot recommend this website highly enough.


November 2011

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