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Dartmoor: A Landscape Study

Klemen, PK; (2015) Dartmoor: A Landscape Study. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

At the heart of Devon in the southwest of England lies Dartmoor, a large expanse of high moorland and rocky tors. Anyone who has visited Dartmoor or seen photographs and read about it will have their own personal images and feelings for the place, which will be as varied as the landscape. Over recent years landscape approaches have adopted strategies to understand how people experience and perceive the landscape that surrounds them (Ingold 2000, Thomas 1999, Tilley 1994). Phenomenology attempts to reveal the world as it actually is experienced by the subject as opposed to how we might theoretically assume it to be (Tilley 2004a). Writers such as Casey (1996, 2000, 2001, 2008), himself influenced by Merleau-Ponty, consider the body as vital and fundamental in perceiving, understanding and familiarising oneself with the landscape. Issues of memory, place, attachment and cosmology are nested within the landscape and remains of human activity, both past and present. Anthropology has demonstrated how peoples’ understanding and perception of the landscape structures moral codes and practice (Basso 1996) and kinship affiliation and re-negotiation (Gow 1996). Therefore, the focus of this study is to understand how peoples’ experiences in the Bronze Age and in the present were/are structured by the landscape characteristics (topography, geology) of Dartmoor. Applying a ’contextual’ approach to the past and present peoples’ involvements with the landscape, it is hoped that a better understanding of how their embodied experiences were structured by their involvement with the Dartmoor landscape. There are three aspects to the study. One focuses on the Bronze Age remains of two specific areas in Southern Dartmoor to approach the question of prehistoric engagements. Secondly, using structured and unstructured interviews the aim is to understand how Dartmoor as a whole continues to structure peoples’ experiences and how they become embodied. The third aspect considers how the Moor is ‘imaged’ and the contrasting views between different groups. The aim is to demonstrate how peoples’ perception of Dartmoor’s landscape are formed and continued to be structured by its particular characteristics expressed through literature and issues of conservation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Dartmoor: A Landscape Study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1348770
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