In the footsteps of the Victorians

The pace of change on Dartmoor increased dramatically during the Victorian period. Artists, industrialists and wealthy landowners all played a part using science, technology and money to make big changes.

Steam trains opened up the moor to the east and west bringing mass tourism to the moor for the first time. A line ran up the Wray Valley as far as Moretonhampstead and another linked Plymouth to Princetown. These tourists came in search of the wild beauty they had seen in landscape paintings of the time.

At the same time business men looked for opportunities to make money by using the new technologies to reopen old mines and make poor farmland productive.

With so much history preserved in the landscape the Victorians also began to study it and learned men would undertake research and investigate many of the strange features of the moor. This led to the formation of the Dartmoor Exploration Committee which undertook many archaeological excavations. Much of what we know today is based on this early work.

Recently, local historians worked together to research the impact the Victorians have had on Dartmoor, as part of Moor than meets the eye Landscape Partnership Scheme. This work showcased the impact of artists on how we view Dartmoor, through the "Wild and Wondrous Exhibition" at Exeter RAMM. They have also published their research in a book called "In the footsteps of the Victorians" which is available via info@moorthanmeetstheeye.org


Discover more of the Dartmoor Story

Use the Heritage Trails interactive map to look for Victorian records across Dartmoor,  plan your own walk or download one of the heritage trails

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