Isle of Albion
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Easily accessible cluster of monuments on the edge of Dartmoor.
Photographed: Sunday 1st August 2004
Other Names: The Plague Market
Site rating:  

Merrivale is a unique complex of Neolithic remains situated on a plateau within close proximity of the B3357 on Dartmoor. It consists of three stone rows, a large outlying standing stone, two burial cists and a pair of stone circles.

The smaller stone circle is the most visually striking. It contains seven stones, is approximately 3.5m in diameter and contains the remains of a burial cist at its centre.

The larger of the two circles contains eleven stones and has a diameter of roughly 20m. A short distance from this circle, an outlying menhir rises to a height of three meters.

The longest of the stone rows runs for approximately 265 meters and contains over 200 stones. The second row contains around 170 stones and runs for around 180 meters. The third row is the least impressive, running for only 45 meters.

The larger of the two cists is quite distinctive, featuring a large, broken capstone. This was apparently butchered to provide stone for a local gatepost.

The Merrivale site is alternatively know as "The Plague Market". During the Tavistock plague outbreak of 1625, food was left here for the banished victims.

Easy access from the road makes this site a pleasure to visit after some of the more challenging Dartmoor monuments. A brief stroll from the car park and you're in the heart of megalithic theme park. Everywhere you look, it seems that there's more to see. It's hard to believe civilisation is only a minute behind you.

When I visited in August, I was lucky enough to catch Merrivale on a scorching summer's day. This meant that the cool stream running alongside the site was the perfect spot for soothing tired feet. Sitting ankle-deep in running water, taking in the atmosphere and contemplating the stones, the worries of the world seemed very far away.