Dartmoor Explorations

A collection of walks, discoveries, insights and pictures of exploring Dartmoor National Park

Robert Burnard: 1848-1920

Robert Burnard Picture from Devonshire Association
This blog is a tribute to Robert Burnard, who died 100 years ago (15th April 1920).

Robert Burnard was an eminent writer / photographer and established the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) in 1883. In 1887 he published his first paper on Dartmoor’s antiquities. He was the grandfather of Sylvia Sayer, who continued the DPA work at the latter end of the 20th Century

By all accounts, Robert Burnard was very thorough but at the same time quite conscious but the existing archaeological knowledge of Dartmoor was somewhat superficial.

He decided systematically excavate some prehistoric hut circles under a group called the Devonshire Association’s Dartmoor Exploration Committee. More information can be found at:

This blog shows an attempted recreation of one of Robert Burnards pictures from his wonderful pictorial collection at the Challacombe stone row from around 1893. The original picture can be seen at:

https://dartmoortrust.org/archive/record/3444

This photograph is captioned as Headland Warren Row. It is now known as Challacombe Stone Row. The group (left to right) were rev. S. Baring-Gould, rev. Gordon Gray, Dr Prowse and Mr Wilder

Burnard 1
The 2020 recreation of the Robert Burnard original from 1893. The 2020 photographer is Frank Collinson
Burnard 2
This is the north end of the stone row with Hookney Tor on the horizon
Burnard 3
Playing the role of the seated Mr Wilder.
Burnard 4
Playing the role of Dr Prowse
Burnard 5
Playing the role of rev. Gordon Gray.
Burnard 6
Playing the role of rev. Sabine Baring-Gould.
Sabine Baring-Gould came from Lew House at Lewtrenchard and met Robert Burnard in the 1880s at meetings of archaeological societies to which they both belonged.
Between 1894 and 1906, Robert, Sabine and others were involved in an intensive programme of excavation and restoration, of settlements and ceremonial sites.
Burnard 7
Looking south down the row. In the Jeremy Butler, Atlas of Antiquities – the north (map 24), it is stated, that the row was first reported in 1828, when most of the stones had fallen. Butler continues: “a few within the rows were re-erected by Burnard and Baring-Gould in 1893……alongside this they also re-erected a some further 14 stones in a haphazard position in which they were found making a very strange arrangement”. I tend to agree with Butler that this row does look a bit “scruffy” compared with most other rows around the moor.

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