Sunday, 29 November 2015

West Country – South Zeal, Menhir … part 4 …



Lunch was to be along the coach road or turnpike lane at The Oxenham Arms … full of history and ancient finds … and only about ten minutes away … we’d been a-wandering and looking in the area, so were happy to have a lunch recommendation …

Oxenham Arms covered in autumnal
Virginia Creeper - gorgeous


Now I take you back to the Triassic period – 225 million years ago – the world was in a huge period of change – the continents were shifting into place …





… Pangea was still around, Gondwana had not split apart yet … Britain was beginning to form, and was moving towards its present position … see another of my magical rough blue pencil marks!
 
The blue circle is where Britain is being formed ... we have travelled
some - we were down by Antartica at one stage ... and we are still
in two parts ... one day I'll do a post!

Early dinosaurs walked the earth … the granite of Dartmoor, used in the floors and walls of The Oxenham Arms was formed 290 – 300 million years ago as the earth’s crusts collided forming granite magma.


Unusual granite entrance arch

The climate during the Triassic period was considerably warmer than Devon today being much like Indonesia … petrified agatised fossil wood found in the locality matches that found in Madagascar … a dinosaur could have brushed against the West Country trees 225 million years ago.





South Zeal village
 Caves found in Devon are famed for the remains of extinct animals and evidence of man’s early occupation of our islands – bones of hyenas, woolly rhinoceros, cave lion, cave bear, reindeer, sabre-tooth tiger and bison.



Smilodon - sculpted by
Erich Oehme (1064) - to be
found in Tierpark Berlin 


The Sabre-Tooth Tiger or Smilodon looked similar to a cat … however they were heavy weights and more the size of a horse.  As you can see its two front teeth were over 12 inches long.



This ‘Granite Squeezing’ formed minerals including the copper and tin of the West country … these metals were exploited by the Bronze Age peoples around 4,000 years ago …


Suit of Armour outside the dining room


… with extensive trading being built up between Britain and what we now know as Europe, down south to Mesopotamia in the Middle East.  Fur routes on the rivers had opened up trading routes across northern Europe …





Details re the Menhir ... 




The Oxenham Arms at South Zeal has one last hidden treasure, which has been built into this Coaching Inn.







Around 1,000 years before Stonehenge, Neolithic man carved the South Zeal Menhir Standing Stone from granite (i.e. 6,000 years ago)  ...

… then in the early 12th century Benedictine Monks built a Monastery around the Standing Stone … now to be found in the ‘Snug Bar’ in the middle of the hotel.


 As you can see in the photo … the Menhir is at least 25 feet in height … archaeological digs in the 1930s dug down another 14 feet and DID NOT REACH the bottom of the stone … so how long it is no-one, for now, knows …


Shale Rock at Hope's Nose on the south Devon
coast; there's a raised beach here ... showing
that the sea levels were much higher


It was found to be embedded in shale rock and was most likely used for ceremonial purposes.   Shale rock is composed of mud that is a mix of flakes … and ‘easily’ splinters.






Model of Captain Oxenham's ship


Captain John Oxenham, Earl of Oxenham, sailed with Drake, and was the first sea captain to sail the Pacific before the fate of gold and the Spaniards caught up with him – he was executed before Drake could rescue him.





‘The Ox’ has been featured in many novels including Charles Kingsley’s “Westward Ho” … Charles Dickens wrote Pickwick Papers here, Admiral Nelson, the Reverend Sabine Baring Gould, who wrote the hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’, have stayed here …


It was an interesting place for lunch before we hot-footed down to the coast and our next night at Paignton.  We both had the game terrine with apple and damson chutney.


We were happy to see this former 12th century monastery built around a pre-historic standing stone … and were glad not to have missed the sight of South Zeal Menhir!


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

34 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I am always fascinated with the way early Christianity happily absorbed some of the artefacts and sentiments of pre-existing religions.
Another tremendous history post. Thank you.

damyantiwrites said...

Thanks for the lesson on the Menhirs. lovely pictures and narrative, as usual.

mail4rosey said...

I do love to explore pieces of history. And can you even imagine coming across that cat in real life? Oy!! Happy to read your post, and wishing you a wonderful week!

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

That is so cool! I love all that really old stuff! LOL

Jo said...

It is interesting how the British Isle were formed. Saw a programme about it on TV a couple of years ago. Plus the fact that most of Scotland is not joined to England at all.

I think they tried to dig the Easter Island statues out and couldn't find the bottom either. Incredible what our ancestors achieved when they were not supposed to have the technology to do so.

Wish I had spent more time in Devon and Cornwall.

Rhodesia said...

Love this post, so sad these animals are extinct. The way things are going there are going to be a lot more extinct soon!!!! Have a good week Diane

Joanne said...

I've enjoyed your tour, digging deeper into the rock. I want to tuck into the "Snug Bar" Love the earlier pic of the Virginia Creeper vine - wow, so glorious. Somehow your posts always make me hungry. Time to go poke into the fridge. Thanks for an enjoyable read

Dianne K. Salerni said...

I love all this ancient history! Keep it coming!

DMS said...

Wow! Such history and beauty. So glad to be taking the journey with you through your words and pictures. :)
~Jess

Truedessa said...

I am glad I stopped over this is a very interesting post. Time traveling through history.

Ana coelho said...

So interesting Hilary! And imagine coming across that cat....Love your writings. take care...Ana.

Janie Junebug said...

I adore your blog. I'll probably never get to England, but at least you provide me with a taste of it.

Love,
Janie

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - yes religion in early times is fascinating ... and often as you so rightly say just absorbed the rites and ideas they found in various countries or were used by communities of peoples. Delighted you enjoyed this.

@ Damyanti - am happy to let loose some history! That Menhir was amazing ..

@ Rosey - I'd hate to see that cat coming out of a cave! I'd never heard of that early creature before - he's ferocious. Glad you enjoyed it.

@ Holly - lovely to see you here ... lots of old stuff in little old England.

@ Jo - yes Scotland really belongs to North America/Labrador area ... and ended up 'plonked' on the rest of Britain ... it's a wonder: the plates moving around the earth.

Now you remind me about the Easter Island statues I think you're right ... yes it is extraordinary how those early peoples moved things around and created these wondrous works of art.

Devon and Cornwall are fascinating, as too so much of the UK ...

@ Diane - thanks ... we are losing so much of our life (flora and fauna) in our present times ... which will also make a huge impact on human's life. Your point is so true.

@ Joanne - so glad you're enjoying the tour around. There were log fires to sit around ... we could easily have snuggled further in. Great you enjoyed the Virginia Creeper - it was spectacular. Am sure your fridge provided some sustenance!

@ Dianne - yes more is coming ... different eras.

@ Jess - am very happy to have you come along with me on my tour

@ Michele - delighted to see you ... and thank you for commenting.

@ Ana - that cat would scare me rigid, I suspect! Thank you re the writing ...

@ Janie - thanks so much ... it's lovely to read you enjoy being here. It's good to know you can feel you're here in Britain with us through the posts ...

Thanks everyone - that is some ancient history here .. which fascinated me too ... cheers Hilary

Patsy said...

A sabre tooth tiger must have been an impressive sight - though maybe those who saw them were more concerned with keeping to a safe distance.

Christine Rains said...

Love that colorful creeper too. Thank you for the history lesson today. I do wonder how deep the menhir goes.

Bish Denham said...

What I'm curious about is how those stone aged people moved those stones.

I most interesting geologic history taking us from the distant past to the present.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Patsy - yes the sabre-toothed tiger certainly looks very imposing ... I'd be disappearing somewhere!

@ Christine - the Virginia Creeper is at its best in the Autumn and here it definitely was lovely. I'd have thought they could have found out how deep the Menhir does go .. via new scientific earth searching below the surface (can't think of the right name)!

@ Bish - they've tried to work out how the stones were moved, let alone carved ... using wooden 'poles' (which they would have had to make) ... there are various tv programmes, where they've made some guesses or emulated their ideas.

This post was great to write .. as the Oxenham Arms had the information waiting for me to write up ... and I enjoy the learning and reminders of history from it ...

Thanks so much ... cheers Hilary

Murees Dupé said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Murees Dupé said...

Fantastic information. I always love reading more about your adventures. It must have been magical seeing the Standing Stone up close. Thank you for always encouraging me. Have a lovely week.

Out on the prairie said...

Lovely share of facts, I was a assistant in a Geology class.

beste barki said...

So many things to know, so many things to see. Thank you for the first hand account of these wonderful places Hilary.

Karen Lange said...

Appreciate you sharing your adventure with us. Can you imagine coming upon a saber tooth tiger? That would be a scary sight for sure. Glad your trip was a good one! :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What an interesting geologic history and knowing how it shaped later history because of the mineral like copper that were later used. I didn't know sabretooth tigers were so wide-spread but I guess it was just one big world then.

Chrys Fey said...

Walking through those caves and seeing those fossils would be neat.

Chrys Fey said...

Walking through those caves and seeing those fossils would be neat.

Denise Covey said...

It is amazing how such large blocks of land travelled so far in the past. No wonder we see such similarities with some lands when we travel. Just a hunk off ours! When we visited New Caledonia we could have been travelling in Queensland some of the time. Intriguing! Great series, Hilary! Thank you.

Denise :-)

Nick Wilford said...

That is definitely a fascinating feature to end up as part of a pub. Moving and raising these stones is a mindboggling feat to have accomplished at the time. I like places that have associations with literature as well.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Murees - am happy to have you along and sharing some of my journey with you. Writers need encouragement .. so go for it!

@ Steve - interesting you were a geology assistant - geography and geology .. I enjoy them both and the facts that are thrown out ...

@ Beste - yes there were lots of things to see and absorb, so I'm happy you're enjoying the trip with me.

@ Karen - it's good to see you here and the thought of a sabre tooth tiger around the corner would terrify me! The trip's been fun - no tigers found.

@ Susan - we so easily forget the world was one big group of tectonic plates at one stage in our earthly existence - and as you mention finding the minerals that shaped our future. Animals and plants were found where they could survive ...

@ Chrys - they are still finding fossils in deep and hidden caves - they've recently found some in South Africa ... far underground. I'm sure many more will be still be found in the UK and other countries.

@ Denise - yes the movement of the tectonic plates is fascinating. Interesting you spotted similarities between Queensland and your visit to New Caledonia recently. It's being fun ... giving the tour a series rather than one post, as I did last year.

@ Nick - certainly if we hadn't been told we had to visit the pub and thus the South Zeal Menhir ... we'd have missed it altogether. I was thrilled to have it mentioned to us. It was fascinating ...

Cheers everyone - so glad you're happy travelling with me on the tour .. Hilary

Jeffrey Scott said...

I love reading about Pangea. Kind of cool to think of one big super continent. If plate tectonics were not a thing, and Pangea existed to this day, I wonder how different the world would be.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jeffrey - yes I find finding out about Pangea fascinating too .. and seeing how far those apparently immutable objects do move over time. Well we certainly wouldn't have a world as we know it today and I'm certain we, as we are now, wouldn't be here ... but the thought exists ... "if .."

Thanks and I'm so glad Pangea hit the mark for you .. cheers Hilary

Lynn said...

That tiger would be terrifying - love seeing that sculpture.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lynn - any of those creatures likely to pop out of a cave would worry me! But the sculpture is magnificent isn't it .. cheers Hilary

Deniz Bevan said...

Oh my! I hadn't known about any of this. Adding the pub and town to our next UK visit wishlist...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Deniz - the pub is very interesting ... don't know about staying - we looked in for lunch ... it's near Drewsteignton ... but delighted you're adding it in to your wish-list ... cheers Hilary