The main of the three Merrivale
stone rows is 264 metres (865 feet) long
Dartmoor is littered with the relics of prehistoric sites. Unfortunately, to visit most of them necessitates a
long walk across rough terrain, and the moorland is a dangerous place to get lost. The Merrivale stone rows,
however, are within sight of the B3357 road. Nearby are also a stone circle
and a standing stone.
On Dartmoor there are over 60 known stone rows, but the most impressive examples are also the
most inaccessible. These rows, some of which have little cairn-circles at their higher ends, are still an enigma:
no one knows for sure why they were built.
They are not for astronomical observation. They are too low, too far-stretched across the waves
of moorland, too sinuous for any sightings along them. And when they are double, they are too narrow (usually less than 1m - 3ft wide) for a procession.
Some rows are in good condition, but most have been robbed of many of their stones for walls and roads.
Merrivale there are three rows: two double and a single. Both the doubles run east to west, but they are not parallel. The
first one you reach from the road is 182m (596ft) long, and it contains some 170 stones, but some
are very small. Further south -27m (30 yds)- is a longer row (264m - 865ft) containing over 200 stones. Its
eastern end is blocked by a large triangular stone.
The third row, the single one, is very short (43m - 140ft) and with very few stones, leading in a south-westerly
The Dartmoor stone rows belong to a period well into the second millennium BC, when earlier
traditions had become overlain with local variations in ceremonial.