Museum of Dartmoor Life

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The Museum of Dartmoor Life is a gateway to the rich history of Dartmoor. Situated in a cobbled courtyard in Okehampton, the museum exhibits a vast collection of objects spanning 5,000 years of life on Dartmoor from the Bronze Age through to the mid-20th Century. We also provide The Visitor Information Point for Okehampton.

Devon & South West love us! Proud recipients of the 2023-24 Silver Award (Best Small Visitor Attraction, Devon) and the Bronze Award (South West).

Explore our collection

Nature

Dartmoor’s protected landscape is abundant with wildlife on its granite tors, peat bogs, ancient woodlands, sweeping moorland and wildflower meadows.

Prehistoric Dartmoor

If only stones could talk! Humans have made Dartmoor home for 10,000 years, and its archaeology tells their stories.

Living on Dartmoor

From the Bronze age onwards Dartmoor has been a busy place. Both locals and invaders have helped shape life as it is today.

Working on Dartmoor

Starting with the first hunter gatherers and followed by millennia of farming, mining and the wool industry, Dartmoor has always been a working landscape.

Myths & Legends

Oral traditions explain how people perceive the world, they transmit customs and values and also can help shape behaviour.

Transport & Travel

People have always traversed the moor, with packhorses carrying goods on the Jobbers Road, locals carrying their dead along the coffin trails and railways bringing opportunities.

The Stark Reality of Rural Living

“The Stark Reality of Rural Living” is a digital presentation by MED Theatre, a Dartmoor community arts company, that explores the complex history of Dartmoor. Originally a museum exhibit funded by Historic England, this presentation delves into the realities of life on Dartmoor, showcasing the challenges and rewards through informative displays, oral histories, and recordings from Dartmoor residents.

News

Free Needle Felting Workshops led by Yuli Somme

 As part of our 2025 exhibition ‘A Shroud for Mother Nature – Is Dartmoor Dying?’ funded by the Royal Society, we will be offering needle felting sessions. Led by experienced felter Yuli Somme, we will be decorating a shroud cover with Dartmoor endangered species. No experience necessary just a willingness to learn and a love of Dartmoor. Experienced people also welcomed to help us create the centre piece for next year’s exhibition.

6 workshops over 3 days. 5th, 12th and 26th July 2024 either 10am – 1pm or 2pm – 5pm. To book a space please email manager@dartmoorlife.org.uk

Maximum of 6 people per session.

Unmasking Magic & Myth through talks

We are excited to unveil a series of engaging talks that delve into the captivating world of folklore and customs, enriching our ongoing exhibition, “Magic and Myth.”

These talks, held in the Museum’s John Young Gallery, will feature a lineup of local authorities, each highly respected in their area of expertise.

We are incredibly thankful to the wonderful individuals who helped create ‘Magic and Myth. They are not only experts in their fields but also engaging speakers. These talks promise to be truly fascinating!

The talks will explore a range of intriguing subjects, including the legendary Black Dogs of Dartmoor, the rich history of herbalism and its role in local traditions, the enduring power of folklore, and the captivating world of Dartmoor witches.

Space is limited, with only 25 tickets available per talk. Tickets are priced at £6 each and can be purchased in person at the Museum reception. Don’t miss out – it’s first come, first served!

Please visit the Talks page for information about the talks and our brilliant speakers.  Click here

Dartmoor stories

Early Vicars of Okehampton

At the meeting of the Devonshire Association at Okehampton in 1925, Mr T Cann Hughes read a paper on the...
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Piskies – Are You A Believer?

Ever since visitors have been arriving to experience and enjoy Dartmoor, those with a nose for business have been selling...
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I Am a Cider Drinker!

A recent acquisition for our museum collection is a wonderful, small cider barrel. Just as today we may carry around...
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Safety First

On the first floor of the Museum, under a perspex box for protection, is an item that itself was used...
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Dartmoor Under the Microscope

On the back stairs of the Museum, in a collector’s cabinet, is a small brass microscope. In the Museum’s archive...
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A Touch of the Vapours

This expression is often used today when being melodramatic or just for comedic effect, but for centuries it was associated...
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Sir Hugh de Courtenay & Commonality of Okehampton Common’s Rights Agreement (1292)

From Vol 1 of the History of Okehampton by EHY.. Document in Old English is typed into Volume 1 of...
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Early History of St James Chapel

​ St. James was built as a Chantry Chapel where Prayers were said for the souls of the dead. It...
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The Vicar of Okehampton in 1385 and his Goods and Chattels

A fascinating glimpse into the life of a wealthy Mediaeval occupant of Okehampton.10 September 1375  In the calendar of Patent...
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Pennies from Heaven

In a glass case on the top floor of the Museum of Dartmoor Life is a small wooden collecting box...
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Okehampton Historical Notes

Digitised by Jan Goffey, a Museum Trustee Original Book typed by Dr Edward Herbert Young (1862-1932). He lived at Darley...
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GL Wardle – A fascinating character from Okehampton’s Past

The gentleman pictured is indeed the Honourable Gwyllym Lloyd WARDLE, Esquire.  MP for Okehampton 1807 – 1812 n.b. Gwyllym is...
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First mention of Okehampton Circa 970 AD

Image of Leofric Missal : Bodleian Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons Vol 1 pg 109 History of Okehampton by...
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The Importance of Almshouses

Do you know there are fifteen almshouses in Okehampton? Where are they, what are they, and why are they so...
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The Peat Industry on Dartmoor

Peat has been exploited on Dartmoor for centuries, both for domestic use and as a commercial product. In the 19th...
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Dartmoor Wool Walk

A group of strangers gathered outside the Princetown tourist information centre on a misty Sunday morning. They had one thing...
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Squeeze Boxes on Dartmoor

Squeeze boxes are a type of traditional musical instrument that is found on Dartmoor. They are made of wood and...
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The Military on Dartmoor

The first real involvement of the military on Dartmoor in (relatively) recent times was to guard prisoners of war in...
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Colouring Wool on Dartmoor

The history of dyeing wool on Dartmoor is a long and fascinating one. For centuries, the people of Dartmoor have...
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High Days and Holidays

Nothing transformed the leisure activities of the Victorians more than the railways. The wealthy had always travelled but train trips...
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