News

New for 2024: Travel through time, museum stories in sound

 

Listen to the stories behind the artifacts

We’re excited to introduce a new way to experience our museum! Now you can access informative recordings about 15 select artifacts throughout the museum.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Look for the QR code displayed next to participating artifacts.
  2. Scan the code with your smartphone camera or a QR code reader app.
  3. You’ll be directed to a webpage where you can choose to:

Listen: Play the informative audio recording about the artifact.

Or

Read: Access a transcript of the recording for easy reference.

Museum of Dartmoor Life Opens New Season with Welcoming Ceremony

The Museum of Dartmoor Life officially kicked off its new season today (18th March 2024) with a welcoming ceremony. The event marked the museum’s return for another exciting year of exploring Dartmoor’s rich heritage.

Mayor, Councillor Allenton Fisher, joined the celebration to officially open museum for 2024. Museum Manager, Kristy Turner, and Treasurer, Richard Jennings, were also present alongside the museum’s dedicated team of volunteers.

“We’re thrilled to be welcoming visitors back for another year,” said Kristy Turner. “The museum offers a unique window into the lives of the people who have shaped this remarkable landscape over centuries. We look forward to sharing the stories of Dartmoor through our captivating exhibits and our new Magic and Myth exhibition.

The museum is a vital community hub that celebrates the spirit of Dartmoor and its people. With the unwavering support of volunteers, the museum continues to be a valuable resource for locals and visitors alike”.

Museum wins Bronze at the South West Tourism Awards

Outstanding tourism businesses from across South West England were celebrating in style last night (Thursday 14 March) as 89 awards were presented at the 2023/24 South West Tourism Excellence Awards.

The annual event was the grand finale of 12 months of entry, judging and feedback as over 300 winners, supporters and tourism leaders celebrated in the Great Hall of the University of Exeter.

Amongst them was the Museum of Dartmoor Life, based in Okehampton. Manager/Curator Kristy Turner collected their Bronze award for Best Small Visitor Attraction, on behalf of the Trustees and Volunteers.

Kristy said “This is such a wonderful award to bring home to our team of amazing volunteers who are the life blood of our Museum. What a start to our new season! We open on Monday 18th March, Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm. Everyone works so hard to create a visitor experience that welcomes, educates and inspires our visitors, and keeps them coming back. We will proudly display our beautiful glass award in reception for everyone to see and we hope, knowing that this museum has been judged to be one of the best in the whole south west of England, that new visitors both locally and from far away, will come to see us. It is an amazing Museum covering 5000 years of Dartmoor history plus this year’s exhibition ‘Magic & Myth’. There is something for all ages here”.

Silver Award at Devon Tourism Awards

We are thrilled to share the exciting news that our museum has been awarded the Silver Award in the Best Small Visitor Attraction category for 2023 to 2024 during the Devon Tourism Awards ceremony held on November 16th. Debbie Pritchard and Jan Goffey, both trustees, graciously accepted the award on behalf of the museum.

This prestigious recognition is a testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone involved, particularly our Museum Manager, Kristy Turner and dedicated volunteers whose contributions have been instrumental in earning this recognition.

The Devon Tourism Awards stand as a commendation of excellence within the tourism industry in Devon. This initiative seeks to showcase the best attractions, accommodations, events, and services that collectively enhance Devon’s attraction as a tourist destination.

Covering various categories, the awards entail a meticulous judging process, incorporating expert assessments, mystery visits, and customer feedback. The success of our museum in clinching this Silver award is a collective achievement reflecting our commitment to providing an exceptional and memorable experience for our visitors.

Right to Roam on Dartmoor: High Court Victory Upholds Wild Camping Rights. 31st July 2023

In a significant win for the Right to Roam campaign, the High Court has declared that the public retains the right to engage in wild camping on Dartmoor. This victory comes after a group of wild campers challenged the Dartmoor National Park Authority’s prosecution for their camping activities on the moor. They argued that Section 10(1) of the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985 granted them the right to “walk, ride, or camp on the commons.”

The High Court ruled in favour of the campers, affirming that Section 10(1) indeed entitles them to wild camp. The court emphasied that the right to wild camp is an inherent part of the right to walk and camp on the commons.

This ruling has significant implications for the Right to Roam campaign and the public’s access to nature. It ensures that the public’s right to wild camp on Dartmoor will be preserved, and it sets a precedent that may deter other national parks from attempting to restrict public access to nature.

The decision also promotes the principle of public access to nature, which is increasingly important as people become disconnected from the natural world. Wild camping provides a means for people to connect with the environment and enjoy the beauty of nature.

The Right to Roam campaign expresses gratitude to the High Court for its decision and remains committed to safeguarding the public’s access to nature. The hope is that this ruling will inspire more individuals to join the campaign and protect our natural heritage.

Future of Wild Camping on Dartmoor

Although the High Court’s ruling secures the right to wild camp on Dartmoor, it’s essential to understand that this doesn’t mean there are no restrictions whatsoever. Responsible camping practices and adherence to National Park Authority regulations are still crucial.

Camping enthusiasts must continue to show respect for the environment and other visitors on the moor. This includes refraining from lighting fires and leaving behind any litter. Adhering to these guidelines will help maintain the pristine beauty of Dartmoor and ensure a positive experience for everyone.

In summary, the High Court’s decision is a momentous step forward for the future of wild camping on Dartmoor. It guarantees that people can continue to enjoy the natural splendour of the moor and reinforces Dartmoor’s role as a place for individuals to reconnect with nature.

Lydford Pennies Come to Museum of Dartmoor Life

Thanks to Dartmoor National Park Authority, the Museum now has on display three rare Lydford Pennies.

King Athelstan united Anglo Saxon England under one ruler in 924. He decreed that only one coin, a silver penny, should be in circulation and these were produced by moneyers around the country who bought the dies from the Crown.

Coins were struck between these engraved dies and hammered out separately. The name of the moneyer and the location of the mint was stamped on the one side to ensure quality control. The King’s head appeared on the other side.

Devon’s four Saxon mints were in Exeter, Totnes, Barnstaple and Lydford. Lydford already had the distinction of being a burh (fortified town) since the time of King Alfred, Athelstan’s grandfather.

The Lydford mint is now believed to have been in existence from 924 to the time of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). The site of Lydford Mint is unknown but the workshops may have been at the moneyers home. It is estimated that Lydford Mint produced more than 1.5 million coins, but none have ever been found in Devon. Most ended up in Scandinavia because of a tax or tribute paid to the Viking invaders, in the hope of ensuring peace.

Extract from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle:

‘ 997, here in this year the raiding army travelled around Devonshire into the Mouth of the Severn and there raided, both in Cornwall and in Wales and in Devon……(they) wrought great harm there by burning and slaughtering of men, and after that turned back into the mouth of Tamar and then went up until they came to Lydford and burned and killed everything they met, and burned down Ordwulf’s monastery at Tavistock and brought indescribable war booty with them to the ships.’

A silver penny had great value, a sheep cost 3-5 pennies, a pig cost 10 and a cow 20.

Come and see these beautiful silver coins on display in the museum along with large photographs so you can more easily appreciate the workmanship of the moneyers. Children can do a rubbing of a large model Lydford coin to take home.

The Wild Escape

The Museum of Dartmoor Life is participating in a project called The Wild Escape, to unite hundreds of museums and galleries with schools and families to find nature in their collections. Art charity Art Fund, supported by Arts Council England, want you to create some artwork inspired by the museum’s collection and for us to bring them all together in a collective work of art that imagines a better future for the wildlife on our doorstep.

In the Museum’s archive we came across a box of microscope slides that had been produced in the 1930’s and belonged to local man Gordon Parsons. They had been gifted to the museum in the 1980’s along with his small brass microscope and camera. There was a handwritten sheet of paper explaining what the slides were of, but we could not see if they had survived the decades.

Thanks to Exeter University, Falmouth Campus, we were able to look at and record what was on the slides, using their high-tech microscopes. We were amazed and hope you will be too.

Dartmoor has a beautiful, fascinating and complex eco system which must be preserved. What you can see with the naked eye is incredible but under the microscope there is a whole amazing and magical world to discover. We hope this inspires you to love and protect Dartmoor

Museum Re-opens for 2023

On Monday 27th March 2023 the Museum staff and volunteers were thrilled to reopen for visitors. Trustee and volunteer Jan Goffey cut the ribbon and welcomed everyone inside. There are many new things to see, as well as our historic collection, including three Lydford pennies on loan from Dartmoor National Park, a Mayes Creative project called Destination Dartmoor and the Museum’s Royal Society funded Dyeing on Dartmoor Exhibition. For children we have ’15 things to do before you leave the museum’ and an Easter trail will start on Monday 3rd April. In these difficult times we are still holding our prices, even though our costs have risen considerably, so we would really appreciate your support. Remember if you pay once you get an annual card allowing you free entry for the rest of the year.

Annual Review

2022 proved to be a productive year with visitors retuning after the pandemic and the staff and volunteers can be proud to have contributed to a very successful season. This annual review highlights some of these successes and provides stakeholders with some insight into the work of the charity and it’s commitment to providing a purposeful visitor experience and community hub.

Download the Report

Pleasure Connection & Purpose

The start of 2023 has seen the continued impact of the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis, which have presented considerable challenges to museums’ operations, staff, and audiences. AIM’s recent Impacts Survey (September 2022) saw 40% of organisations planning to scale down activity and over a third struggling to increase income given economy-wide pressures.

Download the Report

Nature Under the Microscope

The museum of Dartmoor has joined The Wild Escape, a major new project uniting hundreds of museums with schools and families to find nature in museums.

Led by national art charity Art Fund and with support from Arts Council England, hundreds of museums, galleries and historic houses are coming together for the largest ever collaboration between UK museums.

Taking place from January to July 2023, The Wild Escape invites children to look at nature in their local museum and create an artwork. The pictures and stories children create will be brought together in a collective work of art that imagines a better future for the wildlife on our doorstep, launched online and in museums on Earth Day 2023.

As part of The Wild Escape, the Museum of Dartmoor Life will be looking at a collection of microscope slides donated to the museum in the 1980’s. They were made by Chagford born man, Gordon Parsons, around the 1930’s and a recent visit to Exeter University’s science labs at Penryn has revealed their contents.

The Wild Escape is an opportunity to join the urgent conversation about climate crisis and biodiversity loss and look for nature positive solutions, in partnership with leading environmental charities the RSPB and WWF and cultural organisations National Trust and English Heritage.

The Wild Escape is inspired by Wild Isles, a landmark BBC series exploring the flora and fauna of the UK.

Jenny Waldman, Director, Art Fund, said:

“I’m thrilled that the Museum of Dartmoor Life is joining hundreds of organisations from the Outer Hebrides to Folkestone to connect thousands of children with the natural world through the UK’s truly great museums. Thanks to the invaluable support of Arts Council England, the Wild Escape will empower families and children across the UK to visit and discover our wonderful museums, whilst taking positive action to picture a better future for our wildlife.”

Manager/curator Kristy Turner, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to share with our visitors and local schools, a piece of our collection that shows us how people 100 years ago viewed nature and its protection, and then compare it with today. We want to invite children to look at how amazing nature is under the microscope and inspire them to produce artworks based on what they see.”

About Art Fund

Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. It provides millions of pounds every year to help museums to acquire and share works of art across the UK, further the professional development of their curators, and inspire more people to visit and enjoy their public programmes. Art Fund is independently funded, supported by Art Partners, donors, trusts and foundations and the 130,000 members who buy the National Art Pass, who enjoy free entry to over 240 museums, galleries and historic places, 50% off major exhibitions, and receive Art Quarterly magazine. Art Fund also supports museums through its annual prize, Art Fund Museum of the Year. The winner of Art Fund Museum of the Year 2022 is Horniman Museums & Gardens. www.artfund.org