Grimspound (English Heritage), Postbridge, Dartmoor National Park

Grimspound (English Heritage), Postbridge, Dartmoor National Park

There are a number of amazing facts about the prehistory of Dartmoor National Park.* It has the greatest concentration of Bronze Age sites in Britain. It's home to the longest stone row in the world. It has 60% of England's stone rows. It's home to more than 5000 hut circles or ancient homes. Despite the magnificence of many of these prehistoric sites, it's often difficult to imagine life on the moors thousands of years ago. English Heritage's Grimspound is arguably the best place to start your journey into Dartmoor's deep past.

So, what is Grimspound? Whilst the name doesn't sound particularly inviting, Grimspound is an exceptional example of a prehistoric settlement with lots of round houses huddled within a large, circular wall known as a pound. There are lots of pounds on Dartmoor. There are thousands of round houses. What makes Grimspound special is its relatively well preserved pound and round house walls. If you visit in the early morning or late evening when the light is warm and the shadows long, Grimspound reveals its shape. Seen in this light, it becomes so much easier to imagine people going about their daily life.

Grimspound is located in a dip in the moorland between Hamel Down and Hookney Tor. The valley around Headland Warren Farm sweeps down to Challacombe with its deserted medieval village. We've positioned Grimspound on Google maps so zoom in on the 'Satellite' setting to see its location.

To visit, we'd recommend walking in across the moors. Whilst there's limited parking by the side of the road below Grimspound, you'll get a much better sense of its place in the landscape when you walk in. If you approach from high ground, you'll see the circular pound below you. Inside, the round houses are clearly visible. Enter the pound through one of its ancient granite gateways. Walk inside the walls of one of the round houses. Originally, there would have been conical roofs. You can see digital reconstructions and models of round houses at Postbridge National Park Visitor Centre, Princetown National Park Visitor Centre and the Museum of Dartmoor Life.

Having explored Grimspound, it's fun to visit other prehistoric sites in the area. There's a triple stone row on the north flank of Challacombe Down and numerous barrows on the spine of Hamel Down. You'll also see evidence of medieval tin mining, the deserted medieval village at Challacombe and medieval strip fields on the east flank of Challacombe Down. There are plenty of ancient points of interest and stone circles in this section of Dartmoor National Park.

If Grimspound is of interest, we'd also recommend visiting the prehistoric complexes at Merrivale near Princetown and Shovel Down near Chagford. Explore English Heritage's Upper Plym Valley as well.

*This information is taken from boards in National Park Visitor Centres, books and leaflets published by the Dartmoor National Park Authority and the work of academics. If this information needs be qualified or edited owing to inaccuracies or new discoveries then please contact us. Many thanks.