Here is the original photograph used for the cover. It was a very misty and gloomy day, one of those rare occasions when I felt a bit spooked being out on the moor. It was also the first time I had been to Trowlesworthy Warren, a fascinating spot just a short walk from Cadover Bridge. Out there in the sodden moor and unable to see more than a few meters ahead, I felt my breath quicken as my imagination got to work.
The first part of Quartz and Feldspar looks at some of the theories provoked by stone circles like this one, particularly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Those theories often involved Druidism and all sorts of nefarious practices, transforming prehistoric Dartmoor into a place of a great sanctity and bloodshed. Such theories are rarely taken seriously now, but as a historian wanting to understand how Dartmoor has been perceived over time, I wanted to explore these theories on their own terms. What do they tell us about how people used to think about Dartmoor? And are our responses to these fascinating sites shaped more by these old ideas than we might realize? Dartmoor enthusiasts were very attached to these Druidical theories and they held sway until late in the nineteenth century. Only then did more sober accounts come to prominence, accounts which tell us much about late Victorian sensibilities, especially the then fascination with race and racial origins.