Exmoor Benchmarks on West Country Way

Exmoor Benchmarks was a project to create a series of benches made from local materials, which reflect the characteristics of Exmoor along part of the West Country Way.

Craftspeople Robert Kilvington, Keith Rand and Eve Body, assisted by Des Sharp, were commissioned to make a series of benchmarks. The designs are inspired by the unique and fragile landscape. The sites are carefully chosen to create discrete resting places to fit with the surroundings, oriented towards a particular view, and sometimes to provide shelter from the prevailing wind and weather.

Three five-day Greenwood carpentry courses were held during September 1998 in a woodland near Dulverton to create an opportunity for local people to rediscover the traditional methods of working timber and participate in creating new uses for the future. Tutors Cameron Scott, John and Henry Russell and the course participants designed and built timber benches using local green oak. They worked in the woodland solely using hand tools as was common country practice until the early 20th century. Course participants converted small oak thinnings into useable timber. The small jointed timber structures provided the ideal opportunity to learn ancient timber framing skills.

There are five interlocking strands to the benchmark project:

  • To inspire people to look again at the natural environment.
  • To provide resting places for people wishing to stop in this unique and beautiful area.
  • To revive old skills and the use of traditional local materials in new and imaginative ways.
  • To encourage people to use this route and support the important local tourist industry.
  • To generate interest and business for local artsists/designers and craftspeople whose work will be on permanent display.

The Benchmarks Project was funded by: The Millenium Commission, Greater Exmoor Leader Project, Exmoor National Park, Devon County Council, Sustrans, North Devon District Council, West Somerset District Council, Mid Devon District Council.

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