Charles Edward (Ted) Birkett Dixon
22 November 1923 – 30 December 2015
We are sorry to announce the death, aged 92, of Ted Birkett Dixon, a man with immense and long knowledge of Dartmoor and its ancient monuments. He was a vice-president of the Dartmoor Preservation Association (DPA) and knew Dartmoor and its antiquities better than almost anyone. He had walked every square inch of the moor in day and night.
Ted must have been one of the last people to have known Richard Hansford Worth, the great Dartmoor antiquarian. Ted joined the Devonshire Association and the DPA as a result of his meeting with Hansford Worth (who was DPA secretary) in 1947, they were brought together by their joint interest in antiquities. Hansford Worth was the official Recorder of Barrows for the Devonshire Association, and Ted became Hansford Worth’s eyes and ears on the moor, following his instructions to undertake investigations. Following Hansford Worth’s death in 1950 Ted took on the mantle of Recorder of the Barrows, stating in the seventieth report: ‘I shall do my best in attempting to maintain the standard of reports prepared by my predecessor’.
Entirely self-taught, Ted carried out a number of excavations to further his knowledge of antiquities and he made a number of discoveries. He produced a report listing all the known 100 kistvaens (prehistoric stone tombs or burial chambers), and then added ten more which he had discovered. He also led walks all over the moor, often to look at the ancient monuments. Many of these visits were at night and began with his courses and walks for the Workers’ Education Association. He recalled that one night he counted over 100 shooting stars, and had seen eclipses, comets and the Aurora Borealis. Often he tramped across the moor from 8pm to 5am, and reckoned he introduced Dartmoor to more than 16,000 people.
Ted was a great defender of Dartmoor and spoke out against the military use of the moor for training, the urbanising effect of light pollution and the proliferation of letterboxing.
Ted was born in Weymouth but shortly after his birth his family moved to Plymouth as his naval father was posted to Devonport. When the Second World War broke out Ted joined the Royal Corps of Signals and after initial training was posted to the 53rd (Welsh) Division, stationed at Harrietsham in Kent. He took part in the D-Day landings and helped to liberate the town of Hertogenbosch in Holland. He recently received the French Légion d’honneur medal for the courageous part he played.
He has a daughter, Gillian and 20-year-old granddaughter Katherine.
By Kate Ashbrook, DPA Trustee