I spent part of a day in the woods by the Rollright Stones simply walking and looking – indulging in the pleasure of quietly observing, identifying, analysing and categorising what I saw. It is all too easy to pass by without actually seeing what is around us and many signs are missed, but look closer, pay attention, and you can see that this young woodland has a growing community of species that call it home.
The following are just a few of the mammal and bird species we’ve seen so far. There have been many birds, some heard rather than seen, glimpses of deer, mice and voles, a weasel, signs that badgers are about . In some cases, you don’t see the creature itself but the tell tale signs of activity and then you can try to figure out what has happened.
Continue reading There is a growing community of species living in the woods
Karl made two more structures for Stephen’s granddaughter – ones that might be enjoyed by a small, inquisitive child. The idea was also that there would be something that didn’t tower over her and that was small enough for her to appreciate.
The first was a sort of egg made from pine stems wound together to form a rough sphere, which nestles within the curve of the Young Snake. There is a hole in it so that people who wish to do so can look inside. Seen from a distance it is very pleasing.
The other structure is a three-in-one type – there is an open dome of ash stems, just high enough for a not very tall person to stand up in.
Within that is a very simple dome of willow stems bound together at the top with ivy.
Inside the simple ash dome is a curious little structure that looks rather like a fragment of DNA.
It was constructed over a tree stump and, just because, Karl added in an oak twig with an oak apple still attached to it.
The felling and canopy lifting work at the woods by the Rollright Stones continues and it generates vast amounts of logs and brash, so it’s been decided that building larger mounds and structures is the way to go. As ever, Karl has been creative in his use of materials and the structures he makes are becoming larger and bolder in design. It’s fascinating to see this previously unknown aspect of his personality emerging.
The Whispering Knights in freezing fog
Continue reading The Young Snake and other creations
Snow was forecast for the 15th of January and Karl looked forward to seeing the woods under a layer of sparkling white; I stayed at home that day. Where we live, there was no snow at all and Karl saw none on the journey to the woods, but as soon as he turned into the driveway, there it was. Not a lot, but the light dusting and bright sunshine were enough to create a beautiful scene. All pictures are clickable to enlarge them.
The Ouroboros with a dusting of snow
I read in the Witney Gazette that the Rollright Stones were ‘one of the few landmarks in Oxfordshire to see a dusting of snow’ that day.
The mounds stood out very well indeed and here are some more pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Continue reading Rollright stones – snow in the woods
In the making of brash mounds a time can come when you look at the sheer amount of material to be moved and decide that there is simply too much of it and that a new approach could be in order. This has happened in a couple of areas of the woods – in some parts, the brash is so thick that the woods are completely impenetrable.
What to do? You could build a dozen or so mounds but there were some big tree trunks in there and they also needed something doing with them. Some of the larch logs have been stacked to make habitats and sitting places, but larch doesn’t burn well – it spits and the burning of it leaves a tarry residue in chimneys – and nobody seems to want it. Because of this, Karl decided to make something other than a mound shape and instead built around one of the felled conifers to enclose it.
Continue reading Rollright Stones Novel Structures – or ‘What on earth can we do with all this brash?’
Stephen and Claire on the Rollrights woodland project
Stephen: I decided to plant the wood because there was a large ancient wood next to the house I grew up in and I always loved as a child to roam this wood and play in it. So I thought it might be more fun to have a wood than a ten acre field. Planted Feb 98. Btw the trees were planted in Feb as 12″ saplings in a field that had already been sowed with barley . I “bought” the putative crop from the farmer. Luckily it then rained for 6 weeks in a warm early spring and the trees thrived so that an expected 60-70% survival rate became 95%.
The wood was planted as part of a Forestry Commission program to support tree planting a condition of which was to plant mixed native English trees. This is taken to mean – oak, beech, ash, lime, cherry, sycamore, larch, pine, field maple, hawthorn, blackthorn, hazel. I am pretty sure that anything else is there by accident.
Continue reading On the idea of the woodland and how the project developed