Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Knuckle Bones of Allen Banks




















In today's Guardian Country Diary there's an account of a visit to Allen Banks - the spectacular wooded gorge that flanks the River Allen in Northumberland, before its confluence with the River Tyne, west of Hexham. It was only our second visit there and I've been kicking myself ever since for not visiting more often - especially at this time of year, when it's a terrific place for finding fungi. This magnificent specimen of what I think is common puffball Lycoperdon perlatum was growing amongst last year's decaying beech leaves............



..... while this, which I think is sulphur-tuft Hypholoma fasciculare was sprouting from rotting beech roots.

 


Perhaps the most curious feature, though, was a strange artifact that can be found on a high bluff at the end of the path that climbs up the west side of the valley, before the steep descent down towards the river, in the green patch of  moss visible in the left foreground in the photo above. At this point the view ahead and far below, of the densely wooded gorge that leads upstream to Plankey Mill, is truely stunning but .....


.... if you can take you eyes off the view for a moment and happen to glance down at your feet you soon realise you are standing on something rather strange......... 





.......... a platform made of sheep knuckle bones, hammered into the path and worn smooth by passing feet. Does anyone out there know more about this weird and slightly macabre feature of this woodland walk?

12 comments:

  1. Had it been in India, I would have looked around for a temple of Kali, for whom animal sacrifices are made every year.
    Thanks for the information on the fasciating Poinciana.

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  2. Fascinating Phil. A really curious puzzle.

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  3. Someone must. If they were burnt then I would suspect a foot and mouth cremation site.

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  4. wow! very good fungi ... what textures and colors .. thanks for sharing ..

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  5. Oh Phil, that really is mysterious! Nice walking boots though - they look loved and well-travelled. :D

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  6. Hi lotusleaf,that's a very interesting thought....

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  7. Ican only find one photo of a knucklebone floor anywhere in the web, John.

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  8. Couldn't see any signof burning Adrian but they must have been there for a long time, judging from how worn they are...

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  9. Hi Dejemonos, thanks for visiting...

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  10. Hi Lesley,best foot forward........

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  11. ... and I'm still no nearer finding out about their origin Linda

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