OK, I know the title of this post sounds a bit strange but I will explain, promise. It all started with an oak tree and a fox.
The weather has been so grotty this weekend that when the sun momentarily came out at 11am today I stuck my boots on and hurried out the door. I’d been meaning to measure an oak tree I’d seen on a previous walk (for the Ancient Tree Hunt and Dorset Greenwood Tree Project) so I decided now was as good a time as any.
I’d spotted the oak just before I stumbled upon a very large ash tree (from a previous post). To be honest when I found the ash I sort of forgot to measure the oak as well. I remembered it as being big, but I hadn’t realised quite how big.
Bracket fungi on the oak
It sits on the side of a hill about 100 metres away from an area called “Mountain Clump” along with six other oaks in the middle of a field. I hadn’t really noticed the clump of trees (that give this area its name) on my previous walk, but looking at them today I realised how extensive they were. The clump itself was also surrounded by ditches. Very strange and not very natural.
Broken limbs from long ago
Anyway I measured the tree. A very healthy 6.5 metres (that’s over 20ft!) girth at chest height from the ground. In tree terms that’s a whopper! It was covered in lichen and bracket fungi, with signs of broken limbs and at the bottom a hole. It was too small to look into (and too dark) so I stuck the camera inside with the flash on, and was quite surprised by the extent of the hollowing.
A secret view inside the tree
So now down the hill and along the track next to the ash (above). I think I mentioned on the previous post that this track looked “old”. It’s very deep with very high banks on either side. Suddenly a fox appeared at the top of the bank. We stared at each other and then it was gone.
I clambered up the bank, expecting to see a normal wood on the other side. The fox was nowhere to be seen, but in front of me were more banks. Some at right angles to the track, others curving round. I walked along the top of one of the banks following the well warn tracks of a badger. I knew these banks weren’t natural but what the hell were they? I was in the middle of nowhere, in a wood, surrounded by 10ft high earth banks.
I’ve got to admit the rain caught up with me at this point and I hurried home. Once inside I was straight on the internet looking for references to “Mountain Clump”. What I found amazed me. Just one reference that said:
The Knoll forms the highest point, at 70 metres above sea level. There is evidence of an early hamlet, in existence at least from 1327. A similar mound exists at Mountain Clump on the opposite side of Knoll Lane, around which are numerous banks and ditches, and to the north-west of the Clump are visible earthworks of the lost village.
I’d found the lost village. What village? did it have a name? why have I never heard about it? Where did it go? Oh god, now I’ll have to try and find out. One thing’s for sure, it does go some way to explaining why I have found two very old trees nearby. No doubt planted by a lost villager from the spooky lost village!