Monday, 7 April 2008

Foxes and Medieval Boundaries

In my previous existence, I was an archaeologist (until the local University closed down the degree course I was teaching on - cheers, Surrey!!!) and so now I make contemporary jewellery (another story, I'll tell you of it later) and spend time at the allotment instead. But, obviously, archaeology and history still piques my interest. The site where I dig has been allotments since the First World War (it was established for returning soldiers) and I frequently find bits of old clay pipes and Victorian/Edwardian sherds of pot etc., but this is quite common really and not all that exciting. What I did find interesting however was what the owner of the immaculate plot next door told me. Down the length of one side of the site there runs a really substantial earthen bank with some extremely impressive trees growing out of it. He told me that this bank is actually the old medieval parish boundary between Farncombe and Binscombe and, as such, is several hundred years old! I love this kind of stuff, it makes you aware of just how long things have been happening in your area. I also suspect that some of the trees have been there since the boundaries were constructed, especially the amazing oak tree in the picture - if you can see clearly, just check out the width of the trunk! It's like something from Tolkien....

To some of the allotmenteers on the site, the boundary has the disadvantage of being extremely desirable to our local foxes. Plus the ground is so soft, they have no problems at all in digging down several feet to make a den - check out this picture of a foxhole dug right in the middle of a plot (not mine, fortunately!). Apparently, a couple of years ago there was a fox living at the far end of the site that had become so used to being around people at the allotments that you could feed it sandwiches!

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