We came upon a fairy tree, with a door set in its base and ‘offerings’ ribboned through its branches. A relatively recent appearance Natalie told us. Presumably part of the new crop of fairy doors that have sprouted in recent years. But the current fad, has ancient origins in British heritage. Special trees, often associated with water, springs and other liminal places, were venerated as marking the dwelling places of fairy folk/pagan genius loci/god/goddesses and became sites of offerings and blessings. Think Janet’s Foss in the Yorkshire Dales, St Madron’s Well, Cornwall and even the ritual of Wassailing apple trees. Both the wells and the wassailing seem particularly adapt in this area.
Southwell’s fairy population has been in evidence for longer than the recent fad though as several people had told me of another tree, another of our destinations for todays walk, that children, parents and grandparents have been visiting for at best part of three decades at least. Natalie too happily recalled childhood visits to see the ‘fairy tree’. Whatever the inspiration for the current trend, it gives families a target or goal that gets kids outside adventuring in nature, and thats has to be a good thing!
As Jerry and Rosy waded one of the dumbles we said farewell and took a field track back towards Halam.