The itinerant worker passes along the flinty Roman Road at 9am on a Sunday morning, a mallet in one hand and a chisel in the other. It was half an hour’s walk (on public rights of way) from NT Bignor Hill carpark to Northwood Planting fields; I could have been in medieval times. Turning left down through Gumber Bothy and farmyard, and then turning right into the woodland belt Lepers’ Path, I glimpsed the speck of white- our stone – which sat 1/2 mile further on.
The Western Central (Barnham) South Downs National Park Volunteer Rangers were tree planting for NT’s Rise of Northwood on a day which, after some squally showers, became sunny and bright. Regular breaks saw people trying gouge, scutch comb and point chisels on our stone. Some of the hollows have deepened; the mark of the chisel is starting to unite the surface and make it read as one. Some interesting sights; a horse refusing to pass along a neighbouring bridleway; the wagtails again heralding the sun leaving us. The team finished their day having made their mark in more ways than one.
The first ‘signs’ emerged in the stone – a horse’s head; a hand and a head – the former serendipitous after the earlier sight and Belloc’s Monster, but not something to cultivate further. The latter two may disappear, but could be useful links to some future narrative. But remember this stone will be turned several times before it starts to decide which way it will stand.
It isn’t ordered or rational; it just happens.
Next carving on site Sat 13th December if you fancy a walk from Slindon, Eartham or Bignor Hill! The gate into the deer fencing is on the southern side of the field. (And remember to diary Jan 18th: the next Rise of Northwood public tree planting event)