Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Round the Barrows

It was a hot sunny day and I was back amongst the Tumuli of my Sussex ancestors at the Barrow Cemetary at Sullington Warren. I was working with the National Trust to keep this as heathland against the encroaching woodland. The morning was hard graft with a mattock which is like a pickaxe but with a broader, flattened adze like edge. I was removing young trees from one of the Round Barrows, they were mostly Oak with some Rowan and other trees such as Holly and Buckthorn. I was working on the dry part of the heathland sitting on the Greensand ridge.
The Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) notification says "This area of scrub supports a varied invertebrate fauna, and two invertebrate groups well represented here are the Aculeate Hymenoptera (bees, ants. and wasps) and Coleoptera (beetles). Of particular interest is a locally uncommon beetle Apion fuscirostre which lives specifically on broom and has been recorded at this site."
It felt strange, as a Druid, to be killing young Oak trees and yet without this work a rare natural habitat for heathland flora and fauna would be lost. It felt right as a Gewessi to be clearing the burial mounds of our Pagan ancestors with hard graft. For a, normally office bound, middle-age modern Pagan swinging a mattock in beautiful Sussex sunshine was a mix of the beauty of Vanaheim and the heat of Muspelheim Applying a little Logos to the situation there is an area for the Oak and deciduous trees on the site, which is protected as well as an area for Pine. The aim with this work is to retain the balance between Oak, Pine and Heathland on the site so that it can provide benefit to all. Here's the barrow we cleared:
The afternoon was then spent in the wet more boggy heathland nearer the Pines - removing the young pine trees attempting to take over. Here the humidity and dead heather made it a different kind of hard, scratchy work. We made in impression on both sites helping the wardens to manage the sites. The heather is dead, above the ground it has been killed by Heather Beetle. What the heathland needs now is a good fire to cleanse it BUT with a small nature reserve surrounded by houses a controlled burn is not an option the heather needs to be managed in another way, by people. Which all reminds me of the Rush song...
"The Trees"

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'Oppression!'
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
'The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light'
Now there's no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe and saw.

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