Rock lovers will be almost catatonically pleased to see the following pictures and help me answer a new, improved question: Is this a bone, a sponge, or just a lump of limestone?

I’ve put one of my Christmas gloves in the shot for scale, although the oak leaves would probably have been fine. (And no, the other glove is not labelled “B”.)

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Paleontologists, biologists, geologists, doctors, butchers or anyone else, can you help me put a name to this bone? It’s rock now, and the colour matches the surrounding cretaceous limestone, but the shape and pitting in the broken ends don’t seem particularly rock-like. Photographed sitting on A4 paper, for scale (last image with flash, hence a bit washed out).

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I love this time of year. When we don’t have guests we are open to people who come and help, bringing all manner of interests and skills with them. Yesterday, Marc and Aimee rocked up at the start of their long walk to Italy. You read that right – they’re walking (you can follow them on their freedombyfoot blog link on the right).

Now Marc is an archaeologist. And you may know I’ve been wanting an archaeologist here for YEARS. Especially one specialising in prehistory. So you won’t be surprised that I quickly exposed him to my Interesting Rocks.


These are some of the countless rocks I have unearthed during the making of écovallée. Some or all of these rocks have been dissed by some or all of the people who have seen them. But I kept the faith, and Marc has identified these as being definitely shaped by man or woman.


He actually got quite excited about one of them.

A few months ago, the woods behind the Shack were utter chaos. I’d started coppicing the sweet chestnut so we’d have wood for next winter and, in five to seven years, a steady supply of poles for fencing, yurt maintenance, firewood, furniture and whatever else we decide to have a go at.

But I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. So I would cut an overstood chestnut down, chop the generally straight trunk into two-ish-metre lengths and leave the awkward top bits lying around. Often, I would work until I was too tired to lift the chainsaw and so bits of trunk would be lying around too – hither and, to my shame, thither. Which meant at some stage I would have to go back in later with a billhook and tidy up.

That stage came a few weeks ago and closed a chapter on this silly, knees-bent-running-around working practice.

Now, when I go in to cut coppice, I take a chainsaw AND a billhook – and tidy up as I go. Seems simple, doesn’t it? (I also stop a few minutes before I am exhausted.) I suspect, with a not very sad backward glance, I may be growing up.

Here’s what the woods behind the shack look like now:


The mud on the left in the foreground is one edge of what will be the pond. The box on the right there is full of Interesting Rocks found while digging out a tree stump for the pond and trench for the pipe running from the sand filter. Got some real beauties in there, I can tell you.

One of the problems with blogs and blogging is that new readers don’t know what the hell’s going on until they’ve read the previous post. A kind of reverse narrative causality, if you like. (Or even if you don’t.)

Here are those rocks I told you about before (New readers: the ones I’ll tell you about in a minute).


The token is the same size as a one-euro coin. To me, the rock on the left is my first definitive arrowhead. The one in the middle is a clearly man or woman-made weapon. The one on the right must have been very satisfying to make all those millennia ago – look at the way the colour of the stone mirrors the shape of the (presumably) spearhead. A shame is was broken.

Here’s what they look like when you turn them over:


Well I think they’re interesting.

Time, after a very long pause, for my second, utterly unanticipated post on Interesting Rocks found scattered around écovallée.


Rock 2 looks a lot like a development from the previous scraper I found outside the tractor shed. It’s about the same size, has the same sharpened edge on the inside curve, and a more refined (although non-believers still aren’t convinced – how could this possibly be naturally occurring?) axe-like head.


What I like about this one are the holes that have been carved through it. I like to think it was carried around on a belt, like a side axe. But it could equally have been used to tie the rock onto what I believe is still called “a stick”.

This hole-drilling idea must have caught on, as the same technique was used in this smaller Rock I found the other day. (I found the euro coin in my pocket moments ago, shot here for scale. Get me.)


This could easily have been worn as a necklace. A Swiss army rock, if you like. Waiting for pockets to be invented.


(Needful note: I’ve given the fact that many of my Interesting Rocks are made from cretaceous limestone some thought. Limestone is plentiful here – just take a look at the main field if you don’t believe me – and flint much more scarce. Having done a fair bit of scrounging around the land in search of building materials, it makes perfect sense to make tools from the most readily available resource, even if they wouldn’t last long. What else would you do with your prehistoric time?)

I always wanted to be an archaeologist.

Not enough to be one. But enough to dig around in the garden looking for Roman roads (finding only those bits of blue and white plate that must be everywhere and some kind of battery I keep in a box). To have wanted a metal detector more than once (including now). And to have “Time Team” as one of my Must See TV shows for many years.

Which is why I said: “Wow!” when one of this blog’s regular readers told me her parents were taking their metal detectors on a Time Team dig. Maybe they’d be interested in coming down here (maybe even packing one old non-ferrous one they’d like to sell), to scour land that must have been inhabited off and on for tens of thousands of years.

Maybe they would, she said.

So, to whet their appetite, I thought I’d publish the first of my Interesting Rocks. I think I found it lying on the ground outside the workshop, looking like this:


My untrained eye tells me it must be napped by human hand. I tried holding it in various ways, then handed it to my daughter this evening who immediately held it like this (my hand, not hers).


It even has a sharpened edge for scraping.


I’m calling it a “scraper” and shall look up other examples at once. Before using it to open – officially – the écovallée museum.

You saw it here first. (You just weren’t the first to see it.)