I took our dog – an alarmingly athletic Brittany – to King’s Wood a couple of weeks’ ago, on the basis that 1,500 acres ought to tire him out … (I’m ever hopeful). It is a beautiful place at any time of year, when the light streams through the canopy of trees like water running through fingers. But the bluebells were out and then the woods take on an ancient, magical quality with their purple haze and delicate, perfumed scent.
This is one of the oldest woodlands in Kent, named after King John, who is said to have introduced the fallow deer. Yet, it is because of his helpful deer that we know that people were here long before King John. Miscellaneous sherds of pottery and an almost complete flagon, dating from 43AD to 409AD, were discovered as a result of deer scrambling up and down the banks of a deep sunken road in King’s Wood, overlooking the River Wye.
Sometime later, when making archaeological investigations of this area, a Roman Patera – a shallow, saucer-shaped drinking vessel – contemporary with the flagon, was discovered, suggesting that they were from a Roman cremation burial.
More recently, Stour Valley Arts have commissioned sculptures and other artworks to sit amongst the trees. Artists spend long periods within the forest and learn about its history. Their reactions to this experience produces astoundingly moving and original artwork. Their use of natural materials found in the wood means that the sculptures are gradually transformed by creatures, light and weathering. Over time, you will see the ghost or skeleton of a previous artwork, now being consumed back into the forest’s natural life-cycle.
Unfortunately, running after an overly-enthusiastic dog meant that I was only able to take very blurry photographs. But, thankfully, my friend, Pam*, has taken two beautiful shots, shown here, illustrating perfectly how different the light can be in various parts of the wood.
Yes: they were taken on Pam’s phone. Yes: she is a very good photographer.
* bluebell photographs © Pam Hossain