“Stick to the forest-track, keep your spirits up, hope for the best, and with a tremendous slice of luck you may come out one day and see the Long Marshes lying below you, and beyond them, high in the East, the Lonely Mountain where dear old Smaug lives, though I hope he is not expecting you”. (Gandalf) J.R.R Tolkien.
In the foothills of the Ḥajar Mountains there are many tracks that have probably been in use since the Bronze Age if not before, quite a number are still well-trodden to this day. They would follow a Falaj (water channel) system to its source or between two villages and could quite often be several kilometres long.
This is the sort of view that would usually tell me it’s time I turned back, although sometimes if determined enough, I would take my boots off and wade. When the route I was following had a definite final destination and the water was not very deep, then wet I would get !! Quite often I would have been walking for 3 or 4 hours and if I wanted to find an abandoned village or the possibility of rock art, I would only have to make a return journey. Not being able to mark ‘done’ on my list, other than because it was just not possible to overcome an obstacle, would not satisfy my curiosity.
The above image shows an example of Witch markings or hexfoils found on the entrance to St Michaels Church Clapton in Gordano Somerset.
People would scratch specific symbols as an act of devotion or to invoke good luck – these symbols would often take the form of a daisy wheel, or hexfoil, a pattern with endless lines. hopefully to confuse and entrap evil spirits.
Similar patterns can be found on doors in a lot of the abandoned villages I visited in Oman and used for exactly the same reason: they would invoke good luck and well-being for the family or ward off evil or malevolent spirits (Jinn).
Those found in Britain come from a time when a belief in witches and superstition was part of everyday life. People constantly sought protection from evil spirits that might entrap them or cause harm to family or livestock.
They are found in churches, Chapels, cottages along with agricultural buildings and were used from medieval times right upto the 18th century. The oldest so far found in UK (as far as I know) are mid 13th century examples on door frames at Donington le Heath Manor House in Leicestershire.
The Church of St Michael Clapton in Gordano, Somerset, England, dates from the 13th century, although the 12th-century tympanum (semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance, door or window) is the oldest visible part of the church, the majority of the building is from the 13th century.
Unfortunately I was unable to visit the inside, I needed to request a key from the custodians as it is no longer a fully active church; a return visit is a must.
A very enjoyable day trip on a nice sunny day (rare this last few months) while visiting my Daughter in Somerset.
We visited deepest darkest Wales and decided some exploring near Abergavenny was in order. There was an ulterior motive; a search for a house I lived in for a short time when knee high to a Grasshopper.
I had a memory of a river, Dam and heading away from Abergavenny, but no names other than it was near a place called Forest Coal Pit. The river was in a valley on the right hand side going towards the dam. Out came the O.S map of the area and after following a few very ! narrow roads, found it and now know the name of the river again – Grwyne Fawr.
Here in UK over the last couple of days it has been quite warm. It is probably what was called summer when I last lived here, but you wouldn’t think so listening to the dire prognostications coming from the various news outlets.
This is what hot looks like:
See this link from the Geological Society of Oman: The Huqf.
The Huqf Uplift
Contribution by Alan Heward for the Geological Society of Oman:
The Huqf area is a special one for geologists because there are rocks to look at from almost all of Oman’s geological history. This is possible because of the Huqf’s location near the eastern edge of the Arabian Plate which has kept it up-lifted through long periods of geological time.
The oldest rocks in the area are dated using mineral isotopes at about 730 million years. These are basement rocks, a type of granite, which formed deep within the earth’s crust from molten rock. Granite is a type of igneous rock. As the years went by, the basement rocks became covered in layers and layers of rocks, each layer being younger than the one before. These rocks that are made up of lots of fragments of weathered rock or shell fragments, are sedimentary rocks. Often they have fossils or features which give clues about how they formed.
The Huqf area has not always been a desert. At one time, about 300 million years ago, the rocks show evidence that ice sheets covered the area. At other times, it was under a shallow tropical sea. The layers left behind by these seas often contain fossils, but the fossils vary a great deal over time. The oldest fossils are mound structures made by mats of algae, which are called stromatolites. Younger fossils include wonderful tropical shells, such as the rudists bivalve. At yet another time, the area was fairly arid, but with big rivers flowing through. Fossil soils and trees occur in these layers. Each type of climate left behind its own particular pattern of layers of rocks which geologists interpret by looking at what goes on today in places with a similar environment.
In the 1950s, geologists began to study and map the region. They used their understanding of the fossils and rock layers present in the Huqf to help them drill for oil at Fahud, Ghaba and Haima. They found that the rock layers which produce oil from deep below the ground, are the same as those that can be seen at the surface in the Huqf area. So when oil company geologists want to understand the characteristics of the layers of rocks that make up an oil or gas reservoir, they often visit the rocks in the Huqf. Other geologists and students from Sultan Qaboos University and other universities around the world also visit this area with its fascinating geology.