Explore the DM Woodland Collection - including place mats and coasters as well as art prints and greeting cards, of course.
Over the next few weeks we will be delving into a very special natural habitat which once covered the whole of northern Europe. The subject at hand not only represents our ancient natural history, but it is also home to some of our darkest fears, and our ancestors' spirituality and superstitions. It is a mystical and enchanting place which has inspired tales of fantasy and wonder, of separation and loss, and - for some - refuge and liberation.
It is the place which shaped the character and behaviour of the beloved wild animals we know so well today: the place which gave birth to birdsong, where the badger learnt to craft a hole into a home, and where the boar snuffled out its first truffle. It was also home to some species now forgotten to such lands as Britain: the mighty elk, the brown bear, and, let us not forget, the wolf!
For the humans of today it divides opinion: for a few it is a sanctuary, a place to forget oneself, where you can be nature's guest and witness a very special and different reality, much removed from the conceptual world we have created for ourselves. For others it is an alien, dirty and uncivilised place, where potential danger is ever lurking in the shadows, and certainly not an environment you would like to find yourself in once the sun makes way to night. I am, of course, talking about, The Wildwood!
So thick, dense, and unruly were these forests, the reach of their branches knew no bounds, and for many centuries the canopy of the woodland wonderland literally covered the whole of the UK. Upon the Romans arrival to these shores, Julius Caesar reported that the entire island was “one horrible forest.”
In my next post we will take a look at our woodland mythology and folklore. It is here where we can attempt to understand the relationship between the people and the wild forest which they lived amongst, beside, and within. In the subsequent one we will move on to look at the influence of the dark woods on literature.
In the meantime, to get more of a grasp as to how these vast ancient woodlands came about, you may like to visit a previous post about the red squirrel, who could climb and scramble their way across the length of the UK without setting one paw on the ground.
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