Archaeology, Travel

Forest Archaeology: a love story

Two initials carved into a tree, lovers making promises they may or may not keep. We’ve all seen them.

A 💕 H forever..

N ♥ L..

We may have made our own, one dreamy-day gone by. But how many of us have done this? (see photo).

The photo below is of a tree in Friston Forest, on a hill above the meander of the river Cuckmere as it winds out to the English Channel.

A hefty iron chain and padlock tied to the trunk of a tall tree. The chain has been there so long that the tree has started absorbing it. The padlock is held fast in the tree bark, folds of bark have grown over the chain where it joins its twin trunk. The growing tree is squeezing its way out of the love-chain, squeezing up and out like a jeans-belt holding in a festive-seasons worth of indulgences. The tree has rolls.

One day, this tree will completely absorb the chain and carry on growing up and out, with a rusty chain of hopeful love nestled in its core. If the tree is ever chopped down for lumber, some curious soul will doubtless discover and ponder at the hidden message locked tight in the knots of the trunk.

On the outer rim of the padlock:

LOVE ALWAYS

Scratched into the metal.

On the front face of the padlock:

B. G.

Their love story is older than the new growth of the tree. Has it endured, I wonder, as well as the chains of proclamation that are slowly disappearing as growth rings on the life of a Friston Forest tree?