Day 360 Mile 360: Boxing Day Pudding and New Socks. At the other end of the village where I grew up is a trio of rocks called ‘The Pudding Stones’. As a child I had climbed about on them and just from their rubbly appearance meant they were leftover building detritus which one had figured out how to tidy away. With a few more years of learning things it turns out this was not the case at all and that they were something pretty unique. So today’s run took me out to go and take a look from a more informed perspective.
Hertfordshire Puddingstone is a conglomerate sedimentary rock composed of rounded flint pebbles cemented together by a younger matrix of silica quartz. The distinctive rock is largely confined to the English county of Hertfordshire but small amounts occur throughout the London Basin. A fracture runs across both the pebbles and the sandy matrix as both have equal strength unlike concrete where the pebbles remain whole and a fracture occurs only in the matrix. Like other puddingstones, it derives its name from the manner in which the embedded flints resemble the plums in a Christmas pudding.
The flints were eroded from the surrounding chalk beds roughly 56 million years ago in the Eocene epoch and were transported by water action to beaches, where they were rounded by wave erosion and graded by size. A lowering of sea levels drew out silica from surrounding rocks into the water immersing the flint pebbles. Further drying precipitated the silica which hardened around the pebbles, trapping them in the matrix.
Hertfordshire puddingstone was credited in local folklore with several supernatural powers, including being a protective charm against witchcraft. Parish records from the village of Aldenham relate that in 1662 a woman suspected of having been a witch was buried with a piece of it laid on top of her coffin to prevent her from escaping after burial. In living memory a piece of Pudding Stone was given to a bride and groom, possibly as a fertility symbol. Its supposed magical powers gave it the names of woe stone, hag stone or witch stone. It was also called grow stone or breeding stone because of a related belief that it could multiply itself.
Two of the three village puddingstones once marked the entrance to the local Iron Age fort, now the entrance to the church. It is thought that they were moved from there in about 1905 because the then Lord of the Manor, Henry Turner, believed that, as pagan symbols, they were inappropriate and decided that beside the cricket pitch was a far better idea! The third stone, was dug out of a nearby clay pit, by HG Matthews, the local brickworks in Bellingdon and added to its brethren on the common.
Today is cold and clear with a skim of ice across the northern crest of the ridge. Although it looks like t-shirt weather it is certainly cold on the fingers. The few people who are out are cheering with happy calls of ‘Morning’ and ‘running of the turkey?’ In-spite of it being before 10am. the smell of the lighting of winter barbecue is already rising from behind the hedge of the village pub making ready to feed locals, visitors, horse-riders and undoubtedly the occasional dog as well.
On a not unrelated note I was given some running socks by my family for Christmas (i.e. yesterday). While under normal circumstances I would have scoffed at socks as a gift almost on the level of a lump of coal for someone who lives near a wood, they were brilliant. Thank you 🙂
I’m running a mile each day everyday for 2017. If you feel you can sponsor me please do, as all the money raised will go to the Cleft Lip & Palate Association (CLAPA) who provide services all across the UK to support people affected by it.
Distance: 2291.8 meters recorded
(1 mile = 1609.34 m.)
Thanks as ever for all the support!