Right from the beginning of the first plans we ever discussed for the build there was one particular bit of wood I knew had to be included. It took us over two years to get all of the neccessary permissions (internal and external) finalise the plans and get enough funding to get the project off the ground. Sometimes it seemed like it would never happen, but we were determined, probably had a fair slice of good luck and had a lot of freinds out there who supported us and helped us along the way.

In Cornwall the Rowan tree is held in particularly high regard. It’s thought to bring luck and to keep evil spirits at bay. You often find them planted at the entrances to properties, I have even seen them growing right next to front doors. I remember one of the guys I used to work with would always say you should be careful about cutting a Rowan, in case the witches get you. I’m not sure I believe in witches, but I do believe in luck, and right from the start wanted to find a special piece of rowan to put into the building.

I’ve always tried to encourage as many Rowans as possible on Black Down, they are great for wildlife, the blossom in the spring is a vital source of nectar, and the berries are a good food source for the birds in the late summer and autumn. I’m not sure if its my imagination, but this year the berries seem to have been a particularly vibrant red, lighting up any walk across the local commons.

Last winter when we were coppicing in the woods at Swan Barn Farm we came across a rowan that had been coppiced several times before. After wondering what uses its wood had been put to on the previous occasions when it had been coppiced I realised just where it ought to go this time.

It was a bitter day, in fact I remember it being a pretty bitter winter, but we were really enjoying knowing where the products of the woodland were going to be used in the coming year.

We saved the piece of Rowan that was cut that day, and brought it back to the build site with the rest of the timber we extracted. I had been thinking that it needed to go in the threshold of the front door, but it was pointed out to me that it might be disrespectful to step over it, I realised that the right place for it to go was over the door, most people who go under it probably wont notice, but I thought it was important to do something to mark the entrance, make it special, and give a bit of a nod towards the good luck that has brought us this far.

The other day its bark was peeled and it went onto the mill.

This was used to put a flat profile on it so it could be mounted.

Dylan made a great job of mounting it above the front door, you can see it here with the straw bales being trimmed up in the background.

Its not the most durable or hardy species in the world by any means, I don’t know how long it will last, but for me it binds up within it much of the feeling that has gone into the project.