THIS IS a story that my mum once came up with; the way to keep witches out of your
house is to hang a stone that has a natural hole in at the threshold. When I then
spotted a piece of limestone on the beach with a string-sized hole in it, I couldn’t
resist picking it up -not that I’m superstitious!
I think the stories people tell can be illuminating about the culture they’ve been
brought up in and the archaeological evidence shows that stones with holes in them
have held a fascination for us since prehistoric times, but for me, as a naturalist,
I find the fact that this stone was once limy mud at the bottom of a Jurassic sea
where long-necked plesiosaurs hunted for ammonites and belemnites (squid-like creatures)
far more enthralling.
Anyone in history can append any belief for any reason onto any object but it’s great
to let that fall away and to see the object with completely innocent eyes for what
Having said that, I’m not so rational that I would ever deliberately walk under a
Unfortunately as I grabbed my keys this morning I knocked the string off its hook
and the stone cracked on the tiled floor but, so far, there’s no sign of ladies with
pointed hats calling on us.