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The lobed shape and the parallel arrangement of the veins are similar to fossil leaves dating back to well before the time of the dinosaurs.
A front garden Monkey Puzzle, or Chile Pine, is another 'living fossil'. During the Jurassic period, branches of trees very similar to the Monkey Puzzle were occasionally washed out to sea. Pieces that sank into dark, oily mud on the sea bed and were preserved as Jet, a kind of coal. Whitby Jet was famous in Victorian times when it was cut and polished to make shiny black jewellery.
We take another look at the inscription on a mile post on a local lane. I realise that it doesn't, as I had thought, refer to the lane we are on. It seems to be still in its original position and to be a guide to a lost road that once ran at right angles to the lane.
I suspect that the old stone posts set in the hedge row running up the hill mark one edge of the road. They each have two rectangular holes in them. To judge by the names of nearby public houses this may have been a drove road. There's a White Bull at the top of the hill, a Ship Inn (meaning 'shippen', a barn) down on the opposite bank of the river.
But then, come to think of it, there's the Reindeer further along the road, so perhaps my theory still requires some research.