Six Roads End

Discouraged from digging
for iron age treasure
with nothing to show
for their eager excavation
but the year’s first
dog’s mercury, pallid bane
flourishing in brindled shade
and speedwell from the verges
for drying and pressing

a meagre booty
no chieftain’s golden torc
nor whorled, roiling shield boss
nor yet rust-eaten shard
of a celtic blade.

Knees, forearms
scaly with drying clay
and leaf mould
three boys trudge
thwarted, grumbling
slashing with whittled ash
through Greaves Wood
scattered remnant, faint echo
of the waning Needwood
holding fast still
to Draycott Cliff.

Breaking cover at Foxholes
spirits lifted, blinking
from shadow into light
they stride up the lane
to Six Roads End
the old turnpike
where Kings once strode
Ned, Harry, then James
as they passed through
Wood’s End Gate
restless for the chase.

Six Roads, compass lines
traced, north to south
and points between
true as arrows
features, fixed, unbent
over hill and hollow
artificial bounds
of ward from forest ward.

Six Roads
to the far places
imagined for now
but not known
mere daydreams
drawings on a page
beyond a child’s frontier
yet to be stepped on.

Six Roads
leading everywhere
but always coming full circle
and ending
at the garden gate.


In 1848 the Needwood Torc, an iron-age chieftain’s neck ornament of twisted gold, was discovered in Greaves Wood, on Duchy of Lancaster land in the Needwood Forest. Crown property, it is on permanent loan to the British Museum.


8 thoughts on “Six Roads End

  1. Hi Julian! I really enjoyed this and loved the footnote you included! So glad you visited my site, thank you! I am glad I have found yours now and can’t wait to read more from you =) Back to browsing I go……..

    Liked by 1 person

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