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The United Kingdom of Generally Bonkers

British architect Sir Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis loved the Italian Riviera so much that he built his very own entire Italian fishing village. In Wales.

It took him fifty years (1925 – 1975). You’ve probably seen it — it’s been used as a TV and movie set a gazillion times, most memorably as ‘The Village’ in The Prisoner. When old Sir Bertram died, he had hisself cremated and made into a rocket, which burst over Portmeirion twenty years later in a fireworks display.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.

Four years ago, groundskeepers at the (genuine) 12th Century castle at Portemeirion felled a tree to widen a path and left the dead tree there. Within months, persons unknown had hammered it full of coins. Mostly modern two pence pieces. Like, taken a rock and smashed it against a coin until it was deeply embedded in the trunk. Or, rather, thousands of them.

There are now seven trees on the grounds similarly encrusted in copper.

The estate manager swears he didn’t start it, hasn’t advertised it and has no idea who’s doing it. He did some digging around, though, and discovered there’s a British tradition of ‘wishing trees’ — kind of like wishing wells — dating back at least to the 18th Century.

So. Huh.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 3, 2012, 10:54 pm

Many thanks to MarkT for the link.

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: January 3, 2012, 10:57 pm

That would be the 18th century BC. People have been placating well and tree spirits for millennia.

I think it works. Touch wood.

Damned strange to see new versions of it springing up!

Comment from Mark T
Time: January 3, 2012, 11:19 pm

I wouldn’t nick any of those coins if you happen to run into one of those trees in the woods. The færies will pinch you, and you will bleed.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: January 3, 2012, 11:21 pm

I knew my parents were lying to me, money does grow on trees.

Comment from Deborah
Time: January 3, 2012, 11:43 pm

Grotesque and compelling at the same time. Touch wood indeed.

Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 3, 2012, 11:54 pm

Touch Wood – Sounds like a porn movie.

Comment from Oldcat
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:08 am

A semi crazy American built a English castle in loveland OH by himself. He was still alive hanging out in it when I was in high school.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:09 am

I wonder if I could set it up so that WordPress plays this sound every time Scoob posts a comment…

Comment from Dustoffmom
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:09 am

I visited Portmeiron a few years back while in Wales. Frankly quite a rip off I thought. However, did not see the said trees. Would have watched for them had I known about it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:12 am

Or this one.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:13 am

Yeah, I’m a little dubious about something as juicy as this spontaneously cropping up at a tourist trap.

Call me cynical.

Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:17 am

Ooooo….. Harsh, stoatie. TRUE, but HARSH!!

What can I say, I lost my battle for sanity on this help desk almost a year ago……

Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:24 am

-Besides, with the number of Porn Parodies coming out the last few years (or so TDW Tease likes to trumpet), Touch Wood sounds like a perfectly valid Porn Parody of TORCHWOOD….

BTW – did you see that Democrat Hank Johnson has doubled down on his claim that the US is causing Guam to tip over? 😉

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:27 am

Hm. I haven’t looked in on the World of Porn since there was a little room in the back of the video store.

Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:33 am

Some of the Gossip sites I read like to talk about them as a kind of Comic Relief…….

Comment from Bruno Braun
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:34 am

In the US our urban copper thieves would haul it off in about 2 minutes.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2012, 12:45 am

Oh, we’re having a real scrap metal problem here, too. I mean, serious. The farmers worry about their gates disappearing (losing the gate is bad enough, but the livestock gets out, too). And the vicar said insurance companies will no longer replace stolen metalwork if it hasn’t been painted with this stuff.

Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 4, 2012, 1:28 am

Stoatie – how hard would it be to get a license to use an image from Star Trek for some of your merchandise? I just found out that Ron Paul supporters are being refered to as RONULANS in some quarters, and a pic of a Romulan Warbird with Ron Pauls face painted on the front would be a great t-shirt idea……


Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: January 4, 2012, 1:32 am

The Vicar splashes a mysterious liquid on things to prevent evil?
Who knew?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 4, 2012, 1:58 am

Zazzle is so anal retentive you wouldn’t believe, Scoob. You’d have to go to a renegade shop.

Comment from Mrs. Compton
Time: January 4, 2012, 1:58 am

They ruined Torchwood.

Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 4, 2012, 2:04 am

Bummer… Something tells me that it would be a seller…

Comment from Nina from GCP
Time: January 4, 2012, 2:49 am

England is odd. I’m glad nothing has changed in that department, at least.


Comment from ScubaFreak
Time: January 4, 2012, 3:57 am

I don’t think that sort of thing ever took root here in Colorado. The closest thing I can think of locally would be up at the Cave of the Winds, where there is a particular crystal shelf where it is said that if a woman leaves a possession on the shelf, she will return to be wed in the Bridal Chamber within a year, or some such.

Anyway, there is a HUGE pile of women’s accoutrements up on the wall, held in place with Chicken wire. Supposedly, it’s been growing for over a hundred years, since nothing is ever removed…..

Comment from Mono The Elder
Time: January 4, 2012, 4:05 am

Wow. Thats….um…. Strange. Stoaty, Youmoved to a wierd country. I mean, The Us of a is strange, but you dont see any coin trees around here….

Comment from Deborah
Time: January 4, 2012, 5:18 am

There used to be an artist in south Texas—a woman—who went around painting dragons on fallen trees. I saw one once; it was quite startling to see a “dragon” in the middle of a field of bluebonnets.

Speaking of dragons: They seem to be a northern hemisphere phenomenon. Are there dragons in southern hemisphere folk lore and literature?

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: January 4, 2012, 5:31 am

Sounds like we could use Smart Water here in the States.

That picture looks dragony, with the two holes at the end being the dragon’s sniffers, and the eyes at the top of the bend half way back along the branch.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: January 4, 2012, 5:36 am

Deborah, the Southern Hemisphere has quite enough real ferocious creatures that no one needs to invent them.

Here in Texas, we sometimes brag that everything has stickers, fangs, or both, but in Australia the spiders will eat you. Flying snakes would be quite redundant.


Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: January 4, 2012, 5:31 pm

The Australian dragons were all eaten by drop bears.

Comment from Armybrat
Time: January 4, 2012, 7:19 pm

Way off topic, flew over Londinistan very early this am. Been there lots so know it’s a big place. Let me tell you, the sky was clear, the lights were bright and it took us 15 min to fly over. That’s a whole lot of urban sprawl!

Comment from mojo
Time: January 4, 2012, 8:13 pm

Chinese dragons (Lung) live in the southern hemisphere.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 4, 2012, 8:37 pm

Given the price of copper I’m surprised nobody has taken them and melted them down.

Comment from Alice
Time: January 4, 2012, 9:21 pm

A little number crunching here… according to wiki, copper makes up 7% of the 7.12grams in a 2p coin. There are about 450 grams in a pound (16 oz), and copper prices run just under $3.50/lb. what’s that add up to? Probably not worth stealing.

Comment from Christopher Taylor
Time: January 5, 2012, 2:21 am

I think the modern coin has a lot less copper in it than the old coins – like the penny, its mostly Zinc these days.

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 5, 2012, 2:50 am

I would say it is a Giant Jew-Trap!

It attracts Jews …

Comment from Sven in Colorado
Time: January 5, 2012, 2:51 am

As a Nordic/Celt whose ancestors did the R,P and P thing (rape, pillage and plunder) and were summarily whacked by the Irish side of the family – (and Stephen howled: “Its MY Island!!!“) – I find this fascinating and a tourist trap.

I’m with Scuba on this one. Trade that copper look see for a guinea or two in worthless tourist shite….a T-shirt and a memento spoon for Mum.

Dad….I need to pee and I want that stuffed Jack-a-lope and, and, and *CANDY*” whilst the family climbs the tower to look thru the haze to supposedly see six separate states and gawk at a two headed calf and a bunch of Folsom flint arrow heads, for another half dollar.

Alice, I am working on a bid to construct water and vandal proof caps for electric light rail transit coils that house enough copper to tempt drug and alky junkies to cut their fifty pound cables and sell them for a fix. Funny how that works. More than one have been turned into stinky carbon dust when they attempt to steal the stuff whilst a couple thousand volts at high amperage is pulsing thru the lines.

Comment from Oceania
Time: January 5, 2012, 10:34 pm

Yes, but Scube is a Jew, and is attracted to anything bright and shiny.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: January 5, 2012, 10:53 pm

Oh, Oceania…that’s not a Jew, it’s a jackdaw.

Starts with J, ends with W…anybody could make that mistake.

Comment from doubleplusundead
Time: January 10, 2012, 1:40 am

Makes me think of Nagelmänner in WWI.

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