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Spell Walk with riddles

Once upon a time, words began to vanish from the language of children. They disappeared so quietly that at first almost no one noticed – fading away like water on stone. The words were those that children used to name the natural world around them: heron, otter, raven – gone! Fern, heather, kingfisher, ivy, newt, . . . all of them gone! The words were becoming lost: no longer vivid in children's voices, no longer alive in their stories.

You hold in your hands a set of spells for conjuring back these lost words. To release these charms you will need to seek out, find and speak them out loud back into the world and only then will they become stitched back into our hearts, mouths and minds eyes.
Now it's time you explored your school grounds, these are the spell wands to be found? Plenty of space to skip and play, alongside the beasts which reside here today. To continue please type 'The Lost Words' in the box below.
Chapter one

To Conjure the Spells

With your foot prints and breath, we will conjure back these lost words right into the landscape. Through the old magic of being spoken out loud they will flutter and unfold into our bright dreams once again. To dance amongst the pillows and brows of tiny heads and be sweetly sung back into the world once more.
Of all the paths around these grounds The Horse Chestnut will be trickiest to find, with the green punky hats of their spiky shells, hiding the wooden heart of this spell. Conker is your next keyword.
Chapter two

Riddle by yr 4 pupils

Put them in your pocket to keep arthritis at bay
Put them in a bowl to stay the spiders away

As big as an egg or nugget of chicken
Crush or shoe them out by foot
This is so you don't get spiked
For these are the horse chestnut fruits all school kids like

Perfect for a special game
Once threaded and drilled
Knock your opponents apart
For the wining thrill

What am I?
Chapter three


Cabinet-maker, could you craft me a conker?
Oil its wood, burnish its veneer, set it glowing
from within?
Never. Not a chance. No hope at all.
Chapter four

King Then

King, then, could you command me a conker?
Compel its green spikes to grow, its white plush
to thicken? Impossible. Impractical. Inconceivable.
Engineer, surely you could design me a conker?
Refine its form, mill its curves and edges?
Manufacture me that magic casket?
Unfeasible. Unworkable. Unimaginable.
Chapter five

Realize This

Realize this (said the Cabinet-maker, the King and
the Engineer together), conker cannot be made,
however you ask it, whatever word or tool you use,
regardless of decree. Only one thing can conjure
conker – and that thing is tree.

Before you move on, say the word 'conker' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
This tiny water sleeper, a fabulous amphibious reed-bed creeper, living beneath the stillness of the pond for newt is the keyword for this spell wand.
Chapter six


‘Newt, oh newt, you are too cute!'
Emoted the coot to the too-cute newt,
‘With your frilly back and your shiny suit
and your spotted skin so unhirsute!'
Chapter seven

Too Cute

‘Too cute?!' roared the newt to the
unastute coot. ‘With all this careless
talk of cute you bring me into
disrepute, for newts aren't cute:
Chapter eight

We're Kings Of

we're kings of the pond, lions of the
duckweed, dragons of the water;
albeit, it's true,' – he paused – ‘minute.'

Now say the word 'newt' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Into the mighty Oak I grow, perhaps it was jay or the squirrel did sow, me into the earth where l set my seed for I'm destined to become the mightiest of all English trees. The keyword spell you will need is Acorn.
Chapter nine

Riddle by yr 3 pupils

I sit neat in a tiny cup
Carved in your house to ward off lightening bad luck
Squirrelled away for winter store
Tiny wooden eggs sprout from this massive oaken core
The size of a bumble bee
The first letter of the alphabet
That's me

Answer Acorn
Chapter ten


As flake is to blizzard, as
Curve is to sphere, as knot is to net, as
One is to many, as coin is to money, as
bird is to flock, as
Rock is to mountain, as drop is to fountain, as
spring is to river, as glint is to glitter, as
Near is to far, as wind is to weather, as
feather is to flight, as light is to star, as
kindness is to good, so acorn is to wood.
Chapter eleven

The Spelling

Before you move on, say the word 'acorn' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Chapter twelve


Grey tall and wide of wing, a masterful bird you must be seeing, hunched and cloaked and patient as time, heron is the next keyword spell to bind.
Chapter thirteen


Here hunts heron. Here haunts heron.
Huge-hinged heron. Grey-winged weapon.
Eked from iron and wreaked from blue and
beaked with steel: heron, statue, seeks eel.
Rock still at weir sill. Stone still at weir sill.
Dead still at weir sill. Still still at weir sill.
Until, eelless at weir sill, heron magically . . .
Chapter fourteen

Out Of The Water

Out of the water creaks long-legs heron,
old-priest heron, from here on in all sticks
and planks and rubber-bands, all clanks and
clicks and rusty squeaks.
Chapter fifteen

Now Heron Hauls

Now heron hauls himself into flight – early
aviator, heavy freighter – and with steady
wingbeats boosts his way through evening
light to roost.

Before you move on, say the word 'heron' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Waxy leaves deep and dark, permitted only as ground cover in this park. With tendrils thin into crevice and crack, up, behind, between and back. So walk and wander down the path, take a stroll, smile and laugh, and see if you can spot this simple vine, for ivy is the keyword spell for you to find.
Chapter sixteen


I am ivy, a real high-flyer.
Via bark and stone I scale tree and spire.
You call me ground-cover; I say sky-wire.
Chapter seventeen

The Spelling

Say the word 'ivy' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Blue jacketed bird, quiet and meek, with a topaz flash over river, secret and swift as a quiver. The next keyword spell is Kingfisher.
Chapter eighteen


Kingfisher: the colour-giver, fire-bringer, flame-flicker,
river's quiver.
Ink-black bill, orange throat, and a quick blue
back-gleaming feather-stream.
Chapter nineteen

Neat And Still

Neat and still it sits on the snag of a stick, until with . . .
Gold-flare, wing-fan, whipcrack the kingfisher –
zingfisher, singfisher! –
Flashes down too fast to follow, quick and quicker
carves its hollow
In the water, slings its arrow superswift to swallow
Stickleback or shrimp or minnow.
Chapter twenty

Halcyon Is

Halcyon is its other name – also ripple-calmer,
Evening angler, weather-teller, rainbringer and
Rainbow bird – that sets the stream alight with burn
and glitter!

Now say the word 'kingfisher' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
A thicket of thorns for the flittering Wren, and sweet black fruits at summers end. Bramble is the next keyword.
Chapter twenty-one


Bramble is on the march again,
Rolling and arching along the hedges,
into parks on the city edges.
Chapter twenty-two

All Streets Are

All streets are suddenly thick with briar:
cars snarled fast, business over.
Moths have come in their millions,
drawn to the thorns. The air flutters.
Bramble has reached each house now,
looped it in wire. People lock doors,
close shutters.
Chapter twenty-three

Little Shoots Steal

Little shoots steal through keyholes,
to leave – in quiet halls,
Empty stairwells – bowls of bright
blackberries where the light falls.

Before you move on, say the word 'bramble' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Bend my withies into a wreaths, make a den, basket or hurdle fence and Willow is the keyword spell you will come to at length.
Chapter twenty-four


Willow, when the wind blows so your branches billow,
O will you whisper while we listen so we learn what
words your long leaves loosen?
If you whisper when the wind blows so your branches
billow, willow, we will listen for a day, a week, a year,
till we know what willows say, what willows speak.
Lean in, listeners, come below our leaves and wait until
the wind blows so our branches billow, listen for a year,
a week, a day, but you will never hear what willows speak,
what willows say.
Chapter twenty-five

Long You Linger

Long you linger, listeners, hard you press your ears against
our bark, but you will never sense our sap, and you will
never speak in leaves, or put down roots into the rot –
for we are willow and you are not.
Chapter twenty-six

Open Up Your Heartwood

Open up your heartwood to us will you, willow, show
your deep within, your rough without, your waterbrushing
bough, your shoot, your grain, your knot?
We will never whisper to you, listeners, nor speak, nor shout,
and even if you learn to utter alder, elder, poplar, aspen,
you will never know a word of willow – for we are willow
and you are not.

Before you move on, say the word 'willow' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Both cat and fish but neither too, now walk a while down, along and through, to a place where water passes by, for otter is the keyword spell for you to spy.
Chapter twenty-seven


Otter enters river without falter – what a
supple slider out of holt and into water!
This shape-shifter's a sheer breath-taker, a
sure heart-stopper – but you'll only ever spot
a shadow-flutter, bubble-skein, and never
(almost never) actual otter.
Chapter twenty-eight

The Swift Swimmer

This swift swimmer's a silver-miner – with
trout its ore it bores each black pool deep
and deeper, delves up-current steep and
steeper, turns the water inside-out, then
Chapter twenty-nine

Ever Dreamed Of

Ever dreamed of being otter? That
utter underwater thunderbolter, that
shimmering twister?
Run to the riverbank, otter-dreamer, slip
your skin and change your matter, pour
your outer being into otter – and enter
now as otter without falter into water.

Before you move on, say the word 'otter' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Black of wing and long of beak, petrol black his coat is sleek, the keyword spell you will need is raven.
Chapter thirty


Rock rasps, what are you?
I am Raven! Of the blue-black jacket and the
boxer's swagger, stronger and older than peak
and than boulder, raps Raven in reply.
Air asks, what are you?
I am Raven! Prince of Play, King of Guile,
grin-on-face base-jumper, twice as agile as
the wind, thrice as fast as any gale, rasps
Raven in reply.
Chapter thirty-one

Vixen Ventures

Vixen ventures, what are you?
I am Raven! Solver of problems, picker of
locks, who can often outsmart stoat and
always out-think fox, scoffs Raven in reply.
Earth enquires, what are you?
I am Raven! I have followed men from forest
edge to city scarp: black shadow, dark
familiar, hexes Raven in reply.
Chapter thirty-two

Nothing Knows

Nothing knows what you are.
Not true! For I am Raven, who nothing cannot
know. I steal eggs the better to grow, I eat
eyes the better to see, I pluck wings the
better to fly, riddles Raven in reply.

Before you move on, say the word 'Raven' into the wind to spell the word back into being.
Chapter thirty-three


Thankyou for spelling these words back into the landscape.

The Lost Words was published by Hamish Hamilton in the UK October 2017 - ISBN ref 978-0241253588

All images remain copyright of Jackie Morris and lost word spells by Robert Macfarlane with additional words by Christopher Jelley and Storywalks©
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