Sometimes you get tired of planning ahead.  Okay, full disclosure:  I like to wing it.  A lot.  And sometimes Barry feels the same way, because today we hopped in the car and took the first exit off the first roundabout, second exit off the second roundabout, and headed straight for a village with an interesting name.  Wood Walton, in this case.  Rounding a curve and cresting a hill, this was the view:

An English oak tree, fields of canola (rapeseed), and Postman Pat in the Royal Mail truck.
Public footpaths are everywhere – everywhere – and there are also Public Bridleways for people on horseback, although this sign seems to have been used for target practice.
St. Andrew’s Church, Wood Walton, from across the fields.

In the distance, was a little church, so we headed for it, only to find there was no way to reach it by road.  So we parked the car and did what people have done for hundreds of years to reach it:  walk through the fields, following a cart track.  13th century St. Andrew’s has fallen on hard times and is closed due to structural issues, and nowadays no one loves it except the Friends of Friendless Churches.

An unhappy corbel in one of the window frames.
A convenient spot for sitting in a holly tree. I am sitting a little tentatively because a couple of prickly holly leaves are growing right out of the bend in the branch.

There’s a puzzle in the graveyard.  This is obviously NOT an 11th century headstone, and yet it looks like the year of death is 1006.  I just can’t figure it out!

Well, there has to be a reason for this – but it sure LOOKS like 1006!
The headstone for John Scott, who apparently died in 1006 – or not????

UPDATE:  Since originally posting this, the mystery has been solved!  My practical-minded friend Mary Ann simply looked up our friend John Scott in and discovered that he did, indeed, die in 1886.  She adds that John Scott was a farmer and a baker, and a widower who left everything to his son.

Also, my sister Pam recalled that she saw the number four in the date “1444” on a building in Passau, Germany represented by a figure shaped like the pink breast cancer ribbon (or a fish sitting on its tail fins), because it was a “half-eight.”  They told her that the number eight was significant for Christians.

Google says the number eight may (or may not) be associated with resurrection, or new beginnings:  the world was created in six days, God rested on the seventh, and on the eighth day the cycle began again.  If eights do stand for resurrection, that would be a nice touch for a gravestone.

Thanks, Mary Ann and Pam, and rest in peace, Mr. John Scott.  (End of update.)

From there, we drove to the little village of Houghton for a pub lunch.  St. Mary’s Church, although open and very old, has been “cleaned up” and there was no graffiti inside.  But, as we were leaving, carved on the entryway porch (dated 1664) is a “daisy wheel.”  These were carved to bring good luck, or turn away evil.  Some say the daisy wheel represents the sun, and others that it represents “Divine Mathematics,” sectioned into 12 parts, which is divisible by both three (the number of God, the Holy Trinity) and four (the number of man, for the elements of earth, air, fire and water.)  They are often found in doorways, windows, or near fireplaces – entrances and exits.

Daisy wheel carved into the doorway of St. Mary’s, Houghton.
The doorway (porch) to St. Mary’s, Houghton. The daisy wheel was carved on the right hand side, inside.

We finished with a walk around the area of the old Houghton Mill.

Mama swan stretches her legs before resuming her position on the nest next to the Houghton Mill.
The Mill at Houghton. There has been a mill here for over 1000 years, but this one dates from the 1700’s.