It was a plantation today. Sitka spruce, SS, aged approximately 30 years old (count the whorls, but if the whorls are hard to see, take an approximation). Age structure: self sown? They were all different. No rows or lines, or there were, but you can find a line anywhere if you look hard enough. It was what lay underneath them that felt different. Under the feet of these non-native plantation (let's consider them so, as they will be harvested for their timber one day) trees. Underneath the blanket of old needles that suppressed all growth and gave the air a clammy, heavy feel. Underneath this lay a ghost of a forest.
The oldest of forests - the Ancient Woodland of Great Britain (classified as an area of land which has been continuously wooded since the first definitive maps were made: 1750 in Scotland and 1600 in England in Wales), lay underneath this bully of forests, lay quietly degrading. Old stumps, hardwood clearly, slowly decayed as they sat, squat, within the earth. The Sitka pushed upwards, 20m and more, and the oaks, the ash, the birch and the rowan retreated slowly into the ground.
Decay was slow: with the demise of the natural woodland so too had fled the natural components of the ancient forest. The mosses even were shaded out. The Sitka were close enough to cut out enough sunlight to allow anything in the understory to survive. Mosses, supernatural as they may appear, need light, as we all do, to live their lives.
The ghost forest sat quietly for a huge length of time. Unnoticed, until this day, visited by the two of us, and it was found and appreciated for its truth. It's strange this designation. For due to this site being constantly wooded since at least 1750, it has made this most modern of forests - single species, alien, plantation - an ancient woodland also.