Puzzlewood My Muse

by Michael C Oakes

Beneath the shadows of the yews

Where J.J.R. Tolkien once stood

Was this enchanting place his muse

Middle-earth inspired by Puzzlewood

It was once an ancient mine

The scowles worked till Roman days

Reclaimed now by moss, fern and vine

Stones and plants create this maze

Another world straight from his page

The fresh damp earthy smell

With my staff I feel like a mage

What things in here could dwell

Past an eerie rock feature

In the shadows something does creep

A pitiful gangrel creature

Filled with hate and ready to leap

Over bridges made of yew

An elf awaits with his bow

His hidden eyes are watching you

To see if you are friend or foe

Down paths of soil, rock and root

Groaning voices carried on the breeze

Can you hear the Entmoot

Like the wind blowing through the trees

Beneath the shadows of the yews

Where Tolkien and I once stood

This enchanting place my muse

Inspired by Middle-earth and Puzzlewood

Puzzlewood is an ancient woodland, near Coleford in the Forest of Dean. The woods cover 14 acres, and are probably the best example of pre-Roman, Celtic opencast iron mines in the area.

It is now a tourist attraction. Over a mile of pathways were laid down in the early 1800s to provide access to the woods, and provide picturesque walks. The area contains strange rock formations, secret caves and ancient trees, with a confusing maze of paths. Puzzlewood is said to be one of J. R. R. Tolkien's inspirations for Middle-earth in The Lord of the Rings.

The geological features on show at Puzzlewood are known as scowles. Scowles originated through the erosion of natural underground cave systems formed in the Carboniferous Limestone many millions of years ago. Uplift and erosion caused the cave system to become exposed at the surface. This was then exploited by Iron Age settlers through to Roman times for the extraction of iron ore.

Puzzlewood has featured many times as a location for the filming of the BBC Magical Drama, Merlin, as well as other places in the Forest of Dean.

Puzzlewood Photos