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A Rogue Kite and a Cool Discovery

(***UPDATE Aug 3*** - after the experts of the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts looked into all this, there are some preliminary conclusions: the rings are (almost surely) mushroom-made fairy rings, and the pottery shards are Roman! Read more here.)

Well, then ...

When we were forced to leave the kite and camera flying alone in the storm above castle Kalec, the fierce winds swayed the camera so much something pretty much unexpected was recorded on one of the photos.

This one:

A closer look:

See the circles?

"Fairy rings!", we thought and decided to go back ASAP - this time with the venerable Rokkaku and with the camera poinitng straight down - to explore those funny circles.

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But first, an intermezzo. Surely, the castle Kalec and its surroundings must be enchanted - or, better, haunted. While we narrowly avoided the disaster in the storm last time, this time the winds overwhelmed the kite line - and it snapped.

Rokkaku and Nikon flew magnificently away, and for a moment we thought everything was lost.

It wasn't. After a mile long flight southwest across the Pivka valley ...

... the Picavet rig got entangled in some bushes and we safely retrieved both the camera (unfortunately the battery fell out so no photos ot the untethered flight) and the kite! :-)

(Yes, we know. Totally our fault and negligence - another stark reminder to take care and regularly replace your kite lines!)

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But before the line snapped (and the battery was lost), we got the shots of them circles!

There are aroud ten of them, ranging from 5 to 10 meters in diameter. The kite aerial photos can do only this much, so a third expedition to the place was in order - this time to conduct a survey on foot.

As said before, we were pretty much sure these were so-called fairy rings (Wikipedia) - circles in grass created by mushrooms, with the mycelium growing outwards and either repressing the grass (a negative circle), or supply it with more nutrients, especially nitrogen, so tatit grows higher (a positive circle). BTW, fairy rings are really cool ... :-)

But there was another, much less fairytale-ish and much more exciting possibility.

Roundhouses.

A replica of a Celtic late Iron Age roundhouse, Wales.

Roundhouses are typical and well-known type of dwellings from Bronze and Iron Age, right up to the Romans. Made on a circular plan, with walls made either of stone or of wooden posts joined by wattle-and-daub panels and a conical thatched roof, they ranged in size from less than 5m in diameter to over 15m. The remains of many Bronze Age roundhouses can still be found scattered across open heathland, as stone 'hut circles'.

There is just one (haha) problem: no circular dwellings were ever found in Slovenia. Not from the Bronze or Iron Age, not from the Roman times, not from early Slavs. None. Even more, while roundhouses are rather numerous in Brittany and the British Isles, they are pretty rare in the rest of Europe.

So - fairy rings or an Iron Age settlement of roundhouses? One of the main features of fairy rings is that they grow - and are getting wider every year. So we took the aerial photos of the area from the Environmental Atlas of Slovenia that were shot in different years, and compared them:

The rings are barely discernible, but they seem to remain the same through the years. So points down for the fairy rings!

As we walked up to the rings, we noticed that they are almost impossible to see from the ground. The slighty taller - or just a bit more upright-standing - grass was all that delineated the rings, and while the colour of the top of the grass made the ring stand out while observed from the air, one can't see shit standing among them:

See the ring? Yeah. Here is another one: