With suitable pieces becoming harder to come by Blackthorn is among the most sought after and highly-priced of all traditional walking sticks. Prized both for their appearance and for their heritage, a good blackthorn walking stick will have great character, be suited to its user, and elicit admiring comments wherever it goes. Over time, it will become a greatly loved possession.
About This Stick:
Blackthorn is known as a winter shrub. The mass of snow white flowers blossom March through April, before the oval leaves appear, followed by purple sloes in autumn. These blue-black fruits are edible and also used to make into warming sloe gin. Rustic in appearance the bark of the blackthorn walking stick can be any color from reddish-brown through to almost black.
Blackthorn is widely regarded as the ultimate wood for walking sticks. Sourced from nearly impenetrable dark thickets of twisted branches and wicked thorns, the stick is then seasoned for one year before being straightened and finished by hand.
Using traditional methods passed on from generations, the handle is shaped from the root so that the walking stick is in effect grown upside down. There is a great art in its shaping so the root knob fits comfortably into the palm, it is then hand polished to a smooth grain-detailed finish. The natural bark is left intact on the shaft, trimmed of thorns, polished and tipped with a smart, hardwearing brass ferrule. Read More About Blackthorn ...
Environmentally Sustainable Resource Management Practices ensuring continuous, ready availability. The traditional sustainable forestry technique of coppicing to produce the raw material for walking sticks is practiced. This method results in a new crop of walking sticks every year without ever needing to fell the parent trees, so the system works in harmony with nature and provides a beneficial habitat for our native woodland flora and fauna. Forestry is probably the most carbon negative industry in which man engages, so by buying a wooden walking stick, the user is doing their bit to support responsible forestry and our environment. Continue...
...the blackthorn has a long history of use as a fighting weapon. Thus, there is a certain amount of prestige and prowess associated with carrying a blackthorn stick...
The Blackthorn, or Prunus spinosa, is a shrubby bush with vicious thorns and a suckering habit, so that it forms dense hedges through which livestock cannot escape. Indeed, the impenetrable forest in the fairytale Sleeping Beauty is said to have been a blackthorn thicket. It grows particularly well in Ireland and England, where blackthorn sticks cut from hedges have been popular for many centuries.
In Ireland, the blackthorn walking stick has a long history of use as a fighting stick. Thus, there is a certain amount of prestige and prowess associated with carrying a blackthorn stick. There are also many mentions of blackthorn in Irish mythology, not least that the 'little people' live in blackthorn bushes. They can take exception to their homes being cut down to make walking sticks. To avoid bad luck, the stick cutter should wait until a branch of the blackthorn has tapped him on the shoulder to give permission before the first cut is made. The hero of the 19th century Irish song, 'The Rocky Road to Dublin', cuts "A stout blackthorn to banish ghosts and goblins," which seems a good a reason to carry a blackthorn walking stick.
In England, blackthorn has long been thought to have magical properties and, according to West Country folklore, local witches used blackthorn sticks to aid them in their mischief making. The belief that blackthorn walking sticks were connected with witches persisted here until the time of the Second World War. They now have a more positive image; indeed, some British Army regiments carry blackthorn walking sticks on ceremonial occasions.
In Scotland, winter traditionally begins when the Cailleach (the winter goddess) strikes her blackthorn shaft on the ground. In the 17th century, the good people of Edinburgh burnt Major Thomas Weir as a witch, in part because they did not approve of his blackthorn staff, which his sister said had been given to him by the Devil. The staff is now said to roam the streets around the West Bow looking for its master. The Scots are not thought to have not burnt any men as witches since, so owning a blackthorn staff is thankfully somewhat safer for the modern gentleman.
Walking sticks are generally robust items suitable for active use. However, a little care and maintenance will improve the appearance of your walking stick or seat and may extend its working life. Some useful tips are as follows:
Wooden walking sticks should be regularly cleaned of mud and grime by wiping them gently with a damp cloth. They should be dried after use in wet weather and stored somewhere dry and warm but away from direct heat sources such as stoves and radiators. Wood is a natural product and therefore is prone to changes in appearance. Some slight splitting and slight cracks are normal. Blackthorn is even more naturally prone to splitting - this is considered characteristic of the wood and not considered a defect. An occasional light polish with furniture polish or beeswax will also protect the wood and enhance the finish, although this should not be done with natural bark rustic sticks that have not been varnished (for example many bark ash sticks).
Ensure worn or damaged metal or rubber ferrules are replaced promptly, both for safety reasons and to prevent damage to the cane.