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NEWS RELEASE No: 1361625 MAY 2010

Mythbusters shed light on legend in Dalby Forest!

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woman with snake on a fossil

Experts in Dalby Forest will don the mantel of mythbusters extraordinaire as the Forestry Commission stage the Third Dalbyology Fun Day in the 8,600 acre woodland.

The spectacular event on Sunday 6 June will shed light on a whole host of `ologies’ from ornithology to geology, with exciting themed crafts, activities, walks and wildlife displays, with plenty to do for children.

And this year the public will be asked to do some of the thinking for themselves!

Organisers will delve into the folklore which once supplied ‘answers’ to natural phenomenon, before science replaced fiction with fact, posing the question whether folk really did once believe in the myth.

Questions up in the air will include:
 Did butterflies really get their name from a belief that the brimstone butterfly was a witch in disguise with a compulsion for stealing butter?
 Did people really think that ammonites were the fossilised remains of snakes, turned to stone by St Hilda of Whitby Abbey?
 Were Rowan trees once planted around houses to deter witches from entering?
 Do owls really have one ear larger than the other and if so why?

Barn owls and bats will be on hand to help illuminate these and many other tricky questions and there’ll be chance to accompany local author Peter Robinson on a walk through the forest to uncover legends about Dalby – once part of the Royal forest of Pickering.

Making a guest appearance will be Dr Paul Taylor from the Natural History Museum in London who will present a colourful talk on fossil folklore from 2pm bringing along items from the world famous collection.

Organiser Carol Robinson said:

“Dalbyology is a fantastic way to have fun and learn a lot more about the world around us. Some of the region’s most knowledgeable experts will be on hand to share their passion set against the spectacular backdrop of the woodland.”

Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society will also spotlight `heliology’ – the study of the sun – using hi-tech telescopes to produce brilliant views of solar flares thousands of miles long and recalling fanciful 18th century theories which believed the fiery orb it was inhabited by heat-proof aliens!

The event is free and based at Dalby Forest Visitor Centre. However, please note the forest toll still applies to cars. Activities run from 10.30am to 4pm. For more information call 01751 460295, or log on to


  1. Our photo shows Dalbyology organiser Carol Robinson, from Seamer, near Scarborough, with an ammonite and Jasper, a Western Hognose snake. According to one of the legends explored at the event in North Yorkshire's Dalby Forest such fossils were thought to be remains of snakes turned to stone by St Hilda, of Whitby Abbey fame.
  2. Other organisations taking part include Scarborough Field Naturalists, Yorkshire Butterfly Conservation, Yorkshire Mammal Group, National Trust, North York Moors National Park, Hawk and Owl Trust, Ryedale Rehab, Rotunda Geology Group and the North Yorkshire Bat Group.
  3. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands.


Issued on behalf of the Forestry Commission by Richard Darn, COI, LEEDS. Tel: 0113 3466085. Mobile 0775 367 0038.