Step 1: Where to Find Materials
For this Instructable, I chose Bognor Regis' beach, but any well-pebbled beach you have handy will do.
Step 2: Acquiring the Correct Selection of Materials
First, wander up and down the beach. You are looking for stones with holes in. They must go right the way through the stone. If you have help, you will find more. Finding these stones can become a group activity. I was helped by Kitechild-major (Kitechild-minor was busy fighting pterodactyls with a stick).
Second, find a piece of string. We were going to pinch a piece of wool off Kitewife, but we found a length of plastic packing string on the beach as well, so we used that. It seemed appropriate.
Step 3: Assembling the Materials
Select one stone, either a small stone with a large hole, or a stone with the hole to one side. Tie the string to the stone.
Thread the rest of the stones onto the string.
Finishing: either tie the final end of the string to the last stone, or tie a loop in the end. An overhand knot is sufficient to do this.
Step 4: Preventing the Curse
To prevent the bad dreams, the curse must be physically blocked. Hang your string of stones in the window of your bedroom. Traditionally, this is best done on the outside, but (in this modern world), inside the window is also acceptable. If you have enough strings, you can provide a thorough protection by hanging them in every window and beside every exterior door.
Step 5: What Is Going On
In the East of England, stones with naturally-occurring holes are called hagstones (a âhagâ being a witch). The holes are meant to deflect the dream-causing curse.
Step 6: Alternatives
You donât have to use string. If the stones are going to be outside, say on a window frame or gatepost, you can thread them onto a length of thick wire (such as a wire coat hanger or fencing wire). Twist a small loop into each end of the wire, and they can be nailed, screwed or stapled in place.
Be decorative â we threaded the stones on in the order they came out of our pockets, but you could select the sizes and orientation of the stones to look ârightâ for you. Kitechild-major attempted to lay our string out as a letter âBâ, since we were in Bognor Regis Butlins at the time â if your strings are long enough, you could nail them to a fence in whatever patterns you want.
Step 7: The Science Bit
Animals like zooplankton and sponges have a silica-based structure, which partly dissolves when they die. As a shallow sea evaporates, the silica is the first material to come out of solution. It tends to accumulate where there is already silica, so it builds up as nodules around specks of dead sponge. When the more-soluble carbonates come out of solution and form chalk, the nodules of silica get trapped in the matrix.
So, every flint has a piece of sponge at its heart. Sometimes, the piece is quite large, so the flint traps a fossil sponge, which is revealed as the outside of the flint is eroded away by natural processes. You may find a flint with a bubbly-textured piece sticking out. That is a fossil sponge, many millions of years old.
The bubbles make the central sponge weaker, so it erodes away more quickly, leaving a cavity in the flint. Sometimes, that cavity passes right through the flint, making a hagstone.
Most hagstones are small, but you occasionally find a large one. Years ago, we found one twice the size of my head on the beach near Cromer. It became a garden ornament, but we managed to leave it behind when we moved house. By the time we remembered about it, the new owners had decided that it didnÃ¢â¬â¢t fit their plans, and skipped it.