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  • Writer's pictureSteeple Woods

The Keeper of the Woods

Well before the Reserve was created the, then derelict, land was home to a local character - affectionately known as Nokka.

Nokka taken around the late 1980's.
Nokka taken around the late 1980's.

Now, those who know their Cornish folklore will tell you that a Cornish Knocker is a small. large headed creature that lives deep down in tin mines and helps miners by showing them the way to seams of ore or knocking on the walls if there is any danger of a tunnel collapse.

Our Nokka lived in the woods as an unofficial warden for the site.

He lived in a bender - a bender tent is a simple shelter made using flexible branches or withies, such as those of hazel or willow and covered by tarpaulin.

Nokka's bender.
Nokka's bender.

It is said, by those who were around Steeple Woods in the 1990's, that there was a large traveller commune on and around Worvas Hill. Nokka was part of the commune and stayed on after it was broken up.

There are many stories about Nokka. The most popular is of him using the sarcophagus inside the Knill's monument (before the door was sealed) to gather rainwater for a bath.

You can read more about Nokka in his obituary, reproduced from the St Ives Times and Echo.


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