Cramp Ball (Daldinia concentrica)
These black, crusty balls that appear on dead twigs and branches are also commonly known as King Alfred's Cakes. It is not hard to see why but if this what the cakes looked like after Alfred neglected them then I am pretty sure his wife(?) would have been pretty livid!
I have no idea why they are called cramp balls however, medical connection perhaps?
Cramp balls do not really look like a fungus. They don't look like anything else really! Just round and, at first brown, but soon shiny black coloured. If you cut one in half you will find silver coloured concentric rings inside - concentrica.
Common on dead Ash and Beech and so common throughout Dorset. Not edible, I think you might break a few teeth if you tried!
Find out more about the nature of Dorset at my website www.natureofdorset.co.uk