Venerable Oak

Seemingly three wizened and gnarled old oak trees growing close together. Actually these are the same tree, the trunk of which has hollowed and rotted away. This makes the girth of the trunk almost 11m indicating a very old tree, well over 600 years.

The British have a special fondness for the oak. The pedunculate variety is the national tree of the United Kingdom. It is generally thought that the oak was the dominant tree of the wildwood which covered the whole of lowland Britain before Neolithic man began the process of clearances. But nobody really knows, as there are no surviving examples of that original wildwood. However modern pollen analyses have shown that the dominant tree was the lime. Oak was present of course along with hazel and elm.

Oak has been known as the crooked wood or compass timber because it naturally formed the best shapes for the cruck framework of ships and buildings. An Elizabethan ship would require 2,000 oak trees, felled from a wood covering 50 acres and only maturing after 50 years.  Oak was also coppiced with the poles being used for charcoal, pit props or the extraction of tannin from the bark.

But this tree has somehow managed to avoid being felled and The Woodland Trust say it is a “maiden” tree and so has not been coppiced. 600 years on it is still going strong. Regular readers will recognise that it has been featured in this blog before, two years ago.

Ancient Oak Tree map

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