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Finding ancient trees in the UK - Ancient Tree Hunt

In most parts of the UK, you will see ancient trees scattered though the landscape and the number of ancient trees is exceptional compared with elsewhere in Europe.

Where can you find ancient trees today?

What is it about this UK landscape that sets it apart from mainland Europe? Cast your eyes over the patchwork of fields, hedges and woodland and you start to see a few of the reasons. In most parts of the UK, you will see ancient trees scattered though the landscape.

According to experts, the number of ancient trees in the UK is exceptional compared with elsewhere in Europe.

However, the sheer extent of the UK’s ancient tree population is not properly understood. Distribution is patchy; in some areas ancient trees are abundant, in others scarce.

Today, many of the surviving ancient trees can be found in the vestiges of the once extensive system of Royal Hunting forests and their successors, the more formalised medieval deer parks.

Scattered groups of trees can also be found in historic parkland, wood pasture and ancient wooded commons with small groups and individual specimens to be found in the midst of housing estates and urban parks, on farmland, village greens, churchyards and within the grounds of old historic buildings.

In the open countryside, scattered across much of England, ancient black poplars can be found on flood plains in meadows and occasionally in ancient hedges.

Ancient ash clings to limestone rock in the Northern dales. In the Derbyshire dales, coppiced lime stools are so old that the rock that they sit on has eroded away from their roots, giving the appearance that the tree is supported by stilts.

In the Scottish Borders, ancient wood pasture oaks can be found at Cadzow and Dalkeith and ancient Scots pine survive in the Caledonian Forest way up in the Highlands.

Wales also has a history of hunting forests, a few of which were Royal Forests, where occasional ancient trees can still be found. In addition, old parkland oak survive in ancient parks such as Dinefwr Park and Chirk Park.

Ancient Tree - stump.Photo: Ted Green WTPL

landscape. Photo:WTPL

urban tree- vandalised. Photo: Jon Parsons