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Belvoir Oak

200 People visit Belvoir Oak

26 March 2009

On Sunday 8th March 2009, Belvoir Forest was host to an Ancient Tree Hunt Fun Day. Amongst many activities, guided walks took more than 200 enthusiasts to the site of the original and once magnificent Great Oak before seeing the amazing "new" Belvoir Oak, brought to our attention more recently by Ben Simon and The Forest of Belfast.

This photo shows the original tree in its former glory at the very beginning of the twentieth century, when it was roughly 9m in girth and the biggest tree in the forest. It seems that the modest oak may have insisted upon its photograph being taken from its best side as it was then described as being much decayed. This is supported by the fact that in only 100 years it has virtually disappeared and only fragments and a vague outline can be made out on the ground.

The new king of the forest is 8.05m in girth and although there appear to be similarities in the trees growth form to the original, from its position higher above the River Laggan it is definitely not the same tree! It has been estimated this tree could be anything between 500 and 700 years of age making it probably the oldest tree in Northern Ireland, confirming how exceptionally valuable and special it is. If what is left of the tree has arisen as a single stem then it could even be over 700 years of age according to the estimated calculations of expert John White. If the tree’s girth is possibly a collaboration of more than one stem or exaggerated by bumps and burrs, then it is more likely to be younger but all experts seem to agree that it must be more than 500 years old! A quite remarkable tree!

Archived image of Belvoir Oak. Photo:D Alderman