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Fab Facts – Ancient Trees

  1. The UK has the largest concentration of ancient trees in Northern Europe.
  2. The oldest tree in the UK and perhaps in Europe is believed to be the Fortingall Yew near Callendar in Scotland, and is thought to be 5,000 years old.
  3. An oak spends 300 years growing, 300 years resting and 300 years declining gracefully.
  4. Oliver Rackham wrote: ‘Ten thousand oaks of one hundred years are no substitute for one five hundred year old oak tree’.
  5. The fattest oak tree in Britain would take about nine adults to hug it, finger tip to finger tip.
  6. There are 500,000 listed buildings in the UK and perhaps as many unlisted ancient trees to be found.
  7. A hollow tree is often a healthy strong tree. The decaying wood produced as it hollows acts as extra food for the tree which might even send down aerial roots inside the hollow to make the most of the rich pickings.
  8. Trees shrink as they become ancient, becoming shorter and squatter. It’s a great survival strategy as it means they can cope better with high winds.
  9. Ancient yews are often found in churchyards – but are much older than the churches, as they mark places that were considered sacred to pre-Christian religions as well.
  10. Lots of our ancient trees had to work hard for a living – they were cut regularly as pollards to provide fuel, fodder, timber and food.
  11. It can take 250 years before a tree is a suitable home for some very particular lichens.
  12. Robin Hood often hid in an ancient tree in Sherwood Forest to escape the Sherriff of Nottingham – we think it is the Major Oak
  13. Queen Elizabeth I was sitting beneath an ancient oak in Hatfield Park when she first heard that she would be the next Queen of England.
  14. The Bowthorpe Oak is very fat and so hollow that people used to dine inside it – and there is a record of 20 people sitting down inside it on one occasion.
  15. The King of Limbs – a famous oak in Savernake Forest is just one of many oaks believed to be older than England which became a state in 927 or 10th century.
  16. The Milking Tree in Northamptonshire was considered so important in the landscape back in 1790 that a naval report, commissioned by King George declared that it must not be sacrificed for ship building. The tree can still be visited today.

The Boothby oak