Losing the Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead


Images from BBC

What a fabulous name for a tree: the Great Oak at the Gates of the Dead. And what a pity that this 1,200 year old oak tree has split down the middle and died this month.

Located in Wales, its trunk has a circumference of 34 ft. It is thought to date back to the reign of King Egbert in 802, when Wales beat back Henry the Second. And finally old age and nature have taken their toll.

It seems to be a victim of the very cold weather that England has been experiencing this winter. As well, the tree is on marshy ground with a stream running down nearby. The water probably settled around the trunk, froze and when it expanded caused it to split.

The ironical part is that it was featured last month on the BBC because of its longevity. On that show they talked about how to measure the girth of the tree. Once more they mentioned the now-familiar tree hug: putting your arms around the tree, with each hug being 1.5 metres in width.

Local historians are devastated. They had a plaque erected last year, marking the battle when it was spared in 1165. One said "Although some parts of the tree were rotten, some of it was still as strong as an oak. At some stage in its history, it appears to have been struck by lightning."

Local arborists are carrying out an assessment to see if there is anything that can be done to save it.

Tags: Communities | Conservation | Extinction | Preservation | Winter

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