By David Keys
The mighty oak has been central to English history and culture for centuries. Now new research is revealing precisely why.
A nationwide survey has just revealed that England has more ancient oak trees than the rest of Europe put together.
Over the past four years, tree historians have discovered 1,200 previously unknown but still surviving mediaeval and Tudor oaks, pushing the grand total for such trees in England to a remarkable 3,400.
About 85 per cent of them are between 400 and 600 years old, while some 12 per cent date back 600 to 800 years, with 3.4 per cent (117 examples) dating back 800 to 1,000 years. The survey work has been coordinated by the Woodland Trust, working in conjunction with the Ancient Tree Forum, the Tree Register and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
By contrast, the figure for the whole of continental Europe is estimated to be just 2,000 ancient oaks – 1,260 of which are in Sweden, only some 120 in Germany and perhaps 300 in Romania.
In terms of 800- to 1,000-year-old oaks, continental Europe has only 85 – 14 of which are in Sweden and 24 in Germany.