Ode to an oak blown down after 1,200 years


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

THE National Poet of Wales has composed a work dedicated to an ancient oak which fell in storms last year.

The Pontfadog Oak, near Glyn Ceiriog, was the oldest tree in Wales but in April 2013 it was blown down in a gale.

To mark the tree’s importance, Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, has penned a verse about the mighty oak, which was 1,200-years-old.

She said: “I do hope this poem will help raise awareness of our ancient trees.

“We need to spend a little bit of money looking after them. It’s a tragedy that this tree fell down even though it was so old. It could have lasted longer.”

Since the loss of the Pontfadog Oak, the Welsh Government has established a task and finish group which is looking at ways to improve the protection for ancient and heritage trees in Wales.

Jerry Langford, the director of the Woodland Trust in Wales, said: “We’re hugely grateful to Gillian Clarke for marking this historical event in such an fitting way.

“One of the great things about our ancient trees is the strong emotions they often evoke in the people who come into contact with them. This poem is a splendid example of this.”

The Pontfadog Oak had been growing since the reign of King Egbert in 802.
It is thought to have already been a mature tree when Owain Gwynedd Ap Gruffudd rallied his troops there, to face Henry II in the mid-12th century.

The sessile oak was even spared when Henry II had his men cut down Ceiriog Woods in 1165.

Tree conservationists were devastated by the news the large tree, with a girth of 42ft 5in, had toppled in high winds.

Pauline Buchanan Black, director general of the Tree Council, said it was the largest tree in Wales and had even been in the Guinness Book of Records in 1972.

In 2002 the tree was honoured as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations – one of 50 great trees for 50 great years.

Scions – or cuttings – which were later taken from the tree and housed in nurseries across the country, including Kew Gardens in London and Savill Gardens based on the Crown estate in Windsor, are now showing positive signs of growth.

See full story in the Leader

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