Shropshire Star

Expert says 1,200-year-old oak tree near Oswestry cannot be saved

A tree expert says it won't be possible to save a 1,200-year-old oak near Oswestry which was brought down this week by strong winds.

The Pontfadog Oak was uprooted as strong gales swept across the region

But the Woodland Trust's Shaun Burkey called for at least part of the Pontfadog Oak on the Shropshire border to be preserved and used as a monument celebrating the area's rich history.

The Pontfadog Oak was measured by Josephine Morris at 42ft around its girth on April 6, 1971

He also called for landowners to receive more help to protect veteran trees of historical importance.

The demise of the Pontfadog Oak on the Shropshire border is a 'hugely significant loss' to the history and heritage of the area, experts have said.

The ancient tree was toppled by strong winds on Wednesday evening.

History and wildlife experts say the loss of the tree is a huge blow, particularly as, according to legend, it was used as a meeting point for Welsh armies before battles against the English.

Mr Burkey, who also works for Shropshire Council as a greenspace manager, said: "I know there has been talk about having it somehow re-erected but unfortunately I don't think that is possible. The tree has been completely severed at the base so, in this instance, it is not possible for it to be re-erected.

"There is a process called phoenix trees which can be grown again and yew trees are particularly good at that but in this case that won't happen.

"However, this tree must be remembered. I am thinking along the lines of cutting out a large middle section and having it mounted or using some of the tree as a monument."

Mr Burkey added: "The importance of this tree cannot be underestimated and this shows how important it is that landowners are given help to preserve trees. We would not allow this to happen to landmarks like Stonehenge and these veterans trees are as significant."

Mr Burkey said he was 'intrigued' by a suggestion a sapling from the oak had been planted at Oswestry Orthopaedic Hospital. Hospital bosses said they were unable to shed light on the suggestion but, according to Shropshire Star archives, a sapling was taken from the oak and planted in the grounds of the Gobowen hospital in the early 1970s.

Mr Burkey said: "Anyone with details can call the trust on (01476) 581111."

Welsh history expert Mark Williams said many were devastated by the loss of the tree, which boasted a 42ft girth.

Mr Williams, from Weston Rhyn near Oswestry, said the tree was believed to have been a rallying point for Welsh princes, including Owain Gwynedd who is said to have met his troops under the oak in the 12th century before defeating King Henry II of England in battle.

He said: "It was the oldest oak tree in Wales, probably the oldest in Britain and one of the oldest in the world.

"Although it has been said since it came down the tree was about 1,200 years old I believe it may be even older.

"I remember there was a millennium project done on it in 2000 and at that time experts suggested it may be even about 1,700 years."

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