Friday 6 January 2017

The Snitterfield Oak - 700 years and still going strong

Old when
Shakespeare was a boy just three miles away
The Snitterfield oak was  probably an acorn in the early 13 th century. Robert Bruce was King of Scotland and Edward 1 was on the English throne.

I photographed it this week and it looked pretty healthy for an ancient tree. How do I know its age? I tracked it down on the Woodland Trust data base.

When the tree was last measured at girth height (1.5m above ground level) in 2007 it was 8.03m around, which according to the WT makes it over 700 years old. It was probably planted to mark the boundary of the village's medieval open field system.

At the time even the aristocracy did not own the land, the King gave them a right to it and in turn they rented strips to the village serfs or peasants. There were rarely fences or hedges to mark the boundary. Fences came with the Enclosure Acts in the early 18th century when land became a tradeable commodity and the peasants were evicted.

Enclosure probably gave the feudal clan chieftains here in the Highlands the idea of the clearances as they became increasingly anglicised and greedy. They needed money to pursue their pleasures and define their status in London. But I digress, it's a remarkable tree and beautiful in the early morning light.

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