As the year draws to a close it’s a poignant time to remember that which we have gained through the year and that which we have lost. In the wake of the poignant loss of the iconic Sycamore Gap tree, a symbol deeply rooted in British history, it is only fitting this winter to pay homage to the enduring arboreal wonders that have graced the landscapes of this storied land. As we reflect on the passing of one magnificent tree, BSW Timber takes time out to celebrate the resilience and majesty of those that have stood the test of time.

1. The Wallace Oak
Towering and regal, the Oak tree has long been a symbol of strength and endurance, but it is the Wallace Oak at Elderslie near Glasgow that stands out above most. The tree is widely acknowledged as a gathering place for Scottish national hero William Wallace and his followers and remains a symbol of Scottish resistance against English rule.

2. The Yew of Fortingall
Nestled in the churchyard of Fortingall in Scotland, the ancient Yew tree stands as a testament to the passage of time. Estimated to be between 3,000 to 5,000 years old, this tree has seen kingdoms rise and fall. Its longevity sparks wonder and reverence, drawing visitors from around the world.

3. Major Oak
Another stunning oak to adorn our shores is the Major Oak at Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. Thought to be between 800 and 1000 years old, the Major Oak is thought to be Britain’s most famous oak owing to its massive size and sprawling branches. Not only is the tree a symbol of Nottinghamshire but it is considered a living testament to the region’s rich history and folklore. With connections to the legendary tales of Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the Major Oak attracts numerous visitors each year who come to admire its ancient ties.

4. Ankerwycke Yew
Believed to be over 2,000 years old, the Ankerwycke Yew provides a lasting association with the Magna Carta, due to its proximity to Runneymede in Surrey. While the Magna Carta Oak, which was thought to be the actual site where the Magna Carta was sealed, stood nearby, it fell in the late 18th Century. The Ankerwycke Yew has stood tall and preserves the historical atmosphere of the site. With its gnarled and weathered appearance, a sense of mystique that often surrounds yew trees, only embellishes associations with religious and spiritual symbolism.

5. The Birnam Oak
The Birnam Oak near Dunkeld in Perthshire is part of the larger Tay Forest Park and has a strong heritage dating back centuries. It is famously associated with William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which Macbeth receives a prophecy that he will be safe until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane. The story goes that branches from Birnam Wood were used as a camouflage to protect Macbeth and although the play is a work of fiction, the intrigue and fascination has added cultural significance to the tree.

While the demise of the Sycamore Gap tree marks the end of an era, the rich tapestry of Britain’s arboreal history continues to thrive. Each tree has a unique story and contributes to the legacy of our nation’s landscapes. As we bid farewell to one iconic tree, it’s important to celebrate the resilience and beauty of those that stand tall, steadfast, and deeply rooted in the history of the British Isles.

At BSW, we are committed to the thriving success of our forests and woodlands and that’s why we source our timber from healthy, sustainable forests, and unreservedly condemn illegal logging practices. Our integrated capabilities ensure we have a partner, and a market, for every part of the log. We grow-to-size, harvest to order and replant to replenish, creating a lasting, positive impact on our planet.

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