The Express has reported that the greatest collection of ancient oak trees anywhere in Europe has been discovered in Britain after research uncovered them in a medieval deer park.
At least 60 Middle Age oaks have been unearthed in a survey of the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, with four of them measuring almost 30 feet in diameter.
The huge width dates them to the medieval period – between 960 1196AD.
Moccas Park, in Suffolk, Windsor Great Park, in Berkshire, and Savernake Forest, Wiltshire, were thought to have the largest collection of the ancient trees.
Blenheim Palace is the famous ancestral home of Winston Churchill but the 120 acre site was originally created by King Henry I, who called it High Park, for hunting.
The 18th century estate and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also the site that landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown was commissioned to work on the landscape in 1764.
Aljos Farjon, a leading botanist who is researching ancient oaks across the country for a book ‘Ancient Oaks in the English Landscape’, which will be published by Kew Publishing in 2017.
He has looked at roughly 100 sites across England and found that it has an incredible density of ancient trees packed into a small area.
Mr Farjon, honorary research associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, said to The Express: “There is no other site in England that has so many ancient oaks in one site, it is truly remarkable.
“There is also no other place in the country which has so many nine metre trees, there are four alive and one standing dead.
“High Park has as many as 60 ancient oaks, which is not surpassed by any other site I know, but more interestingly these trees could go back further than the middle ages as they were not planted and simply grew.
“The fact this landscape is important has been known for some time, but as High Park was not open to the public there has been no real investigation and I am the first person to study it.
“I think when the estate was gifted to John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough, in the 18th century they just forgot about it or they didn’t have the money to change it, I’m not really sure, as it was not landscaped.
“It was just not realised how important it was for its ancient oaks and the biodiversity that you get in these sites.
“High Park offers a real glimpse into the past and is especially important in terms of fauna and flora – there are some species that will only survive in ancient oak land.
“There is not really anything like this in Europe. There are 22 sites of great importance in England and Blenheim Palace is right at the top of this.”
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