Wednesday, 7 August 2019

A Gift For The Nation, From Norfolk

If you travel to the western edge of Norfolk, you come to The Fens. This flat, low-lying, marshy agricultural region was drained many centuries ago. Going north into Lincolnshire, and westwards into Cambridgeshire, this fertile area contains 50% of England's Grade 1 agricultural land.
In 2012, a farmer near Downham Market planting potatoes unearthed a massive tree trunk. He recognised it as Black Oak. It was the biggest and best piece of ancient subfossilised black bog oak ever found.This tree died standing in water and fell into the silt. For nearly 5000 years it lay there, the iron in the silt reacting with the tannin turning the wood black, and lack of oxygen preserving it. 

Recognising the importance of the discovery, and knowing it would rapidly disintegrate if exposed to the air, the farmer covered up the trunk, and called in Hamish Low [the top man in the world of Black Oak] You can read all about it here
How they built a drying kiln in the field, to extract the moisture and preserve the wood. 
How the trunk was sliced into planks, each one requiring 18 people to carry it. 
How the decision was made to turn this wood into a gift for the nation - a massive table for Ely Cathedral - that Great place of worship right in the centre of the Fens. 
It will stand on bronze supports - and be used at many of the events which take place in the Cathedral.
It is a truly amazing story. 
There is only a finite amount of black oak left, and it is our most ancient native hardwood - and the densest, blackest Wood. It is so important that this wood is preserved. 
Because the project began in the 60th year of the Queen's Reign, Buckingham Palace has granted permission for this to be known as the Diamond Jubilee Project. Do visit the website to learn more about this great project. I have found it really fascinating. 


  1. What an interesting find and what a nice project they've planned! Thank you for sharing the links.

  2. That is Amazing! Well done to that man and those who followed. I find it so sad we have made so many things run out and extinct on our Earth.

  3. Interesting and incredible discovery! Thanks for this post!


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