Mar 08 Ancient tree is celebrated in art at Westonbirt Arboretum By Rich

Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager at the Forestry Commission has sent us details of the sculptor being built with the products of the 2000 year old lime coppice at Westonbirt Arboretum.  It looks a bit different from last time I was there, in full leaf and nearing the end of one of its 20 year coppice rotations, it provided great shelter in a torrential downpour.  Take an umbrella if you visit it this year!

Westonbirt 2000 year old lime sculpture - marking out (2)

Rich Townsend of the Forestry Commission’s Tree Team at Westonbirt
Arboretum helping to mark out the sculpture’s location.

Ancient tree is celebrated in art at Westonbirt Arboretum

A sculpture celebrating one of Britain’s oldest trees – known as the
historic 2000 Year Old Lime – will be created at the Forestry
Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt.

The Forestry Commission has commissioned renowned artist and sculptor
Richard Harris to create the installation. Work to create the sculpture
will start on Monday 4 March and last around two weeks.

Harris will use material cut as part of the lime’s management process of
coppicing; the practice of cutting a tree back to its stumps
periodically to allow healthy stems to re-grow whilst keeping the
original tree alive.

The sculpture will incorporate hundreds of stems cut from the 2000 Year
Old Lime in November 2012, some over 10 metres in height, to create what
looks like one large tree – reflecting the size many visitors assume the
ancient tree to be.

Richard Harris sketch of 2000 Year Old Lime sculpture (2)

This is the first time an artist has been commissioned to create a piece
of art on this scale at Westonbirt Arboretum. The sculpture will remain
at the site of the lime in Silk Wood whilst the stems re-grow over the
coming years.

Artist Richard Harris commented:

“I feel privileged to have the opportunity to work with the coppiced
stems of this precious ancient tree.

“On coming across this small leafed lime for the first time I was struck
by the sheer bulk of material on the ground following the coppicing
process. I plan to work with this great physical mass to give a real
sense of the age and scale of the tree.

“The sculpture will re-configure the cut wood into an equivalent vision
of a tree of a similar age; giving visitors an element of what they
expect from a 2000 year old tree.”

Ben Oliver, the Forestry Commission’s Learning and Interpretation
Manager at Westonbirt commented:

“We are thrilled to be working with such an established artist on this

“The sculpture will provide a bold, visual link between the old,
original tree and the new life that will spring forth as a result of the
coppicing. It will help Westonbirt to tell the story of the 2000 Year
Old Lime and celebrate the place coppicing has in the history of

It is the traditional woodland management skill of coppicing that has
allowed the lime to live for so long.

Now coppiced every 20 years, the lime would have originally been managed
by those who lived and worked in Silk Wood. Local people would have used
coppicing to make a living; cutting lime, hazel and oak for everything
from building materials to rope and tools.

More information can be found on, or visit Westonbirt
Arboretum’s blog at for images and updates as the work

Find out more about Richard Harris at


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